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Life Lessons from Behind the Lens: Editorial Handbook Part I


Sylvia Hendershott.jpgLast month’s exposé featured a few pretty little tricks that help us achieve some of the top desired effects during a shoot, and used a simple headshot type setup to illustrate each modification.

This month and next month, we’re delving a little deeper with a two-part series showing you the good, the bad and the ugly of how to pose for a more editorial style shoot. (Useful for you, terrifying for me. You’re welcome.) Once again, in order to allow you to see the full effects of each tip, I’ve done my own hair and makeup, and there has been no Photoshop action at all for this series, which has a soft, sensual and romantic vibe. (See? Adjectives help communicate a concept, like I talked about here a couple months ago.) Part I of this series will focus on the big picture, no pun intended, and Part II will break it down in full detail, so stay tuned!

Granted, these are general tips just for beginners and regular people like me, because professional models can turn all these “rules” upside down and still look amazing. But for the general Ms. in the Biz, it’s important to have a solid bag of tricks at the ready for any still camera opportunity: whether it’s a publicity shoot, headshot session, or a routine snap session for your lifestyle blog posts.

Once you’re actually on set, a good photographer can certainly guide you into what works best.  But practicing on your own first can help you dive more quickly into your comfort zone and play confidently during a shoot.


Getting stuck in the checked-out, angry, hungry, bored model look for a whole shoot will not leave you with very many options to choose from later. If you’re really good at it yet that particular flavor doesn’t line up with your image or brand (more on that here) then you’ll be left with a ton of absolutely gorgeous but ineffective photos.

Cue playtime. Being silly allows for real moments, and loosens you up enough to just be in your own skin. If you really want to be magnetic as a person or personality, leave the straight-up serious modeling to the on-duty models, and allow yourself to be a real person.

Silly Faces

Take Cat Deeley, for example. Before signing on as the host of So You Think You Can Dance, Cat was a real life fashion model, so she can jam with the best of them. However, just a quick scroll of her Instagram feed shows that the real Cat Deeley is full of life. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, loves beautiful things, and is just so much fun! (Don’t you want to be her best friend now??)

If you allow yourself to be silly in front of the camera, yes, you will end up with some fabulous outtakes like the ones above. But in between them, you’ll stumble upon some beautiful, genuine moments too.

Moments 1

More Moments

As a real person who happens to be in front of a camera, you are not restricted to looking at just one thing, thinking just one thing, or doing just one thing. You can do anything- fix your hair, look off-camera, put on a shoe… Just do it mindfully and you’ll be fine. It helps to slow down your movements so that you can float in any specific intention as you move and the photographer can catch or adjust whatever he or she likes.

Moments 2



After you figure out what intention you’d like to create, remember to tell your eyes and face to communicate it too! Think of it as an acting exercise: Take a deep breath in, and on the out breath, imagine that intention radiating out from your eyes, face, and body and through the camera lens. No more checked-out dodo bird face.

The Body Shop

Similar to last month’s chin up/chin down demo, your body positioning can direct your energy away from the camera, into it, or just be neutral. You certainly have more room to play with an editorial style shoot than with a tighter, simpler headshot setup, so there is no wrong answer. It’s just another opportunity to consciously create the result you want.

With pretty much the same expression, each of these photos can communicate something entirely different. How does each make you feel?

Body Shop


Even if you forget about everything else, the most important tip to remember is to think tall, and imagine that you’re creating interesting lines with your body.


Goldilocks it. This means striking a fine balance by comfortably sinking into a position, while still preserving posture and creating interesting lines and behavior (above; below, right). Not a stiff plank (below, left). Not a crumpled ball of mush (we’re getting there). Just right.


Fair warning: posture is everything. Nobody likes having their photo taken while they’re sporting a double chin and ginormous arms. And whether you’re a waif or a bombshell, something in between or not, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the slouchy 800-pound version of you that startles you every time your reversed phone camera accidentally turns on first. Universal fact.

As for this shoot, slouchy Jabba the Hutt doesn’t work with the soft, romantic and sensual vibe. Here’s a mild hunchback slouch just to ease you into the visuals. (Wait for it….)


The pièce de résistance:

Jabba 1


Jabba 2

So there you have it ladies. If I can do it, you can do it. Now that you have a list of tools, scroll back up and pick each setup apart to see which ones I’m using, and ask yourself why each one works.

Let me know in the comments below which of these tips worked for you, and which ones you’re trying out. Do you have any helpful tips of your own to share? Stay tuned for Part Two next month!

Thank you my photographer husband Adam Hendershott for taking the photos!


About Sylvia Hendershott

1/2 of Husband and Wife Celeb/Commercial Photography Team The Hendershotts - Sylvia and her husband Adam are a Los Angeles based photography team that specializes in kid's fashion and celebrity portraits. Their work has been featured in Baby Couture, People, US Weekly, 944 and more. When they're not working, they love going to the movies and catching up on DVR with their two fluffy pups.