Confession time: I’ve been dancing all my life (no lie—before I could walk, my mom would put me on a mat beside her while she taught dance classes) but I am useless when it comes to posing for pictures. You’d think a person who’s in tune with their body would know instinctively what to do with it in front of a camera, but nope. Not this awkward kween. So what better way to learn how to pose than getting a tutorial from photographer and posing expert Jesse DeYoung?
DeYoung is a former personal trainer turned photog who created the Posing School with his business partner, Shay Kostabi, in L.A. three years ago. It’s essentially a workshop where you visit local landmarks or murals that are ripe for picture-taking, then pose, pose, pose for DeYoung’s camera to get those perfect snaps (he’ll direct you, don’t worry!). He and Kostabi created the Posing School to share Los Angeles’s many murals, and now: “We’re all over the world,” he told me at a recent event at The Wall workout studio in Los Angeles. “Beijing, China, Koh Samui, Thailand, Buffalo, New York.”
When I met DeYoung, I had about two terrifying minutes in front of his lens to land the perfect picture, so I asked what quick advice he could give me (and anyone like me who becomes Gumby in front of the camera): “Relax. Breathe. And then one thing that I always try to tell people is that I’m not going to show bad photos of you, there’s editing. So try to free yourself of being perfect, and keep moving. Try different angles,” he said.
That’s comforting and all, but it doesn’t exactly tell me what to do to take the perfect photo. So I pleaded with DeYoung to give me the step-by-step.
While I was buzzing around The Wall during the launch event for a new workout drink called EMPACT+, I also spoke to celeb fitness coach Mario Godiva about striking the perfect pose (he takes a ton of incredible pics and shares them on the ‘gram). He told me he always chooses poses in three different categories: jumps, floor poses, and tricks. “Think about your tricks, the things you’re good at,” he said.
I think he’s got his “tricks” on lock (see above).
As for selfies—DeYoung had these three words: “Don’t take selfies.”
I know, so harsh. But, as he explained, your best bet is just to ask someone else to take the picture for you. “I’m part of a run club, and we ask people to take photos all the time, ” he said. “There’s photographers all over the place. Just ask, and you might make a new friend.”
If you really want that arms-length pic, though, just remember to look into your light source and try to avoid shadows and overhead light. “12 o’clock noon is fine if you’re going to point your face up and shoot down,” DeYoung said.
Happy posing, my sisters in awkward.