Tips for better photography poses

by David Em
Last updated:

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Whether you’re taking photos of models or someone who hasn’t been in front of a camera, posing is an important aspect of portrait photography.

Person standing in a field.

Make posing look natural

As a photographer, your job is to help your subject feel at ease. Start the photoshoot by interacting with them without your camera, then get into the session.

Related: Best photography prompts

When you understand who you’re photographing and how they want to be portrayed, you’ll be able to achieve a natural look. This will also lead to a happy and satisfied client.

Through your communication with your subject, express who they are in the photos. Show their personality and what makes them unique.

1. Create separation

When your subject is standing, it’s normal for them to stand with their arms flat against their side.

However, this doesn’t create a flattering portrait because your subject will look awkward and their arm will appear larger than it actually is.

Related: What’s shape and form in photography?

The key is to create separation.

For example, tell your subject to lift their arm an inch off of their body. This is a great way to ensure their arms don’t look pressed against their bodies.

Another way to create separation is to direct your subject to place their hands on their hips and slightly turn towards you.

Their arms will create negative space which helps make the image more visually interesting and it’ll also make your subject look slimmer.

2. Knee-to-knee

When you’re posing females, it’s important to accentuate their curves.

Regardless of their body shape, you can do this by creating a v-shape with their knees. This can be done easily by shifting their weight to one side.

When you’re helping your subject create this shape, tell them to lean to one side and pull their knee towards the knee of the leg they’re leaning on.

Related: Understanding focus in photography

This is one of the best posing tips to implement because it’s easy to forget about the lower half of your subject’s body when you’re photographing portraits.

As the knee is bent, it creates a v-shape that follows the natural curves of their body. This creates a very flattering image.

3. Chin forward

When your subject stands in a relaxed position, it’s common to see a double chin regardless of how slim they are.

The best way to combat this is to tell them to pull their chin down and out.

This pose can feel uncomfortable and weird, but the end result will be amazing. On the flip-side, if you don’t do this, your subject’s neck will look thicker than it actually is.

The goal of this posing tip is to extend your subject’s neck and create a crisp jawline.

4. Legs crossed

Whether you’re photographing a guy or girl, posing with their legs crossed is an easy and natural pose. This pose can also be done by leaning against a wall or railing.

5. Create an example gallery

Before your shoot, spend time collecting images in a saved gallery. The photos you save can be used for inspiration and to help with direction.

When you have a reference image, it’s easier for your client to know what to do. It’s also easier for you to direct and guide your subject.

The example gallery will be personalized to the person you’re photographing. Think about what kind of poses and backgrounds will look the best with your client.

6. Create a positive environment

These posing tips will make a big improvement in your photos. However, you need to create a positive environment in order to execute these tips.

This is especially important when you’re photographing people you’ve met for the first time or that you aren’t too familiar with.

Using positive language such as “good”, or “that’s amazing”, will help your photo shoot flow smoothly. Aside from a smooth photoshoot, your subject will feel more comfortable with you and be more receptive to posing.


These tips for better photography poses will immediately up-level your portraits and make your subject feel great.

Whether you’re photographing a model or someone who’s stepping in front of a camera for the first time, these tips will ensure they look just as good in photos.

More resources:

Featured photo by Unsplash.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

About Portraits Refined

Portraits Refined (PR) is a media company that publishes the latest expert-backed portrait photography tips, in-depth camera gear reviews, and helpful advice to grow your photography business.