Can This Body Positioning Technique Really Make You Look 10 Pounds Less in Photographs?

Everyone wants to look their best when they are in front of the camera. Most people practice in front of a mirror to get their perfect "photo face" nailed down but did you know that your shoulder and arm positioning can actually make you look thin in one photo and fat in another? Headshot photographer Peter Hurley has released his latest photo slimming tip video and it is called "hold your sub." 

Peter is widely known for coming up with his own catch phrases that you can memorize and use to help coach the people in front of your own camera. The first phrase was "Turtling your head" which helps tighten up the jaw line and produces a much more flattering line between your jaw and neck. Next came the popular "Squinching" term which describes the shape your eyes make when a slight bit of pressure is applied to your lower eye lids (Tyra Banks calls it "smiling with your eyes").

Peter's newest term is "hold your sub" and it addresses the shoulders and upper arm thickness. Most people place their arms on their hips which causes your arms to extrude outwards and makes your body look very wide. By placing your arms down, make a 90 degree bend at the elbows, and raise your palms up, you can not only give your shoulder line a more streamlined curve but you can actually shrink your biceps by an inch or so.  Doing this will create the illusion of a thinner torso. If you do not have a large sub sandwich to hold, don't worry, two medium sized pizzas will work equally as well. 

As silly as this phrase sounds, it really can make a huge difference in the way you or your clients look in photographs. Once you combine this technique with Peter's other headshot techniques you can completely transform how the people in your headshot photos look in a dramatic way. 

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15 Comments

Joe Schmitt's picture

Great tip! But the best part of this video? The appearance of an ACTUAL SUB! I was NOT expecting that! LOL!

The man is a lot of fun and I really like his stuff.

Ariel Martini's picture

- your lens make me look fat
- it's not the lens, it's the food

Dan Howell's picture

ummm...yet standing broad-shouldered to the camera is most human's widest look. If you want to project a slimmer line, have a subject stand turning a few (or several) degrees away from the lens axis while still looking into camera. This works with both the shoulders and waist. This can be seen in dance from ballet to Broadway. If you really want to learn about shooting better body angles, work with an experienced dancer.

While shoulders-down will take some size off, why start there?

Patrick Hall's picture

You know, this was my first thought as well. While Peter's tip does actually work, I have never known Peter to ever shoot anyone straight on with their shoulders towards the camera. Shooting people straight on is a common practice so I think this tip is really useful but it isn't something you will see in a lot of his work.

Great tip. But it could have been a 2 minute video. ;)
And after the shoot everybody should eat the sub!

Eric Knorpp's picture

I have to disagree a little bit, with out watching the video and going on just the pictures. Sure if you crop in around the shoulders they may appear thinner with their arms to the side, but if you are shooting waist up or full length, I find that having my models open their arms a little makes them look thinner rather than pressing the arms against their waist or torso they look thinner to me and sure makes using the liquify tool much easier if you need to thin down some one. If their arms are pressed against their body's it makes a hell of a task to use liquify or warp tool. Just my personal opinion.

Rex Larsen's picture

Squinching with elbows, I like it.

It drives me crazy how much he and Jared polin (fro) sound alike. Are these guys related?!

At the start I thought where is this going but then, yup an amazing tip when you se the difference.

Robert Christopulos's picture

Peter illustrated several facts that contribute to better portraiture in the first frame of the enclosed video, inadvertently with himself as the model.

1. Turn the subject forty-five to ninety degrees from the camera.
2. Have the subject open their eyes slightly.
3. Have the subject slouch slightly. You don't want people to stand woodenly or to be stiff as a board.
4. Have the subject open their mouth slightly. Unless they are genuinely laughing, showing a lot of teeth is seldom flattering. Also, pursed lips are a no-no unless there is a genuine smile accompanying them.
5. The tilt of the had is important. If you have a large lower jaw, a slight tilt downward minimises it while a smaller lower jaw benefits from a tilt upwards. Also a gentle tilt to a slight angle from straight up is usually advisable.
6. If you have optical telephoto, use it. This will minimise distortion of the subject's facial features.
7. I almost forgot. Some women have large shoulders. With them, you want to shoot from ten to twenty degrees above them to minimise their shoulders,

Unfortunately, Peter did not illustrate any of these tips with his subjects. I don't understand why this was so.

All of the techniques you mention are good; Peter also teaches them. I think he was just adding one more technique for those who already knew how to pose, rather than to re-teach everything.

Now I'm hungry...

George Popescu's picture

IT's called flexing people, when your arms are up you're flexing your muscles so it pulls the fat back, look at yourself in the mirror with your arms down and then flex into the Arnold biceps pose and you won't notice much fat, only muscle. Bodybuilders have been posing like this for decades:

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/32/30/e1/3230e1c25ca86e943dc75...