It’s our job to make less flattering parts of the human body look esthetic. The shoulders, for instance, are the widest part of the body. Try to avoid shooting straight when including the shoulders in the frame. Leave that position for headshots and instead, look for slight angles.
Be careful when shooting from a lower position. Don’t shoot your model with their nose up as it gives an unwanted view of their nostrils.
Some clients tend to have a tense posture. Help them relax by having them shift their weight to the back leg.
Let them know from the very beginning that they won’t have to look at the camera the whole time and that they are free to look in other directions. This is very important for the outcome. You don’t want a variety of good poses that have the same look in the eyes.
Shoot classic portraits from slightly above the eye line.
Have a conversation with your clients while you’re taking photos. It will help them relax and will give their poses a more natural look. Avoid heavy topics however.
Make sure you don’t crop their limbs. Keep both arms in mind when framing as not to cut any wrists or elbows.
Instruct them to hold their pose until you say so and not to get distracted if you take the camera away from your eye.
Make small changes. You can turn a pose into a variety of different ones by changing the position of an arm, the neck, shoulders and so on. Also try multiple focal lengths.
Use a mirror or shoot tethered. It really helps a model to see what they look like for themselves. Adjustments also come more naturally this way.
- 75 Portraits: Lighting and Posing Techniques for Portrait Photographers
- The Portrait Photographer's Guide to Posing
- 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
It is one of the pieces of knowledge any photographer working with people should have.
That doesn’t make it easy to learn or practice however. When people go to a photographer for their services, be it for a wedding or a fashion portfolio, they expect clear indications on what to do in front of the camera. They might not be in front of the camera for the first time, but you being the professional could make it intimidating for them to try things that might have worked in the past or when someone close was the photographer. It is therefore necessary for you to enough about posing to choose the best options for the person or the style of the desired photos. I obviously cannot teach you how to pose your model in a single article such as this. I can, however, share with you some of the things I picked up over the years. I’ve been fortunate enough to have photographed international models as well as regular people.
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