Why Size Really Doesn’t Matter When Photographing Women


by Jen Rozenbaum, Texas School Instructor

Photographers often ask me how I pose women who are curvy, short, skinny, older, etc. My answer is always the same. Each client is posed in a way that makes “her” look amazing. Her size, height, weight, shape, or age really doesn’t matter. What does matter is proportion. That’s right, I pose for proportion.

I have a Facebook group of over 25,000 photographers and, every week, there are posts that read something like, “Please help! I have a woman coming in to the studio that is a size 20. Spam me with your plus-size pose ideas.” But there are fundamental issues with such a question, so let’s break it down. First, you can’t judge how to pose a woman based on her clothing size. If I asked ten women to come to my studio who are a size 4 and lined them up side to side and took a photo of them, it would be clear that, even though they all share a common clothing size, their bodies will all be different. The same thing would happen if I did this with ten women who are a size 20 or any size for that matter.

What size clothing someone wears doesn’t determine how they should be posed. It doesn’t tell me where a subject carries her weight. It doesn’t account for the length of her legs. Clothing size doesn’t tell me if a client is an hourglass shape or more square or if she is more curvey or straight. I need that information before I can decide what poses will work best.

It would be easy to create a photo book illustrating hundreds of poses that I have captured over the years, hand it to you, and say, “Here’s the key to posing success!” You see, posing is not “one size fits all.” 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 is one you go to often or something newer, needs to be tweaked according to your subject and 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 her, allowing me to get a better idea of her body and what works best for that person.

Now that we’ve established that posing is about proportion instead of clothing size, I can better illustrate how I accomplish this with what I call the 8 Points of Posing. This is a method I use every single time when posing women. If done correctly, it is foolproof. It takes a little practice, of course, but it is worth it. When you get good at it, this method makes posing easier and allows you to take more successful photos per session even though you will find you are actually shooting less! To understand how it works, you must know the eight points of the body… head, shoulders, elbows (arms), hands, waist, hips, knees, and ankles.

These 8 points are the main joints of the body and I pose each client paying close attention to each of these points. Bending them, turning them, pushing them away or towards the camera, change how the body looks. Once I am done posing, I pick up my camera and scan the body, making sure all points are where I want them. If anything needs changing, I change it and scan again. Once it looks good, I take the photo and then stop.

Stopping 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 8 points again. This “stopping and looking” is very important. 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 on the final product.

If you are looking to amp up your posing and your 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 that is done, it’s a game changer for you and your clients.

Jen Rozenbaum, of Port Washington, NY, will be teaching a class “Boudoir Photography from the Ground Up” at Texas School 2020. In just five years, she has found a burgeoning audience in the intimate photography market. For those new to boudoir or even dabble in it from time to time, this class will be perfect for you. More info at www.jenerations.com.