My Bodies series is the core foundation of my work: nude bodies facing straight towards the camera without any background or distractions, in what are hopefully interesting poses. While creating the series I've come up with my own methodology of posing which starts at the legs. Let's dive into some examples as I've noticed this is one of the areas models aren't very familiar with.
This post contains unretouched images
You'll notice I've broken out sections according to different body types as different body types gravitate towards different poses, part of the fun of dealing with nude models is figuring out the poses that best suit their body type. While I do have specific examples for each body type my theories in general are:
- Try and balance the model's top half with their bottom half
- Try to not point anything straight towards the camera
- Try to bend both knees, or if that doesn't work just bend one
I say try because there are no set rules in Photography so you shouldn't get in the mindset that you have to do anything. Seeing an experienced model break all of these rules and pull off something completely new is always a great feeling.
Models with Large Legs
My go to theory with large legs is to separate the legs as to not break the 'Try and balance the model's top half with their bottom half' rule, so that's where I start. You'll notice that most models will keep their legs together when posing, so it's easy to get one shot of what legs together will look like in the beginning. Sometimes you get lucky with the "legs together" pose, but most of the time it's time to separate the legs. The separation itself can be anywhere from slight to extreme and I usually go through the entire range to find the pose I like, though I usually settle on the slight to medium leg separation range.
Here are some examples:
Models with Medium Legs
Going through my photos to help illustrate these sections I found most models fit into the 'large' or 'skinny' category, so you won't run into many medium legged models in practice. I still consider separation more of the rule with this body type with the additional aim of also making the model as curvy as possible. With 'large legs' separation, if you don't go extreme, it's just a matter of moving the legs apart at the right width and slightly bending the knee as you don't have much space to play with, but when you start dealing with 'medium' or 'skinny' legged models things needs to be more exaggerated.
Let's take a look:
Models with Skinny Legs
While with 'medium' and 'large' legged models it's all about curves, with 'skinny' legged models it's all about angles. Generally skinny legged models are also very skinny so it's hard to get any curves out of them, instead you can form interesting geometric shapes with just their limbs. Leg separation here is the norm, you don't want to put their legs together if you can help it. You can also exploit the fact that they can touch their feet together while still maintaining a thigh gap, which I seem to do way too often. I actually find it hard to vary poses with these types of models as the whole angles things doesn't lend itself to many variations.
Here are some skinny legs:
Other stuff I like
I sure like duck feet, all too often it's my go-to pose for new models as it's easy to achieve. You'll find that when it comes to instructing new models how to pose it's easier to demonstrate yourself or show them a picture rather than try and describe how they should contort themselves. And boy is it easy to show someone how to do duck feet.
Another go-to new model pose is the leg out and knee bent inward. Also easy to describe and achieve it often ends up as my chosen leg pose when nothing else seems to work, in fact the first two models below were modeling for the very first time.
I'm a big fan of geometric poses, especially symmetrical geometric poses. Generally this involves making triangles of some sort with the arms and then keep the legs straight in some fashion or another. For these poses the legs are to compliment the action on the top, which is generally where you can find the angles.
I also seem to do this wobbly kind of duck feet leg thing, which is in essence is making the inward knee pose closer together and super curvy. Sometimes this can really border on goofy, but I feel it creates something which warrants a second glance. You can also never go wrong making a model more curvy.
As I touched on before, when you first start shooting your model she's going to look a whole lot like this:
If this isn't your cup of tea then you'll have to be vocal and show some examples of what you want. I typically let the model do their thing for the first dozen shots or so to see if anything clicks right away, it's always better if a model does something naturally rather you can tell them to do it, being vocal if they don't switch up their leg position along the way. I then review those dozen or so shots and start narrowing in on the correct leg position. After I find the particular leg position I instruct them to stay like that and then just vary their arms, the downside of this is that the legs will look the same for every shot:
So make sure you actually like the leg position you chose. I do tend to switch things up a bit after doing one leg position for a couple minutes to avoid any post-shoot regrets.
I also make sure after I get the shot I’m after I let them go and do their thing again, or else you’ll miss dynamic poses like this:
Though she needed no instruction at all.
More Leg Position Examples
I thought it might be fun to throw out even more leg position examples in case anyone needs any inspiration. If you made it this far I hope some kernel in here helps you out with your next posing session!