The Magic of Posing
Copyright 2015 Eleseren Brianna
As I am now linked to Windlight Magazine, I thought this would be a good opportunity to publish the notes from my talk on The Magic of Posing, which I gave at the Models Workshop in August 2015.
First off, I want to say here, that I do not think I am the ‘best’ poser in SL, I am a work in progress, as all models are, and I still make mistakes. There are things though that I have given thought to during my journey to improve, which have helped me and given me goals to work towards, to continue to improve my own performance. I am still getting there, but what I will guide about today helps me, so I want to share it with you.
I hope that by sharing with you today I can help you think about and understand more about the craft and performance of posing, for it is both. Posing is often the orphan in the attic when it comes to modeling, much attention is paid to developing great runway skills, and styling skills, but while posing is certainly taught, I am not sure it is really given the focus that the other two areas are given. Please forgive me if you think I am wrong, as this is just a personal opinion and I do not want to offend anyone.
I will be discussing posing as it applies to runway, though some of what I will guide about could apply to photographic posing too, you can judge for yourself.
This is not going to be a ‘standard’ guide on posing, where I just focus on black and white ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’, and rules – I will be mentioning these, but I want to look beyond them.
I will cover a lot of areas, and hopefully this guide will make you think about things that might not have occurred to you before.
And I will try to pack this guide with as much advice and information as I can.
I want to set the whole guide, the whole idea of posing, into a context, to give all those dry do’s and don’ts an overall meaning. I hope the idea I will present to you will help you see just how important, powerful and creative posing can and should be. I hope too, through this guide to make you see posing in a different way, something you can engage with, with more knowledge, confidence, and let creativity, fun and self-expression fly.
So often I see some models who have clearly spent a lot of time perfecting their styling but whose poses seem somehow disjointed from the styling, as if the two did not really belong together. The poses then do not give any particular help to that styling, even if they are not bad poses.
I see models too whose poses catch the eye for completely the wrong reasons, and kind of jar what would otherwise be a beautiful presentation. Yes there are those hard and fast ‘rules’ taught about posing, which some know and some don’t, but these can often be applied with unquestioning almost fundamentalist vigor. I know too there are debates about what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ poses. I want to say this, to begin, there is not absolute black and white about posing…there are shades of grey, and it all depends on context.
What context though? Here is where I want to get creative with you, so please bear with me – as I present to you, magic.
I want to take you on a magical journey, where the model becomes a weaver of spells, a goddess (or god of course) making magic on the runway. I will guide to you about how to cast the spell, and keep it strong and powerful, and I will guide to you about what breaks the spell, shatters it, and makes it stop working.
I want you to take a minute to imagine a great performer, maybe a singer, or an actor, or a dancer, on a stage. As they perform we see something magical happen before us, an experience so beautiful, perfect, and amazing to us. What are they doing that makes this wonderful magical moment happen? Maybe the performer themselves is not that beautiful, perhaps the singer is short and fat, or the dancer has ugly stringy muscles. They are still able to stop us in our tracks with their performance, make us see and feel and experience something beautiful and magical.
We have grown used to talking about some star performers as being ‘glamorous’. This word nowadays conjures up an idea of beauty and style and somehow fabulousness.
Does anyone know the original meaning of ‘Glamour’? A meaning that existed long before Hollywood and the modern era of Stars. The word nowadays seems synonymous with spectacular looks, fabulous, luxe styling, or old fashioned sex appeal, but it originally had a much different meaning, and one I am going to explore today, because it is the context I am going to use for my guide.
A Glamour was originally a type of magical spell. Specifically it was a spell to cast an illusion. It was designed to make someone (your audience in this context) see exactly what you wanted them to see, and usually that meant seeing something with enhanced attractiveness, beauty or appeal. So, for instance, originally, perhaps a glamour would be cast to make an ugly woman look beautiful, or a brass ring look like it was made of gold.What does this have to do with posing I suspect you are wondering? Well, I have come to see posing (in a runway context at least) as two things, a performing art, and as casting a spell - a glamour spell- over the audience - to make you and what you are wearing look as good as possible...if that is, you do it right.
Let us go back to that singer or actor or dancer making that amazing magical performance for us on stage. What they are doing seems to be happening so naturally and flawlessly, and they have such stage presence, we are mesmerized.
For a moment let me focus in on the dancer performing, as that might help us see a little more about what is really happening.
The dancer moves, light as air, her body flowing in beautiful shapes as she performs, it looks effortless, all grace and elegance and power. But if you look closely, really focus in, beyond the illusion she is casting, you will get a glimpse of just how much discipline and technique really underpin what she does, what precision and what care she must take in order to spin that illusion of perfect lightness and beauty.
Do you think it would or should be any different for us as models, if we really want to hit the heights with our posing and our runway performances, really wow our audiences, really make the clothes we wear look amazing? We need to use precision, technique, care and a lot of thought behind our posing too, if we want to become amazing models casting a spell over our audiences.
Now, going back to magic, what is involved in actually casting a spell? As you may know, to cast a spell you need ingredients and you need to add the ingredients precisely, or the spell will not work, or at least not be as effective.
So…ingredients, this is where we start to get down to the details. There are the right ingredients to cast the spell and keep it going, and there are wrong ingredients that break the spell, and shatter the magic.
The audience doesn’t tend to see ‘precision’ and ‘technique’ as such when a model does things right, unless of course the audience are models or teachers themselves and recognize what is going on. The impression given to the general audience is of great polish, skill, and perfection, the model and the clothes stand out, nothing distracts from the beauty and the impact of the presentation. The model commands the audience’s attention, they naturally focus on her and feel the impact of her presence and her performance. What she wears too, looks amazing. This is a Glamour, the successful glamour ‘spell’ the model is casting over the audience.
When we pose we aim really to seduce the audience, so that they see us, and the styling or outfit we wear, at its very best. I am using seduce here in a non-sexual sense, but more in other dictionary meanings, like captivating, charming, bewitching, and enchanting.
When we as models aim to do this, we are in effect trying to cast that Glamour spell
Now, as I have said, Spells can only work if they are done right, with precision and the right ingredients – and no mistakes. With mistakes in ingredients or performance, they will either fail completely, or unpredictable things will happen. Have you ever seen a model on a runway who was so bad that the spell she cast seduced the audience to laughter? That is a spell gone very wrong.
So, spells need to be done with the right ingredients, and using the right methods, in order to work.
So what are the ‘right’ ingredients for us, as models
I am not going to guide here about all ingredients, such as runway skills, physical appearance or styling, though those are part of the magic a good model can weave.
A good model of course has a striking and appealing presence, can walk a runway with skill. They can style and present an outfit to bring out its very best features. All these are important ingredients of course, but I want to focus on one other ingredient, that, in my eyes, helps bring the rest to life.
I have waffled on enough. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
First off, I want to guide about posing as it relates to our stylings. I mentioned before, about sometimes seeing a model present an outfit where her poses really don’t link with what she is wearing, she kind of comes out and waves her arms about somehow. Perhaps you can tell she is trying to look fierce or stylish, or beautiful, but somehow the link to the clothes she is wearing isn’t quite made….at worst, what she does with her poses almost fights with her styling.
This brings me to my first little bit of nitty gritty, and something I tell my student when it comes to a styling, the poses we use with that styling are very much PART of that styling, and not something separate to it.
The ‘story’ we tell with our styling and poses needs to be consistent and cohesive. To use a phrase, our poses and our styling should be singing off the same hymn sheet. Poses should carry through the essence of the styling, because in reality they are a part, an essential part, of the styling. Poses should match the theme of the style, and the ‘feel’ and the look of the clothes. They should help tell the ‘story’ of the styling or featured clothing.
What ‘story’ is your outfit or styling telling? What mood, feel, aesthetic, what qualities does it have? What poses would best help the telling of that story?
This is all very well if you are doing a theme styling, I hear you say if you are styled like a pirate, it makes sense to have poses that bring a pirate to mind. But what if you have just been given a casual-chic knee length dress, and you have accessorized that with chic extras like clutch and jewels and maybe something in your hair?
Now, perhaps this is more obvious when you are doing some themed stylings, where you are a character, like a steampunk for instance, or a fairy, or that pirate. Indeed with these kinds of theme stylings, as you will see when I demonstrate at the end of this guide, you can almost act or mime a little with the right poses, though still keeping in mind this is a fashion presentation.
I think though, that you can match poses to styling, even if you are simply presenting a dress for a designer in a show.
Going back to that casual chic dress I just mentioned, look at the words I used…look at the feel of the outfit…chic, casual…. Doesn’t it make sense to choose poses that
p. emphasize just how chic that outfit is, while showing at the same time that it is
casual? Thinking about it, wouldn’t it make more sense of the outfit to use natural, if elegant poses, and not grand, dramatic ones involving much waving of arms or stiff arms at 45 degrees to the body?
Be careful too though about those themed stylings…the poses you use very much depend on the context in which the styling is shown. Perhaps in a styling competition or show where the emphasis was on recreating a character, you could use more ‘acting’ type poses, the pirate poses might be a bit more swash buckling perhaps.
If the look is a fashion interpretation of a pirate look…the pirate distilled through the lens of couture…then your poses may need to balance a suggestion of the inherent swaggering poise of the pirate, but with the edgy polished elegance of a runway presentation. You need to tell your story, but you need to also know and understand the right story to tell in that context.
What if you are just given an amazing outfit and you are not sure what ‘genre’ it fits? OK, you can still pose appropriately. Wear the outfit, get a feel for how it looks on your body , and what qualities is has – such as floaty or stiff, or dramatic or whatever. Ask yourself what poses will really reflect what you are seeing and feeling about this outfit? This is down to your imagination a bit more here, and is a bit more challenging. I bet you pounds to pennies you will get a better, more interesting, higher impact presentation, if you match your poses to what you feel reflects the qualities and feel of the outfit, rather than if you resort to the easy ‘one size fits all’ gown poses.
I will use an extreme example here, to demonstrate the power of matching poses (or not) to your outfit. This I hope, will make things totally clear.
OK. Imagine a punk on a stage, in tight slashed leather pants, ripped tartan shirt, safety pins, spikes, heavy boots, and a slash of black makeup straight across their eyes and rings in their nose and ears. Tattoos as well, the works. Suddenly they lift their arms and begin to perform delicate graceful fluttering movements with outstretched arms, like a ballerina, or a fairy. Imagine them trying to stand on tiptoe in those heavy boots, imagine them
pirouetting lightly. This is a punk remember.
Your response at this stage – like mine – is likely to be a ‘huh?’ if not outright laughter at how ridiculously mismatched it looks. The result of them pirouetting gracefully in punk gear is laughable, totally bizarre.
That of course is an extreme example. Imagine this though. A model on an SL runway, in a fashion interpretation of a punk look. She walks down the runway with one of those cute, wiggling walks, arms outstretched, comes to a halt at her stop and then performs a series of poses with her arms wafting about at 45 degrees or more to her body, hands delicately lifted, perhaps with head raised gracefully at times, staring at the heavens. Still ridiculous, yes? Remember, she is a wearing a fashion interpretation of PUNK. I bet you have seen this many times in SL. These kinds of poses are commonly called ‘gown’ poses, and frankly, only work with full skirted formal gowns…if even then.
Imagine this though, the same model, in the same fashion interpretation of an edgy punk look. Imagine her striding down the runway in a prowling kind of walk, arms maybe swinging a bit at her sides, head up, and hips swaying a little with the long stride. Imagine her coming to her stop, striking a pose with legs a little spread, hands on hips, chin up, looking at the audience with a little defiance, a little ‘bite me’. Imagine her poses with her arms mostly down, around or on hips perhaps, her hips kicked a little to the side. Maybe she is leaning back a bit too, poses that make her look edgy, a little sexy, strong, provocative, challenging, ‘cool’ poses…Imagine those poses with that stylish punk outfit. I bet the audience wouldn’t be sniggering now, she would look amazing, she would be making magic with that outfit …and the clothes would be amazingly well showcased too. Those poses with that outfit make sense, the poses carry the style and theme and mood of the clothes. They even help the audience make sense of those clothes.
This believe it or not is a glamour spell, even in punk clothes. The audience sees the whole, nothing jars, and nothing breaks the spell of that amazing model in those amazing clothes. Good poses can even improve the look of the clothes – ‘sell’ the clothes to the audience. The model is casting a glamour over the clothes too with her presentation, so that the audience sees them at their very best and most appealing. Even if those punk clothes are not your thing personally, when you watch her you will still see a powerful and engaging presentation.
Let’s turn it round, just to prove my point even more. The model comes out wearing a beautiful, floating, super feminine formal gown. She struts down the runway with that prowling ‘bite me’ walk. She stops, with the same slightly spread legs, hands on hips and then continues with her edgy, strong, sexy, provocative poses all the while wearing that floaty, super feminine gown. I bet the audience would be back to ‘huh?’ It just doesn’t work does it?
Imagine her again though, gliding down the runway in a smooth and elegant walk, arms held out just enough so as to not interfere with her skirt. Imagine her reaching her pose stop and performing a series of elegant, feminine poses, not ‘grandstanding’ or waving her arms about wildly, but just using her body and her poses to suggest the delicate, feminine, elegant creature she looks like in her outfit. I think I have made my point.
If you mismatch your poses with your outfit styling it never gives you a chance to cast a spell of glamour over the audience. The effect instead is mundane, noobish, maybe boring, even ridiculous. It certainly never gives the impression of polished perfection.
What about elegance? I might hear you ask, remembering back to the ‘bite me’ punk presentation. How can punk poses be elegant?
That is a good point. Models are needed to make clothes look good, the punk outfit is a fashion interpretation probably of a real punk look…adapted so as to look good when worn as fashion. This is a key point when posing. Some fashion shows in RL cross over into theatre, and models act, fully becoming the characters they are portraying, and their performance then is not always elegant, far from it. Mostly though they strut down a runway, and have a few seconds to showcase the outfit they wear. In those situations they match their poses to the outfit but in a way that makes the outfit look good, and the whole an elegant presentation.
Elegance doesn’t necessarily equate to those wide arm, soft hand poses so beloved of some models in SL. You can achieve elegance in other ways.
Elegance comes from how we use our bodies, move our bodies, in each pose we strike, and in the sequence of poses we use…even if they are edgy poses. Poses should be natural, and honor the limitations of the real (if perhaps very flexible) human body. Poses that would dislocate joints or pull muscles in RL don’t look elegant. They also don’t look real, and they break the glamour spell we are trying to caste over the audience. When you are checking poses, watch for this, think about the limitations of the real human body.
I have another rule I tell my students too, related to this (though it is also related to ‘flamingo’ pose, more on which in a bit). The rule is this, don’t do poses you cannot hold in real life for 10 seconds without falling over or looking like an idiot’.
Even if a pose is doable in real life, if it just looks plain awkward or clumsy, it is never going to add elegance to your presentation. There are odd occasions when gawky poses are good to use, but it really is depends on the styling and the context…I used some gawky poses when I walked as a Voodoo doll in an alternative Valentines show put on by Scala a few months ago… I used the gawky poses to suggest the bendable and awkward joints of a rag doll.
You can look like an idiot too in whacky or extreme poses.
Just because you are wearing an Avant Gard outfit do you really want to look like you are waving an aircraft in to land?
Yes Avant Gard outfits can and perhaps take more dramatic poses in a runway situation, but even then use maybe one or two within a routine for a particular emphasis don’t use a bunch together…these poses are like chili powder add a little to spice, but if the whole pot is used, it is just eye-watering to look at. Way too much.
If you are given an avant gard outfit to present, I think it is worth too, looking at that particular outfit. Avant Gard is very much a catchall, and often doesn’t really describe that particular thing you are wearing…does your outfit look more like a Thierry Mugler Robot, or the exquisitely detailed, almost organic abstract shapes of an Iris Van Herpen design, or the long totally plain shift and totally enclosed wooden head of a Hussain Chalayan (I am giving some examples here from real life).
All those designs are labeled avant gard but they are so different, the same poses won’t work with them all, and actually those big extravagant whacky poses that are often labeled avant garde or haute couture, will sometimes fight and destroy the subtle artistry of the outfit being worn. Even within a genre like Avant Gard, you still need to really look at the outfit you are wearing, and let it decide the mood of your poses.
Something else too that does not create elegance within a posing routine are poses that are ‘too big’ for the clothes you are wearing… I discussed earlier about the wider arm ‘gown’ poses…these are poses which were designed to be worn with formal gowns, yes…but generally the big full skirted ones. The slinky fitted sheath formal gown is not helped by them, any more than is the punk outfit. These wide arm poses are just too big a shape and they look awkward. Slinky fitted sheath dresses need poses that are elegant and graceful but closer to the body. You can still lift your arms, just don’t extend them and wave them about like airplane wings. The one possible exception to this are the real ‘wow’ standout formals which may be very dramatic, even if they are fitted down the bod. These gala standout gowns, perhaps worn with equally dramatic head wear, suit the dramatic, look at me, poses though again you need to judge it carefully to ensure the poses really emphasize the gown and not just shout too loud.
Something here that may surprise you, something I recommend to my female students check out male poses. I have a lot of them, and I use them fairly frequently. These are not super macho Tarzan type poses, and frankly I haven’t seen many of those anyway. Some male poses look very cool, modern and a touch edgy when used by a female model. They work perfectly with modern minimalist styles for instance, or urban wear, or anything with a bit of edge about the styling to it. I love the ones that are quietly strong they work so well for me at times. Men, why don’t you experiment and look at female poses too, maybe you will find some that are very good additions to your posing arsenal.
So, getting back to elegance. The poses themselves will look elegant if they work within the natural constraints of human anatomy, and also avoid looking awkward, gawky, too big for the outfit, too loud and too stiff (because we are not scarecrows or airplanes after all).
The choreography of poses is important too when you are casting a glamour spell over the audience. Let us take a leaf out of the work of dance choreographers here. When they are creating a dance they strive for moves which naturally flow from one to the other, the position before maybe even suggest how the next one will move and look. There is a relationship between the poses…they look connected. They change smoothly from one to the next. This is important of course in creating a general elegance to your pose routine, but I will tell you another reason why this is important…the transitions.
Transitions are not just a way to get from pose 1 to pose 2 for instance, something that just happens as the poses switch on your hud. They are an opportunity in themselves to showcase the styling, and maintain the spell the model is casting.
Imagine a Balinese Temple Dancer, with their slow, elegant, stately and super graceful dance. All dance of course is about the body in movement, usually continuous movement, but SL posing reminds me a little of Balinese or Thai Temple Dancing, in its – hopefully – slow, elegant and precise procession of poses.
Two well matched poses will make the model’s body move beautifully one to the other, in a smooth elegant flow, just like the temple dancer’s body. Flow here is the pertinent word…the rise and fall of an arm, the turn of the body or the head, the shift of the pose and feet position, all together, in a kind of slow flowing dance as the model shifts poses. Think of it this way too, a good transition is almost like a pose in itself, in what it can add to the pose routine. This is how it should be, even for edgy poses. Think of transitions almost as ‘hidden’ poses, in that a beautiful transition can help tell the story of the styling, perhaps in how it makes the body move during that transition, and how that movement can bring out features of the clothes.
With clever transitions, you can bring out the beauty of the outfit you are wearing perhaps a turn will make a floaty skirt flare out in a beautiful way, or the arching turn of a head highlight a beautiful neckline for instance. Think about your clothes in that way when you plan your poses. How will your poses make the outfit shine?
Maybe there might be odd occasions when a styling or a presentation calls for jerky, snappy poses and transitions, but in my experience they are rare, and actually difficult to do with style. Usually the model just ends up looking like she is using photographic poses which have a fast ease in and out – poses by the way you should never use on a runway in my opinion.
I am going to mention ‘360s’ here, a term bandied about but not understood by everyone. A 360 is a set of usually about 3 poses which make the model turn in a full circle.
It takes a lot of experimenting with sequencing the right poses to get a full turn, and a lot of trawling through poses to find the ‘right poses. it is generally considered an example of ‘advanced’ posing, and as such happily trotted out when there is a desire to impress. There are several things to bear in mind here though, so that the 360 actually adds to the elegance and magic of the performance, and builds the glamour spell the model is trying to cast.
Firstly, there really needs to be a reason to do a 360 turn…if your outfit has a boring back view, why show it to the audience? It won’t do any favors to the outfit or styling, presentation wise. On the opposite hand…if a gown has a stunning back, or the back of a jacket is decorated, or the formal gown has a lovely train for instance you understandably would want to show this off, and a 360 pose sequence will enable you to do that in an elegant manner.
Secondly, timing of poses in a 360 is critical. It is not good to turn your back to the audience fully, for the usual ten seconds or so. That is a long time to turn your back on anybody, it jars because it has the subliminal suggestion of a snub or a provocative ignoring of someone, even if the audience doesn’t consciously think of that. Audiences like to feel connected to the model, it makes the presentation more interesting, more impactful for them. This means that when you get to the critical back pose in a 360, don’t hold it more than a few seconds, and preferably find a back pose where your head is at least slightly turned. Holding poses in a 360 no more than a few seconds each pose, also helps to achieve that lovely turn, it isn’t staccato. Experimenting can even help you achieve the exact moment when you hit the next pose, just as the previous pose sets into position, so that the overall movement is continuous and slow and graceful. This requires care though, as hitting the next pose too early can cause a pose to glitch and clip in an ugly fashion and ends the spell.
Speaking of clipping, I have some general advice here, in your search for perfection and casting the perfect spell of glamour on the audience.
We should have all had in our trainings the advice to come early enough before a show to load our poses into the memory cache of the server for the sim holding the show. We do this by running through our poses when we are backstage. There is something else I was told too, by someone who understands SL technically very well (and builds viewers to prove it). He told me that even when poses are held in the memory cache of a sim, they can kind of go ‘stale’, and there can be a momentary hesitation on the sim memory’s part when we activate them on stage which leads to a momentary hesitation in activating the pose. This can lead to glitching in the same way that using poses completely cold on stage can do (when we have not run through them before hand). For some reason, in my experience, 360 combinations are particularly prone to this temporary sim forgetfulness, and they glitch more commonly than other pose sequences, as I am sure you have seen.
There is an easy fix for the sim forgetfulness. Make sure you repeat your pose sequences every few minutes backstage as you wait. Just zip through them, each one in a sequence doesn’t need to fully run through, just begin. That basically jogs the sim server’s memory, and keeps them fresh. I particularly do this with 360 combinations and anyone who was backstage at last year’s MVW final will have seen me virtually whirling like a dervish backstage, to make sure that my 360 when I presented my formal gown was smooth as silk (and it was!).
OK, so back to transitions. I think you can see from what I have said, transitions need to be thought about almost as much as poses they are in effect, as I have said, ‘hidden’ poses in themselves.
What else should your posing do, to strengthen the glamour spell of perfection that you are casting over the audience?
Well, several things come to mind.
Has anyone seen those old films where the hypnotist (or indeed the magician) says ‘look into my eyes’?
Eye to eye contact has enormous power. It can be electrifying in some contexts, and certainly it has impact.
I ask you to imagine the following scenario
Two models wearing identical gowns, identical stylings, and more or less identical in looks and beauty.
They both walk out to the audience, side by side. They both do elegant poses, elegant transitions, for the same length of time.
One of the models has poses that turn her head away and let her gaze wander around the ceiling, the walls, the floor, her face is never turned to the audience. The other model looks the audience in the eye as she poses, her face at least is turned towards them, even if her body isn’t….once maybe she looks away…but that just makes her next pose, when she turns to face the audience again, that much more effective…she captures the audience with her eyes again as she turns her face back towards them.
Which one of these two elegant, beautiful, perfectly styled models are you likely to be focused on?
The model who looks away all the time seems aloof, disinterested in the people watching her, uninterested in catching their attention (though of course that is the last thing she wants in reality). The model who looks back at the audience looks as if her whole focus is on them, and they in turn will focus on her…her stage presence rockets up far higher than the other model’s. Her whole body doesn’t have to face the audience of course, that would be boring, and may not show the clothing to best effect, just her face needs to face towards them, enough for natural eye contact.
What about dramatic pose routines, I hear you say? You have been going on about not doing big poses. Are we not allowed to do any of these when we try to work this magic?
Yes you can do big dramatic poses, however, think carefully about how, and when and why. A dramatic pose needs to be carefully considered. Some stylings call for them, others very much do not. The flamboyant avant garde styling, or the grand
gala formal, and some theme stylings may benefit from the flourish of a dramatic pose, applied with thought as a highlight to a routine, as I have mentioned.
However I have seen too many times when perhaps something like a pretty casual outfit, was presented with waving arms and dramatic gestures more suited to a 1920’s Perils of Pauline silent film. Equally, even the most fabulous of wow dramatic gala gowns isn’t helped by a procession of huge poses that yell like a Soprano at full voice, flinging her arms around as she makes an extended and impassioned Wagnerian stage death. Overacting applies to posing just as much as it applies to acting! Just as with accessories, sometimes one carefully choreographed high impact pose, within a more controlled sequence, helps cast a more powerful spell over the audience and their reaction than half a dozen of these big poses.
And what about the clothes of course? Don’t they need to look perfect, as part of the spell you are casting?
This ought to be plain as the nose on our faces. A model needs to highlight, celebrate, flatter, and honor the clothes she is wearing as she presents them to the audience.
What do I mean by celebrate and honor the clothes surely that is a strange thing to say about virtual lumps of mesh, or flexi or whatever.
Those clothes are somebody else’s artistic expression, creative achievement, hard work and even dreams. You have been given the task, and the honor, of presenting them. This is of course most true in the context of a fashion show where you are presenting designs that the designer hopes the show will help sell, but I believe it is true also in stylings that you put together yourself, and I don’t think you should distinguish between them.
A model should present the clothes at their very best, highlight their great features, and not drawing attention to any features that are not perfect perhaps. As I discussed about before, a model also presents these clothes in the right style context, using her poses to carry through the feel, style, and theme of the clothing.
Bottom line, the clothes should look perfect, always. This is basic stuff really, don’t use poses that pull or distort the mesh, especially mesh with detailed textures on it. Don’t use poses that make mesh fold back onto itself, causing nasty ugly clashes, don’t use poses that make mesh break over bits of the body (this can also be caused by wearing mesh in too small a size, but I am speaking here about poses). Don’t use poses that make clothing or accessories like necklaces or earrings go into the body? Texture layer clothing or applier clothing too can be distorted by the wrong pose (though mesh bodies are a little more forgiving in this). There is more though.
Look at the aesthetic qualities and components of the clothing, is the dress long and lean? Use poses that emphasize how beautiful that long line is. Is the skirt floaty and feminine – find poses to suit and bring out those qualities? Is the feature point of that dress a dramatic neckline? Maybe that might suit a pose that brings a hand up to highlight it (our eyes tend to follow hands). Conversely, if the bodice is very beautiful and detailed, why obscure it with poses that place hands or arms across the body and end up hiding it?
Unless you are presenting a mix and match styling, don’t use poses that emphasize items which are not meant be the focal point. If you are walking in a Designer’s fashion show and wearing a dress made by them, why use a pose that proudly shows your ring to the audience? It is common sense really…the dress is the star in that context and you want to make it shine above anything else you are wearing.
A quick note here about props – things like bags, and other things which are carried. Make sure your poses make them look as if they are affected by gravity a pose which holds your handbag at 90 degrees to the floor simply looks like you are freeze framed in the process of flinging it or swinging it…it isn’t believable or realistic so it will break the Glamour spell. Remember….bags with handles HANG DOWN.
Everything I have spoken about so far is about casting and maintaining that glamour spell of perfection and elegance and beauty. Elegant, perfectly considered poses, performed with grace and precision in naturally flowing routines, poses which
emphasize and mirror the qualities of the styling, in theme, and feel, and aesthetics. Poses which bring out the beauty of what is being worn and presented, while at the same time drawing a discreet veil over anything not so perfect. Poses that make the model stand out and draw the attention of the audience, for all the right reasons.
All of the above weave the spell of perfection and glamour that entrances the audience, and makes them see what the model wants them to see. But there are things which will break the spell too, and need to be avoided.
So what breaks the spell? Mistakes and doing things wrong of course…I am going to explore this a little for the last part of my guide.
I think we have all watched models posing in shows when they really make a mistake suddenly their performance is jarred…we zoom in on the mistake it captures our attention, taking our mind off the clothes and the presentation itself. Sometimes the mistake is so glaring it completely overshadows the rest of their presentation and their walk becomes not so much a ‘wow’ as an ‘omg’.
I have touched on a few things in passing already, but let us revisit in a bit more detail.
Have you been watching a model pose and her hand comes to rest inside her body, perhaps only the fingertips, perhaps half a hand, but whatever it is clearly passing into her body. Perhaps she poses and suddenly she appears to have only one foot, sprouting two legs. Perhaps she poses with her hands together and one set of fingers impale the other hand. These are just a few examples of things I am sure you have all seen.
I am sure you have seen also, as I have, countless times when a model changes poses and during the transition her hands pass right through her body, as if her body were only made of vapor. Of course that is pretty much the case in this virtual world of ours, but in the solid physical real world could she really do this?
To state again, as it bears repeating. For an illusion spell (like our Glamour spell) to work effectively, things need to appear real and believable. When they don’t the illusion shatters, and all our other hard work is ruined. The beautifully dressed, lovely model comes out and begins to pose, we are excited by her performance and her styling but then ugh her hand goes through her body…all the magic is gone, shattered in one loudly glaring mistake.
There are other situations too where models appear to defy the laws of physics. If you are in a highly stylized fantasy show, perhaps, posing as a fairy or a mermaid, you can float in the air or lean your body this way and that without ruffling our sense of what is ‘normal’ in the real world). Floating and flying are of course perfectly possible in SL (along with fairies and mermaids I guess!).
When you are walking and performing as a ‘normal’ human being though, it is best to behave as if you are in the real world and constrained by the real world of physics and gravity. To see a ‘normal’ human being posing in a way that would cause them to fall in real life, or posing in a way that would be totally impossible due to gravity, jars our senses and looks unreal and of course, as I said before for an illusion to be powerful it needs to look real and believable. So do please be careful when you are posing in those teetering high platforms for instance. Don’t use poses that make you tip a little so that you look like you are caught in freeze frame about to fall down, like those models on real life runways. Do be careful too with poses that make your whole body lean at an improbable angle. These tend to be editorial poses, and it is perfectly acceptable to use gravity defying poses for photos because photos capture a moment in time a moment of action remember those fashion shoot photos where models leap?
This brings me now to the poses that are called ‘flamingo’ poses in SL Modeling. These are of course poses where the model stands on one leg, with one foot off the ground, either a little off the ground or a lot.
I mentioned earlier one of my rules to my students…don’t do poses that you couldn’t hold in real life for ten seconds without falling over. When you get a chance, stand on one leg and count to ten seconds a few of you with excellent balance may be able to stand still and do this, some of you will fail to reach 10 seconds or anywhere near, and most of you will manage to approximately stay on one leg, but swaying like a tree in a wind. Ten seconds is a long time.
This is why flamingo poses are frowned on, they generally defy the laws of gravity, and especially so if the rest of the body is not in a pose that would help keep balance in real life (try standing on one leg in real life for ten seconds and leaning to one side and you will see what I mean).
One thing I would mention here, and it catches me out too at times. Some poses are not designed as flamingo type poses but the feet nonetheless are not entirely always level on the floor. This happens by accident as the pose is made. These are tricky, as strictly they are flamingos but from a lot of views they look like both feet are on the floor. In a perfect world you shouldn’t use them, and in a competition you run the risk of losing marks. In other contexts if the inequality in both feet being on the same level is very slight (i.e. you have to look hard to spot it) then it is a judgment on your part, if the pose itself is good. I leave this to you.
On the subject of flamingo’s, they are often lumped together with another kind of frowned upon pose—the armpit pose. For those of you who don’t know or are not sure, an armpit pose is basically as it says, a pose where the arms are held so high you can clearly see armpits, an area of the body generally not felt to be very appealing to the eye.
Debate ranges on what actually constitutes an ‘armpit’ pose, some say the hands need to be high above the head to qualify, others (like me) teach my students that any pose where the outstretched arm has a hand higher than the level of the shoulder is an armpit pose. There is a lot of debate too about whether poses with one arm high and the other low, are armpit poses. I think personally you can get bogged down in the rules on this one, without actually thinking about why the rules are there. Basically as far as I am concerned, an armpit pose is a very big dramatic, shout of a pose how often, outside sports or dance perhaps, do you see people raise their arms that high and that wide? Do people wearing casual clothes stand around with their arms flung wide as if embracing the universe no unless perhaps they are dancing, or drunk?
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when an armpit pose is appropriate, and looks believable (a key thing for maintaining our illusion of glamour remember). Perhaps the outfit the model is wearing is a very dramatic statement outfit, where dramatic poses would help further that sense of its drama. Perhaps too the styling worn is in a theme where posing as acting makes big poses plausible.
The key thing here is understanding WHY these poses are not usually good to use, because then you can also understand the odd occasion when it is actually fine to break these rules and use them
Let me give you an example. I once walked in a show where I portrayed an Indian dancer. If you look at Classical Indian dance there are times when they make poses that are basically our flamingo and armpit poses. The difference of course is that they are not holding them, these poses are part of the flow of the dance. Because I was portraying an Indian Dancer I therefore allowed myself to use armpit and flamingo poses…but I was careful to make them short poses only a few second almost as a kind of transition pose each time. In this situation the armpit and flamingo poses helped portray the original dance – to give the illusion I was dancing. So, as you can see, if you really understand the rules you can also know when and if you can break them.
Another situation which jars us out of the glamour spell and illusion being cast over us by the model, is when the model includes in her pose routine a pose which snaps into and out of pose much faster than the rest. She is moving through her routine, the poses gracefully and slowly transitioning, then bam! Her body jerks into the next pose. It is sometimes so fast it almost makes the audience jump. It shatters the elegance and grace of a routine, shatters the magic and shatters all the work the model is trying to do.
Poses should have more or less the same speed of transition, when they are used together in a routine. Some pose makers use slightly different ease in and ease out speeds but generally they are not that far apart and you can mix them (unless the poses themselves glitch). Poses made for photographic work don’t have to worry
about the ease in and out times. These ones can have very fast transitions much too fast for runway, unless you want to look like you are body popping. I would suggest you never use photographic poses in a runway routine for this reason.
I have spoken about how the magic can be ruined by the poses themselves, but there is another way they can ruin the magic, by ruining the look of the clothes being worn.
I have spoken about this already, so I will simply say, does it bring out the magic and beauty of the clothing (which a designer has worked long and hard on) if your poses wreck its appearance.
Mesh can be tricky in that the rigging isn’t always kind. There is a risk that certain poses will make it break, fold back on itself (which is a nasty mess) or simply pull completely out of shape. A model has to work at finding poses that make that mesh dress look whole and real and keep its shape as far as possible. She may even have to resort to changing her shape a little to try and avoid this. Short of a wardrobe malfunction, or a deliberate deconstructed look, models do not walk down runways in real life with holes in their beautifully made couture clothing.
In this part of the guide it may sound as if I am nitpicking. OK, I am, it is worth taking that extra time trouble and focus to get things right – it pays off in your performance. Remember I said that creating a magical spell requires using the right ingredients – and used PRECISELY. Remember, The Glamour spell is an illusion spell, and illusions need to be realistic and believable in order to work. I want you to be able to make magic, to create that illusion of perfect glamour, to shine on a runway and make people go wow and omg for the RIGHT reasons.
One final point here. All of the above doesn’t work if you have a limited number of poses that you own. I am certain that some of the bad performances I have mentioned are as a result of having a limited number of one size fits all poses. Poses are a major and necessary expense for a model, unless you are lucky enough to be able to make your own. I have thousands of poses I think close to 4000 at this stage, and I know models who have more, a lot more.
If you want to make magic, you need to be prepared to invest in poses. You can try and get them at sales events, and special offers, and buying a set if you like most of them is cheaper than buying individually sometimes. You cannot avoid the need for a lot of poses if you are really going to become a good and hopefully a great pose magician.