Friday, August 7, 2015

Lolita Posing 101

Something I hear often from lolitas is that they have no idea how to pose when a camera is pointed at them. They feel they look stiff or awkward or any number of unwanted adjectives.
Getting photos taken, whether by a professional photographer or with your camera propped up with a timer set, is an aspect of lolita that is difficult to avoid.

While I'm certainly no expert, I've had a lot of experience with posing in lolita, due to the fact that 1) I've been into lolita for a very long time, 2) I enjoy having photos taken of me when I'm wearing it, and 3) modeling, whether print or runway, obviously requires knowing how to pose.

I'm mostly going to cover lolita-exclusive posing, rather than what you can find with a simple Google search (this is a great article, for example), although I'll share some basic tips that I personally use all the time.

Selfies and Profiles

Head-on shots can be really difficult - oftentimes, what the camera captures is not what you see in the mirror, which creates a really frustrating experience.
Here are some quick tips that I utilize!

Double-chin Defense

It doesn't matter how thin you are, a double-chin is always a concern. This is something I personally have lots of trouble with, thanks to my extremely small jaw/chin and a slight overbite.
There are two things I do to help correct this:
First, I bring my lower jaw forward, either to meet my front teeth together or even push my bottom teeth a little further than the top.
Second, I push my tongue to the roof of my mouth (especially in the back of the mouth). This actually pulls up the muscles and skin under your chin to help prevent a double-chin.

The left is my natural jawline. The only difference between the two photos is the above tricks!
Create Angles & Shadows

A straight-on shot will flatten your features due to lack of shadow and will likely make your nose look bigger (the camera will make the closest object look bigger, thanks to how lenses work).
To combat this, turn your head slightly to the side. You can take a few shots to decide which is your "good side". Don't turn your head so far that your nose goes past your face in the photo, but a slight angle will benefit you.
Tilting your head slightly downwards will also help make your eyes look bigger (closest object to the camera), in addition to helping some more to make the jawline look better.

Outfit Shots

The above tips are still relevant for full-body shots - your face is still in them, so keep in mind the angles and your chin!

The level of the camera is also very important - if it's too high, your legs can look short, if it's too low, too much leg may show and/or your face might look unflattering. I've found that setting the camera up a little higher than waist-high generally works.

Always be sure to have good posture - pull your shoulders back and straighten your neck. This can make a huge difference in the look of your photos!

I'm gong to break down full-body posing into two sections: your legs and your arms. You can combine various poses from each section to create a wide variety to choose from.

Leg Poses

The way you pose your legs can help show off cute socks, shoe details, or just accent your entire pose in general. Awkward leg posing can ruin a whole shot!
I usually use one of four different leg poses, which I'll explain in detail.

Slight Pigeon Toe

This is the most simple leg pose and the easiest to pull off.
It involves simply keeping your legs straight, but turning your feet slightly inward towards each other. Your toes may or may not touch.
Be sure not to exaggerate the angles of your feet - it will look silly and forced.

Your natural leg angles may be more or less than mine - that's ok! Just don't over-exaggerate.
As this pose is pretty cutesy, it works best for sweet lolita.

Feet Crossed

This is one of the poses I utilize the most.
While keeping one foot in its normal standing position, place the other foot in front of it.
To keep it from looking awkward and forced, remember the 45 degree rule: point your front toe about 45 degrees outward from your body. Remember to keep your back foot fairly straight. It can feel awkward at first, but practice makes perfect!

l-r: keep back foot straight, keep front foot at 45 degrees, 3rd is ok but isn't as dynamic
This pose is more elegant, so it works best for classic and gothic lolita, although it can also be used for sweet lolita.

Knees Together

This is another one of my favorite poses!
This is one of the more complicated poses, but looks great when done well.
One foot stays planted in its usual standing position, while you bend the other knee towards the first knee and place that foot on its toes to the side and behind the first foot.
The 45 degree angle applies here too: place your back foot 45 degrees from your body to create the best angle. Again, it's important to keep the other foot relatively straight, otherwise it can look very awkward.
 Another tip is to think of your knees like magnets - they're attracted to each other, so keep them together!

l-r: keep knees together, back foot at 45 degrees, front foot straight
This pose is especially good for showing off cute sock details, as it shows the side of your leg.
This pose is more on the cute side, so I like it best with sweet lolita, although it will work well with sweeter classic as well.

Foot Behind

This last pose is another simple one. It is best utilized with the body turned to the side at least somewhat.
One foot is planted in normal standing position, while the other foot is put behind the other at a slight tilt so that your knee is just barely bent. It's similar to the "knees touching" pose, but doesn't put the back leg at such an angle.
With this pose, it's important to not put your leg so far back that it looks unnatural.

keep the pose natural looking
This pose is good for showing off the side of socks, as well as emphasizing shoe details.
It's on the more elegant side, so it works best for classic or gothic, but it will work well with more mature sweet as well.

Arm Poses

Arm posing is a little more complicated than leg posing, because it involves choosing a different pose for each of your arms. Keep in mind that some poses combine better than others!
Your arm posing can accentuate an accessory or bag or even your face.
Again, there are four basic poses for your arms, although there is much more variety within them than with leg poses.

Hand on Waist

This pose is relatively self-explanatory.
One hand is placed lightly on your natural waist. Be sure not to go lower (into the poof of your skirt) or higher, so as to look awkward and unnatural. Your hand should be graceful and light. Do not grip your waist tightly or keep your hand stiff.

keep your hand at your natural waist and keep it soft
This pose is simple enough that it works well with every style. It also combines fairly well with all other arm poses.

Holding Skirt

This is the most simple and usable pose.
As the name suggests, it is simply grasping the side of your skirt. Do not lift your skirt so high your petticoat is showing and be sure it's obvious you're wearing a petticoat and not holding your skirt to make up for a lack of one.

don't pull too high or too tightly
This pose works very well with every style and combines very well with all other arm poses. It is the most versatile arm pose.

Hand by Face

This pose is a little more complicated, but one of my favorites.
It can be utilized in a number of ways, but it boils down to two basic forms: with your wrist bent outward or your wrist bent inward (pic above is outward).
Bending your wrist outward creates an elegant line from your coordinate to your face, creating a very cohesive outline. Be sure your hand is kept soft and poised. It should not be rigid or clenched.

sorry for the censor - pre-makeup :)
Bending your wrist inward will cause your hand to touch (or almost touch) your face, which can be good to accentuate makeup or hairstyle. What's tricky about this, though, is that sometimes the line created with the arm can be too close to the body, making the pose look a little awkward and forced. For this reason, I generally prefer to only use it for selfies/close-ups. 
If you do use it for a full-body, it's important to remember to keep your hand soft and to tuck your thumb back behind your palm. Otherwise, your thumb and fingers will create an awkward, unnatural looking "C" shape.

This pose is a little more on the elegant side, so works best with classic and gothic, but also looks good with sweet. This pose combines well with the waist and skirt poses, but not usually the next pose.

Interacting With Your Coordinate

The last pose involves bringing attention to a specific piece of your coordinate, whether it be a hair accessory, a bag, a cardigan, or whatever.
It varies depending on what you're accentuating, but the general idea is to play with or touch your hair, a hat, your purse strap, the bottom of your cardigan, etc. It will draw the eye toward whatever piece you decided to use in this pose.
This pose is intended to mimic natural movement, so it shouldn't look forced. If it feels awkward, it probably looks awkward in this case.

the pose should look natural, not forced
This pose is very versatile, so it can be used easily in any lolita style. This pose combines well with the skirt pose, and usually with the waist pose, depending on what piece you're drawing attention to. It doesn't work very well with the "hand by face" pose usually.


Posing in lolita can be intimidating, but the key is to practice. Practice these poses in the mirror or with a self-timed camera. You might feel silly doing so, but it will really help make it feel more natural. While it may take some thinking on your part at first, they eventually become second-nature.

It's always important to keep a critical eye. When you take photos, make note of what you don't like in one and try to improve on it. For example, I've had photos where I look hunched, so I fixed my posture in the next one. Or the angle was unflattering, so I fixed the height of the camera.

Once you have some basic posing down, it's really easy to add more complicated poses to your repertoire. Keep practicing, and you'll soon become a posing master!

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  1. This is a good guide! I find a lot of poses that look fine for regular photos don't translate too well in lolita because the big skirts render any aspect of the pose from the knees to the waist completely pointless, and make arm positioning difficult as well.

    1. I'm glad you found it useful!! Lolita posing can be a lot different from normie clothing posing haha.

  2. Thank you for this post!
    I have a lolita friend who always says she doesn't know how to be in front of camera, so I might as well link her this ^^ And I need tips too xD

    1. You're welcome! I hope your friend finds it helpful as well!! :3

  3. Wow this was so interesting and informative! I've been a Lolita for nearly a decade now but I've always had trouble posting for photos. This was really helpful, thank you!

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  5. Useful Post. I like how much effort you put in the do and don't pictures.

  6. Thank you so much for this! I always look really awkward in photos and it knocks my confidence. I'm going to practise these as much as I can :)

  7. Very helpful, thank you so much! ^^ I've been getting repetitive in my poses lately so this should help ~

  8. Best tutorial on posing ever. And I can see why IW picked you as a model <3 Very pretty and elegant in a pure way.

  9. Not every one of us have our very own picture taker, so with regards to taking hot photographs, it's about How To Take Sexy Selfies the correct way.