Pistol Fingers pose-ing a threat? Pull a Simon Instead

Showing off curves like Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks in front of the camera is back in vogue with today’s women – and even some men – as a Nikon study reveals the nation’s favourite poses to celebrate its new Autumn / Winter COOLPIX camera range. More than 1,500 Brits were polled to unearth our ‘pose idols’ as well as the looks that we replicate the most in front of the camera.


The list of our favourite poses proves that we are a nation of celebrity copycats. The most popular pose icon in the UK is Simon Cowell with 45% of respondents that admitted to posing saying his iconic arm fold is the pose they are most likely to imitate in photos. Whilst the boys admit to preferring to pull a ‘Simon’, the girls admit to replicating the ‘Driving Men Mad’ pose, with 47% of them opting for the sultry look made famous by Christina Hendricks from the popular TV series, Mad Men. Also popular in the pose-stakes is the Paris Hilton inspired ‘Side Show’ with 25% of us admitting to pulling this pose in our pictures.*

The research shows that 71% of us pose at least some of the time in front of the camera. The main reason for striking a pose in front of the camera is wanting to look good, with 27% saying that they pose in photos in order to look their best or better than others. The second most popular reason for posing is the instant gratification of being able to see a picture straight away on a camera and the third most popular reason is people knowing that the pictures will end up on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Leading Body Language Expert, Judi James, comments: “I’m not surprised to see Simon Cowell and Christina Hendricks are the top two pose icons. When we’re in front of a camera we will quite often pose so that we feel less conscious about ourselves. People will copy Simon Cowell because he comes across as extremely confident and successful which is seen as sexy. Equally women will try to emulate the sex appeal of Christina Hendricks as her curves and confidence makes her appear attractive.”

Our favourite and least favourite poses, and what they say about us


1. The Simon Arm Fold - Simon Cowell
Confident, but don’t take yourself too seriously

2. Driving Men Mad - Christina Hendricks
Subtle, womanly flirt with high levels of emotional intelligence

3. Side Show - Paris Hilton
Competitive, perfectionist personality with a touch of ruthlessness and ambition

4. Perma Shades - Bono
Shy with a desire to hide. Keeping your thoughts to yourself

5. The Peacemaker - Miley Cyrus
Well-meaning with a good sense of humour

Least Favourites

6. Pistol Fingers - David Brent
Arrogant and dominant. Someone who takes their sex appeal too seriously

7. You’re Fired - Sir Alan Sugar
This is a critical parent gesture which is aggressive

8. The Bolt - Usain Bolt
Fun individual, but humour tends to be corny rather than fresh and witty

9. A Few Good Men - Tom Cruise
Implies awkwardness and social discomfort

10. The Crotch Grab - Michael Jackson
Implies low self-esteem

Whilst you might assume that those aged under 25 years, who have grown up with Facebook and digital cameras, are the biggest posers, actually it is the 25-35 year old age group, with 78% admitting that they regularly pull poses in photos. However, it is the younger generation that know how to show themselves off in the best light, with 67% of those 16-25 year olds that pose preferring to pull a ‘Side Show’, one of the most flattering poses. All other age groups were unanimous in preferring to pull a ‘Simon Arm Fold’.*

Another misconception is that women pose more in photos, with just over three quarters of us thinking that females are the biggest posers when actually, men admit to posing just as often. However, there are some gender differences in the poses we commonly see – whilst women favour the flattering postures such as the side show (37%), men will go for wackier moves, such as the accessorised ‘Perma Shades’ look made famous by Bono (20%). *

Orla Diffily, owner of Upfront Model Management, who organise deportment courses in Dublin and nationally, has seen a growing trend in celebrity copycat poses: “The most frequent question we are now asked at our courses, is how to look good in photos. Most of us 'strike a pose' and copycat our favourite celebrity almost without realising it. However, people need to remember that what works on a celeb doesn’t work for everybody. For example, the ‘Teapot’ stance can look great on Lady Gaga and Beyonce, but it depends on your shape, size, gender, age, occupation and the occasion as to whether it’ll suit you. You can see from the top male and female poses that the celebrities that we perceive to look the best in photos are those that are used to having their picture taken frequently. Practice makes perfect - and they look confident in their pictures as a result.”

1. Cheryl Cole
2. Victoria Beckham
3. Katy Perry
4. Samantha Cameron
5. Alexa Chung

1. David Beckham
2. Simon Cowell
3. Russell Brand
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
5. Robert Pattison


Jeremy Gilbert, Group Marketing Manager at Nikon UK, comments: “Photography has become so accessible with advances in digital technology, but with today’s busy lifestyles it’s important to people that they get the best shots as easily as possible. Nikon’s COOLPIX cameras include the Smart Portrait System features such as smile timer, blink warning and skin softening to make it even easier to get a photo that is picture perfect.”

The Nikon COOLPIX compact camera range comes equipped with a range of Smart Portrait features:
• For those who want to capture spontaneous moments – Smile Timer: Automatically releases the shutter when the camera detects a smile on the face of the subject.

• For those who want the perfect group shot – Blink Proof: Works in conjunction with smile timer. When the camera detects a smile it will take two sequential shots and will save the shot where the subject’s eyes are open.

• Blink Warning: Notifies you when a subject blinks during exposure, allowing you to immediately retake the shot.

• For those who want flattering close ups – Skin Softening: Automatically detects and analyses your subject’s skin and then adjusts smoothness for enhanced results.

• For those who want to avoid blurry faces – Advance Face Priority: Detects a person’s face and the distance at which you are taking a picture to activate autofocus to focus on upon the face. For those who want to banish red-eye – Red-Eye Fix: Automatically corrects any perceived red-eye effect before saving the picture to memory.

• Perfect posture makes the perfect pose

• Know your good side from your not so good. Most of us do not have completely balanced faces, so we can photograph better from one side

• Copy Cat… how does your favourite celeb or model pose? Does it suit you? Are you a similar age, height, body shape?

• Positioning! Groups of two or three work best. If you can - position your self on the outside of a shot with your best side towards camera. If in the centre don’t stand straight, position your body towards the camera. If you are on your own in the shot, angle your ‘good side’ towards the camera and position your body with one foot slightly forward (or shoulder if you are sitting). Hands at an angle loosely by your side (don’t clench your fists), or hold something, a bag, notes, or one hand in your pocket

• Handwork! Avoid placing both hands on your hips (Teapot). Instead, for women, one hand on a hip angled towards the lens is fine. For men, one hand in a pocket, or loosely by side. Relax your hands. Don’t grip them or pick at your nails. Also (legwork) keep your legs close together (but not touching), and for women position one towards the camera

• Preview and Review. Don’t be afraid to ask to see the photograph of yourself! Are your eyes open? The Nikon COOLPIX cameras come with Smart Portrait System has a handy Blink Warning and Smile Timer to avoid shots of you with your eyes closed

• Is the lighting flattering? Uplighting can be harsh and highlight wrinkles, particularly under eye bags. Soft lighting is flattering to everyone. The Nikon COOLPIX range comes with a great skin softening feature that will automatically correct poor lighting

• In professional situations sometimes photographers use a wide angle lens to capture a group of people. This can make those on the outside of the shot, look slightly distorted and bigger than they are. So for large groups - sneak towards the middle. Relax and try to be natural. Practice at home in front of a mirror, but not to the point of obsession

• Accept yourself for what you are and learn to like yourself in photographs. Kate Moss has uneven teeth for example. We tend to be self critical, but others don’t notice the finer details. And remember to smile. Even if you don’t like it, most of us look better happy

There’s nothing wrong with doing as the celebrities do and adopting your own ‘iconic’ pose for snapshots, as long as you get your signals right and don’t use body language gestures that can be seen as arrogant, insulting or incongruent.

• Smiling is important but your smile needs to look genuine rather than forced. A genuine smile starts in the eyes and the mouth is evenly spread rather than lop-sided. Rigid or over-stretched smiles showing too much teeth will look threatening as they mimic animal tooth-baring, which will suggest a snarl of attack.

• Tilting your head slightly to the side as you smile will make your expression look more natural as it signals relaxation and confidence.

• If you feel under pressure posing for shots the chances are your shoulder muscles will contract, making your posture and arms look and feel rigid. By rolling your shoulders back and down you’ll look confident rather than tense.

• Avoid trying to pout for the camera. Some celebrities make pouting their iconic look but for inexperienced posers it can look sulky rather than sexy.

• Push your elbows slightly away from your body as you pose. When we get anxious we often self-hug, gluing our arms to our torso (especially women). Spreading out slightly (splaying) looks and feels more confident. Rest your elbows on the arms of a chair, put an arm around the person next to you, or place one hand on your hip. For girls – thumbs hooked into a belt or one hand in your trouser pocket for the guys.

• Avoid open-mouth poses, they look aggressive, as though you’re trying to eat or attack the camera.

• Tongue-poking might feel naughty and rebellious but it looks like childlike humour, signalling rejection or disgust and can spoil the shot.

• Breathe out before the photo is taken, it relaxes your torso.

• Avoid pseudo-aggressive gestures like pointing or over-splaying with both hands on your hips. These body-bulking gestures mimic an animal in a state of aggressive arousal.

• Never do arrogant body language, even when you’re being funny or ironic. Standing with your chin raised or using dramatic hand gestures will make you look as though you take yourself way too seriously.

About Judi James
Judi is one of the UK’s leading body language / behaviour experts with a high TV and radio profile. Judi has presented her own body language series for Ch 5: Naked Celebrity and has been regular body language/ behaviour expert on Big Brother’s Little Brother and Big Brother on the Couch since episode two, working with Dermot O’Leary and Davina. She had a nightly slot on Sky News analysing politicians during the election and pops up regularly on Sky News and BBC news 24. Judi worked on Strictly Come Dancing from series one, analysing contestants and appearing regularly on It Takes Two, had a regular spots on The X-tra Factor, Fame Academy, Strictly Disco and Chris Evans’s show Boys & Girls. She also appears as the body language expert on The Paul O’Grady Show.

About Orla Diffily
Orla Diffily has over 20 years experience working in the PR, Fashion and Modeling industry. Her role working with models, actors and celebrities, as well as corporate clients, has afforded Orla a valuable insight on how important it is to look good on camera and how it can be used as the ultimate communications tool. She hosts courses on deportment, posture and personal self projection through her business, Upfront Model Management.

The research for Nikon was carried out by Opinion Matters between 04/11/10 and 09/11/10. Sample 1,480 UK adults.

* Percentages used in this paragraph refer to the top 5 poses exclusively and have been taken from a sample of 783 UK adults.