Weight Distribution in Posing

ElNico

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This is an issue that's been nagging at me for a while.

Where I'm coming from with this question involves what I've learned, or not learned as it may be, from a certain book. I should be able to explain everything one needs to know from that book in order to explain my problem; but if someone reading this happens to have the same book and can give a more informed response as a result, that'd be awesome.

The resource in question is Picture Perfect Posing, by Roberto Valenzuela. Now, I haven't gotten enough tangible benefit from this book (YET) to say this for certain, but I THINK that this book is an absolute goldmine; it breaks down, in what strikes me as an extremely helpful fashion, the individual aspects of a pose that need to be addressed in order for a pose to come out well, and it's responsible for a fair chunk of what I've learned so far about model photography. However, the chapter on Weight Distribution, which the author implies is one of the more important aspects of a pose, strikes me as a bit... narrow.

Despite the amount of text in this chapter, it basically only two ways to distribute a model's weight. They are as follows:

The Feminine Pose
-Default stance for posing women.
-Cross one leg in front of the other.
-Point the front foot inwards, so that imaginary lines drawn from each foot in the direction their pointing would intersect in front of the model.
-Weight resting on the back leg.
-Bend the knee of the front leg in the same direction as that foot.

The Masculine Pose
-Used for posing men, or for when you want a woman to look "tougher."
-Put one leg forward, but don't cross the legs.
-Point the back foot forwards, and point the front foot outwards, so that lines drawn from the feet will point away from eachother and will not cross in front.
-Again, rest weight on the back leg.
-Again, bend the knee of the front leg in the same direction as that foot.

The chapter spents a fair amount of text discussing why these stances are the way they are, which is well and good; but doesn't really explain how to move beyond these particular applications of the priciples at hand. The only other pose the author explains how to do in this chapter is a "Captain Morgan" (not that he calls it that :p), which is more of a nieche pose.

Now, don't get me wrong, both of these poses are very flexible. You can add a lot to them without violating their essential components (or at least I think you can); they can be shot from a number of angles, the upper body can be twisted in a variety of ways, the model can be standing straight or squatting, the hands and arms can be doing any number of things, and posing the face and head is likewise another matter entirely. Nevertheless, however, I find that there are a lot of types of poses that do not fit into this mold; and I'm repeatedly finding myself at a complete loss for how to handle the matter of weight distribution when planning or directing such poses.


Here are some examples of poses where I find I have no idea how to distribute the model's weight:

-When the model is seated. Roberto Valenzuela implies that weight distribution is still important in this scenario, but doesn't really explain how to do it properly.

-When the model is lying down; for example, laying on a bed in a lingerie shoot. Again, the author suggests that there is a right and wrong way to distribute weight here, but doesn't seem to explain what the correct way is.

-When the model is kneeling.

-When the model only has one foot on the ground; case in point, leaning against a wall with one foot resting against the vertical surface, such as in this picture.

-Similarly, when the model has one leg up and not resting on anything at all, such as in this picture. (I suspect that in this case the answer is that there is no right or wrong way to distribute weight, as there is only one possible way; but that's just me guessing.)

-When the model is leaning forward against a wall (or railing, or table, etc), such as in this picture or this picture.


As a further example of that last scenario, this picture of mine was criticized in its thread for the model not having her weight on her back leg. I'll quote what I said at the time (which never got a response):
it seems to me that having the weight on the front leg is the way to go. If her weight were on her back leg, it seems like that would make the curve of her back, butt and legs less of a right angle and more of an obtuse angle; wouldn't that be a step backwards? Or am I missing something?


All of this being said, I'm not really expecting anyone to "teach me about weight distribution" within this thread, or to explain each of those scenarios individually (if indeed they do each require a detailed explanation). A big part of why I'm making this thread is that I feel like I'm just "missing something"; one or two key principles that, together with what I already know as touched on above, would explain all of these questions. (I suspect this partially because the alternative to that is that the book in question really is just that lacking in this area.) Failing that, I'd appreciate it if someone could just point me in the direction of how I can expand my understanding of weight distribution beyond what I've outlined above.

Thanks.
 

tirediron

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One of the main reasons for the 'weight on the back leg' mantra is recited so often is to avoid precisely the issue you have in your own image. Notice how the calf on the leg nearest the camera on which her weight is resting looks larger than the the one farther away which is relaxed? This is simple physics; when you put muscles under tension (ie, making them support the body's weight...) they become more pronounced and appear larger... in most cases, and particularly with female models, we generally don't want to make calves and thighs look larger, so putting the weight on the back leg allows us to 'hide' it from the camera.

In the two examples (Imgur links), both models have the leg nearest the camera relaxed; granted you can't always do this, and it won't always work, but in a majority of cases it helps.
 

chuasam

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that book is gold
keep reading it
 
OP
E

ElNico

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One of the main reasons for the 'weight on the back leg' mantra is recited so often is to avoid precisely the issue you have in your own image. Notice how the calf on the leg nearest the camera on which her weight is resting looks larger than the the one farther away which is relaxed? This is simple physics; when you put muscles under tension (ie, making them support the body's weight...) they become more pronounced and appear larger... in most cases, and particularly with female models, we generally don't want to make calves and thighs look larger, so putting the weight on the back leg allows us to 'hide' it from the camera.
That makes sense. Does that mean, then, that this pose would have been fine (with regard to weight) if I had only shot it from the other side, or if the model's legs had been switched?


When shooting one of the "basic" stances outlined above from a rear angle, as in this image, would I be correct in the following:

-The model's weight should still be on their back (from their perspective) leg, as this still creates a more attractive posture at this angle. (The book does not mention this, but I feel like this is true.)

-Because the weight wants to be on the "back" leg as well as the "far" leg, those should be made to be the same leg. So if the model has their right leg forward and their left leg back, then the photographer should shoot from the right (as is the case in this example); and if the model's left leg is forward and their right leg is back, then one should shoot from the left.

-Shooting angles that make the model's "back leg" (again from their perspective) unavoidably be the leg nearest the camera, such as shooting from directly behind the model, should be avoided.



More generally. I'm interpreting from the lack of other replies to this thread that most or all of the other pose types I mentioned don't really have an answer. Is weight distribution in fact not really relevant for poses where the model doesn't have both feet planted on a horizontal surface? One leg up against a wall, seated, etc?

Note that I said "horizontal surface," not "the floor," and that it doesn't have to be the same surface for both feet. I can see how the principles of crossing (or not crossing) the legs, pointing the feet, and resting weight on this or that leg, can be applied in basically the same manner if the model is standing on, say, stairs. That, I understand. And again, the book does break down how to pose a model with one foot up on a raised surface. But a common element of the poses where I feel like the concept of weight distribution is "not applicable" so far as I can think, is that one or more of the feet are not planted on some kind of horizontal surface. Again, the model sitting down or having one foot up against a wall are two good examples of this. Is weight distribution in fact not applicable in these cases?


that book is gold
keep reading it
I intend to. ;)
 

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