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Portrait photographers love to make their subjects look good. Portrait lighting, exposure, and focus techniques are complemented by portrait posing tips for women. All of these work together to let us portray our subject in the most flattering way.
Making portraits of women is available for any photographer, male or female, young or old, professional or serious amature. Knowing how to pose female subjects gives us the power to control most of the variables that could affect the finished image for good or bad.
Look in some of our articles for advanced and basic tips and techniques concerning portrait lighting, selective focus, and composition. For this discussion, we’ll concentrate on posing tips for portraits of women.
Some of these portrait posing tips are focused on what you can do before the photo shoot begins and others will highlight how to pose female subjects while you’re in the photo shoot.
Find Their Good Side
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Almost everyone knows which side is their good side. In portraits of women, this works in regards to their face and also their figure. Just ask your subject . And then play to that perceived strength of theirs, providing good direction of course.
This will have an added benefit of giving the portrait subject a good reason to trust you. Trust that you will be delivering a portrait that they will enjoy and feel comfortable sharing.
Look At a Portrait Posing Guide
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To find out how to pose female subjects, I like to look at the work of other artists. Usually I find some inspiration for posing, composition, and for lighting. I also use preprinted posing guides.
Posing guides can be found in electronic form, too. An advantage of using posing guides for portrait posing tips is that a picture speaks a thousand words. Instead of attempting to describe how you want the subject to pose, show them.
Consult or Use Hair and Makeup Pros
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A lot of photographers have arrangements with other artists to perform work for each other. Or, you might offer discounts to each other for the services needed. The portrait subject might have friends or a regular beautician they go to.
Any way it works, making use of a hair and makeup professional before a photoshoot is a good idea. Many women do a great job on their own, but professionals have tips and tricks of their own that will give better results.
Choose the Right Lens
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As with any portrait subject, the right lens will give you the best options for your intended results. You will have a pretty good idea of what results are desired by you and the portrait subject. For portraits of women, the lens choice will also depend on what type or style of composition you want.
Portrait posing tips for women or men show us that the focal length of the lens can make a huge difference in the type or style of image you end up with. If you want a head and shoulders portrait, you would likely use a short telephoto lens. For full length portraits of women, a normal lens or a slight wide angle may be a better choice.
Another option for portraits of women is the environmental portrait. A slightly different set of portrait posing tips or posing guides are helpful for this style of portrait. Environmental portraits are a wonderful way to have a subject tell a story about themselves.
Light It Properly
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Some of the most valuable portrait posing tips take into account how you relate the lighting configuration to the composition and how to pose female subjects.
When taking environmental portraits of women in their own homes or offices or anywhere outside of your own studio, controlling the light can be a major concern. SMall, battery powered, portable LED lights are extremely useful tools for our on location portrait sessions.
A versatile and high quality version of this type of light is the Hakutatz LED light. One of the biggest advantages this light has, besides its small size and correct color temperature adjustment, is the ability to control its functions from your smartphone.
You will need to relate the lighting configuration to your posing thoughts ahead of time and then adjust during shooting as need be.
Warm Up and Relax
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Ambient temperature notwithstanding, an important portrait tip is we want to have our subject warm up to us so they are relaxed during our photo session. As the photographer, you need to relax, too.
Since you will be verbally directing the subject into various positions and poses, having a rapport with the subject will allow you to get the subject to follow your direction and your own portrait posing tips.
Don’t Get Too Close
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A common failure of snapshots as opposed to good portraits is being physically too close to the subject. We can generally obtain a better apparent perspective by using a longer lens and having some distance between us and the subject.
Keeping a little distance can add an air of professionalism to our session as well. An important portrait posing tip is that people are generally somewhat protective of their personal space. Intruding on the space can reduce all the relaxation we worked so hard to create.
You don’t want any lights you’re using to be too close either. Even with tiny portable lights, if you have a lamp with enough power, like the Hakutatz LED light, you can simply dial up the power level to adjust for movement of the subject. Which relates to the next of our portrait posing tips for women.
Keep Them Moving
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As you’re triggering the shutter, keep talking to your portrait subject, and keep them moving in and out of different poses and compositions. A good rule of thumb is to have them change something after every time they hear the shutter.
Tilt and Pivot
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What movements do you want from the subject? I like to tell them to tilt and pivot. If you have already discussed some portrait posing tips for women with them, you can give them some guidance for what poses to move into.
Tilt the head and pivot the torso. Tilt the torso and pivot the head. Tilt and pivot legs, feet, wands, arms. If you have the subject relaxed, they will fall into poses that feel natural to them. The biggest responsibility for the photographer at this point is to make sure their poses stay flattering and to also ensure your camera and light placement stays in positions that will enhance the portraits.
Review the Images Before Ending Session
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One last thing that often helps, especially in environmental portraits of women, is to review a few of the images with your client. Some photographers don’t like to do this step, and that’s fine. What I like about this step is that I can give the portrait subject assurance that all went well. I also get to reassure myself that I captured images that really favors the subject.
Using these portrait posing tips for women will result in your images being flattering to the subject as beautiful portraits.