Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Belly Button Guide to Glamour Posing

Omphaloskepsis is the contemplation of one's navel. The word also refers to navel-gazing. When I'm shooting glamour, especially when the model is naked or semi-naked, I engage in a fair amount of omphaloskepsising or navel-gazing. Course, it's not my navel I'm contemplating or gazing at... wouldn't want to scare the models, after all. No, it's the model's belly button grabbing my attention.

I don't have a navel fetish or anything like that. (Not that a navel fetish would be all that weird, I suppose.) You see, for me the model's belly button is a terrific point of reference I almost always use when giving physical posing directions. Actually, it's the model who gets to use her belly button as a point of reference when posing. I just tell her where I'd like it, i.e., her belly button, to be pointing. For the most part, the last place I want her belly button pointing is directly at me.

It's no secret that Mother Nature generally bestows wider hips on most women then those she gives to men. There are very good anatomical and biological reasons for that and, if you don't know what those reasons are, I suggest you take a class in Human Reproduction 101.

While a woman's hips are very sexy and alluring, they can sometimes add unwanted weight to a model or give her a slight pear shape. Leastwise, a visual  perception of added weight or pear-shape even when the model isn't particularly overweight or extra hippy. (Hip-ish?) BTW,  I'm not meaning to infer anything negative against curvy women. I love curvy women. But sometimes, the curves created by a woman's hips can stand being toned down a bit, you know, for the purposes of a glam photo.  The easiest way to do that is by having the model point her belly button, one way or the other, away from the camera.

Here's how I generally do it, not that I'm saying my way is the only way: As silly as it sounds, I like asking the model to pretend there's a laser beam shooting out from her belly button. Then, I tell her where I'd like that laser beam to strike. I might, for instance, hold out one of my hands and ask her to shoot it with her navel-beam. Or, I might point out a piece of furniture or a light stand and have her point her belly button laser beam at it. Obviously, the further her belly button points away from the camera, the more slimming the effect.

Often, when shooting what amounts to a full frontal shot, I only have the model shoot her navel-beam slightly to one side of me or the other. Then, I might ask her to bring her shoulders back perpendicular to the camera, making sure her belly button (and hips) remain pointed away. In this way, it appears to be a full-front shot but, with her navel and hips "cheated" somewhat away, and her shoulders and upper torso twisted back perpendicular to the camera, it still appears to be a straight-on shot but with the added benefit of toning down the width of the models hips plus creating the appearance of a slightly slimmer torso.

Anyway, people sometimes ask me about posing directions and this is one of them I routinely use.

The model above -- click to enlarge -- is one I shot last week but whose name I've already forgotten. (It sucks getting old... and forgetful.)  As you can see, for this pose I had her point her belly button quite a ways away from the camera but didn't have her bring her shoulders and upper torso back perpendicular the camera; although I did have her twist her head/face back to the camera. In that way, I could see both of her eyes, her entire mouth, and also without permitting her nose to extend beyond her cheek.

There's no single way to place a model's belly button or how to have her arrange the rest of her body once the navel is pointed where I want it pointed. I simply like using the navel-pointing thing as a convenient starting point for most front poses. Once her belly button and hips are where I want them, I then have the model twist and turn other parts of her body until the physical pose is one that looks good to me. An added benefit of directing the model's belly button: Her hips are never mentioned and, in that way, you don't run much of a risk of the model thinking that you think her hips are too wide. You know, and possibly causing her to feel a bit insecure about her weight or body shape.


Rick said...

Belly button, then shoulders...then what? What point of reference do you use to get the models head in the position you want it? The nose (my preference), the chin or the eyes?

jimmyd said...

@Rick: Well, it's all about the eyes. It's always all about the eyes. I look for things like not having the nose extend beyond the cheek and watching below the chin to make sure it doesn't puff and making sure the hair is right (no strands getting our of place or poofing up and all that but my focus (and the camera's focus as well) is always on the eyes.

Rick said...

My bad. I didn't phrase it right, but I do agree about the eyes.

When you guide the models body, you use her belly button as a frame of reference.

When you ask a model to move her head, what facial feature do you use for your commands?

I use the nose. "Move your nose (up, down, left, right).

jimmyd said...

I still use the eyes. I want viewers' eyes drawn to the model's eyes so the eyes are the focal point in every way. But sure, you can use the nose. I mean, the eyes will follow the nose just like the hips will follow the belly button.