Posing for Graceful Legs

Nude model demonstrates flattering photography lighting and posing techniques with photographer Mark Laurie of Calgary.

Graceful legs are the key to posing a woman, even if the legs are not in the image. There are lots of ways you can work with legs to create a sense of power, awkwardness, and grace. Often the best way to get the pose across is to show your subject the leg placement. I always joke that this will look much better with her than with me.

This basic leg arrangement can be used for standing, lying flat, and with the legs up on the wall.

Start with your subject turned slightly away from the camera in the direction opposite from the main light. Have her put her feet close together, side by side. The foot towards the camera slides back until the toe is from the middle of the other foot’s arch, back to the heel. Have her transfer all her weight to that far leg, This will keep her stable, the leg towards the camera is just for show, no real weight goes on it. Let’s call this leg the show leg and the other the support leg.

Have her bend her show leg by really raising the heel of the leg. She can have shoes on or not. If she does have shoes, the heel of the shoe will come off the ground. For some reason, women instinctively kick their heel outwards, so watch for this – the heel needs to be pushed into the support leg.

If she tries to balance she will quickly become very unstable. When she puts her weight on the support leg, her hip should kick out the side a bit or a lot, depending on her torso length. This will help create the lovely S shape curve so sought after in art.

For the final touch, keeping her heel pressed into the support leg, have her turn her show leg knee in towards the support leg knee. You can tell if you have everything set up right because the support leg knee will be hidden.

Nude model demonstrates flattering photography lighting and posing techniques with photographer Mark Laurie of Calgary.

This will not work well if reversed and the support leg goes towards the camera. Once this leg takes all the weight of the body, it really thickens as the muscle is activated. The bum curve nearly vanishes. The whole leg looks thicker, plus it looks shorter because she is flat footed. For some reason most women will pose this way if left to themselves to pose, tossing their hips towards the camera.

Now transfer this pose to a lying down pose. The far leg goes straight, although here I usually have it slightly bent. The leg towards the camera bends so the foot with the pointed toe comes to about the arch area of the far foot. To flatten the tummy I would have her do a pelvic tilt, and this will take about 3 to 5 inches off her waist. Watch how they point their toes. There is a tendency to really do a hard toe scrunch. It should be lightly pointed. The toes go flat on the ground with standing approach, and on the wall it’s a small heel raise. Shoes do not work well on the wall as they make the bend awkward so you lose the graceful line.

To work the legs up on the wall pose, you can have her coming straight out from the wall or her feet going into a corner. They can also work with no wall. The pose is the same. The leg away from the camera is straight and the show leg is slightly bent. You will have to adjust her distance from the wall depending on her body length – you are looking for around a 45 degree angle of the legs.

You move to her shadow side, still have her looking into the light but switch the legs so the show leg is always towards you.

Nude model demonstrates flattering photography lighting and posing techniques with photographer Mark Laurie of Calgary.

For the back shots I usually get on a small ladder and shoot down. The camera is tilted to match the plane of her body. I often use a wide-angle lens, 24mm on a full frame camera so I can create longer legs in camera.

This graceful leg approach works with any age women, and any size. It will make every woman look a little more graceful, and give her the look of longer, more shapely, legs too.

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