Two summers ago, I swear wedges were the only shoes showing up on models at my photo shoots. And given the endless streams of bland, cookie-cutter black pumps I’ve shot over the years, the trend was a welcome change. Problem is, wedges and other shoes with thick/tall soles and heels can be difficult to pose around, or make the models look a bit like Frankenstein in clunky, bottom-heavy footwear.
Any shoe with “heavy” qualities (dark color, platform heels, etc) can be a distracting element, drawing attention towards the shoes – not such a bad thing, if the concept is to showcase the footwear. If not: I’ve learned to pay close attention to how posing shoes affects the overall feel of the image or alter the model’s appearance. Context plays a role as well: In an Indie-fashion shoot, chunky Doc Martin boots complete the look. But in a cute and casual summer look with white shorts and flowery tank top, those Doc Martins are as visually annoying as if the model were wearing heavy black leather gloves.
There are no hard-and-fast rules to photography or modeling. And if there were, well… rules are always made to be broken. But generally speaking: unless you’re going for an intentionally awkward feel, posing with both feet flat on the ground looks boring or unflattering (slideshow image #1). Same can be said of standing with both feet straight at the camera, and legs wide apart so they form a “V” shape; this has a solid, heavy, almost masculine look. Often we want to soften those kinds of poses by breaking up the straight, boring posing lines. With shoes like wedges, a toe-up on one foot can make all the difference. Imagine leaning in on one tippy-toe to grab something off a high shelf and you’ll fall right into a better pose.
Companies like Victoria’s Secret utilize a “double triangle” posing approach. Skim through any VS catalog and you’ll notice the models bending both one knee and one heel at a 45 degree angle to create all kinds of triangular shapes with their bodies. (Slideshow image #2). In this example, the trick is to also bend your knee outward and away from the body as wide as possible – you should feel it in your groin if you’re doing it right.
Another VS style classic is to bring one foot up off the ground and bend it back at the knee to form a triangle. This usually looks better posing the bent leg behind the standing leg, not in front (Slideshow images #3 and 4).
Another double-triangle approach is to stand with both knees together, then kick one foot back for a fun and cute approach to posing. (Slideshow image #5)
Modeling is as much about learning technique as it is about practice and finding your own style. I always urge new models to look at catalogs and images on line, then practice duplicating those poses. Practice in front of a mirror, so you learn both how it looks as well as how it feels with your own body. In time, these things will become second-nature.