Book Review: Study of Pose: 1,000 Poses by Coco Rocha

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For a very specific audience and lousy production quality mars the overall experience.

The book's title would probably mislead people to think that this book is about the study of poses when in fact it is just a book of poses, 1,000 examples of extreme poses to be specific.

Coco Rocha, if you don't know, is a Canadian model. Together with photographer Steven Sebring, they have produced a book of 1,000 poses.

The premise is interesting enough for me to get it. 1,000 poses! They could be good for reference. But there's a big caveat.

Let's talk about the book's physical aspect first. It's a 2032-page hardcover about 7 by 9 inches. It's very thick and heavy. Edges of the pages are printed black.

Majority of the pages stick together. By the time I peel off the pages from each other, reaching about hundred over pages, I was quite tired, at two hundred pages, I was irritated, and at three hundred pages I was reflecting on the production value of this book. Yes, you'll have a lot of time to think about things while peeling the pages. Those people who say this is a good book may not have peeled more pages than me yet.

And because the pages are so thin, it's easy to crease them when peeling them apart.

Production quality of the book is quite bad. For the price of the book, it's very bad. I should also note that publisher Harper Design is known for publishing illustrated books such as the The Hobbit film companions, 532-page Harry Potter Page to Screen and 464-page The Art of Film Magic which are all quality production. It's quite shocking to see a book of this production quality from them.

The binding is also questionable. The book uses stitch binding, thank goodness. However, the piece of cloth that sticks to the stitched binding does not seem to use particularly strong adhesive. I picked up the book the wrong way by holding the spine side and the pages pulled down causing the cloth to detach from the stitched binding. Not good. I've since pushed the cloth back to make it stick again and it looks alright for the time being. Having said that, for a book this thick you would expect to open it flat, and I've a feeling that the cloth will come off in the future (again for my case).

Alright, now about the content.

From a photography standpoint the photos look good enough, for me. Photos of Rocha are against black background. The lighting is nice. The form of the body is easily discernible except in a few occasions where the shadow side blends into the background like those chiaroscuro paintings of old masters. Half the number of pages are actually for the photos while the other half are white printed with the page number. The book could have easily been half the size if they chose to print the page number in white against the black background of the photos, and that would not have compromised anything artistically.

If you thought fashion poses are outrageous in real life, there are even more extreme so here. I meant that in a good and bad way. The good is there's a huge variety of poses to check out. The bad, depending on what you have been expecting, is most poses aren't from real life or anything resembling how you would pose in real life. Anyway. if you're really looking for fashion poses, check out 1000 Poses in Fashion and How to Draw Poses in Fashion.

The poses here are not those you see in typical fashion magazines. They are more expressive and exaggerated. Out of the 1,000 poses, there are probably less than 10 poses from real life. Out of those 10, most are sports poses. There many poses of her doing some uncommon version of bending, jumping, sitting and standing. I'm actually quite impressed by how many non-real life poses there are. Rocha really is "The Queen of Pose", but whether you can use those poses is a different matter. I see this book as an artistic project rather than a reference book that's meant to be helpful.

There aren't any poses where I think any artist, model or photographer would replicate for their own project. But that's just my opinion.

Another downside is that the poses are not grouped or categorised in any manner. So you can't find poses relating to criteria such as standing, squatting, twisting torso, hand raise, etc. And because they are not categorised, the page numbers are sort of useless on hindsight, which also means half the book is wasted to print them.

In the preface of the book, it was mentioned 100 cameras were used to photograph Rocha in different angles. I suppose there might be a tablet application coming soon to show all those poses. And indeed on Sebring's website, there's a mockup of the app showing one pose that you can turn around in 360. Perhaps that application will be a more worthwhile purchase because you really don't want to deal with the sticky pages of this book.

Pose number 1,000 is quite apt at describing how I feel at the end of the book. It shows Rocha clearly distressed and trying to tear her hair out. I wonder if there's a hidden joke somewhere.

This book is really marred by the lousy production quality and ultimately, whether the content will appeal to you will depend on your expectations.

2 out of 5 stars.

Study of Pose: 1,000 Poses by Coco Rocha is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN)

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Majority of the pages are stuck together.

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The cloth is supposed to stick to the stitch binding.

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This is how I feel about this book.

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