Picture it: You’re out at a social gathering for So and So’s birthday at Something Bar in Whatever Town, and What’s Her Face screams “LET’S TAKE A GROUP PIC!!!!!” Everyone scrambles to be front and center (I mean you’ll be tagged on Instagram, for Christ’s sake) while you frantically shuffle around in the middle of the photo, unable to escape your inevitable Wi-Fi-induced fate. A flash goes off, you’re forced to pose, and you panic. You pull one of these:
What the fuck happened? How did you . . . what is the . . . why is your hand in the air? YOU HAD ONE JOB — TAKE A PICTURE AND DO NOT LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT.
Well, spontaneously posing for a photo without looking like a complete idiot is actually really freaking hard. It also happens to be a huge part of working in fashion (hi, I work in fashion).
Before social media and front-facing iPhone cameras, editors and buyers were just faceless machines driving magazines and brands. Now, self-promotion is a mandatory part of the job — even fresh faces are required to utilize the Internet’s social space to attract a larger audience to view their work.
I’m already feeling the pressure of Fashion Week (my show invites are piling in), which serves as the most crucial time of the season for building a public image and gathering material for work. To be snapped by a street style photographer legitimizes status within the industry and confirms an A+ wardrobe.
Tomy Ton is featured on Style.com for a reason greater than aesthetical entertainment — street style photos are an indication of trend direction, and a tool for almost every influential fashion and beauty magazine.
Do not waste your breath explaining the underlying self-destruction of obsessing over having your picture taken (or taking countless pictures of yourself), to a member of the fashion elite. We know. It’s too late for us. It’s too late for you too, Kim Kardashian, queen of self-portraiture.
Beloved fashion journalist Tim Blanks wisely noted in the street style documentary Take My Picture: People love glamour. If buzz around the narcissistic motivations of social media and those up-to-no-good millennials has taught us anything, it’s that we also love ourselves (I mean, love ourselves) and projecting a nonchalant image of superiority onto our many followers.
I normally hate to contribute to the stereotype, but statistics show that selfies are generation specific. Fifty-five percent of millennials have posted a picture of themselves to social media — I would bet that the other 45 percent just aren’t admitting to it. Inflicting one’s immaculate style on others while receiving validation in the form of likes and comments satiates an instinctive thirst for praise, approval, and glamour.
Basically I’m trying to say that I understand why caring about posing doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of life . . . but I don’t care. I still want to look cute on Instagram. Are you following me on Instagram?
Very few human flesh beings are born with a predisposed posing skill, and complicated poses require endless time and patience. That candid mid-step pose Rumi Neely and her coven can’t get enough of? Yeah, it takes roughly 300 attempts before nailing a perfect shot, all while running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Or how about the Tyra Banks–approved hands-on-hips pose with a hunched back and concaved stomach? No, still no. I prefer not looking like I have to take a massive poop in photos.
What we all really need are effortless fail-proof poses that not even a giraffe wearing Louboutins could fuck up. Courtney, help us!! Who said that? Well okay, I’ll help if you really want me to . . .
My favorite street style photos feature simple poses that effectively show off an outfit while still appearing relaxed and natural.
1. The Fundamental Pose
At first glance this photo may look like I’m just standing upright, but there are a few sneaky angles and posture changes slipped in. I’m sure to some of you this will seem like a “duh” pose, but I myself have made the mistake of squaring my shoulders toward the camera too many times — what should have been a cute party shot instantly transformed into an awkward yearbook photo.
Facing the camera completely straight on is an unflattering angle that will make you appear wide and two-dimensional like SpongeBob. Pivot your toes at a 45-degree angle diagonal to the corner frame of the shot, and your body will follow.
Now, rotate your shoulders back toward the camera. You just slimmed your waist while still standing straight! Shift your weight toward your back leg, with a forward-facing knee slightly popped. Consider this the base for your other two poses.
2. Coat Drama
Up your chic game by draping a coat over your shoulders. Most people either love or hate this popular pose, but I’m growing to love adding a little cape-like drama to my photos. It’s very easy to look like you have either four arms or no arms, so I suggest clutching your collar as proof of appendages.
3. Fake Laugh
Icy facial expressions are great and all, but the way to really plague your followers with jealousy is to look like you’re having the time of your life through a fake laugh. This is not a crazy “I just saw the new Kevin Hart movie” heyenna laugh. This is more of a controlled, “I am so delightful and beautiful, my laugh resembles wind chimes in the spring and small forest animals braid my hair in the morning” laugh.
While I’m no longer a model by choice (because big butts and food), I still remember a few tricks of the trade, and keep them in mind when I happen to be snapped by street style photographers during Fashion Week:
· Always hold your handbag with a straight arm to avoid pulled/rumpled sleeves
· One side of your body should always be angled slightly toward the camera to avoid looking flat
· Avoid a full frontal shot of your hands unless you want baseball mitt, Mickey Mouse proportions. When holding a drink, tilt your wrist horizontally and face the back of your hand away from the camera. Anyone with long banana fingers will thank me for this.
As far as makeup is concerned, remember that foundation with SPF causes flashback. Matte foundation and eye shadow photograph best. Foundation + contour + powder + eyebrows + lots of eyelashes + bold lipstick = the perfect polished makeup formula.
An online presence is real, whether you’re searching for an attractive booty call through an app, or making sure your future employee doesn’t look like an axe murderer through LinkedIn. For some — I’m looking at you, bloggers — street style posing is a job that pays the bills.
For basically everyone else with a camera phone, posing for a photo is something you can’t survive a weekend without. (If you didn’t Instagram the party, did the party really happen?)
These three poses do not require much effort, but will greatly ease anxiety from your digital life . . . without a crazy pose that will mimic the stature of withholding a shart.
Like all of Courtney’s Instagram pictures @courtneypizza