In this article, you’ll discover 11 simple tips to start people posing like a pro (plus plenty of example images).
So if you’re ready to take your portrait photography to the next level, then let’s get started!
(Also, if you’re looking for posing inspiration, check out our handy Portrait Posing Guide, which offers a whopping 67 sample portrait poses.)
Before the shoot
Here are some points to think about before you even pick up your camera:
1. What kind of shoot is it?
The posing requirements for a family portrait shoot are very different than the requirements for a fashion shoot.
So don’t think about posing until you’ve determined the type of shoot you’re doing!
2. Look for inspiration online
Chances are that you have a few photographers you follow on websites like Flickr and 500px. You’ll find some good poses in their portfolios.
So download your favorite poses to your smartphone (or use Pinterest to create a mood board; I cover this in more detail in my article, How to Plan the Perfect Portrait Shoot). That way, you have something you can show to your model.
Don’t try and commit the poses to memory – you will forget them under pressure!
3. Match the pose to your model
This is important.
You’ll see some wonderful poses in fashion magazines. But many of them need a professional model to pull them off.
And your model may not be able to do those – so tailor the pose to your model (not the other way around!).
During the shoot
No matter how experienced or inexperienced your model is, here are some tips to help you capture the perfect pose during the shoot:
4. Build rapport
This is essential. If your model likes you and sees what you are trying to achieve, they will work harder.
Talk to your model about things they like; this will help produce more life in their eyes and get better expressions, including natural smiles. And they’ll be more relaxed.
But if your model is tense, you are going to struggle to get natural-looking portraits. In that case, take the pressure off the model and bring it back on yourself. Assure them that if the photos don’t work out, it’s your fault, not theirs. Build their confidence.
5. Look for natural expressions
As you talk to your model, you will notice natural expressions and mannerisms that you can capture.
Don’t be afraid to say “Hold that pose!” or “Do that again.”
6. Adapt poses
When you suggest a pose to your model – such as a pose used in another photo or a pose from the Posing App – treat it as a starting point. Then adapt it to suit the model.
In other words: If your model looks unnatural in a certain pose, then change it! Adjust each pose to suit your model’s body and clothes.
Keep everything as simple as possible. This applies to composition, as well as the clothes and jewelry your model is wearing.
If your model has too much jewelry, ask them to remove some. It’ll make the composition better.
If you’re struggling to find a good full-length pose, move in closer and shoot from the waist up, or do a head-and-shoulders portrait. The background will go more out of focus, and there will be less of the model in the photo (i.e., the shot will be simplified!).
8. Pay attention to detail
Pay special attention to hands, which often look better turned sideways. Look at photos where the model’s hands look elegant or are nicely posed, and ask your model to do the same.
Check your model’s hair to make sure stray strands aren’t blowing across their face or eyes. Look at their clothes to make sure they aren’t wrinkled or creased in a strange way.
9. Find something for your model to lean on
This makes it much easier to create a natural-looking pose.
10. Use props
If the model has a prop to hold or otherwise interact with, it gives them something to do.
And if they’re having fun with the props, you’re more likely to get a great expression!
Posing people with confidence: conclusion
There you have it:
11 easy tips for posing people!
So the next time you’re photographing a person, make sure to try some of these tips out!