Basic In-Studio Posing Tips

“With modeling, you pose. You want to look your best all the time. With acting, you have to be aware of the camera, but the more you show your imperfections, the better you’re going to be.”— Diane Kruger

One of the most important elements in creating salable portraits is knowing how to pose your subjects. You may be able to photograph a man, woman or couple but if their pose is awkward or clumsy, it will reduce your ability to sell lots of prints. And because often you’ll be working with people who probably haven’t been photographed since their wedding or senior portrait, it’s important to develop an understanding of posing techniques to assist your subject.

The basic standing pose I use with female subjects starts by asking the subject to put their weight on the foot farthest from the camera placing their body in a three-quarter pose relative to the camera. Once you have a pose you like, refine it with a head tilt or by slightly moving the subject’s hands and arms all the while changing your camera angle and zooming to tighten or loosen the shot. For either full length or head shots, I try to follow one basic rule to make the portrait a little more dynamic: Have the subject’s body pointing in one direction and their face in the other direction and that’s where I place the main or “key” light.

One of the most challenging parts of working in the studio—without props—is, you that there’s nothing for the subject to interact with or do with their hands. Tip: I talk to the subject while moving my hands around my face and head and watch how the subject mimics it. The posing ideas that a subject comes up will always be one that’s comfortable and natural for them. Be sure to look at both sides of the subject’s face. Most people—even supermodels—have one side of their face that photographs better than the other but don’t let that stop you from posing them one way or another. Shot with a Canon EOS 7D with EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (at 62mm) with an exposure of 1/80 sec at f/8 and ISO 125.

I once asked a famous portrait photographer what was the worst thing I could do during a photo session. My guess was going that it would be something technical but to my everlasting surprise he said, “not talking to the people.” This is important because of that old photographer’s axiom: ESP or Expression Sells Portraits. If you don’t talk to the subjects you’re photographing you’re never, ever going to make good and more importantly salable portraits.

You can learn more about my posing techniques in “Posing for Portrait & Glamour Photographythat’s available from The money we make from affiliate marketing with Amazon costs you nothing but keeps us online, so thank you for your continued support!


Author: Joe Farace

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