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25 Best Sitting Poses for Seated Portraits

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 11 min read
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If you’re looking for some inspiration for sitting poses, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll share 25 of the best sitting poses for portraits. Plus, we’ll give you some tips on how to pose while sitting. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer, you’ll be able to create stunning portraits with ease. Let’s get started!

Different Types of Sitting Poses

Sitting poses for portraits covers a wide range of possibilities. We’re not talking about selfies at the dinner table. What we are talking about is being asked to take a sitting portrait for someone. This could be for their CV, resume, or blog post.
Our subjects might range from individuals, young and old, to couples and groups.
Nobody wants to risk looking awkward in a photo. If you’ve been asked to shoot a portrait, then we have 25 inspirational sitting poses for portraits right here for you.
Let’s start with the best sitting poses for an individual.

Sitting Poses for One Subject

Websites, business cards, high school graduation announcements—there are many reasons why someone might want to sit and have their photo taken on their own. Here are the top 16 suggestions for sitting portraits of individual subjects.

1. Leaning Forward, Chin-on-Hands Pose

This sitting pose is nice and simple. Sit with interlocked fingers making a nice support for the chin. This can help you look slimmer sitting down, and it gives an open, simple portrait.
If you have the model lean forward, the overall effect is one of interest and attention. It works with any kind of chair or stool. In fact, it works with almost any surface that isn’t the floor.

Young woman with chin on hands while sitting
© Michael Zhang (

2. Sitting Sideways, Arm-on-Chair Pose

Another relaxed sitting pose has the subject with one arm on the chair and their body turned slightly towards the camera.
This creates an open, relaxed, and casual vibe. You can cross your legs if you want. And the other arm creates a visual flow across the body.

Man sitting in armchair posing for a photo
© Depositedhar (

3. Facing Away from the Camera Pose

You can achieve another casual vibe with this sitting pose. Here, the car tailgate works as a chair substitute. The model sits with a straight back, looking over her shoulder, with her face pointing and smiling into the distance.
This is quite a narrow shot, but it works with a wider view that includes the subject’s legs.

Woman sitting on car tailgate
©Erik Reia (

4. Sitting on the Stairs Pose

Stairs and steps offer great options for sitting poses. Their linear, horizontal form provides an interesting contrast to the humans sitting on them.
As well as the laid-back feel of this photo, we add interest by placing the subject sitting to the side of the frame. And if you’re keen on the rule of thirds in photos, notice how the vertical and horizontal lines intersect the model’s left eye.
Stairs and steps offer lots of flexibility for sitting portraits of groups.

Young people posing while sitting on steps
©Monkey Business (

5. Leaning Back Against a Tree Pose

Legs can be a real problem in sitting poses for photos. You may not know where to position your knees or if you should cross your legs.
Sitting on the ground can help, and one good way around this is to sit sideways. It encourages good posture with relaxed shoulders. And the model can look at the camera. Legs can be straight, crossed, or bent.
Sometimes you’ll see this called the L-shape pose, with legs pointing to the side.

Young woman sitting leaning against a tree
© Sumetee Theesungnern (

6. The Pretzel Pose

If you search “How should I pose while sitting?” on the internet, you will find the “pretzel pose.” In truth, it looks nothing like a pretzel, but you can see where it gets its name.
The basic elements are looking at the camera, sitting on the floor with crossed legs, and arms usually inside the knees.
You can vary it by resting your elbows on your knees. You can even combine it with the first pose and rest your elbows on your knees and your chin on your hands.
It’s very flexible unless, like me, you’re not very flexible. I can’t actually sit comfortably with crossed legs like that, so make sure your subject isn’t going to break in two before you choose this pose!

Young woman sitting on the ground posing for a photo
© Naypong (

7. Sitting Pose with Strong Backlighting

I could have called this the “simply sit” pose, but the key is the lighting. The soft chair, smart attire, and mobile phone add a formal tone to the pose. But it’s the striking backlighting and flare that set this apart.
If you’re worried about how to pose in a chair, it can be easy to forget the other elements that make up a great photo.
Notice how the rule of thirds line follows the horizontal flair. The subject’s eyes are right above this line.

Young man sitting with strong backlight
© Depositedhar (

8. Sitting Drinking Tea Pose

Well, it might be coffee. Giving your subject something to do with their hands while they pose can take a lot of pressure off you and them.
Here, the straight back, warm smile, and the poise of the teacup at rest help the model to sit with a purpose. This reduces any discomfort they might feel as you ask them to pose.

Woman sitting with cup of tea
© Racorn (

9. Sitting Looking in a Mirror Pose

They say we should learn to see ourselves as others see us. Well, this sitting pose lets others see us as we see ourselves.
It can be a nice change of focus to use a mirror in our poses. It opens up lots of possibilities for framing and can feel less intimidating for the subject. Sitting with the photographer behind you can be somehow more reassuring.

Woman looking in mirror into camera
© Trevor Marshall (

10. The “Z” Sitting Pose

I call this position a “Z” pose because the line from the arm down through the legs roughly makes a “Z” shape.
Sit on the ground with a straight back, one arm connecting the knee and chin, and then cross your legs.
Make sure the subject doesn’t directly point their feet at the camera, as this can often produce a “big foot” effect.

Woman posed sitting on the ground
© Sanneberg (

11. Sitting on Your Hobby (Horse) Pose

It might be an actual horse, or it might be a motorbike or a classic car. Perhaps even a basketball.
If you pose sitting on the thing you love, those poses will likely look more natural and appealing.
The actual object you sit on will determine how you place your legs and how you pose. And if it’s a horse, you might need to give your subject a leg up!

Woman sitting on horse
© Pamliveria (

12. Sitting Leaning on a Desk Pose

One advantage of this pose is that it’s usually easy to hide the subject’s legs. Also, if you want to look slimmer, a desk can block the view of the model’s torso.

Woman leaning forward on a desk
© Michael Jung (

13. Raised Knee Pose

These sitting poses can be wonderfully relaxed and charming. They can be taken from the front or from one side.
Sitting on the floor with one leg raised helps to have good posture and allows the hands to rest neatly on one foot. But make sure the model is okay with having their feet in the photo.

Woman posed for a photo sitting on the floor
©Zest Photography (

14. Pose While Hugging Your Knee

Relaxed shoulders make photos like these look natural and attractive. It works well sitting on the floor, with one or both legs up.

Woman sitting while hugging her knees
© Michael Jung (

15. Pose Sitting on a Table

This helps to put your sitting poses in context, especially for business websites or blogs. In wider shots, be careful that toes are pointed to the side to avoid distortion.

Woman sitting on desk posing for a photography
© Diego Cervo (

16. Be Creative!

When photographing a musician, for example, you might be tempted to show them in action. But being creative in our posing and getting them to pose sitting thoughtfully really makes a difference.
Here, the legs follow the flow of the violin.

Woman sitting holding her violin
© Trevor Marshall (

Sitting Poses for Shooting Two or More Subjects

Often, people will want to pose sitting with their friends, family, or spouse. So how should two people pose while sitting?

17. Sitting Sideways on the Ground Pose

With these sitting poses, the subjects sit on the ground with one leg bent, an arm resting casually on the knees, looking to the side.
Make sure you can see both of their faces. Toes should be pointing forward, and the subjects can mirror each other with a hand on one knee.
Remember, you will need a big enough depth of field to get both of them in focus in poses like these.

Mature couple sitting on grass
© Aletia (

18. Back-to-Back Sitting Pose

The couple sits on the ground with their legs bent and their arms resting on their knees, leaning against each other. Different body sizes are not a problem, and this sitting pose shows friendship and support.
The posture is relaxed, and these sitting poses can be taken from either side.

Couple sitting back-to-back
© Khakimullin Aleksandr (

19. The Double Pretzel Pose

Legs and arms are the same as in the normal pretzel pose. But here, there’s a little humor as the friends pose with their heads one above the other.

Three friends posing together
© Vadimphoto (

20. The Head-by-Head Pose

This is the perfect pose for a couple. Sitting poses that show your togetherness are perfect if, like these two, you’ve just got engaged.
These are photos to keep. Sit one behind the other, looking straight at the camera.
Maybe your next photoshoot might be the wedding itself!

Couple looking at camera heads together
© Trevor Marshall (

21. Family Heads Together Pose

Families love posing together. Sitting poses offer the chance to iron out size differences. And putting your heads together shows closeness.
Posing them somewhere familiar, like in the kitchen, can be better than sitting in an unfamiliar studio.
And sitting behind the table means you don’t have to worry about legs.

Portrait of a family sitting at a table
© Rommel Alomia (

22. Sitting Backwards Over a Chair Pose

Children can be adorable in all kinds of poses. Getting them to pose sitting on a chair might get boring, but they will enjoy a knee pose, looking over the back of the chair.
Keeping them at eye level is also a top tip. It also works with the chair in front of them.

Two cildren looking back over a sofa
© Lopolo (

23. Sitting on a Log Pose

It doesn’t have to be a log, but this composition is a pose that prevents legs from being a problem. It looks natural, and because everyone can sit on the same level, children don’t block our view of dad sitting at the back.
Make sure your aperture gives enough depth of field to keep everyone in focus.

Dad and children sitting on a log
© Monkey Business Images (

24. “It’s Not All About You” Pose

Sometimes a wider view is the answer to the best sitting poses. If you’re in a city, use it as a backdrop.
Here, the woman’s leg helps to connect the two friends.
Many of the sitting poses we’ve seen already work well with an interesting building, bridge, or river behind the subjects.

Couple sitting by Tower Bridge
©Monkey Business Images (

25. Intensely Simple and Simply Intense

After all that has been said, sometimes simplicity is best. Gazing directly into the camera without distractions is a classic portrait pose.

Man with moustache looking at the camera while sitting
© S Kichigin (


The joy of taking photos of people is capturing the moment and the essence of the subjects. Although some of these poses might feel awkward, they will deliver great results time after time.
Knowing what sitting poses to use could well result in people coming back to you for more. And who knows, it could even provide some pocket money.
So, get up, and sit your subjects down!
Check out our Profit From Portraits ebook to master portraiture!