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The Ultimate Guide to Posing People in Photographs

Last updated: November 12, 2023 - 12 min read
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If you are a portrait photographer, you know how important photography posing is. You come to find out that finding that perfect pose is no easy task.

In this article, we have collected the best posing tips for you to know how to direct your models. These tips can also be also useful if you are a model. Knowing how to pose when you are the subject will make everything easier.

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The Importance of Portrait Photography Posing

9 Tips for Getting Natural and Relaxed Poses in Your Photoshoot

Don’t jump right into a photoshoot expecting your subject to be relaxed with you. It’s essential to build trust with your clients. Let them know in advance what to expect.

Showing the poses yourself and being confident will help them too. Give them something to do and keep a conversation going through the photo shoot.

Relaxed hands, casual feet, and connection between couples and families go a long way. Natural posing helps turn a portrait into a memory.

This article describes these techniques and more on how to keep your subjects relaxed.

a couple poses for photography in bed

30 Best Female Poses for Portrait Photography

In this article, we collected 30 of our best female portrait and photography posing tips. These are going to make posing models easier for you.

Sometimes asking your model to raise her hands, flip her hair, or lean on a wall makes a huge difference.

The same is true for putting her hands in her pockets or in her hair or laying on the floor.

It’s important to find the pose that suits the model and the situation best. You wouldn’t want to get an unnatural and artificial look.

a model posing holding her hands above her head

A Photographer’s Guide to the Best Male Poses

There are differences between posing women and men. But each pose can be tried for female and male models as well. It’s just useful to know what is going to bring out the more masculine traits.

For example, highlighting the jawline or tilting his head away will give the face a strong character.

For posing the entire body, he can do something with his hands. Squaring the shoulders helps as well.

Pay attention to the legs too. Crossing the legs at the shin level or while sitting will help to create a more masculine appearance.

a male poses in blue suit and red tie posing

Headshot Poses Simplified

A traditional headshot is tight on the subject and doesn’t show any of the body.

Posing a headshot is not easy, as you have to focus on the face. But the whole body can affect the result.

Posture is key. You can get your subjects moving to get them comfortable.

Ensuring that smiles don’t look frozen is also crucial. When the models know that only their faces are going to be in the image, it can create tension.

When shooting close portraits, do not only pay attention to the head. You have to set the mood and pose the whole body of your subject.

a curly haired model poses over the shoulder

The Photographer’s Guide to Hand Poses

Sometimes you realize during the post-processing that the hands of your model look strange. As you usually won’t be able to reshoot the image, it’s better to pay attention to them on the scene.

You can give the hands something to do or an object to touch.

Use hand poses to flatter the rest of the body. Using an angle to make hands smaller is also a good idea, especially with female models. You can use their hands to frame or highlight different body parts.

Always avoid foreshortening and cropping the hands. Also, hiding the hands is like cropping them. Make sure to reach a natural look by posing the hands in the most natural (and visible) way.

a woman reading a book on a sofa looking back at the camera

Family and Couple Photography Poses

30 Best Couple Poses for Portrait Photography

A photoshoot with couples is about expressing their love, which is a great help for you as they comfort each other. But no matter how much they fit together, they can still find it awkward to pose. They also do not always know which poses show their true selves. This is why it’s important to keep in mind our 30 best couple poses.

Prepare your subjects in advance and ask them to wear matching clothes that look good next to each other.

Then you can ask them to touch each other’s faces or hold hands. Hugging from behind, touching noses, a kiss on the forehead, or holding hands are a few examples.

These poses will make your subjects more comfortable and they will start posing the way it’s most natural for them.

two people posing as a couple

15 Best Poses for Photographing Families

To make your family photography work easier, here’s a list of our 15 favorite family portrait poses.

It would be best if you started a family photo shoot by asking a few questions about them. Ask how many people they will include. It’s important to know how many children you have to prepare for and who’s related to whom.

Then, you can concentrate on the poses.

Walking hand in hand, goofing around, sitting down, and lifting the baby are just a few examples. The family members hugging each other and shooting from the kids’ eye level can also make your portraits warmer.

a family of four walks across the beach with their feet in the shallow water

10 Maternity Poses for Beautiful Photos

Maternity photography is a beautiful way to capture the wonderful moments of expecting a child.

As a photographer, you have endless possibilities to shoot maternity photos. There are a few poses that help you to achieve more natural and warm images. We collected 10 in our article.

For example, you should try photographing the mom alone to enhance her connection to the baby. Capturing the dad with the belly gives intimacy. And shooting silhouettes is a nice way to capture the changes in the mother’s body.

Also, you can try capturing the mother during some kind of activity.

Pay attention to the fact that all bodies and stories are different!

a pregnant woman poses on her side while reading a book and holding a teddy bear

Newborn Poses: How to Minimize Fuss and Maximize Cuteness

Posing newborn babies is hard because they don’t understand what’s going on. You won’t be able to ask them to put their hands in a certain position.

You have to be patient and prepare for anything. Babies can be in a bad mood, which can ruin your whole photoshoot.

Newborn poses require props, as babies cannot hold themselves. You can get creative and use props that are typical for the family. Clothes can also tell a lot about what the family is like.

Also, try the basic poses such as lying on the back, on the belly, or on the side. Concentrate on their little hands and feet as they move them naturally.

a top down shot of a newborn sleeping in a wood and feather box

Wedding Poses: The Ultimate Wedding Party Posing Guide For Beginners

After the ceremony comes the task of shooting several formal wedding pose must-haves. Usually, you won’t have too much time for this, so it’s better to prepare in advance.

You should always explore the location before shooting. Finding the best background is crucial as you will not have time to move your subjects from one place to another.

You should always speak loud, as everyone is going to be talking at the same time. You have to get their attention.

Use the same poses with minimal changes. This will also save you a lot of time and bring variety to your images.

These and our other tips are going to help you to prepare for the big days.

several people posing as part of a wedding party

14 Beautiful Wedding Poses for the Bride and Groom

A wedding portrait should show the connection between each individual.

As the wedding can be a stressful and busy event, you won’t always have enough time. Also, the couple is not always going to be able to relax and show their natural behavior. So, take a look at our 14 poses and go to the wedding well-prepared.

For example, try to pose them side-by-side with one of them reversed. They should look at each other. Standing the groom or bride behind also gives intimacy to your images. Hugs and holding hands are always good ideas.

Always try more poses to see what fits your couple the best.

a newlywed couple poses holding each other

Commissioned Photography Poses

How to Take Stunning Senior Photography: From Props to Poses

High school is a defining period in everyone’s life. We always celebrate the end of it, and we like to capture ourselves as seniors.

You should invite your subject to participate in collecting ideas for the photoshoot. Ask them where they like to spend their time, what kind of clothes they like, and what props they would like to include. You can arrange these during your pre-consultation.

Show the teen’s personality and hobbies. You can also include childhood photos as props.

Photographing a group of friends can be a great addition to your photo shoot. Music and asking parents not to hover will also help get loose images.

a young male poses while sitting down and holding a football

10 Tips for Perfect Prom Photography: Poses, Ideas, Props

Prom is a huge event in a young person’s life. Prom pictures are full of emotion, both for the teen and their parents.

Here, we collected 10 tips for mastering prom photography. This is also an event you should go prepared for.

For example, keeping the poses natural and posing people individually is necessary. Also, capturing the details and using props can add more to the atmosphere of the photos.

You should make the shooting quick and give parents time to document the event as well.

a shot of a prom couple holding hands from behind

How to Take Great Group Photos (Best Composition, Poses, and  Lighting!)

Taking great group photos is hard because you have to make each individual look good. But you also have to create a sense of cohesion and capture the group dynamic.

It’s useful to have a composition in mind before the photoshoot.

It’s also important to know which pose is good for what. For example, posing the shoulders parallel to the camera will make them look their largest. This is great for shooting sports teams, but at a wedding, direct the subjects to stand at an angle.

Read our article for more great tips!

a group of people posing in pictures while lying down in a circle

Niche Photography Posing

12 Tips for the Best Fashion Photography Model Poses

Fashion photography requires poses that enhance not only the people but their clothes too. This can be challenging, so we collected 12 tips to improve your fashion photography.

Create a model pose reference list. Breaking the ice to avoid awkward poses will help you get the best look.

You should make sure to start with the simpler portrait poses first. Take casual photos of your model walking, sitting, or standing.

You can even give your model a role to play.

It’s also important to reach a natural and comfortable look while using the best angle.

a full body shot of a woman sitting on the ground with her leg in the air

30 Best Boudoir Poses for Photographers

This article will take you through 30 poses and ideas that can help you take outstanding boudoir photos.

Posing for photos like these can be stressful for inexperienced models. Building trust is crucial here.

Sometimes it’s the easy tips, like asking your model to look over the shoulder and stare into the camera, can help a lot.

Sitting on a chair or lying on the floor can also add a little extra to your images.

You can focus only on the legs, or other body parts, to create mystery and anonymity.

Your possibilities are endless, but always try ideas your model is comfortable with. Also, all bodies are different, so pay attention to enhancing their attractive traits.

a boudoir photo of a woman posing on a black bed with red apples

Best Ballet Photography Poses and Tips

Ballet photography combines action, dance, and portrait photography. This is why it’s a complicated task to shoot them.

Try emphasizing movement using motion blur. Double exposure is also great. Focus on details and use only one light source.

You can even experiment with flowers to create surreal ballet portraits.

Finding the best pose for your models is crucial. Take a look at our article to see our top 6 recommendations to reach the perfect shoot.

an action shot of a ballerina in flight

10 Tips for Better Beauty Photography: From Poses to Lighting

These tips will help you take great editorial-quality beauty photography.

It’s usually worth it to hire makeup and hairstylists. These photoshoots not only require nice models and poses. It can take a whole team to get the perfect photo.

Make sure to find a model that fits the concept you imagined.

Choosing the right lighting and lens is essential too. You can even use light modifiers to manipulate the mood.

Using props and accessories will also add to your photos.

Besides finding the right people and the right settings, don’t forget the contract/model release.

a model poses for photography looking directly at the camera

20 Best Selfie Poses That Will Transform Your Social Media Account

Last but not least, let’s take a look at selfies!

When you are your own model, you can experiment as much as you want.

Strike silly poses to get authentic selfies. You can include hand poses or full-body poses to enhance your selfie. Holding your camera with both hands also adds a little extra.

You can use selfies to show where you are. Including a nice background can be appealing.

Read our other tips on what else you can try to make a nice self-portrait.

a man in sunglasses demonstrates one of the best selfie poses


Working with experienced models is much easier than working with families who would like to have photos as memories. But you have to make people posing for pictures look their best, no matter who your subject is.

The key is to always prepare in advance and have a few ideas in your mind.

Photography posing can make people nervous, so it’s also important to set a relaxing mood.

Always think through what kind of photos you are aiming for, and shoot accordingly.

If you are going to be a model for a photo shoot, you can practice in front of the mirror. This way you can see what angle works best for you.

Learn how to build a successful portrait photography business with our Profit from Portraits course!

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