Lets face it, professional models can take a lot of the burden off us as photographers by bringing their posing expertise to the table. But unfortunately we don't always have the benefit of shooting with a professional model. As a high caliber photographer it is important to have the ability to pose normal people with little to no experience in front of the camera. If posing for modeling is a challenge for you this list of 27 posing ideas along with photos for reference should help. Every photo below was taken by me.
While certain genres of photography get to work with models, most genres involve shooting normal people who will have varying degrees of comfort in front of the camera and natural posing ability. Posing was the hardest thing to learn for me personally and it is something I still work on every day.
While I am jealous of photographers who have a natural ability to pose people on the fly, I unfortunately have found that I work best by having a list of go-to poses that I know work well for me and can fall back on if I need to. Until now I have kept that list to myself. If you are a model or photographer who struggles with posing I hope this list helps but just remember, posing is only half the battle.
Models: The best posing in the world wont matter if your appearance is off. So, show up with 3 or 4 of your best outfits, get your hair cut and your beard trimmed if you have one. Looking your best will boost your confidence on the day of the photoshoot and it will show on camera.
Pro Tip. Keep some Beard Balm or Styling Gel-Pomade on hand to keep those fly away hairs in check.
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Make sure to bookmark this page so you can bring it up at any shoot and go down the list and nail every pose. You do that and you will be guaranteed to leave the shoot with tons of variety. Connect with me on Instagram HERE and let me know if this article helped in the comments below.
1. Both hands in pockets
This pose works just as well with both hands in your subjects pants pockets but if they are wearing a jacket have them place both hands in their jacket pockets. Try full hands in or just thumbs showing.
2. The profile Pose/Side View
Have your subject stand to the side so you can only see one side of their face. Ask your subject if they have a favorite side. Most people do. Make sure to try different angles and perspectives.
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3. Side Lean While Looking Away
Have your subject lean against a wall with one shoulder against the wall. Have them look at the camera, up at the sky, turn their head and look down or off into the distance. Make sure they have good posture. Stand tall and straight. Add a prop like coffee for more of a lifestyle feel.
4. The Laugh
Any time you can get your subject to genuinely smile or laugh take the shot. These candid moments are gold. Something I like to do for a laugh is ask my subject their favorite comedian and play that comedian on Spotify for a few minutes until they laugh. Or dad jokes, Really bad dad jokes often do the trick.
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5. Hand on Wrist
This one only works if your subject is wearing a watch or bracelet. I usually tell my male subjects to wear a watch before hand. This gives them just one more thing to do with their hands. They will appreciate it.
6. Hand to Face
Have your subject turn to the side, slightly turn their torso/head and rest their head into their hand. Loose fingers and not to much bend in the neck.
7. The Scowl
If your subject hasn't done a photo shoot before they most likely assume they should be smiling for every photo. But depending on how they plan on using the photos and what mood and message they are trying to achieve smiling may not be the right choice. Try a slight scowl to change things up.
8. Over the Shoulder
Have your subject stand or sit to the side and look over their shoulder either at the camera or slightly looking back over their shoulder. A more serious look works best for this pose.
9. The Sleeve Pull
This pose works great if your subject has on a long sleeve shirt or button up. Have them play with their sleeve by pulling it up.
10. The Inside Pocket
If your subject is wearing a blazer or jacket with an inside pocket have them go through the act of putting something in the inside pocket.
11. Play with Buttons
If your subject is wearing a button up have then go through the act of buttoning and unbuttoning their shirt. Have them place one hand over the other as if they are about to unbutton their shirt.
12. Fist in Hand
This is a great pose for a more muscular subject who wants to show off those arms. Have them face the camera, stand tall and place a fist in one hand and flex.
13. Hand to Chest Side View
This is another great one for a subject who wants to show those arms. Have your subject stand tall, to the side, slightly turning their torso to the camera with one hand up by their chest, flexing the bicep, and looking into the camera or into the distance.
14. Jacket Over One Shoulder
If your subject has a jacket or blazer have them throw it over one shoulder.
15. Hands on Waist
Have your subject stand tall and place both hands on their hips or waist and flex those arms. Shoot from slightly below at an upward angle for a stronger look.
16. Sit and Lean
Have your subject sit and lean placing an elbow on the knee and hand to face.
17. Hand to Neck
Have your subject bring a hand to their neck just below the chin. Keep the hand loose. They aren't choking themselves.
18. One Hand in Pocket
Have your subject place just one hand in a pant pocket.
Depending on the mood and message your subject wants to convey a book is an easy prop to bring with you that can be used in multiple ways shown below. Again your subject will appreciate you giving them something to do with their hands.
20. Back to the Wall
Have your subject put his back to the wall looking into the camera or off into the distance. Try different perspectives.
21. Hand behind the Head
Have your subject place one hand behind his head. Not too much bend in the neck.
22. Cover half the Face
Have your model cover half his face with one or both hands. This brings all the focus to one eye.
23. Sit one leg Under
Have your subject sit on the ground with one leg under the other. Resting one elbow on the knee and the forearm on the thigh.
24. Hands Behind the Back
Have your subject place both hands behind their back, hands in butt pockets.
25. Sitting Pose
When having your subject sit on steps try different perspectives and have one foot higher than the other rather than both feet on the same step.
26. Candid Walking Pose
Have your subject walk a straight line down the side walk. Make sure he is walking casually, naturally and not looking into the camera. Try shooting from the side and slightly up from a lower angle.
27. One hand on Shoulder.
Have your subject look into the camera while placing one hand on his shoulder.
For more tips on posing men click HERE for Smart Posing Tips to Capture Perfect Male Portraits
Author Lance Reis
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