The seven key ‘posing points’ that’ll make anyone look glamorous in a flash
My legs are stretched gracefully to the side with my ankles crossed as I sit at a dining table, leaning nonchalantly on my arm. In fact I am creating such a blockage that a sommelier could walk past, they would definitely start flying.
Resting ‘casually’ on one elbow, I feel a mass of juxtaposed limbs. But when I see the resulting photos, I am pleasantly surprised. My stocky body looks unusually lithe and relaxed.
Maybe so, because I’m taking the advice of David Suh, the undisputed king of a growing breed of ‘posing coaches’. David has over four million followers on TikTok, where his videos show how dramatic something as simple as a sloping shoulder can turn us all from boring to fantastic.
And now he turns his attention to me, with a masterclass on Zoom from his home in California.
Posing coach David Shuh has more than four million followers on TikTok. Antonia Hoyle (pictured) recreates four classic summer poses with the help of David
He does his job. Like many of us, my default pose is still ramrod with a rictus grin. Photos from my vacation in Turkey show me clumsily hunched over a lounger, covering as much meat as possible.
But David insists we can all look good on camera.
‘Being photogenic is not genetically determined. It’s something everyone can get,” emphasizes the 27-year-old.
When David started working as a photographer as a former dancer, he realized that subjects were ‘uncomfortable’ because they didn’t know how to stand, and added: ‘Then I said I should really become aware of posing.’
He has developed a system to help. David explains that we all have seven “posing points” — the hips, ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and neck — that are essential for flattering posture.
Unlike many photographers, he eschews cheesy catalog poses. Posing, on the other hand, is about “body language and a way of communicating,” says David. “If we don’t think about it, it’s more natural, more possible for ordinary people.”
Which means all of his posing advice has one caveat: It’s no use if I can’t relax.
“I want you to really change the mindset that ‘I feel like an absolute badass. I’m in control of my body,” he says. He says our habit of freezing in front of the camera often stems from childhood, when we’re instructed to “say cheese!” by our camera-wielding parents. ‘We learn to arouse false emotion,’ he explains.
So can he undo my years of posing pitfalls? With the help of the Mail’s photographer, I create the four top summer poses that David shows me.
SHOW OFF THOSE HIPS
Antonia says she tends to sink into a recliner and hide her stomach. But David proposes to lie on her side, supported by one arm
In photos of family vacations, I tend to slump in a recliner and hide my stomach.
Instead, David suggests that I lie on my side, supported by one arm, and roll my top hip forward — the key ‘posture point’ for its ability to drastically change the shape of my body.
This creates instant curves by increasing the contrast between my hip and waist, making me a “pretty avocado,” says David.
It also means my thigh rolls down, so there’s less of my inner thigh (which I don’t like to see).
Whatever part of your body is in the front of the photo seems the largest, David says, when I ask how you can look slimmer. So as my leg comes forward, the focus shifts away from my torso. He advises that I use my free hand to adjust my swimsuit or fidget with another accessory to make the pose look less forced. I casually wear a floppy hat on the back of my head – David is adamantly against wearing hats over our faces as a form of camouflage if we suffer from low self-esteem, but says when worn with confidence, ‘covering your face has a cool mystery.” With my waist accentuated, my hat for distraction and thighs hidden, I feel confident.
ADD A PIZZAZZ
Instead of forming an awkward lineup with your girlfriends, create some drama: find a wall to lean against with the knee bent, lift the right leg as high as you can, and turn it to the side
Not to shrink wallflowers, but David recommends this almost macho pose as a “fantastic” way to immortalize a night out.
Instead of forming an awkward lineup with your girlfriends, create some drama: Find a wall to lean against, he suggests, and with the knee bent, lift the right leg as high as you can and turn it to the side. .
David has a spectrum of poses that are not exclusive to either gender – for example, a man would be more likely to stick out his chest, a woman to sit with her legs together.
Because I take up space, I think it has a masculine look, although David doesn’t find it confrontational.
“But if you feel like you’re in control and dominating, that’s completely right and the most important aspect,” he says.
Also, because this pose is so over the top — I feel like I’m in an aerobics class — I start laughing, which makes me look more confident and take my favorite shot.
RE-RUN THE WEDDING PHOTO
It’s hard to pose in the middle of nowhere without something to lean on. Loading one leg and lengthening the other allows you to extend the hip over the weighted leg, creating more shape
“The hardest part is a wedding scenario, where you’re posing in the middle of nowhere with nothing to lean on or sit on,” says David, adding, in compensation, “we have to do things with our bodies.”
He suggests fidgeting around my belly button or putting my hands in my pockets to make me feel—and thus look—more natural.
Holding a clutch definitely helps me feel less self-conscious.
For my lower body, he says, “something simple works great as long as your hips are relaxed.”
Putting my weight on one leg and lengthening the other allows me to extend the hip on my weighted leg, creating more shape.
The end result looks surprisingly natural… given how difficult it is to stand on one leg effectively.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FACE
For a daytime holiday snap, David suggests leaning back on a staircase, supporting weight with the elbows, stretching my legs at a 45-degree angle, and staring into the distance
From my self-conscious smile at the Statue of Liberty to looking gaunt outside Bangkok’s temples, I’ve never been able to capture the perfect sightseeing photo.
For a daytime holiday snap, David suggests leaning back on a flight of stairs, resting my weight on my elbows, stretching my legs at a 45-degree angle, and staring into the distance.
The main move is to raise my head slightly, shifting the harsh shadows under the eyes and nose caused by the bright sun high in the sky. “If you keep your face up, those sharp shadows diminish,” says David. It divides the face into nine pose points that can be tilted for different effects.
I tell David that my left eye is smaller than my right and he recommends turning it towards the camera, “so it’s more in the spotlight and should appear bigger and more even.”
In the past I’ve tried to hide my eye by turning my face away from the camera, but to my surprise David’s tip works.