Boudoir Photo Posing: Size Doesn’t Matter, Proportion Does

February 14, 2020

By Jen Rozenbaum

© Jen Rozenbaum

When it comes to boudoir photography, my motto is “size doesn’t matter.” Photographers often ask me how I pose women who are curvy, short, skinny, older, etc., and my answer is always the same: I pose each client in a way that makes her look amazing for her own particular body. Her size, height, weight, shape, age—none of that matters. It’s the boudoir posing method you come up with for each client that is essential. In other words, what does matter is proportion. Let me explain…

I have a Facebook group with over 25,000 photographers (which, by the way, is a great way to nurture your educational content). Every week, I see posts that read something like this:

Please help. I have a curvy woman coming into the studio (size 18). Spam me with your plus-size pose ideas.

The way I see it, there are a few fundamental issues with this question.

You simply can’t judge how to pose a woman based on her clothing size.

If I asked ten women to come to my studio that are size 4 and lined them up side by side and took a photo of them, it would be clear that even though they all share a common clothing size, their bodies are all different. The same would happen if I did this with ten women that are a size 18, or any size for that matter.

A woman’s clothing size doesn’t determine how to pose her. It doesn’t tell me where a subject carries her weight. It doesn’t account for how long her legs are. Clothing size doesn’t tell me if a client is an hourglass shape or more square, if she is more curvy or straight. I need that information before I can decide what poses will work.

boudoir posing

Posing is not one size fits all.

I can easily create a photo book of hundreds of poses that I have captured over the years, hand it to you and say, “Here’s the key to posing success!” but I would be lying to you.

Yes, there are some standard poses that I go to over and over again, and yes, they work on most women. However, each pose, whether it’s one you go to often or something newer, needs to be tweaked according to your subject, her unique proportions, how her body moves and the look you are trying to accomplish.

For me, that means actually seeing the client in person and observing, allowing me to get a better idea of her body and what works for it before I decide on what poses to put her in.

The 8 Points of Posing Method

This is the method I use every single time I pose a woman. If done right, it’s foolproof.

It takes a little practice, of course, but it’s worth it! As you practice and get better at making your boudoir clients comfortable in front of your lens, it makes posing easier and allows you to take more successful photos per session, even though you will find you are actually shooting less.

In order to understand how it works, first you must know what the eight points of the body are:

1. Head
2. Shoulders
3. Elbows (arms)
4. Hands
5. Waist
6. Hips
7. Knees
8. Ankles

I pose my client by paying close attention to each of these areas of her body. These eight points are the main joints of the body. Bending them, turning them, pushing them away or towards the camera changes how the body looks.

Once I am done posing, I pick up my camera and I carefully scan the body through the viewfinder, making sure all points are where I want them and it looks good on the client. If I believe it needs a change, I don’t even take the photo. Instead, I change what I need to and then I scan again.

Once it looks good, I take the photo and then stop. This is the step that most photographers miss. You must stop and check the back of your camera to make sure what you see and what the camera sees is in agreement.

If it is, by all means, keep snapping away. If not, then it’s time to adjust the eight points again. Keep in mind, when you change one point, it often affects how the other points look. So when you do make a change, make sure you start from beginning and scan all eight points again.

We think that our clients are paying us to take pictures, but the truth is that they are paying us for our knowledge that leads to great photos. The more time you take in posing and connecting and being detail-oriented in your work, the more your clients will trust you and, in the end, the more they will be willing to spend money on the final product

If you are looking to amp up your posing and boost your boudoir client satisfaction, then it’s time to let go of the cookie-cutter posing and start gaining confidence in working with each woman individually. Once you do, it’s a game-changer for you and your clients!

Jen Rozenbaum is a New York-based boudoir photographer and WPPI speaker who proves time and again that you can own your world if you live fearlessly, think audaciously and act spontaneously. She last wrote about her personal journey fighting cancer while building her brand, and at WPPI 2020, she taught a class on posing every woman.