Tips and Advice on Posing

Having worked with professional models, amateur models, and normal everyday people (aka my friends whom I wrangled into sitting as my models), I’ve noticed characteristics of each that I hope to share. I hope that these observations will help your modeling career or just help you look your best in a photo. 

One of the hardest things to do when getting your picture taken is posing. The most frequent question I hear is “what do you want me to do?” Generally I’ll give you a vague direction: sit here, look this way, do something with your hands. Or other times I’m more specific and show you the pose I envision. Professional models will take those directions and give me 10+ variations on a pose. Amateurs will give me one. This is difficult to work with because most of the time, as a photographer, I don’t really know what poses will work for you and what poses won’t. A lot of models will look solely to the photographer for guidance. But it is a two-way street. You should know what poses look good for you before you sit down for your photo. Practice in front of a mirror, look at magazines, try some out, experiment and remember those poses so that when you’re in front of the camera, you can bring variety. Listen to the photographer’s verbal guidance but also look for non-verbal cues as well.

When I shoot a portrait, I have a general idea of the look I want. However, that image in my mind’s eye shifts and changes with the model’s input. Imagine, you can affect the photographer’s creative process!

1.       Have a variety of poses. This includes body movement and facial expressions. Please (please please please!) refrain from the pouty mouth look unless specifically asked.

2.       Move slowly. When changing from one pose to another, do it slowly to give the photographer enough time to capture shots in between.

3.       Listen for directions. Know your left from your right. Where to look.

4.       Look for non-verbal directions. Is the photographer tilting his/her head one way or the other, mimic those non-verbal cues.

5.       Relax! Loosen your shoulders and relax. Stiff poses are…stiff.

6.       Express your limits and boundaries. If the photographer asks you to do something you’re not comfortable with, say it. If you’re not comfortable, the photos will be awkward.

7.       Be aware of the light sources. This is uber important. Always remember where the light is hitting your face. Unless told to look away, always try to have the light on your face so that it can be seen and not shadowed.

8.       Have fun and be comfortable. I like doing silly faces and poses to help the model relax. It’s not all serious bendy arms and sucked-in tummies all the time.

Hope this helps! Leave a comment or suggestion you think I might have missed.