Quick tips to get that perfect portrait pose from your subject
Portrait Photography Basic Photography
July 4, 2018

The beauty of portrait photography lies in the poses. Posing your model is the single most important aspect of portraitures. The proper expressions of the model combined with suitable lighting makes for a very powerful combination. But without the correct posing, it always falls flat. In candid portraits however, you may not have the opportunity to get the perfect pose. But in other portraits, you have all the time in the world. Posing is something which requires a lot of homework. This is a pre-production task and hence you need to design all your poses prior to the shoot. Let us look at some tips to get the perfect portrait pose every time.




  • Posing and expression: This combination needs to be a perfect match to get the perfect pose. The expression your model needs to have, must be clearly conveyed to him/her. A perfect pose but with the wrong expression fails to depict the feelings you want the portrait to have. Communication with your model becomes the key here. Try to have a back story of the portrait. This may help the model understand the situation better. Once you have extracted the perfect expression from your model, it is time to work on the posing. Remember, your model will not know how to pose for your kind of portrait shot. A person being a model doesn’t ensure that their poses will suit your kind of portraiture properly. They may have an idea about the common postures but is that going to be enough to suit your specific kind of portrait? It is your job as a photographer to make them pose as per your need.


  • How they stand: The feet and hips: Portrait photography starts from the feet. How your model stands in the image determines how confident the person is. You don’t want them to look like a fresher who has just arrived for his first interview! Normally, if both their legs are in parallel to each other and pointing towards the camera, it looks amateurish. Photographers prefer the feet placed one behind the other with the back foot at right angle to the front one. This naturally turns your model a little bit and makes him/her look slimmer. Coming to the hips, if you want to make the hips prominent and protruding you need to tell the model to put the weight of the body on one leg. Otherwise, advise the model to put the weight of the body on back leg.


  • The upper limbs: Hands confuse most photographers. There are so many combinations available that it gets difficult to plan for a pose of the hands. As an amateur photographer, if you are still not quite confident with the hands, it’s better to chop them off and get a portrait till the shoulders. I would personally advise you to experiment with the hands since albeit confusing, you can be creative with them. Make sure that the arms don’t look too fat. It’s better to show the side of the hands to ensure this. The sides always look slimmer. In case you are taking a portrait till the waist, you can have the arms is a crossed position. You can also keep them in a bent position to create those natural angles. Bent arms holding the waist is also a common pose especially in the apparel industry. On the contrary if you are looking to get a full portrait you can have the arms falling naturally. You can also have them in the pockets but make sure that the thumb remains visible since by the rules of photography you should never chop off a body part from the joints. The most important thing that you need to remember is that portraits are created by the eyes and not by the hands. So, the hands should not be in a position that takes away all the attention from the eyes. It’s better not to have the model wearing some very flashy accessories on the hands unless the shoot is entirely dedicated to such accessories.


  • The upper body and the head: “Police Station Portraits” are something people dread of. These are sort of images of criminals normally kept on display by the cops. The head and the body in these portraits are always facing the camera, straight. The shoulders look wider and hence throws the portraits haywire. The solution to this is by asking your model to turn a little bit thus creating an angle with respect to the camera. When the model does this, it reduces the width of their shoulders and thus makes the model look slimmer and in proper shape. When you are doing a portrait session, it is always better to pose the feet first and then work your way up to the head. The safest way to shoot a portrait is by shooting at the eye level of the model. Normally this works perfectly. However, in case you are looking to do something creative, you can shoot at an angle below or above the eye level of your model. You can also make your model look away from the camera in case your style of portrait demands so.


  • The eyes: Eyes are the life of your portraits. It’s the glitter of the eyes that attracts all the attention of the viewer. A top shot can increase the details of the eyes. Even if your model is looking away from the camera, you need to catch the details and the intensity in the eyes. Try to always have that glitter in your images. Eyes catch all the attention and then it spreads to the other parts of the body.You need to have catchy eyes in your portraits to have the audience glued to the entire portrait.


You can get extremely creative in portrait photography.The most important parts of your portraits are the eyes of the model. Make sure nothing is taking away the attention from the eyes. With the above tips you can up your portrait game. All of them are rules and as they say, “rules are meant to be broken”!


Portrait Photography Basic Photography
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