Posing 101 For Photographers and Models

great_model_photoWhether you want to become a professional photographer or model, learning the basics of posing are a must. Proper posing techniques should not only compliment the model’s body, but also be appropriate for the type of portrait and the intended use of the resulting photographs.

During a portrait session, the photographer is expected to have knowledge on proper posing techniques and to lead or direct the model for the poses wanted. While a subject may or may not have a great deal of experience modeling, it is up to the photographer to be able to understand and articulate the poses desired.

Photography Posing Secrets: A Resource For Posing A Model For The Camera



When just getting started photographing models, you will experience a great deal of trial and error. Many professional portrait photographers learned their craft through this method, as well as working with established professionals. One technique that has proven highly success for many photographers is to start by emulating the works of other seasoned photographers. While not copying, per se, the idea is to look at how other photographers have tackled similar subjects and learn from their techniques. Many photographers compile a “swipe file” or collection of images they like and study every aspect of the photographs…positioning of the head, what to do with the hands, how are the legs bents, where the toes are pointed, etc..I have found the use of the swipe file to be a highly effective training tool.

Review these great books on Fashion Photography
In addition to mastering posting techniques, variety is not only the spice of life, but also of a portfolio. Experimenting with a wide range of poses will give you more opportunities to creating the perfect photograph of your model. One great pose does not work for every model.

There are many books on the topic of model posing, many of which can be found in your local library or readily available online.

Here are some excellent sites on posing techniques:

Benji’s Studio Lighting and Posing Tutorial

Professional Posing Techniques for Wedding and Portrait Photographers

The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography

Photographing a Beauty Headshot

Posing Techniques for Photographing Model Portfolios

Supercharge Your Photography Website

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20 thoughts on “Posing 101 For Photographers and Models

  1. Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post. Purchased the Photography Posing Secrets and love it!

  2. I am just getting into photography and friends along with family members are requesting their picture taken. Your site really has given me some good guidelines to follow and corrected my ideas of good poses. I really enjoyed the rules you posted. Everything was really helpful.

  3. Thanks for sharing the great article. Before the session starts I show my clients loads of pictures. I think it’s important to give them a variety, what they can do in front of the camera. I like to shoot more than one or two poses, because it’s often the case that the client needs some warmup time.

  4. poses is really important in fashion photography..but also exposure,lighting techniques etc are important too..you can go through our blog and know about how these techniques work..hope our shari academy blog will be helpful for you guys ..

  5. Thanks for the post. I recently attended a great seminar by the wedding photographer Gordon McGowan who has some amazing tips for posing. Just simple alterations to a pose can make a world of difference to the final image! I’ll be taking a look through the list – thanks!

  6. Very true “portrait poses” are essential tool to any and every photographer. Having the insight to lend the correct balance, composition and framing to your photo is as essential as putting your subjects at ease, directing them effectively and helping them enjoy the experience. Check out also some tips here http://www.portraitposes.org it may help you in a creating a better portrait poses.

  7. Another tip in regards to shooting for models is that it is extremely important to learn how to work with subjects of different age groups. Children are often the most difficult to photograph because you will need patience and determination to get the right photograph. Photographers with experience in children’s portraits know that the younger the child, the more challenging it becomes to get the child to pose.

    Adults can be challenging subject too, from the camera-shy to those who refuse to take the photographer’s instructions. The good news is that guides dealing with Modeling poses for photographers concentrate on how to work with adult subjects. Take as much tips from seasoned photographers as possible to deal with any arising issues in the photo shoot.

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