If Its Meant to be Bent, Bend It

Imaginary and Implied Lines

Photographers Love Models With Concepts


Camera: Olympus OM-D, E-M1, mirrorless digital camera
Lens: Olympus Zuiko 45mm f/1.8
Aperture: f/2
Focal Length: 90mm effective
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 4000
Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
White Balance: 3400K
Lighting: Ambient, existing room light.


We had just wrapped up another Las Vegas photography workshop when my model, Heather, discussed with me some model concepts she had in mind. One idea was simple, capture her body form with focus on the legs as she was wearing a pair of stockings that sported a beautiful pattern. My approach is simple, if it’s meant to be bent, bend it; have your subject bend at their knees and elbows for an interesting pose.

The Story Behind The Photo

Heather Carden, Model, Muse

This is what the location looked liked during the day as Heather poses here during the photography workshop.

The Background
Heather and I had just wrapped up our third photography workshop in Las Vegas this year, a special two-day event, when we started talking about an outfit she had worn during the workshop that caught my eye plus her model concepts. So after dinner we utilized the spacious panoramic penthouse at the Aria hotel and casino that we had rented for the workshop to work on our ideas—if you missed the Vegas workshop, don’t worry, we have a special one-day photography workshop in March 2016 during the annual WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photography International) Conference and Expo.

If there is one thing important to Heather and I when we create our images is having a concept to start with; neither one of us believe in the “place a pretty girl in front of your camera and shoot just for the fun of it” mentality. Sure, we have fun creating our model concepts as our shoots are never boring, but we focus on perfecting one great image, not just shooting a bunch of mediocre shots and that focus relies on photographic elements, a concept, styling of the model, styling of the set if necessary, the proper lens and lighting choices, plus the proper pose.

While obviously all images include posing of the human body, we like to go after the unique, not the cliché, and when it comes to posing, our attitude is if it’s meant to be bent, bend it. Basically that phrase is about utilizing the limbs at the elbow and knee joints to create interesting lines as a photographic element that adds to the final image. Lines come in three types, implied, imaginary, and inherent and in this featured photo, our focus was implied and imaginary lines.

Let’s talk about implied and imaginary lines. First, implied lines are also imaginary lines as they are not necessarily physically apparent in a photo and most are created by our minds through the perceptions we hold in our subconscious.  A great example of how our subconscious follows the body to create these lines is when a subject puts their hands in their hair and the elbow joints are cropped out of the frame, but the limbs are partially still evident. Our minds will ignore the missing limb parts and connect the visible parts.

Model Concept, penthouse light

While Heather was changing, I took this quick shot to see if the existing and ambient light in the penthouse would work with her model concepts. After viewing this on the back of my camera’s LCD screen, I determined this lighting was acceptable to the concept of the image.

Imaginary lines on the other hand are not implied nor perceived.  They are lines that make a photo appealing to view and come in various shapes—the most common being the S-curve naturally formed by the upper and lower torso. These types of lines are also formed with other parts of the body like the C-shape of the bust or when the limbs are bent at the knees or elbows. You can also use photographic lighting and shadows, hair, hats, clothing, or even props to create imaginary lines.

Inherent lines in photography

This photo I took one winter in Germany is a great example of inherent lines as a photographic element.

The third type of lines in photography are called inherent lines which tend to statically exist, like trees, doorframes, the edge of a wall, or the spirals of a staircase.  These lines come in various directions, such as vertical, horizontal, curved, or diagonal, though the strongest inherent lines in a photograph are more phallic. Great photographers often use inherent lines to tell a story and grab the viewers’ attention as vertical inherent lines symbolize power and horizontal inherent lines tend to symbolize a relaxed state.

In Heather’s concept she wanted the focus on the lines formed by the legs, but in a more unique pose and when we first started out she wasn’t convinced we had the pose, she knew something was missing—bringing one of the legs down lower to the ground and bending the leg that was raised, so we shot it again until we captured it to her liking.

Model Concepts, Heather Carden

This was of Heather’s model concepts during the actual photography workshop.

The Challenges
The first challenge was the fatigue. We were both worn out from the two-day workshop, not to mention we had flown in the night before the workshop and our body clocks were still in a different time zone, three hours ahead of Las Vegas. But like all our trips, we gained a second breath and overcame our fatigue with the passion and joy that comes from creating images together.

While not major, we had to move chairs and a small table from the area to provide us with the space we needed plus to avoid a cluttered background. Ironically, just when we thought we had our shots, I had put the furniture back in place, when Heather decided those shots were missing something, so she moved the furniture back again, and as tired as we both were, we reshot again until we got it right.

The floor was also a little cold and we helped eliminate that problem for Heather by placing a small bed throw on the ground. It was black, so we felt it would work well with the concept.

The lighting was the next challenge, but if there is one thing I like about the Olympus OM-D, E-M1 mirrorless camera is its ability to find light that my other cameras never seem to see. So before I broke out our lights that were already packed up by my assistant when the workshop ended, I did a quick test shot to see what light was there, and Heather and I liked it, so I decided to just use the ambient light found in the penthouse.

In the end, we were happy with the results as the challenges on this shoot were easy, and easy to overcome. Time was something on my mind too, as we had an early flight and still had to pack, but by starting with model concepts in mind, Heather and I accomplished our shots in less than 40-minutes.

The Safety
There were no real safety concerns during the creation of this concept photo other than using common sense in everything we do.

However, as in all of our photo shoots we take every safety precaution including running electrical cables under the light stand legs so stands will slide if someone trips over an electrical cord. If you do not place your monolight’s power cord under the stand legs, and someone trips over the cord, chances are your light will fall completely over vs. sliding across the floor. While we used light stands during the photography workshop, this shoot required no special lighting, just the existing, ambient light provided by the lights in the penthouse.


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