Top Techniques For Posing Models

by David Jenyns

THE ZIGZAG BODY-LINE found in sitting, kneeling and other contracted postures, offers a definite challenge to a director’s ability in posing models and camera as well as to the model’s ability to create and visualize her position from the camera’s view.

Your own experience has brought the knowledge to you first-hand, on what can happen to the body-lines (especially the leg-lines) in these positions. You have watched distortion dominate the picture as the feet come closer to the camera and the head shrivels away.

You have seen how in response to slight movement, perspective (in the finished picture) has altered straight shoulder tracks (the imaginary line that joins one shoulder to the other) that were posed parallel to the floor. One end appeared tilted or angled as the body turned, sometimes only a matter of inches, away from the camera.

True, perspective problems decrease as the distance increases between the subject and the camera. But haven’t you found that it isn’t always possible to work at a sufficient distance to prevent distortion? Thus, to help with the majority of your actual sittings (in which you would like to position the body without distorted effects) let us confine our posing area, as much as possible, between imaginary panes of glass. Within this sandwich, we will find ample opportunity to expand posing ideas.

As you study these zigzag body positions you see that their contracted postures must be considered and classified by the angles they form: the degree of each and their relationship to each other and to the page.

TWO KEY-ANGLES
in zigzag silhouettes are formed, one at the hip and one at the knee.

THREE KEY-LINES
in zigzag silhouettes (controlled by the degree and position of the two key angles) vary visually in importance by their relationship to other elements in the picture. If at least two of these lines are parallel to the page or prop-lines (vertical, diagonal or horizontal) their position acquires significance and impact.

The length of any one (or all three) of the body lines is at its fullest when it is presented in a side-view to the camera. If a line is foreshortened, be sure the change is compatible with the rest of the picture.

Let us try this simple count-down before shooting.
5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – click!
5 views which change the outline of the body as it turns (front, ¾ front, side, ¾ back, back).
4 limbs (two arms, two legs) which vary the basic silhouette with their placement.
3 ‘p’s’ – (P)urpose, (P)rops and (P)osition of theCamera. Three external influences for change.
2 tracks (shoulder and hip) which affect subtle changes in proportion and meaning.
1 body-line which varies by how much the head and leg-line bend the basic silhouette.

For the zig-zag body-line:

5 views. When posing models, the body must be changed gingerly from side to ¾ or full-front and back views, as distortion can become quite a problem. The side-view presents the fewest problems in the zigzag silhouette. (The direction the body faces is determined by the position of the upper part of the torso or chest box.)

4 limbs. Both the legs and the arms offer maximum advantages for variation in zigzag positions. Since the full length of the body is contracted, they usually take up a greater portion of the picture space also.

3 p’s (all external elements). Purpose, Props and Position of the camera each assumes vital meaning, especially the last two. The support from which the position stems is the most important prop in the picture. Camera station is also important.

2 tracks. Shoulder-hip relationships are of utmost value in varying the zigzag figure.

1 body-line. Although the body-line in the zigzag silhouette is in another form it is still extended and contracted by varying the degree of the angles (hip and knee, in this instance).

In summarizing, it seems that in the zigzag, number 3 of the count-down becomes of foremost interest, numbers 2 and 4 hold their own and numbers 1 and 5 become more or less limited by the third dimension.

This is a great shape to use when posing models, and will make a great picture!

posing models

posing models

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