Quarter turn to the…uh oh!
Now that I’m about to step on stage very soon, one thing I have been very conscious about improving from my novice year is my posing. I look back now at photos and vids and cringe at how horrible it was – stiff, angular, mis-aligned, awkward, uneven, winging shoulder blades…and for the first 2 shows I didn’t even know that I was placing my hands the wrong way in the chest pose. What was also noticeable between the 3 shows that I did in my novice season, was how each time my posing improved from the time before…I watched what other people who I thought looked more elegant than me were doing and copied – I wanted to look as good as I could and that meant learning from those who were better than me, and in doing so I was able to present my physique in a much better light each time. I’m still chuffed at my 3rd place in the Masters lineup at the INBA Universe against competitors who were not only bigger than me but who had been bodybuilding and competing for years – not just the 17 weeks that I had been doing it for. The difference I think was in my posing, in my ability to show my physique in the best way that I could given my limited experience.
Now that I have got into show photography, I watch everybody through a tiny little square of glass that is zoomed tightly onto a figure, its shape and how it looks. I wait, and wait and wait for that nano second when the person hits the top of their pose – my attention to the minutest of details has to be absolute, I ‘will’ the competitor to make it look beautiful and I wait until they do…but sometimes, often, it doesn’t happen so I don’t get a shot of that competitor. After nearly 18 months of this I have become well versed in what looks good and what doesn’t.
I also frequently comment on it in my show write-ups. Posing can make or break you on stage, and I have seen plenty of less than perfect posing, at which I always feel sorry for the competitor – either they haven’t practiced, or they have practised, but they have been given poor advice. I’ve even been to shows where the head judge has had to coach a competitor in their relaxed stance because they didn’t know how to do one! It’s always a shame – they’ve put the hard work in to get their body stage ready, but they don’t go that tiny bit further to make sure they get the best advice in order to present themselves in the most elegant, graceful way possible, to hide their flaws and highlight their strengths. Why?
You may not have noticed, but when I post my shows photos, there are very few of the bikini and fitness competitors in their back pose. Why?
Because in the vast majority of cases its ugly – bums sticking out, shoulder blades squashed together, shoulders sloping down or rounded, shoulder blades poking out awkwardly, legs splayed out or crossed over and torso bent forward so much that all you can see is a competitors fanny.
It’s not attractive.
Not when seen at 20x zoom…
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, but can you spot the competitor who went to extraordinary lengths to get the best advice on how to present her figure to the best of her ability? I’ll test you again at the end!
All the federations run pre competition posing classes, often they are free and I have been along to many of them over the last year or so – even though competing has been a long way off, I still wanted to keep my ‘hand’ in and make sure I know exactly what the judges for that federation expect to see. At many of these workshops there is one person who not only takes these posing classes, but who is also an extremely experienced judge across all the federations. This person is Vicki Arief and she is a tireless worker in the bodybuilding industry, she puts in many, many hours, outside the judging and the workshops, often for free, and she does it because she loves what she does and because she is so passionate about wanting all competitors to look the best that they can be on the day.
What you may not know, is that Vicki is a classically trained ballet dancer and choreographer, both of which means that her sense of what constitutes grace, elegance and beauty of line and form is acutely developed. These are attributes that Vicki brings to both posing workshops and to the judging table, these are criteria that she looks for when she is judging you or coaching you. She is also an ex competitor, so has been where you are, knows what it takes, knows how important stage presentation is and how a good pose/poser can mask weaknesses or flaws even from eagle eyed judges!
The judges sat at their table have a slightly different view of the stage than the show photographer or audience; they are slightly below stage level looking upwards at each competitor. Each judge has to inspect every figure very closely to pick out the differences that make the difference. How the competitor walks, how their bikini fits, how the colour suits them, how their hair and makeup work with the bikini, how confident they look, how they pose, how they transition between poses…
How the pose works with their body shape and condition…
Now, given that the judge’s perspective of stage is from below looking up, if a competitor bends over too far or even a little bit, the judge is not going to be able to see the upper body, but they will probably get to see a whole lot more than eyes should be allowed to see!
Here’s a little diagram:
Having chatted to Vicki about all things posing on several occasions (and had my own bum slapped for not getting it right!), Vicki thought it would be fun to see if we could come up with some poses for bikini and fitness competitors that not only allow the competitor to present their figure in a better light, but also in a more classy, stylish and ultimately beautiful and artistic manner.
And being the smooth talker and master persuader that she is, Vicki managed to talk Gladysha Sukardan (who just won the All Female Overall Bikini Model) into being our model for the day, while we played around with poses that firstly we didn’t like and then poses that we thought were much more elegant and graceful.
Heres’ some of what we came up with:
What do you think?
Thanks Gladysha for being such a good (and ‘bad’!) model 🙂
Now, I said I was going to test you again on that image at the start – can you guess which is the competitor who flew from Perth to Melbourne, for just one lesson with Vicki to make sure she could present herself to the best of her ability on the day?
If you want some posing advice, Vicki does one on one sessions – get in quick, its not long till the next round of comps and she gets VERY booked out!
Vicki also advises at the ANB Get The Edge Workshops and will soon be running some INBA Posing Classes at Derrimut Gym in Caroline Springs on 3rd and 31st August.
You can catch her at Doherty’s Gym in the city on Saturday 20th July where she will be helping out at the IFBB Posing class, taking the bikini session.
Time to get your elegance on!
Posing Direction and Notes: Vicki Arief
Writeup and Images: Sarah Taylor
Model: Gladysha Sukardan