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.
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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.
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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. 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
1. The Profile Pose/Side View
If your model isn't blessed with perfect bone structure try different lighting, angles, chin movements, and hair placement to hide a double chin. Models: Don't worry, we all have one.
2. Movement Pose/Action Pose
Have the model do some kind of movement or action. This could be walking, running, jumping, or spinning. For action shots make sure your shutter speed is 1/250 and up so it's not blurry.
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3. Seated Pose
Seated poses are great just keep an eye on posture and the tummy. Last thing you want is the tummy getting squished. If it's not flattering your model wont like it. Make sure your model engages her core at all times.
4. Chin in hand pose
If your model is seated this is a great go to. Try a variety of hand placements on the chin. Have your model look into the camera and off into the distance.
5. Look to the sky pose
Here's a tip to make your models eyes pop and lose those shadows when you're using natural light only. Have her look up. The light from the sky will make those babies pop and eliminate any unflattering shadows! This is very useful when shooting in a dark forest and your models face is super shaded.
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6. Over the shoulder pose
To change things up try an over the shoulder pose where your model plays with her hair with the hand furthest from the camera. Have her open up and get some space between the elbow and her body making a triangle.
7. Hands on hips pose.
Play around with hands on both hips or just one hand on one hip. Try having your model slighting turn her body and popping that hip to show some side booty.
8. Lean on wall pose
Try photographing at different angles and have your model lean with her side to the wall and her back to the wall for variety.
9. Play with hair pose
This is what I meant above when I said have your model play with her hair with the hand furthest from the camera. Have her open up and get some space between the elbow and her body making a triangle. Models will always ask what to do with their hands so letting them play with their hair is natural, fun, and gives them something to do with their hands.
10. Legs crossed pose
Crossing the legs can give great shape to the body.
11. Surprised Expression
I call this the Macaulay Culkin pose. I find adding the hands is just a bit over the top but a surprised expression really open up the eyes and makes for a fun photo every time.
12. Hand in pocket pose
Try both hands or try just one. The choice is yours. Live a little. Also try a thumb in the belt loop instead of pocket or a thumb in the waist band.
13. Look into the distance
I call this the day dreaming pose. Have you model look into the distance like she's day dreaming about something she loves or like she's longing for something.
14. Funny Faces
Funny faces although not the most flattering are always the most popular in any photo set I post where there is a funny face. Catch those silly moments that happen between shots because people love seeing personality and it shows your model is more than just a pretty face. Have every model you work with give you at least one good ridiculous face.
Much like the photo above you should be having fun during a photo shoot so catch those candid moments. Everyone loves a genuine smile and the best smiles happen right before or right after a laugh.
16. Pouting Expression
Posing goes beyond just changing up body movements. Make sure to get a variety of expressions from your model as well. A good pout is a great start and almost always leads to a genuine smile.
17. Sitting laid back pose
Let your model lay back and relax. She's been working hard she deserves it.
18. Laying on the ground
Change up perspective. Have your model lay on the ground and shoot from above. Just make sure she leans her head back so we don't get double chins.
19. One leg down one knee up pose
If you want the booty poppin a great way to achieve this is keeping one leg down and bring a knee up on something like steps or a bench. Have your model pop the booty with the foot that's on the ground.
20. Arms crossed pose
This can be a great power pose or vulnerable pose depending on expression and posture. Have your model just slightly turn her torso away from the camera.
21. Back bend Pose
This is more of a high fashion type pose and not the easiest to do so leave this for your experienced models.
22. Seated one leg under one leg over pose
I just love this pose. Feels elegant but sexy to me. This is a great pose for any model with really nice legs. Try pointing the toes and lifting the heel off the ground of the front foot for a good flex.
23. The hair flip
Have your model stand still and move her head side to side getting some movement in just the hair. Turn your camera to rapid fire hope you get lucky. haha I have done this plenty of times where nothing turned out but when it does it's so fun!
24. The looking down pose
Remember the model does not have to be looking into the camera for every shot. Too often I'll look at a photographers portfolio and see nothing but photos of the model looking straight into camera. Change it up for a different mood.
25. Half profile pose
So this one isn't a full on profile/side view because you still see both eyes but I absolutely love this pose. Do not forget to get close up shots and shots from far away. Change up perspective.
26. Hand on elbow hand on shoulder pose
This is a great high fashion pose. Again make sure to have the model turn her body just slightly so you aren't photographing straight on.
27. Revealing eyes pose
You will see this one a lot in ads. Have your model reveal her eyes behind a nice pair of sunglasses. Pro tip: This is a great opportunity to tag the brand of sunglasses on Instagram and even send them the photo. They just might share it and you'll get free exposure. If you're considering modeling, you can explore the different areas of the fashion industry. Some models experiment with one specialized category, while others try out multiple types of modelling. Here is another great resource to read on types of models.
Author Lance Reis
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