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The Complete Photography Posing Guide (100+ Best Poses)

Last updated: April 22, 2024 - 20 min read
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Perhaps one thing that separates the expert from the novice photographer is helping their subjects pose. As you take charge of photography posing, your subjects feel (and look!)) more relaxed.

Maybe Gen Z is 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. That’s why, as a photographer, it’s important to build your posing knowledge base.

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Our Complete Photography Posing Guide

We’ve examined everything from portraits to weddings, sitting poses, and how to smile. Follow our tips to improve the quality of your pictures of people! Use these links to go to the section you need:

  1. General posing tips
  2. Posing individuals
  3. Posing pairs and groups
  4. Posing family and children
  5. Posing for women
  6. Niche photography posing guides

General Posing Tips

Click the links to delve deeper into each photography posing guide.

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 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, show it yourself first.

Keep the conversation going during the shoot. Ask questions, tell funny stories, and give compliments. This banter 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. Add a physical touch to create connection and intimacy for couples and families. Relaxed poses capture a moment and prioritize expression over perfection.

Example of using a baseball glove and ball for a relaxed pose
Use props for relaxed poses

Natural Smiles

Getting people to smile naturally for photos can be challenging. One of the best ways is to get to know your subject first. Talk 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.

A portrait of a woman with a natural smile

Posing 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. Hand poses can 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. Read our complete hand-posing guide for more!

A close-up of a woman with her chin resting on her hand as an example of photography posing

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. Try poses like leaning forward with chin on hands, sitting sideways with an arm on a chair, or facing away from the camera.

Stairs and steps provide interesting contrasts for sitting poses. You can also have the subject lean 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 more natural.

Try poses like sitting sideways on the ground, back-to-back, or the “double pretzel” when shooting two or more subjects. Couples can pose head-by-head to show togetherness. Families can put their heads together or sit on a log for a natural look.

You can capture amazing sitting poses in any setting with a little creativity. To learn more about sitting poses, check out our in-depth guide.

A woman resting her head on her knees as an example of a sitting pose


Selfies are a fun way to express yourself and share your life with others on social media. Try poses that reflect your mood and personality to take your selfie game to the next level. 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. 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.

Incorporate your hands, friends, pets, or favorite activities. They 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.

Two young women posing for a selfie while sitting


Posing Individuals

A person might need photos for their business, a LinkedIn profile, or to remember a special occasion. Having a good idea of how to pose them makes them more relaxed and helps them to enjoy the moment, too.


Good posture is key for headshot poses. Ensure your subject keeps their shoulders back and chest out. Remind your model to check their posture between poses.

Mind the chin position, too. If it’s too high, have them look down at the camera. Too low, and they risk a double chin. Have them lower their chin slightly while moving their face forward, like a turtle coming out of its shell.

Have them try a slight lean on a nearby wall, fence, railing, or table. Sitting can be comfortable, but ensure they maintain good posture. Have them turn their body to the side while keeping their shoulders open.

Using their surroundings can make them feel more relaxed and look natural. To learn more about headshot poses, check out our in-depth guide.

A man with glasses and a green polo shirt looking off to the side for a headshot studio pose

Posing Females

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 for your next photoshoot.

Have your model raise her hands in the air for a dynamic portrait. She can 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, we have a thorough article for you.

A woman with her head resting on her arm with her head titled as an example of a female pose

Posing Males

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

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.

You can capture the best male poses in your photography with practice and experimentation. To explore male poses further, we have a detailed guide that covers even more tips and techniques.

A black-and-white half-portrait a young male with a hat sitting and posing with his hand in front of his face and his fingers touching his hair


Posing Pairs and Groups

There are different dynamics and techniques when posing pairs of people and groups. We have you covered, whether it’s romantic couple poses, best friends, or large groups.

Posing Couples

Here are some excellent 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, symbolizing strength and trust in the relationship.

Add movement to your shots by having one partner twirl the other or dance together. Have the couple make funny faces to capture their silly side.

Let them get lost in an activity they 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 or gently caressing the other’s face. You can even have them touch noses or 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 kiss on the cheek or under an umbrella. We have a detailed guide with even more ideas if you want to learn about couple poses in-depth.

A couple with sunglasses and summer clothes on sitting on a beach their heads turned to each other with a drink held up between them

Posing Best Friends

Best friend photoshoots are a great way to capture the special bond between friends. Use poses like holding each other close, pulling silly faces, or recreating iconic movie scenes. They can create fun and memorable photos.

Lying on the ground with heads together or giving piggyback rides are playful ideas. These poses 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 are stacking heads or sitting back-to-back. These poses symbolize the closeness and trust between friends.

Seasonal activities like throwing autumn leaves or snowball fights excite 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. Friend poses are a wonderful way to celebrate the joy of having a best friend by your side.

Two friends holding up their hands making a heart sign in front of a sunflower field

Christmas Couples

Christmas is a wonderful time for couples to capture memories together. Decorate the house and tree, wear festive hats and jumpers, and pose in your Christmas grotto. These 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. Wrap and exchange presents, cook together, and even have a playful pillow fight. These can all make memorable holiday shots.

For more ideas on capturing the magic of Christmas as a couple, check out our Christmas photoshoot guide.

A couple wearing Christmas sweaters and Santa Clause hats posing for an indoor photoshoot

Posing Groups

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

When composing the image, look for a location with minimal distractions in the background. 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.

Use props or the environment to arrange the group on different levels, creating a more interesting composition. Paying attention to people’s hands, feet, and faces is good practice 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.

You can capture a shot with the right group photo techniques that everyone will cherish.

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Posing Family and Children

Perhaps our families are the most photographed of all. They can also prove to be the hardest subjects. We have many tips to help you get the most from the task, whether photographing the whole family or children.


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, hug each other, 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.

Parents standing in an embrace outside with their young toddler sitting on the father's shoulders with one arm raised and fist clenched for a family photo

Toddlers and Children

Posing children for a photoshoot can be challenging. But you can capture amazing shots with some preparation and flexibility.

The best photos often come from following the child’s lead and capturing genuine moments. Let them run and treat the session like sports photography if they want to run. To capture the action, use 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 the family will treasure.

If you’d like to explore kids’ photo poses more deeply, our comprehensive guide offers more tips and techniques.

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

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

Get creative with close-up shots of baby hands, feet, and faces 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.

A close-up of a newborn sleeping on his side in a white outfit against a white fuzzy blanket and background


Posing for Women

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

Women’s Beauty

Beauty photography for women 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 also saves 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 ensure you waste no time and follow the client’s plan. For more tips on beauty photography, our detailed guide will help you create stunning images.

A close-up shot of a woman in makeup with her head titled against a stone backdrop


Maternity photography captures the beauty of pregnancy. The best maternity poses flatter the mom-to-be and highlight the 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, we have a fantastic article available.

A black-and-white photo of a pregnant woman with her belly exposed and her hands around her stomach as a maternity pose


Bikini poses are for every woman, no matter your body shape. A good pose makes 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. Place one hand on the back of your head while the other hangs at your side. You can also lift your arms above your head elongates the body for a powerful look.

Kneeling poses are particularly flattering, stretching the abs while accentuating curves. Lying poses with an arched back make anyone look fabulous on the beach. The torso twist technique makes the abdomen appear slim and smooth.

If you’re shy, a glimpse over the shoulder adds a cheeky element. With our list of bikini poses, anyone can look amazing on a sun-soaked beach.

A woman posing in water on a tropical beach with palm trees in the background wearing a white bikini and with one hand up in her hair


Niche Photography Posing

Almost any photography that includes people can benefit from subjects who feel and look comfortable. So, let’s look at some photography niches where posing is especially important.


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 toward the camera for a strong connection with the viewer. Leaning against a wall for a casual look and sitting poses area also key. Photographers use these poses widely 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. 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 get the best out of their expressions and poses. To learn more about fashion poses, check out our in-depth guide.

A headshot of a woman with her hair up in two side buns and wearing pink mascara for a fashion pose against a white cloud and blue sky backdrop


Lifestyle photography is 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 familiarity helps 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.

You can also zoom in to photograph beautiful details like hair, clothes, or their favorite things. You can tell your subject’s story authentically by focusing on these details.

Also, take a step back to capture more of your model’s surroundings, which helps show more of their personality. If you’d like to learn more about lifestyle portraits, we have a great article that goes into even more depth.

A lifestyle portrait taken from behind a woman in a canoe rowing outside on a lake in winter landscape with an oar


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


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.

Have one person look over the shoulder of the other to get close-up details. 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. Photographing an engagement session is good practice before diving into weddings.

A photo of a couple from behind embracing with sunlight shining on them and a lake behind them for an engagement pose


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.

Use stairs, windows, or doorways to frame the group to get creative with your viewpoint. 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 photo ideas for groomsmen, we have plenty of great examples to inspire your next wedding shoot.

A groom wearing a bow-tie and suit with out-of-focus groomsmen standing behind him as an idea for photography posing

Wedding Day

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

One basic pose doesn’t mean one image— adjusting hands, expressions, and where the couple looks can create multiple shots. The same pose can look very different by adjusting your composition, cropping, angles, or lens choice.

Classic poses include standing side-by-side, holding hands, facing each other, and locking arms. You can also have 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, or the groom lifting the bride. Using the veil or dress creatively, flat-lays, and a stolen kiss in a getaway car are other ideas. Learning more wedding poses can help you create a beautiful wedding album.

A groom placing a wedding ring on a bride's hand as an idea for wedding photography posing


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, or lying on a bed with the stomach down.

Lighting is key in boudoir photography. Photographers commonly use natural light. But soft, subtle artificial lights can create a romantic atmosphere. Colored curtains or filters can help change the mood of the room.

When working with a model, taking things slow and ensuring they feel comfortable is important. Gradually turn up the heat and never ask them to do something they’re uncomfortable with. If you’d like to learn more about boudoir poses, we have a detailed article.

A black-and-white photo of a woman in lingerie laying back on a fuzzy blanket in a sultry pose for boudoir