But not everyone feels that way. I know this by the sheer volume of products marketed toward women who want to look better. Most of the time, the product is accompanied by an image showing a woman prior to using the product, and another after having used the product for a certain length of time. I see it in my newsfeed all the time, these before and after images. Whether it’s a health supplement, a new dieting strategy, a body wrap, or a workout routine, the before and after images really make you think, don’t they?
“Four weeks of pills and you can have the waist, thighs, hips and stomach of a Victoria’s Secret model.” If it was that easy, I’d even sleep with those huge wings. But I’m a photographer, so I’m always a bit skeptical when I see “before and after” images. I know how easily Photoshop can erase a 3 doughnut-a-day habit from your hips. And, truthfully, I LOVE removing things from images-things that distract... things like acne or lipstick on teeth or flyaway hairs. Simple tweaks that make an image really pop. I’ve had plenty of clients ask me to “shop” one thing or another and of course, I do. Hey, this is a Judgement-Free Zone. Let he who is completely without a shred of vanity cast the first stone. I know it won’t be me. Heck, my kids could roll their Hot Wheel cars along the stretch marks on my stomach and pretend it’s a freeway.
I understand about loving one’s body without loving everything on one’s body. But those “before and after” images? Well, I’m not sure they are as drastic as some would have you believe. The before usually features a woman who looks like she hasn’t slept in 12 days. She’s wearing a horrible color that if worn in public would garner a whole lot of “Oh no. Are you feeling okay?” She is wearing no makeup and hasn’t washed her hair since who knows when. To make it worse, she is lit with fluorescent lights to give a sickly green pallor to the skin, kind of like she just ate some bad shrimp. Her posture is slumped, the angle of the camera is bad... it’s pretty much as unflattering as you can get. It’s the way of the BEFORE picture. And then we see the after images. Everything changes. The veil lifts and beneath is a happy, bright, colorful image. Oh and look... it appears she’s even lost weight!
I happen to like the AFTER images. Why? Because I’m a photographer, and those AFTER images prove what I say to my clients every day... Posing Matters. It works. A slight twist of the ankle, a chin pulled away from the body, an elongated frame, a slightly arched back, the sweep of a chin away from the camera...it all matters!
Take a look at the image above. Really look at. Yes, that is me. I figured if I’m going to write a post about the importance of posing, I’d better take one for the team and put it all out there. Notice the changes in each image. They are subtle, but they make a difference. From legs close together with a slumped posture, to a slight lean and better posture, to shoulders angled slightly and the foot moved for a more flattering look to the legs. Tiny little adjustments that bring about huge results.
See, a good photographer knows how to pose a body to make it look its best. When I work with a client, I work with the whole body-moving an arm, or a hip or a foot to get the body to look its best. I’ve never had a client tell me, “You know what? Go ahead and just throw me in any position. If it looks like I gained ten pounds, I’m totally okay with that.” Of course not... we ALL want to look our best. And how we stand and carry ourselves matters.
In fact, for those clients putting off that portrait until they lose 10 pounds, I’ll remind them in the words of a fellow photographer: I can remove those ten pounds faster than you can. So stand tall. Be carefree. Don’t give up. Appreciate your glorious curves and angles because I guarantee you that the right photographer will appreciate them, too.
(PS. Yes, that last photo of me is, indeed, Photoshopped. I softened some lumpiness and smoothed the skin a bit, but I made sure I did it to the image in which I was posed the best. Retouching a bad pose is like trying to disguise a dead fish by covering it in frosting. Ain’t gonna happen.)
***Special Note to my Readers: I wrote this and wished it was written in the writing style of one of my favorite bloggers and one of the few Facebook pages I simply cannot get enough of: Missy MWAC. If you haven't read her, you should seriously go check her out on Facebook or HERE! So if this article seemed particularly awesome, it is because she took the time to add her cleverness, wit, and musings to my article!!! This superfan is stuper stoked! Thank you, Missy MWAC!***