Help a plus-sized gal be sexy in a photoshoot!
February 18, 2009 7:24 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend is very much into photography. I would love to be the subject of one of his photo shoots. What advice can you give a plus sized gal about pose, lighting, clothes, etc? (Slightly NSFW link inside)

So I'm about a size 16. This isn't really a large problem (pardon the pun) for either my boyfriend or I, but I really want to do a sultry, probably black and white, photo shoot so we can enjoy the pictures together. I'd prefer not to look like a house, so flattering poses and such are necessary.

I'm kind of at a loss for what to wear, how to light the scene, etc. Both of us know quite a few things about photography, but neither of us has much experience shooting people. Any advice from those who have modeled, been the photographer, or just throwing your two cents in would be greatly appreciated!

We have access to a Nikon D40X, D70, old 35 and 120mm film cameras, and a Canon 880IS. He has little lighting equipment other than a hot shoe flash cable.

If it helps, I own this:

in black from Torrid, and several pairs of cute/sexy underwear involving lace and bows and other fancy bits.

Any advice is welcome! Thanks so much, MeFi.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm . . . I was immediately thinking naked. Don't ya wanna be naked???

In general any shot that looks down on you from above (not necessarily straight down, just at an angle or something) will be more flattering. also if you can hold really still, something with lower light but a longer exposure might look really good, especially in black and white.

i took photography in college and i loved developing my own film and photos . . . i'm sad to see that people rarely use film cameras anymore. i think 'real' photos have a gorgeous quality that digital cameras do not. i know lots of people disagree but good for you guys for doing the film thing! although digital would be a good way to try out a bunch of poses really quickly just to see how they look. then once you find a winner, set up the shot for the film camera. have fun. i've never modeled for photos, but once i nude-modeled for an art class and i got hammered in order to relax. probably a bad plan for me since i was getting paid, but probably couldn't hurt for you!
posted by lblair at 7:36 PM on February 18, 2009

You might look at the poses models/celebrities choose for their own photos--regardless of size, they tend to position themselves to get the most flattering picture. I'm thinking specifically of the ubiquitous red carpet "pose at an angle from the camera, push out your chest, hand on hip, and cross your feet." Everyone does it because it makes you look chesty and skinny. There must be similar formulas for sexy photos.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:43 PM on February 18, 2009

Best answer: This page has a bunch of good suggestions:

Use a longer lens, to avoid distortions of proportion, or, use a normal lens, and manipulate
the distortions of proportion consciously.
posted by the Real Dan at 7:48 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Well, leaning WAAAY back, like, partially upside-down back, is good, because it stretches everything out, so you avoid the midsection bulge/fold issue. Check out 50s cheesecake-type photos for more inspiration for flattering poses.

Hard to go wrong with strategically-placed swath of silk, too.
posted by desuetude at 8:00 PM on February 18, 2009

Sounds like fun!
I would avoid satin, because the reflective qualities can lead to distracting wrinkles. Obviously curves are desirable, but bunching and such can be really difficult to gloss over when you are wearing shiny smooth fabric. Velvets, matte silks, and other softer textiles will probably be easier to work with and come out looking more flawless.

Lighting is super important, as is the setting. Make the background for your photoshoot really comfortable and simple, to keep the emphasis on you. If you are using a backdrop of some sort make certain it is crease-free. Don't be afraid to play around with props. Consider picking some sort of gestural chair and posing on, around, behind, and over it. I find wingbacks to be especially sexy, as chairs go.

As for lighting, you definitely need to think about it thoroughly before you start shooting. You can easily rig up something inexpensive involving floodlights and clamps purchased at the hardware store. I would go for softer lighting, with one spotlight that your photographer moves around to highlight the pose at the moment.
posted by Mizu at 8:09 PM on February 18, 2009

If you've ever managed to catch the british show "how to look good naked", at the end they always feature the women getting (tasteful) nude pictures done. Those big beautiful girls always look gorgeous, you might want to look into the poses they use. The tips on that site alone are worth a look regardless.

Remember to do a nice job on your makeup to bring the focus right to your face! A good foundation job with powder, make sure your eyebrows are well-groomed, and don't forget blush and face contouring! I like the online tutorials by Sarah Victor on Youtube for tips on good makeup application. Her classic pinup look is my favorite.

And have fun with it!
posted by lizbunny at 8:20 PM on February 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm going to throw in a bit of related advice:

Your boyfriend will likely get frustrated at some point. Not because of you or anything you do, but because all new photographers go through the growing pains of having a vision for a photo in their head and not being able to successfully capture it. =)
posted by JFitzpatrick at 8:44 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

I read somewhere that professional photographers ask their nude models not to wear any restrictive clothing (bra, panties, socks, jeans) for at least two to three hours before the shoot, otherwise you'll end up with ugly marks on your skin.

Other than that, I cannot possibly overstate what an amazing difference reflectors make when shooting people in natural light, indoors or outdoors. It's a surprisingly cheap investment, and you'll never want to take portraits without it after you have one.

Also, have you considered renting a posh hotel room for the day? Having the pictures taken in your bedroom / living room etc. sounds rather mundane.
posted by halogen at 8:45 PM on February 18, 2009

Best answer: Do like Erin O'brien?

Her page is wonkly right now, but she has a couple of other poses that didn't make the newpaper article on her page.
posted by porpoise at 9:23 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

For pose suggestions, check out the Adipositivity Project. Lovely photos of lovely fat women (most of whom are much larger than you, actually.)
posted by ferociouskitty at 5:29 AM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also, forgot to mention, probably NSFW.
posted by ferociouskitty at 5:30 AM on February 19, 2009

Best answer: Leonard Nimoy (ok, yes ... Spock!) is a renown photographer who did a series of photos of plus sized women called Full Body Project Absolutely NSFW but very tastefully done. See if you find any inspiration in his work!
posted by kuppajava at 7:33 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have a look at the cover of the fashion magazine Love, with Beth Ditto naked on it - SFW and very sexy. You should work your shape rather than hide it - you have more curves and texture than a thinner model and the lighting could work wonderfully with this. I like the idea of a pinup look!
posted by mippy at 8:20 AM on February 19, 2009

Best answer: Thanks for the shout, porpoise.

Hi derogatory sphinx. The most important thing to remember is that you are beautiful and your boyfriend sees that shining out of you. Have confidence in this. Know that he is LOVING taking pictures of you. Take a whole mess of them, try different angles and outfits. You will have fun editing them together. Then when you find something that works, you can elaborate on it.

Here is an idea: what about taking pix while you are in bed, right after a little amore? You can use the linens as sensual props, hiding bits you'd rather not show. And that "certain glow" is always lovely. If you can do it with lots of natural bright daylight, that's helpful. One thing is for sure: if you are having fun doing it, that's bound to show through.

Good luck to you. I hope you come up with what works for you!
posted by erinobrien at 10:39 AM on February 19, 2009

I've done some modeling work when I was "plus sized" for the fashion industry (I was a size 10 at the time, and yes, don't kid yourself, for designers this is very sadly "big") and the biggest tip that I can give is to work the angles as best you can.

Always try to shoot with the camera looking at least slightly down on you - never, ever shoot from the bottom up. Keep your chin up and elongate your neck. Try to lengthen everything as much as possible without over stretching yourself, length helps "detract" from width. Choose clothes that accentuate your best features.

And, silly and sad as it is, SUCK IT IN. Shoulders back, chest forward, lift your rib cage, stand up tall, suck in the gut. It does make a huge difference in making photos as flattering as possible.

Drapery can be your friend. I did a bathing suit shoot wearing a scarf around my waist as a kind of make-shift sarong and it was much, much sexier than some of the shots were my pale thighs dominated the frame. Sometimes the suggestion is much, much sexier than having skin thrust in your face - this is true for anyone of any size.

I've also done nude modeling and clothing suggestion aside, the same angle and posture suggestions apply. Also, in clothed or nude photos try to pick poses that evoke strength and confidence. These are much sexier than photos that make you look vulnerable or exposed. Play around and finds what makes YOU look best.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:52 AM on February 19, 2009

Have you had a cocktail or three and practised some poses in the mirror? That's what I would do. Maybe shoot yourself with a digital camera so you remember what poses you liked.

Also--revel in your womanly, goddess, voluptuous, feminine beauty. That never hurts.
posted by Savannah at 9:04 PM on February 19, 2009

Practice makes perfect when it comes to posing (and alliteration is ace).

From taking (sadly, literally) hundreds of photos of myself with a tripod and an autotimer over the years, I have a six sense of how to pose in photos, from seeing the ones where I look really short and weird or the ones where I'm like, "hot damn, I look like that?"

I think what poses you look/feel most sexy in are going to be highly personal, but I'd go with what's comfortable. Have an idea of what you want to do, and don't be shy to go for lots of poses. Have fun; don't be so nervous you try to rush through it as fast as possible.

It'd be great if your boyfriend gave you some direction, but if you spend some time with an autotimer/mirror, you're going to know best. I did a nude photoshoot for an artist where, because I was getting paid, I had to dress and pose and look like he wanted, and the photos came out way unflattering, because he was contorting me into the weirdest stances ever and my instincts to cock my hips and thrust out my chest were subverted.

I did another nude photoshoot with a hella talented friend who gave me suggestions about facing the light, turning my head, etc., but let me pose like I wanted, and I turned out looking way skinnier and foxier.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:00 AM on February 20, 2009

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