When I first started doing fashion and artistic photoshoots, I struggled with posing the models. If the model was experienced, I didn’t have any issues because he/she already knew how to use her body to create certain looks. Personally, I have a difficult time posing in front of the camera, so it would also make sense that I would have a hard time explaining what I wanted from the model. This was especially true in the case when I worked with people who were uncomfortable being in front of the camera.
In a boudoir photography workshop I participated in a few years ago, the teacher showed us a notebook that was filled with different types of poses. The notebook was divided into categories, such as sitting, standing, and closeup poses. I thought this was a brilliant idea, so I created my own notebook. The next time I had a shoot, instead of describing the pose, I had the model look at some examples. It worked like magic. Since then I have always brought examples to my shoots.
My goal with poses is to find something that looks “natural” for the model. We’ve all seen those awkward photos where the pose just doesn’t look right and the person appears uncomfortable. Especially with portraiture, I feel it’s critical to honor the person’s style. With examples, you give your model a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve. In fact, many times the examples I’ve used have given my models ideas of their own that turn out to be perfect.
You don’t have to use a notebook. I’ve recently started using my phone or iPad, and I just keep an album for photography ideas and poses. It has made a world of difference with my shoots because most of us are visual learners.