- Portrait Photographer's Handbook
- 500 Poses for Photographing Women
- 500 Poses for Photographing Men
- Posing for Portrait Photography: A Head-to-Toe Guide for Digital Photographers
- Doug Box's Guide to Posing for Portrait Photographers
- Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers
- Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It: Learn Step by Step How to Go from Empty Studio to Finished Image
Although many digital photos are created automatically, shooting portraits of women requires some specific knowledge, especially posing them to capture appealing and flattering images. You can pose a woman in hundreds of ways, but all of those poses follow some basic rules. Part 2 of this PhotographyTalk.com article presents another group of tips that will help you compose excellent female portraits. Read Part 1 for tips #1 through #8.
1. Pose Her Like a Model.
One of the classic fashion photography poses is the model’s weight on the back foot and the foot nearest the camera pointed forward. With her weight on her back hip, there will be none on the front leg and foot. Then, ask your subject to bend one knee toward the other leg. This creates an “S” curve, which accentuates the female form.
2. Avoid Emphasizing Unpleasing Parts of the Body.
If you’re shooting a full-length portrait, then ask your subject to raise her leg that is closest to the camera, slightly. This hides the crotch area. In a sitting position, make sure the legs are together or if you’re using a stepladder, place your subject’s front leg on a higher rung. Check that you are not revealing a bare armpit. Dressing the subject in long-sleeved clothing is one solution; the other is to re-position the arms, according to the tips in this article.
3. Bend the Joints.
The human body has many joints and probably the most prominent in your photo portraits will be the arms. These tips apply to legs also, when you taking full-length portraits. Ask your subject to bend her arms at the elbow at any angle, but 90 degrees. That looks very static. One photographer calls it “carpenter’s T-square arms.” Bending the joints at a pleasing angle complements the other positions of the body: leaning over the belt buckle, tilting the head to one shoulder, moving the eyes slightly to one side or the other, etc.
4. Don’t Amputate Your Subject.
When you’re finalizing your portrait in editing software, always crop the arms or legs between the joints. If you crop at the joints, then your subject will look like an amputee.
This group of tips for posing women relates specifically to the hands.
5. Separate the Hands.
Stacking or clasping the hands is also very static and doesn’t utilize the hands to add to the quality of your portrait. It’s best to separate them and position them between the joints.
6. Don’t Project the Near Hand Toward the Camera.
The hand nearest the camera will look larger if it’s projected too much toward the camera. Make sure the hands remain in focus. A general rule is to direct the fingers upwards if the hand is above the subject’s waist. Direct them down if the hands are below the waist. It’s more pleasing to have the little finger of the hand facing the camera than the thumb.
7. Hide the Back of Women’s Hands.
A view of the flat of the hand looks like a large blob of flesh; so always position your subject’s hands to show them from the sides.
This group of tips for posing women relates specifically to plus-size subjects.
8. Compress the Image with a Telephoto Lens.
If you shoot a large woman with a normal lens, then her image is likely to be distorted, making her look wider. With a telephoto lens, the opposite effect occurs. The image is slightly compressed; and although it won’t make her thinner, it will not emphasize her size.
9. Avoid Low Angles.
A low-angle portrait of a large woman will only accentuate what doesn’t need accentuation. Don’t jump to the obvious conclusion and shoot only high-angle digital photos. That will work, but try to be more creative with other angles and framing.
10. Apply the Right Psychology.
When your subject is a large woman, she also wants to look feminine and be treated like any of your other subjects/clients. Unless otherwise instructed or contracted, don’t avoid shooting full-length images. The burden is on you to create pleasing and flattering compositions, regardless of the shape or size of your subjects.
For tips on how to pose men, read the PhotographyTalk.com article, Digital Photography—How To Pose Men for Better Portraits.
Photo by PhotographyTalk member Jazz Waheed