Today, we look at the best model poses for fashion model photography. Technical photography skills can only get you so far in the fashion photography genre. A successful fashion shoot will have both the model and the photographer performing at a high level.
We will guide you through photo poses for women and men. We will also provide numerous model posing tips to help direct someone throughout your photoshoot. By the end of this article, you will be confident in posing people and demonstrating poses to them.
If you are a model, there are many different positions here for you to try. We hope you can also find inspiration here!
Tips for Working With Beginner Models
If you’re working with a beginner model, they may act uncomfortable and rigid. It’s your job as a photographer to make them feel comfortable and build up their self-assurance. Here are a few points to keep in mind with model posing.
Use Beginner Modeling Poses
You want to give the average person simple model posing instead of poses that a high fashion model use. More complex poses need greater attention to detail and awareness of all body parts.
For instance, a close-up image with a model’s hands near the face may require perfect hand positioning and the correct facial expression. It can be challenging for an inexperienced model to get right.
Candid shots also work the best for first-time models as they won’t have to “perform.”
Show Them Images as You Shoot
A great way to help direct an inexperienced model is to show them some of the first images while you shoot. Doing this allows them to see how they look in your style of photography.
Create A Comfortable Environment
Find a way to make your model feel comfortable. Have a conversation and coffee at the beginning, or have a casual chat throughout the photoshoot. A relaxed atmosphere positively affects model posing and how your photos turn out.
25 of the Best Model Poses for Fashion Photography
Here are our top model poses to try in your photo shoots. The best poses will be a collaboration. So keep lines of communication open.
25. Facing Straight Towards the Camera
One of the most straightforward model poses is to have them stand directly in front of the camera and photograph them straight-on. Even though this is a simple pose, you find this in numerous fashion magazines worldwide.
That’s because you make the person’s beauty and facial expressions the center of attention. You may want to try and elicit different emotions depending on the type of mood you want to create in your photo. Plus, direct eye contact with the camera makes a strong connection with the viewer.
24. Standing Poses Above the Camera
If you want a powerful look in your modeling poses, photograph from down low so your model towers over you. The model’s stance will converge to a point at their head.
Standing poses work well when they have an interesting stance. Having them place more weight on one leg can change the image’s dynamic! It’s a famous classical pose, also known as a contrapposto pose.
23. Leaning on a Wall
Leaning against a wall is one of those model poses people are naturally drawn to. This casual pose doesn’t take much effort to get right. It also allows you to cycle through different poses while being in the same spot.
I like this pose because you can use the environment to its fullest. There are exciting buildings or walls in every city or rural area. Use this to your advantage! You may want to scout these locations beforehand to avoid wasting your subject’s time.
22. The Full-Length Shot
Full-body poses can be hard to get right. But they look amazing when done well. The full-length shot will require your model to be away from the camera and often works best with a 50mm or a long lens like an 85mm.
It’s one of those model poses that heavily relies on the person’s clothes. You must ensure the outfit falls perfectly on the entire body, as this is almost impossible to fix in post-production.
21. Hands Near the Face
You can also have your model pose with their hands up by their face. It’s one of those well-known fashion poses as it can create a simple, dramatic effect when the person performs it well.
Here, you want to focus on just the person’s face and hands. Don’t be afraid to get in close. If you try a full-body shot, you lose the viewer’s attention unless you frame the photograph perfectly. An elongated neck adds a regal and confident look.
20. Sitting on a Chair, Leaning Forward
Sitting poses are widely used in portraiture and fashion. You would have most likely seen this from your favorite musician or on the cover of high fashion magazines.
Have your model perch on the edge of a chair and lean forward slightly toward the camera. It’s often done with hands together and an elbow or hand resting on one leg. It’s one of those model poses that can be intense and casual. It’s also one of the top male model poses.
19. Head in Hands
A dramatic and often sad model pose is to have a person put their head in their hands or have their hands cover their face. It produces an exciting play between concealing and revealing key facial features like the eyes or mouth.
This pose will take some playing around with. So be sure to ask your subject to make slight changes in their expression and hand movements to get the best image possible.
18. Lying Down
Whether in a studio or out on location, having a person lie down can be one of the most playful model poses. The camera will most likely have a birds-eye-view of the person, producing a unique view we don’t see much in real life.
Again, you can also produce a wide range of emotions using this composition. Make sure the person is comfortable. Placing a cushion or blanket down may help.
17. Hands on Hips
Typically, a person with hands on their hips is one of those model poses you find on stock image websites. It has connotations to images of business people trying to be casual. If this is the look you’re going for, this could be the pose to use.
But recently, this pose has been increasingly seen in high fashion modeling. The pose is where the person has their hands on their hips with their elbows pushed forward, and their back has a slight bend. It’s pretty dramatic and produces a unique form in the body that is interesting to photograph… but nothing beats a person with fierce eyes!
16. Close-up on the Face
This next pose is a form of close-up model photography. This type of photograph is used for makeup brands and other fashion campaigns.
Zoom in or move close to the model’s face, and you almost turn the model’s facial features into a macro landscape. The model must remain reasonably still while adapting their expressions to produce interesting looks. Be careful not to make any awkward crops through body parts.
15. Playing with Hair
Are you looking for great female poses? Playing with hair is one of the best model poses. It produces natural action shots while also creating exciting shapes in the body.
I also really like this pose because there’s loads of room for play and experimentation. The person can hold their hair way above their head to show their face. Or they can pull hair in front to conceal their face.
14. Looking Over the Shoulder
A “look over the shoulder” is one of those dramatic model poses. It works very well in a studio or location. You want to have your model facing a different direction from the camera and then turn their face to look toward the camera.
It is best if their face isn’t directly facing the camera but turned slightly to the side. It will, of course, depend on the portrait lighting in your shot.
13. Back to the Camera
You can have your subject pose with their back to the camera for variation in your photoshoot. It highlights special features in clothing. But it also produces an interesting viewpoint.
Make sure you can still see the face of your model. You want them to turn their head slightly so you can photograph the outline of their face. A sharp profile works nicely here.
12. Hands Behind the Back
You may want to try some pictures with the model’s hands behind their back. It’s a pose often used by male models but works well for female models.
You want your model to be sideways to the camera with this pose. You may also want to play with how they position their head. It looks nice having the model’s head tilted backward when working with female models.
11. Action Shots
If your model poses are getting too stagnant, try giving the model an action or activity to do. Not only does this help beginner models feel more comfortable, but it also opens up a range of photographic opportunities.
An action could be something small like jumping or playing with a small object in their hands. Or it could be participating in a sport or exercise like tennis or lifting weights.
10. Hands in Pockets
Having hands in pockets is another one of those casual model poses. But you still see it often in commercial modeling. It is one of the go-to male poses as it portrays a laid-back character who likes to be comfortable and confident.
It also translates to female models. But female models have the unique ability to make this pose seem a bit more fierce. A great model can transform this pose from casual to catwalk… and a simple head tilt does wonders!
9. Hands Reaching Toward the Camera
Are you looking for a pose that adds a sense of depth to your photo shoots? Try having your model reach out toward the camera in various ways.
A way to amplify this depth is to shoot with a low aperture, giving the photograph a shallow depth of field. Make sure the focal point remains on the model’s face or eye, as this is where you should draw attention.
8. The Cat Walk
Even though you may not be on a fashion runway, pretend like you are! You can often get great images if your model has a serious strut and purposefully walks toward the camera.
You can either stay in one spot with a long lens or walk backward with the model walking toward you. If you choose the latter option, be sure you check your surroundings or have an assistant spot you for any hazards.
7. Crossed Arms
Another basic model pose—which can be great when executed right—is to ask the model to cross their arms. You can make this pose less rigid if your model has a slight lean in their stance.
It’s a fantastic model pose if the person is slightly awkward. It’s also beneficial if they don’t know what to do with their arms. Have your subject look away from the camera with an attitude for another layer to the pose.
6. Legs Spread On a Chair
You often see dancers or actors do this pose. It can be an over-the-top way to sit on a chair. The model pose can come across as a bit forward if you shoot it straight-on. But it’s great if your model is comfortable with it and knows what they’re doing.
5. Kneeling or Sitting on Knees
Experimenting with having your model at different heights is always beneficial. It is something that a professional photographer will do naturally while on a photoshoot.
Placing your model in a kneeling stance evokes a spiritual and submissive feel. It is often seen in prayer or in a time of self-reflection. The pose will produce a soft and quiet vibe to your photographs.
4. Sitting in a Backward Chair
Are you looking for an edgy or fun photograph? How about having the model sit on a chair backward? This pose became common through boy bands of the early 2000s, but female models have taken this pose and made it powerful.
You may want to direct the model to rest their arms against the back of the chair. You can also ask them to do a range of other poses while in this position.
3. Incoporating a Prop
Using a prop to enhance a pose is another excellent way to bring creativity into a fashion shoot. Everyday objects like mirrors or blankets can completely transform how we see the image. Some props may take a bit of experimentation, but it is worth it if you want to add a new dimension to your photograph.
It’s also great for inexperienced models because the model will direct their attention toward the prop. If they think less about their bodies, the less rigid they will be in the photographs.
2. One Leg Up
A great casual pose is to have your model recline with one knee up, and the other leg bent or straight while sitting. Legs crossed is another option. This model pose is often seen with male model fashion shoots as it gives a casual and reflective look to the model.
It’s also a pose that relies on your surroundings. You can find great views and backdrops from window sills or benches, even if it’s just a nicely colored sky. So use them to your advantage!
1. The Squat
The squat is a great pose for edgy shoots currently a hit amongst street-style fashion lookbooks. That’s because it looks fantastic while also showing off an outfit nicely. You can photograph this from many different angles and heights.
Have your model squat down and exude an attitude toward the camera. You can take the shot without that mood. But this pose doesn’t work as well as a “nice” photograph.
There are multiple ways to take fashion photos. Here are a few tips for your next photoshoot!
Check Photo Composition and Elements
If you’re shooting on location, ensure you don’t get too distracted directing your model for the best pose. Pay attention to the composition and execution of the image as well. Small factors like objects and leading lines in the background can ruin or make a shot.
An easy way to avoid this is to check images on your camera. I don’t suggest doing this every shot. That breaks the flow of the photoshoot. But be conscious to check once in a while. You may regret not checking when you get around to editing!
Use a Color Card and Reflector
Camera equipment like a color card or a reflector can go a long way when working in model photography. You want to make sure you’re capturing correct skin tones and taking away unwanted shadows for a sharp profile. Make sure you have these on hand to get the most out of your photography poses.
We see a whole range of different photography poses for you to try when working with a model. Many of these simple poses allow people to make slight variations and sometimes combine them. Keep those poses moving!
The best approach is to have your model practice posing in their spare time. When they have found their best side and angle, they will easily find the poses they are the most comfortable in. And, if a model feels comfortable, you will get the best out of their expressions and model poses.
Try out our Fairytales Portrait course to hone your posing techniques even further!