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30 Best Female Poses for Portrait Photography (With Tips)

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 15 min read
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There are all kinds of female poses out there that can make or break an image. So experimenting with different posing techniques to keep your images diverse is important.
When it comes to portrait photography, capturing the beauty and essence of women is an art form. It combines creativity and technique. So we delve into various female poses that celebrate the natural grace of the subjects.


30 Best Female Poses for Portrait Photography

Here are 30 of our best female poses and photography tips to teach you how to pose models effectively. You can also read our post on how to pose fashion models for more ideas!

1. Hands in the Air

Create a dynamic and captivating portrait by having your model raise her hands. She can close her eyes, clasp one wrist, or gaze skyward for added touches.
This pose can also transform into a slow dance or be used in a seated position, offering versatility in expression. And you can capture the moment against natural light for a dreamy effect.

A woman in a white dress posing with her arm up
Shot with a Sony a6400. 50mm, f/1.8, 1/2500 s, ISO 100. Photo by Ananthu Ganesh (Unsplash)

2. Flip Hair

Channel simplicity and movement with the timeless hair flip. Have your model close her eyes and avoid any awkward facial expressions. This is a very common female pose. But it’s still something you can include in a few of your photoshoots.
You can play around with shutter speeds. Use a fast shutter speed to capture sharp portraits. Or use a slower shutter speed for a more abstract shot with blur. Embrace the fluidity of the motion.

A woman flipping her head and long blue hair up
Shot with a Nikon D750, 85mm, f/1.4, 1/1600 s, ISO 800. Photo by Sheldon (Unsplash)

3. Hands On Cheek, Looking Up

Include this pose in your photoshoot for a tranquil note. Have your model rest her cheek in her hand, her elbow propped on a surface, and her gaze toward the heavens.
This relaxed pose creates a sparkle in her eyes and ensures even lighting on her face. The result is a well-lit, ethereal portrait.

A woman looking up with one hand on her right cheek
Shot with a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. 80mm, f/4.5, 1/60 s, ISO 100. Photo by Lola Rose (Unsplash)


4. Lean on a Wall

Embrace a casual vibe by positioning your model against a wall. Encourage her to lean her head against it. She can stand straight or arch her back a little.
But this must be subtle so the pose looks as natural as possible. Sunglasses or other accessories can be added to this laid-back pose for a distinctive touch.

A woman leaning back on a building's wall
Shot with Sony a7 III. 70mm, f/5.6, 1/80 s, ISO 160. Photo by Aleksandrina Andreeva (Unsplash)

5. Look Over the Shoulder

Harness confidence and empowerment with this very common female pose in portrait photography. She can stand or be seated as she looks over her shoulder.
This classic pose exudes a feeling of strength and superiority. It’s adaptable to various locations and lighting setups.

A woman looking over her shoulder
Shot with a Canon EOS R6. 35mm, f/1.6, 1/250 s, ISO 100. Photo by Grace Hilty (Unsplash)

6. Head on a Soft Surface

This is a relaxed photography pose perfect for any model. It can capture the essence of comfort or other emotions.
Have your model sit on or by a comfortable surface. This can be a couch, armchair, or bed. She can rest her head on the couch or a pillow. And she can look into the distance or directly at the camera.
Experiment with shooting angles to convey different emotions. Shoot at eye level for familiarity or a higher angle for a touch of vulnerability.

A woman resting her head on a couch
Shot with a Nikon D810. 85mm, f/1.6, 1/250 s, ISO 320. Photo by Navid Artworks (Unsplash)


7. One Hand on Hip

Have your model place one hand confidently on her hip. The other hand can hold an accessory or rest on her leg. This is one of the most empowering female poses out there. It accentuates her form and radiates cool confidence.

Woman posing with a hand on her hip
Shot with a Canon EOS 60D. 50mm, f/1.8, 1/160 s, ISO 400. Photo by Marlon Alves (Unsplash)

8. Knees Up or Legs Curled

Evoke elegance and grace by having your model curl up on a comfortable surface. It’s also an effective female pose for studio portrait photography.
Have your model draw her knees to her chest and rest her head gently on her knees. Then have her place her hands delicately on her feet. Or she can hug her knees. You can have her play with different variations of this.
This pose is particularly captivating for dancers. And it lends itself to creative and conceptual photography. Variations can include legs curled to the side or resting her head on her knees in a sitting pose.

Woman posing on a stool with her knees up to her chest and her arms around her legs
Shot with a Canon EOS Kiss X5. 50mm, f/2.5, 1/640s, ISO 200. Photo by Baran Lotfollahi (Unsplash)

9. Hands in Pockets

Embrace casual chic with this casual standing pose. Encourage your model to slip her hands into her pockets for an effortlessly stylish look.
It’s perfect for lifestyle photography. This pose adds character to the shot and prevents your subject from standing awkwardly in front of the camera.

Woman standing with her hands in her jacket pockets
Shot with a Canon EOS 6D Mark II. 85mm, f/3.2, 1/500 s, ISO 200. Photo by Anna Wojtowicz (Unsplash)


10. Elbows on a Table

Display casual simplicity with this pose. It combines a basic pose and storytelling for a minimalistic lifestyle portrait.
Position your model at a table with elbows resting comfortably on its surface. Then have her tilt her head for a relaxed, engaging expression. Props like books, drinks, or fruit can be added to enhance the narrative within the frame.

Woman sitting with her elbow on a table
Shot with a Canon EOS Rebel T6i (750D). 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250 s, ISO 200. Photo by Ilyas Bolatov (Unsplash)

11. Squat Pose (Baddie Squat)

You may have seen this pose on social media. The “baddie squat” is a hit on platforms like Instagram, loved by celebrities like Kylie Jenner.
To nail this pose, have your model squat while leaning on one leg and extending the other. This creates a balanced stance. It accentuates her figure and gives the portrait a trendy, edgy vibe. Modify it to a simple, powerful squat pose if she struggles with the extended leg.

A woman posing in a baddie squat pose
Shot with a Nikon Z6. 50mm, f/1.8, 1/1600 s, ISO 500. Photo by Isaiah McCarty (Unsplash)

12. Lie on the Floor

Sometimes, simplicity is best for a successful photoshoot. Have your model lie on the floor in a relaxed pose, exuding casual elegance.
She can play with her hair, draw her knees up, or adopt any comfortable pose for a casual, natural look. It’s very effective for all types of portrait photography and at different camera angles.

Woman lying on the floor
Shot with a Canon EOS 6D. 24mm, f/2.8, 1/125 s, ISO 100. Photo by Samantha Sokolva (Unsplash)


13. The Cosy Pose

For autumn and winter shoots, consider a “cozy embrace.” In this pose, your model crosses her arms as if giving herself a warm hug. Encourage her to close her eyes slightly and lift her head to achieve a relaxed and inviting look.
But it’s not limited to just those seasons. It can also work as an expression of self-acceptance.

A woman giving herself an embrace
Shot with an Apple iPhone 8 Plus. 6.6mm, f/2.8, 1/30 s, ISO 50. Photo by Vanessa Kintaudi (Unsplash)

14. Hands in Hair

Mastered by models and beginners alike, this pose radiates confidence. Instruct your model to place both hands in her hair with a subtle chin lift for added self-assuredness.
This versatile pose flatters all body types. You can use it in photoshoots with beginners. And it works wonders in building a model’s portfolio.

Woman posing with hands in her hair
Shot with a Sony a7R III. 35mm, f/5, 1/500 s, ISO 100. Photo by Elise Wilcox (Unsplash)

15. Stretch a Hand Out

This is a great female pose for creative portrait photography. This is an easy way to make your photos stand out without much fuss. It’s also a very easy pose for all kinds of models.
All your model has to do is stretch her arm out toward your lens. She can hold something, like a cup, as she does this or make a gesture. Use a wide aperture and focus on the model’s face. This will keep her in focus but artfully blur her hand and background.

Woman with her palm up to the camera partially hiding her face
Shot with a Sony a7 III. 43mm, f/2.8, 1/200 s, ISO 160. Photo by Brad Starkey (Unsplash)


16. One Leg in Front of the Other

This popular standing pose accentuates outlines. And it adds a touch of elegance to any female model’s stance.
Ask your model to put one leg in front of the other. She can lean on her back leg and raise her front leg a little bit. Or she can put both hands on her hips for a power pose.

A woman standing with one leg in front of the other
Shot with a Canon EOS 77D. 50mm, f/1.8, 1/1000 s, ISO 100. Photo by Dollar Gill (Unsplash)

17. Hands on the Cheeks

This is a great female pose for captivating portrait photography close-ups. It highlights symmetry and draws attention to the model’s facial features.
Ask your model to place her hands on her cheeks. Encourage a gentle touch to avoid any undue pressure on the face. This helps avoid unflattering marks from appearing.

Woman posing with hands on her face cheeks
Shot with a Nikon D5300. 50mm, f/7.1, 1/160 s, ISO 100. Photo by Dimitar Dimitrov (Unsplash)

18. Hands By the Mouth

This is a subtle variation of the previous pose. It exudes contemplation and allure.
In this pose, your model should gently place one or both hands near her mouth. She can touch her lips with her fingers, rest her chin on her hand, or bite her nails.
There are many possibilities for an interesting headshot. She can also tilt her head and slightly open her mouth. This female pose is great for emphasizing hands, nails, and lips.

Woman with her hands pressed together and up to her mouth
Shot with a Sony a7 III. 85mm, f/1.4, 1/640 s, ISO 100. Photo by Andrey K (Unsplash)

19. Sitting With Toes Pointed

Take a few photos of your model sitting on a chair with toes pointed out. Again, there are several variations and ways to interpret this. She can point her toes out and bend her legs to create a flattering curve in her body.
And she can turn away from the camera to create a sense of mystery. Or it can be a more direct portrait with her looking forward.

Woman sitting on a folding char with her toes pointed
Shot with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i (60D). 50mm, f/3.2, 1/640 s, ISO 100. Photo by Timur Romanov (Unsplash)

20. Lie on Stomach

This is an easy female pose for indoor portrait photography. Have your model lie on a clean surface like a wooden floor or a bed. She can bend her legs back behind her. This creates a comfortable and laid-back look.

A woman lying on her stomach on a bed with her feet raised
Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. 50mm, f/1.6, 1/500 s, ISO 500. Photo by Giorgio Trovato (Unsplash)

21. Hide Under a Blanket

For innovative female model poses, props can be your best friends. These can be simple and affordable. And you can use them over and over again.
Ask your model to wrap a blanket around herself or cover her head. And have her experiment with different facial expressions. This can create an intimate, cozy, or even fun portrait.

Woman posing with a blanket above her head
Shot with a Sony a7 IV. 35mm, f/2.2, 1/125 s, ISO 400. Photo by Tino Rischawy (Unsplash)


22. Side Resting Pose

Encourage your model to lie on her side. She can rest her head on her arm or something comfortable. Or ask her to gaze directly at the camera.
This candid pose exudes an air of relaxation and confidence. This makes it perfect for capturing casual expressions.

Woman reclining on her side
Shot with a Sony a7 IV, 1/160 s, ISO 160. Photo by (Unsplash)

23. Lie on the Edge of a Bed

This is a great pose to add to your list of fun photography poses. It works best if your female model has long hair. But it works with short-haired models too.
Position your model’s head at the edge of the bed, letting her long hair cascade downwards. This dynamic pose accentuates the beauty of flowing locks. And it adds a playful element to your portraits.

Woman lying on a bed with her head hang on the edge and her hair flowing down
Shot with a Nikon D70. 52mm, f/5.6, 1/13 s, ISO 200. Photo by Baran Lotfollahi (Unsplash)

24. Take a Few Steps Forward

Having your model walk toward the camera is another common pose in lifestyle portrait photography. Focus on your model and make sure you lock focus. Then ask her to move a few steps forward. And move with her so all of your photos remain sharp.
She can either look at you straight ahead or off to the side. This dynamic approach adds energy and spontaneity to your images. It helps capture her character in motion.

A woman walking on a bridge under a tree
Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. 50mm, f/1.8, 1/2500 s, ISO 100. Photo by Jasmin Chew (Unsplash)


25. Crossed Legs While Sitting

You can try this at any point in your photo session as an icebreaker. It’s a simple pose that can make your portrait photos look striking.
Have the female model swing one leg over the other. And then, she can try different poses with her hands. She can put them gently in front. Or she can even put an elbow on the bent knee and gently rest her chin on her hand for a charming look.

A woman sitting outside by a beaching with her legs crossed
Shot with a Nikon D3200. 35mm, f/2.5, 1/4000 s, ISO 100. Photo by Tamara Bellis (Unsplash)

26. Lean Back

Instruct your model to stand sideways to the camera and subtly lean back. She shouldn’t lean on anything. This is a versatile pose that you can combine with other portrait poses. It creates an elegant silhouette that celebrates her form.

A woman leaning back and laughing
Shot with a Canon EOS Rebel T7i (800D). 85mm, f/1.8, 1/3200 s, ISO 100. Photo by Ibrahima Toure (Unsplash)

27. Hands Behind the Neck

This is a great pose for elegant female photos. As your model gazes at the camera, have her delicately hold her neck with one or both hands.
The result is an alluring and elegant portrait that captures her poise. If you take a close-up photo, try to shoot at eye level to avoid making your model’s face look too large.

Woman standing with on hand up behind her neck
Shot with a Sony a7 IV. m50m, f/1.8, 1/250 s, ISO 640. Photo by Fineas Gavre (Unsplash)


28. Hide Behind a Scarf

You can use this to pose and accentuate the color of your model’s eyes or makeup. All she needs to do is playfully hide behind a scarf or colorful fabric. Ideally, it should complement her skin tone and eye color.
Use a zoom or long portrait lens for a comfortable distance. This will help her feel more comfortable experimenting with different expressions. It also helps with creative framing.

A woman with a winter hat and scarf with her eyes closed
Shot with a Canon EOS 6D Mark II. 50mm, f/2.2, 1/500 s, ISO 320. Photo by Aleksandra Sapozhnikova (Unsplash)

29. Sideways Profile

Have your model stand or sit in profile, with her gaze fixed forward. It’s an excellent way to get a close-up side profile shot. But it is can also a good opportunity to get a striking portrait pose for environmental portraits.
Try shooting from a distance to capture the model and her surroundings simultaneously. This composition can add an atmospheric touch to your portraits and create an intriguing narrative.

A woman standing by flowers in a side profile with trees in the background
Shot with a Canon EOS R50. 40mm, f/6.3, 1/160 s, ISO 200. Photo by Anna Keibalo (Unsplash)

30. Pull Hair From Both Sides

You’ll love this tip. It adds a touch of playfulness to a female model pose! It works best if your model has medium-length or long hair.
Ask your model to pull her hair from both sides. This infuses energy into the frame. Then experiment with different expressions to capture her dynamic personality.

A woman smiling and pulling her pigtails with her eyes closed
Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. 100mm, f/4, 1/320 s, ISO 500. Photo by Dynamic Wang (Unsplash)


Conclusion: Best Female Portrait Poses

Each female pose has its unique charm and purpose. Experimenting with different female poses not only adds variety to your portfolio. It also helps your subjects express themselves authentically.
So don’t hesitate to embrace these female portrait poses in your next photoshoot. And capture the essence of each individual with a touch of artistry and style.
Keep practicing, experimenting, and evolving your techniques. This will help your subjects feel at ease and make your portrait photography shine. Read our post on flattering bikini poses at the beach for even more poses!