Welcome to the first post in my new blog series, Camera Confidence (a little cheesy but it has such a good ring, right?). My goal with this series is to break down some of the fears that come with getting your photo taken and planning a photoshoot. The first post is all about how to pose, which is the #1 concern I hear from my clients!
Something about the camera makes us totally freeze up. A la Ricky Bobby, no one knows what the heck to do with their hands! I completely understand this feeling, but after a few years of photographing lifestyle portraits I’ve learned a few tricks and developed a list of favorite poses. I actually think the word “posing” is a little strong and tends to make people think they have to become Tyra Banks on their shoot. All it takes is a few helpful tricks, some direction from me, and maybe a few fake laughs (I promise they look real in-camera!), and you’re on your way to modern, natural portraits!
Especially in the early stages of my business, I found that one of the hardest things about photographing people was giving my subjects direction and teaching them how to pose. It takes a lot of experience studying how my subjects move, evaluating how that movement looks in photos, and translating that in the next shoot. It’s a skill I’ve worked on and developed and that I’m always fine tuning.
I thought it would be helpful to show side-by-side comparisons of great vs. not so great poses featuring yours truly. I didn’t want to subject anyone else to some of these unfortunate poses (Hunter helped me shoot this so at least we had some good laughs)! I’m covering the basics of how to pose, but I’ve also included a link to a Pinterest board dedicated to my favorite poses.
Ready to Learn How to Pose?
- Standing Poses
You never want to be facing square to the camera with your arms by your sides. The lack of angles make us look stiff and a bit unnatural. By shifting our weight to one leg, putting one or both hands on our hips, and crossing our ankles, we look 10x more natural and relaxed. It also slims us down and creates softer lines. The pose on the left is so much more flattering!
Turning to the side a bit thins out our entire body and gives us more flattering angles to work with. Oftentimes our other arms and hands can get lost though, so I like to make sure they’re visible! Placing a hand on our hip also prevents that flat arm look when it sits against our body.
When we cross our arms, we tend to tilt our chin too far up or down and lean back. Pushing our chin straight out and down slightly makes a huge difference. It also helps to lean forward from the waist. These little adjustments can make a huge difference!
2. Smiles & Fake Laughs
Especially when I’ve been smiling for more than a few photos, my smile starts to get stiff and lifeless. This may not work for everyone, but I try to exaggerate my smile and make sure I’m smiling big. I’ve found that it brings some light into my entire face. My favorite thing to do when photographing is to tell people to give me a fake laugh. It always turns into a real laugh because it feels so ridiculous!
Here are a few more examples of how a few micro-adjustments transform our posing. Turning to the side a bit, keeping our shoulders back, and tilting our chin down slightly looks so much better (and creates a nice separation between the face and neck!).
3. Sitting Poses
I love a good sitting shot, especially if someone needs a more traditional headshot. People often get really nervous about what to do with their hands here. My favorite is placing hands on top of each other. Sometimes it takes a few placements and shaking our hands out to make it look natural. I also like placing hands on the steps beside the body with a little flattering lean forward.
Here’s where sitting shots go wrong! Our hands need to stay close to our bodies or they look totally unnatural. No one really sits like that in real life! Crossing our arms while sitting feels much too stiff to me as well. At least for my style of shooting, I like to avoid this to keep the portrait more modern.
4. Leaning & Movement
It always nice to have something to lean on to break up standing poses. I love to place a hand on a wall nearby, but standing too far away can make it awkward quickly!
I also like to lean the shoulders lightly on a wall and do something fun with the legs. Movement is always great for posing too. I’ll have people sway a bit, play with their clothes, or walk. This lets people shake it out and break up the stiffness!
Have Any Tips on How to Pose?
I hope you find these tips helpful! Being in front of the camera can feel totally unnatural, but it’s not as intimidating as it seems. When you show up on shoot day, you’ll arrive feeling more confident knowing a few posing tricks. I’ll be there to guide you every step of the way too! Do you have any tricks that make you feel more confident while in front of the camera? Leave them in the comments! I would love to hear them and pass them onto my clients!
Find More Inspiration on Pinterest
I started a collection of my favorite poses on Pinterest! I hope it’s a resource you can use while planning your own shoot. It includes both inspiration found on Pinterest and my own client work, so get to lookin’!