Photoshoots are a big part of today’s world, but so many women are afraid to engage with a photographer because they’re worried about how to pose.
That’s why we wrote this guide, which explains how to pose for photos (including 10 easy tips and 10 ideas to get you started). The article will also be useful for photographers who struggle to direct female clients.
How to Pose for Photos: Table of Contents
- 10 Easy Posing Tips
- 10 Easy Posing Ideas for Women
10 Easy Posing Tips
Here are 10 super-easy posing tips to help make every one of your photos look great! And with practice, you won’t have to keep thinking about these tips – the poses will just come naturally.
1. Chin Up
In my opinion, keeping the chin up makes all the difference. We naturally pull our heads downward, especially if we’re nervous or anxious. Because of this, when the chin is raised, the subject exudes confidence.
Pulling the chin up also reduces neck lines and wrinkles, and it keeps the shadows from creeping into the neck. A raised chin also accentuates cheekbones and shows off a great jawline!
Granted, this should be done in moderation – you don’t want to hike your chin up to the point that you’re looking at the sky or ceiling! Just a little bit of lift is all you need. If you feel a slight tension in your neck muscles, then you’ve done it right.
2. Arch the Back
Next, be sure to arch the back! All body types, in all shapes and forms, look beautiful and flattering with an arched back. Arching the back straightens out shoulders, pulls up the body, and accentuates feminine curves. The more extreme the arch, the more avant-garde and cool you can make the image look as well.
Arching the back applies to both standing and sitting poses, and it may apply to leaning and lying poses, too. The more S-shaped you can make the back look, the better.
If you aren’t used to arching your back, some muscle soreness or tension may be felt the following day. That’s completely normal!
3. One Leg In, One Leg Out
A pose concept that works well for literally everyone is the “one leg in, one leg out” rule! This rule (though it’s really more of a guideline) states that the body looks best when one leg is pulled out and the other one is bent more inward.
For example, when posing in a chair, you could bend one leg toward your body and straighten the other one! It doesn’t necessarily matter which leg is which, though photographers prefer the bent leg to be toward the camera.
If you’re standing, pull one leg out in front of the other leg. Since you can’t always bend one of the legs, having one in front of the other is enough to satisfy the rule.
Related Post: How to Shoot Full Body Portraits
This leg position actually adds to the composition of your photograph: the legs form lines that lead to your subject and add visual interest.
4. Don’t Hyperextend the Joints
If you’re like me and are very flexible or double-jointed, hyperextension happens and you might not notice! Hyperextension refers to straightening a joint until it looks like it’s bent backward or broken. In a photograph, this is especially jarring and unflattering.
I often make my arms look broken at the elbow when I straighten them because I don’t really feel the hyperextension, and you might, too. So as a rule, add a small bend to the elbow to prevent it from occurring!
5. Use Arms to Flatter the Curve of the Body
When posing, don’t place your arms limp at your sides. You’re not a puppet; you aren’t floppy when no one is pulling the strings! Instead, use the arms as a tool to flatter your body.
Instead of dropping the arms, press them against your body and bend them at the elbow, effectively laying your arms snug against your waist and hip. This directs more attention to the curve of your body. You might also cross your arms at the waist or put a hand on the hip.
6. Sit on the Edge
This tip is a great posing hack! You see, the best way to pose in a chair is sit on the edge, not against the back. Remember, you’re looking for great photos, not comfort! Of course, don’t sit so far forward that you constantly topple off. Just scoot that booty more to the front.
Sitting on the edge frees up the legs and hips for posing. If you sit in the chair normally, the seat of the chair consumes your body and limits your leg movement. But by posing on the edge, you gain lots of freedom.
It allows you to pull one leg in and have one leg out, lean over your legs, shift weight in your hips, and do other great chair poses.
7. Shift Weight to One Hip
Shifting your weight is often very comfortable, and it’s also a great way to pose! Standing with balanced weight can look a bit forced, whereas standing with shifted weight is much more casual and interesting to look at. Plus, it gives you better arm-pose opportunities!
8. Cross the Legs
When in doubt, cross your legs! For women, positioning the legs straight out to the side can look cool, but it’s a very specific effect. Crossing the legs while standing or sitting makes for a more feminine look and really accentuates the hips.
9. Walk Like a Deer
If you’re looking to capture a drool-worthy walking shot, this is the big secret: You should walk like a deer!
What I mean is that you need to exaggerate each step. Instead of walking normally, really pick up that leg and purposefully stretch it out in front of you before taking a step. The camera will capture it as an interesting and dynamic walk.
It can feel rather awkward and uncomfortable to walk in such a way, but remember that you only need to do it for a few steps.
10. Use 45-Degree Angle
Known lovingly as “the universal angle”, a 45-degree angle can be seen in all forms of artwork. Featured in both the Mona Lisa and celebrity photographs, the 45-degree angle is so common that we almost don’t even notice it! Therefore, this pose is an essential one to learn.
Related Post: The Psychology of Camera Angles
Turning 45 degrees gives your body an incredibly flattering shape, shows great facial structure and just looks great overall.
10 Easy Posing Ideas for Women
Now that we’ve explored our top posing tips, here are some ideas to try when taking photos:
1. Stretch Up
Put your legs close together and stretch your arms toward the sky! This creates a beautiful line with your body and gives you a lot of height. If you’re being photographed from behind, throw your head back a bit to make your hair look really full.
2. Hand(s) on Hips
Put your hands on both of your hips and pop the hip out to one side. It’s a very sassy and personality-driven pose.
3. Looking Over the Shoulder
Looking over the shoulder is a classic pose that emphasizes many different emotions (depending on the facial expression). Solemn expressions give a moodier effect, while big smiles add some sassiness. Push the shoulder up just a bit so your neck doesn’t form too many lines from the head turn.
4. Hand(s) in Pockets
Women’s clothing rarely has pockets that are useable, but if you’re wearing something that does, then show those pockets off! Pop the hip to either side and put one hand – or both hands – into the pockets.
5. Touching the Face
Our hands are great for framing, so let them frame your face! This is especially common when showcasing makeup and beauty portraits as the hands lead the audience’s eye directly to the face. Experiment with different hand positions and see what each one does for your facial structure.
6. Elbow to Knee and Lean
When you’re sitting in a chair, a fun pose is to bend the knees, put an elbow on your knee, and lean forward. You can turn your head in a variety of different directions, but remember to keep the chin up!
7. Sit Backward in a Chair
Who says you have to sit normally in a chair? If you want to capture a shot that looks a bit quirky, sit backward! Throw your legs over the back of the chair and turn. Just make sure you aren’t putting too much pressure on the back of the chair could fall.
8. Lie on the Hip
If you’re doing lying poses, then positioning yourself on the hip is a great move. Putting the weight on your hip allows you to stabilize yourself on the ground, letting you either lie fully or use your arm to lift the upper half of your body. Make sure to bend at least one leg for the best results.
9. Against a Wall or Tree
Posing against a wall, tree, fence, or another flat object is a great idea. Just make sure that you have two points of contact: your bum and your upper back! If you arch your back like the model in the image displayed above, it makes it easier to achieve the two points of contact.
10. One Leg Over the Other
I personally call this the “dude pose” because a lot of men naturally sit this way, but it makes for an edgy and fun pose for women, too! Just bend one leg, plant your foot firmly on the ground, then bend the other leg underneath.
Have Fun With Your Photoshoot!
If you pair the 10 tips with the 10 ideas, you’ll have tons of poses to try the next time you’re in front of a camera. Good luck!