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The Complete Photography Posing Guide (100+ Poses)

Last updated: April 11, 2024 - 20 min read
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Everything You Need to Know About Photography Posing

Perhaps one of the things that separates the expert from the novice photographer is helping their subjects to pose. Maybe Gen Z are the most comfortable in front of the camera, because they’ve taken selfies all their lives. But for the rest of us, having someone in control who can advise us is very valuable. Apart from anything else, your subjects will feel (and look!) more relaxed as you take charge.

General Tips for Better Posing

We’ve looked at everything from weddings to portraits, and from sitting poses to how to smile. Follow all the tips we’ve brought you to help raise the quality of your people pictures!

 

Smiling

Getting people to smile naturally for photos can be challenging. One of the best ways is to get to know your subject first. Sit down and have a conversation with them to help them feel more relaxed in your presence.

Make sure your model feels beautiful by having them pick an outfit they love. Choose a shooting location that sparks joy for them, like a favorite park or café. Keep them entertained during the shoot with fun activities they enjoy, such as hiking or biking.

You can also include other people or pets in the photos to create a comfortable, joyful atmosphere. If you’d like to learn more tips for getting people to smile for pictures, we have an in-depth guide that covers everything you need to know.

smile for pictures

Hands

Hand poses can make or break a portrait photo. Giving the hands something to do, like placing them in pockets or holding an object, helps the model feel more at ease. Use hand poses to flatter the body by creating space between the torso and arms.

Avoid foreshortening by ensuring fingers and arms aren’t pointed straight at the camera. Don’t hide the entire hand or crop at the wrists. Keep hands from being too close to the camera to prevent them from looking larger than the face.

Photograph hands at a slight angle to make them look smaller. Avoid poses where hands push against the body, creating unflattering bulges. Instead, use a soft touch to highlight the face or other features you want to draw attention to. Hand poses that are asymmetrical often create stronger portrait images than symmetrical poses.

hand poses

Beauty Photography

Beauty photography requires a creative team to bring the images to life. Hiring a makeup artist and hair stylist is important, even for a natural look. It will save time in post-production.

Communicate the exact look you want with examples or a mood board. Let the beauty team add their personal touches to make them want to work with you again.

Having a creative director on board can keep the photoshoot on track. They’ll make sure there’s no wasted time and the client’s plan is followed. For more tips on beauty photography, our detailed guide will help you create stunning images.

beauty photography

Posing Tips for Family Photographs

Perhaps our families are the most photographed of all. They can also prove to be the hardest of subjects. We’ve got loads of tips to help you get the most from the task, whether it’s small children or whole groups, we’ve got it covered.

 

Family

Family photography captures beautiful moments with loved ones. Preparation is key, as every family is different. Discuss expectations in advance and choose suitable equipment.

Have a shot list ready, but stay flexible. Encourage the family to walk hand in hand, follow the leader, or have fun on the shoot for spontaneous poses. Sitting down and getting comfortable is a great way to start.

Lift the baby, give each other a hug, or kiss the child for heartwarming shots. Try different perspectives like getting down to the child’s level, lying down, or taking images from above. Don’t forget to capture the details too. Family photo poses are all about appearing natural and connected.

family photo poses

Toddlers and Children

Posing children for a photoshoot can be challenging, but with some preparation and flexibility, you can capture amazing shots. The best photos often come from following the child’s lead and capturing genuine moments. If they want to run, let them run and treat the session like sports photography, using a fast shutter speed, burst mode, and continuous autofocus.

Using props can also encourage stillness and draw attention to the camera. Large baskets, buckets, and chairs work well for toddlers, while older children may enjoy rocking horses or sleds. Enlisting the help of a favorite toy or having a parent stand behind the photographer to make silly faces can elicit genuine smiles.

Playful games like peek-a-boo or Simon Says can make the child forget they’re at a photoshoot, resulting in natural expressions. When working with siblings, encourage interaction between them to capture candid moments. By adapting to the child’s interests and making the experience fun, you can create stunning photos that will be treasured by the family. If you’d like to dive deeper into kids’ photo poses, our comprehensive guide offers even more tips and techniques.

kids photo pose

Couples

Here are 30 great couple poses to try in your next portrait photoshoot. Ask the couple to walk and hold hands. Have them point at something interesting together. Get them to balance on a log or wall, which symbolizes strength and trust in the relationship.

Add movement to your shots by having one partner twirl the other or dance together. Capture the couple’s silly side by having them make funny faces. Let them get lost in an activity they both enjoy, like skating or singing. Take playful photos of the couple picking each other up or giving piggyback rides.

Tender poses include holding hands while looking into each other’s eyes, gently caressing the other’s face, or touching noses and foreheads. Capture a romantic silhouette of the couple leaning in for a kiss at sunset. Get creative with different hugging and kissing poses, like a cheek kiss or a kiss under an umbrella. If you’d like to learn more about couple poses, we have a detailed guide with even more ideas.

couple poses

Romantic Christmas Couples

Christmas is a wonderful time for couples to capture memories together. Decorating the house and tree, wearing festive hats and jumpers, and posing in your Christmas grotto are all great ideas for holiday photos.

Don’t forget to include your pets in the fun! Dogs and cats are part of the family too, and can add joy to your Christmas pictures. Cuddling up by the tree with a cup of cocoa or taking a romantic stroll through the city lights are also perfect moments to photograph.

If you’re lucky enough to have a white Christmas, use the snowy landscape as a beautiful backdrop for your couple photos. Wrapping and exchanging presents, cooking together, and even having a playful pillow fight can all make for memorable holiday shots. For more ideas on capturing the magic of Christmas as a couple, check out this Christmas photoshoot guide.

christmas photoshoot

Newborn

Capturing the innocence and beauty of a newborn is one of the most rewarding things a photographer can do. With a little practice, you can create stunning images using these ten best newborn poses.

Always prioritize safety when posing a newborn. Stick with simple poses like on the back, side, or tummy. Use props like blankets, pillows, and nursing pillows to support the baby.

Get creative with close-up shots of baby hands, feet, and face to highlight their tiny features. Involve the parents and siblings to capture the joy and connection the newborn brings to the family. Newborn poses can be tricky, but with patience and care, you’ll capture precious memories that families will cherish forever.

newborn poses

Posing for Singles and Groups

Singles and groups might need photos for their business, a LinkedIn profile, or just to remember a special occasion. Having a good idea of how to pose them will make them more relaxed, and help them to enjoy the moment too.

 

Headshots

Good posture is key for headshot poses. Keep your shoulders back and chest out. Your photographer will remind you to check your posture between poses.

Mind the chin position too. If it’s too high, you’ll look down at the camera. Too low and you risk a double chin. Lower your chin slightly while moving your face forward a bit, like a turtle coming out of its shell.

Using your surroundings can make you feel more relaxed and look natural. Try a slight lean on a nearby wall, fence, railing, or table. Sitting can be comfortable, but be sure to maintain good posture and turn your body to the side while keeping shoulders open. To learn more about headshot poses, check out this in-depth guide.

headshot poses

Best Friends

Best friend photoshoots are a great way to capture the special bond between friends. Poses like holding each other close, pulling silly faces, or recreating iconic movie scenes can create fun and memorable photos. Lying on the ground with heads together or giving piggyback rides are playful ideas that show the supportive nature of friendship.

Picnics and road trips provide beautiful backdrops for best friend pictures. Dancing, pillow fights, and jumping on the bed bring the energy of classic sleepovers to your photoshoot. Unique poses like stacking heads or sitting back-to-back symbolize the closeness and trust between friends.

Seasonal activities like throwing autumn leaves or having snowball fights add excitement to your images. No matter the pose or setting, the goal is to showcase the laughter and love that define true friendship. Capturing these candid moments will give you photos your best friends will treasure for years to come. Friend poses are a wonderful way to celebrate the joy of having a best friend by your side.

friend poses

Group Photos

Taking a great group photo involves more than just gathering everyone together. Composition, posing, and lighting all play important roles in capturing a memorable shot.

When composing the image, look for a location with minimal distractions in the background. Use props or the environment to arrange the group on different levels, creating a more interesting composition. Shooting from a higher angle can also help fit more faces into the frame.

Posing a group can be challenging, but creating a triangle shape with the subjects can lead the eye through the image. Arrange the tallest individuals towards the center and direct everyone to stand at a slight angle for a more flattering pose. Pay attention to hands, feet, and faces to ensure everyone looks their best.

Good lighting is key to a great group photo. Arranging the group in the shade or with the sun at their backs can work well. For more control, use one or two off-camera flashes with diffusers placed at 45-degree angles to evenly light the entire group. With the right group photo techniques, you can capture a shot that everyone will cherish.

group photo

Posing Ideas for Women

It’s easy to get sucked into lazy stereotypes when posing women models. So it is worth spending some time thinking about it carefully. With the right ideas and preparation, you can achieve results that you and your model will be pleased with!

 

Female Portraits

Posing female models is an art form that combines creativity and technique. Experimenting with different posing techniques keeps your images diverse. Here are some of the best female poses to try in your next photoshoot.

Have your model raise her hands in the air for a dynamic portrait. She can also lean against a wall or look over her shoulder to exude confidence. Curling up on a comfortable surface can evoke elegance and grace.

Casual poses like hands in pockets or elbows on a table are perfect for lifestyle photography. The trendy “baddie squat” accentuates your model’s figure and gives an edgy vibe. Simple poses like lying on the floor or hiding under a blanket can create intimate and cozy portraits. If you’d like to learn more about female poses, there are many great resources available.

female poses

Natural Poses

Here are some tips for creating relaxed, natural poses in your photoshoots:

Start by building trust with your clients. Chat with them before the shoot to help them feel comfortable. Give a few simple instructions, like not looking at the camera unless asked.

Watch for poses that come naturally to your subject. Make small adjustments to improve the pose and avoid errors. If you have a specific pose in mind, demonstrate it yourself first.

Keep the conversation going during the shoot. Ask questions, tell funny stories, and give compliments. This helps your subject relax and creates great expressions. You can also ask them to take a deep breath to calm their nerves.

Giving your subject an action to do, like walking or playing with a prop, takes their mind off the camera. For couples and families, add physical touch to create connection and intimacy. Relaxed poses capture a moment and prioritize expression over perfection.

relaxed poses

Sitting Poses

Sitting poses are a great way to capture stunning portraits. They offer a wide range of possibilities, from individual shots to couples and groups. For one subject, try poses like leaning forward with chin on hands, sitting sideways with arm on chair, or facing away from the camera.

Stairs and steps provide interesting contrasts for sitting poses. You can also have the subject lean back against a tree or sit in a pretzel pose. Giving them something to do with their hands, like drinking tea or looking in a mirror, can make the pose feel more natural.

When shooting two or more subjects, try poses like sitting sideways on the ground, back-to-back, or the “double pretzel”. Couples can pose head-by-head to show togetherness. Families can put their heads together or sit on a log for a natural look. With a little creativity, you can capture amazing sitting poses in any setting. To learn more about sitting poses, check out our in-depth guide.

sitting poses

Maternity

Maternity photography captures the beauty of pregnancy. The best maternity poses flatter the mom-to-be and highlight her growing belly. Putting the mom at a 45-degree angle focuses on the bump’s silhouette, which is helpful when the baby bump is small.

Have the mom rub her belly and look down at it with a smile. Keep her hands moving and vary where she looks to get authentic expressions. Silhouette poses are perfect for shy moms as they emphasize the body shape without worrying about facial expressions.

Use the mom’s hands and legs to draw attention to the belly. Place hands above and below the bump or have her cross her legs to create lines leading to the focal point. Building poses in one spot allows for variety without tiring the mom. If you want to learn more about maternity poses, there are great resources available.

maternity poses

Bikini

Bikini poses are for every woman, no matter your body shape. A good pose will make you look fabulous and bring out your best features. It’s all about confidence in front of the camera.

Start with simple poses like stepping forward with one foot in front of the other, or placing one hand on the back of your head while the other hangs at your side. Lifting your arms above your head elongates the body for a powerful look. Kneeling poses are particularly flattering, as they stretch the abs while accentuating curves.

Lying poses with an arched back make anyone look fabulous on the beach. The torso twist technique is great for making the abdomen appear slim and smooth. If you’re feeling shy, a glimpse over the shoulder adds a cheeky element. With these bikini poses, anyone can look amazing on a sun-soaked beach.

bikini poses

Boudoir

Boudoir photography is all about capturing intimate, sensual, and romantic images. The right poses can elevate your photos and make your subject feel confident and sexy. Some great boudoir poses include pulling up stockings, removing a top, and lying stomach-down on the bed.

Lighting is key in boudoir photography. Natural light is commonly used, but you can also use soft, subtle artificial lights to create a romantic atmosphere. Colored curtains or filters can help change the mood of the room.

When working with a model, it’s important to take things slow and make sure they feel comfortable. Gradually turn up the heat and never ask them to do something they’re not comfortable with. If you’d like to learn more about boudoir poses, there are many resources available online.

boudoir poses

Tips for Other Photography Niches

CONTENT

 

Fashion

Fashion photography is all about capturing the perfect shot of a model to show off the latest trends. While many elements go into taking a great photo, the model’s poses are essential.

Some of the best model fashion poses include facing straight towards the camera for a strong connection with the viewer, leaning against a wall for a casual look, and sitting poses which are widely used in portraiture and fashion. Experimenting with the model at different heights, such as kneeling or sitting on a chair backward, can also bring creativity to the shoot.

Using props like mirrors or blankets can transform the image and help inexperienced models feel more comfortable. Ultimately, the best approach is to have the model practice posing to find their best side and angle. When a model feels comfortable, you will get the best out of their expressions and poses. To learn more about fashion poses, check out our in-depth guide.

fashion poses

Male Poses

Posing men for portraits can be challenging, but with the right guidance, you can create stunning images. Start by determining the tone you want to convey through clothing and location choices. Strategically choose a location that matches or contradicts the pose and features of your model.

Test out different male model poses to find what works best. Some classic poses include placing hands in pockets, leaning on a wall, crossing arms, and adjusting an outfit. Walking shots and poses with props can also add variety to your photoshoot.

Emphasizing the jawline, having the model sit and lean in, or covering part of their face can create powerful and intriguing portraits. Remember to pay attention to lighting and use a reflector when needed. With practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to capture the best male poses in your photography. To dive deeper into male poses, we have a detailed guide that covers even more tips and techniques.

male poses

Lifestyle

Lifestyle photography is all about capturing candid moments in environments that make people feel at home. To take authentic lifestyle portraits, get to know your subjects and their interests. This will help them feel more relaxed in your presence.

Don’t give instructions to your models. Instead, ask them to do what they love together. Move around to get the best angles and light, and take several photos of the same moment to avoid awkward blinks or expressions.

Take a step back to capture more of your model’s surroundings, as this will help show more of their personality. You can also zoom in to photograph beautiful details like hair, clothes, or their favorite things. By focusing on these details, you’ll be able to tell your subject’s story authentically. If you’d like to learn more about lifestyle portraits, we have a great article that goes into even more depth.

lifestyle portraits

Selfies

Selfies are a fun way to express yourself and share your life with others on social media. To take your selfie game to the next level, try out different poses that reflect your mood and personality. Let loose and have fun with silly expressions, or relax your lips for a natural, soft look.

Make your eyes the focal point by looking directly at the camera or slightly below the lens. Using a selfie stick can help you find flattering angles and avoid facial distortions. Don’t be afraid to include your whole body in the shot to show off your style and surroundings.

Incorporating your hands, friends, pets, or favorite activities can make your selfies more engaging and natural-looking. Most importantly, be yourself and let your unique personality shine through in every shot. For more creative ideas and techniques, selfie poses can help you take your social media presence to new heights.

selfie poses

Weddings and Engagement Photos Posing Tips

Perhaps the most important photos you will ever take are wedding photos. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment, and your photos help it last for ever. Of course, everyone wants to look their best, so having clear ideas about how to pose the couple and the groups is vital.

 

Engagement

Engagement photo sessions are a great way to capture your love and connection before the big day. Try the tummy to tummy pose for a natural, authentic look. The T-bone pose is an excellent foundational pose that works in any situation.

Get close-up details by having one person look over the shoulder of the other. The arm hold pose is elegant and flattering for any couple. Sitting on steps offers many variations without having to move far.

Add romance with the almost kiss or get relaxed shots by having the couple walk together. Laying down can create intimacy, while going back to back can lead to laughter and great stories. Most importantly, let the couple have fun and be themselves in front of the camera. For more inspiration, our article on engagement photo poses can give you even more ideas to create beautiful, memorable images.

engagement photo poses

Wedding Poses

Wedding poses can make or break a couple’s first portraits as a married couple. A great pose should flatter each person while showing the connection between them. Mastering natural wedding poses takes practice and knowledge of posing basics for couples, men, and women.

Photographing an engagement session is good practice before diving into weddings. One basic pose doesn’t mean one image – adjusting hands, expressions and where the couple is looking can create multiple shots. The same pose can also look very different by adjusting your composition, cropping, angles, or lens choice.

Classic poses include standing side-by-side holding hands, facing each other, locking arms, one spouse behind the other, seated poses, ring shots, a kiss on the hand, and a dip kiss. More fun poses include standing on a bench kissing, running together, the groom lifting up the bride, using the veil or dress creatively, flat-lays, and a stolen kiss in the getaway car. Learning more wedding poses can help you create a beautiful wedding album.

wedding poses

Groomsmen

Capturing great groomsmen photos is all about finding genuine moments. Look for candid shots of the groom and groomsmen getting ready, like adjusting ties or checking cufflinks in the mirror. Black and white works well for these behind-the-scenes shots.

Get creative with your viewpoint by using stairs, windows, or doorways to frame the group. Incorporate the groomsmen’s interests into the shots to show their personality. And don’t forget to capture the details, like flowers, buckles, and personalized gifts.

Posing the group can be fun too. Have them show off matching socks or strike a superhero pose. Mix up the formations, like a horseshoe with the groom in the center or an arrow shape. If you want to learn more about groomsmen photo ideas, we have plenty of great examples to inspire your next wedding shoot.

groomsmen photo ideas