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This is the first in a series of Posing Guide posts by Kaspars Grinvalds. See below for links to the full series of posing guides including for kids, men, couples, weddings and more. Check out our new Portrait Posing eBook and Portrait Posing Printables for more advice and posing ideas.
If you ever run out of ideas, get stuck in creativity or simply need some guidance when shooting female subjects, you may use following posing samples as a “posing cheat sheet”. Many pro photographers use such a technique when preparing for and during the photo shoot.
The poses in this article are selected as initial reference. I would advise to look at the poses together with your subject, especially if she’s inexperienced. During a photo shoot don’t hesitate to discuss with the subject which pose is or isn’t working in any particular situation. It’s usually very productive and you both will feel more confident in what you are doing.
OK, let’s start, one by one.
1. Very simple portrait pose to start with. Have the model look over her shoulder. Note how unusual and interesting a portrait might look, if shot simply from a different angle.
2. In portrait photography, hands are usually not visible or at least not dominant. However, you might get creative by asking the model to play around with her hands trying different positions around her head or face. Keep in mind, though: No flat palms, and the hands should only show their sides!
3. You might be familiar with composition rules like the rule of thirds. In a similar way, pleasing effects can be created by using diagonals. Also remember that you don’t need to always hold your camera on a perfectly even level. Don’t be afraid to tilt it, you might achieve some interesting and unusual perspectives.
4. A really nice and lovely pose with a model sitting. The knees have to touch each other. Shoot slightly from above.
5. Another open and inviting pose with the model lying on the ground. Get down and take your shot nearly from the ground level.
6. Just a variation for a pose with the model lying on the ground. Both hands might as well be resting on the ground. Works very well outdoors, on the grass or in a wild flower meadow, for example.
7. A basic easy pose, yet looks absolutely stunning. Get down and shoot nearly from a ground level. Then try to move gradually around the model while making shots. Also ask your model to change head and hand positions.
8. Another easy yet gorgeous pose for all body types. Try different hand and leg positioning. And remember to focus on the model’s eyes!
9. A really lovely pose. Works well in different surface settings: The model, for example, might lie on a bed, on the ground, in the grass, or on a sandy beach. Shoot from a very low angle and focus on the eyes.
10. Gorgeous and easy pose for a model sitting on the ground.
11. Another simple and friendly pose for a model sitting on the ground. Try different directions and angles.
12. A wonderful way to demonstrate the beauty of a model’s physique. Works very well as a silhouette when shooting against a bright background.
13. A simple and casual looking pose. Lots of variations are possible. Ask the model to twist her body, experiment with hand positioning and try different head turns.
14. Another very simple and elegant pose. The model is turned slightly to the side, hands in back pockets.
15. Leaning slightly forward can be a very attractive gesture. It is a subtle way to emphasize upper body shapes.
16. A sensual pose. By holding the hands above the head body curves are emphasized. Works with fit body types.
17. Endless variations are possible for posing in full height. This pose is just the starting point. Ask the model to slightly turn her body, change hand positioning, change head and eye directions etc.
18. A relaxed pose with the model standing upright and supporting her back against a wall. Remember that the model may use a wall not only to support her back, but also to put her hands on, or resting a leg against it.
19. Note that full height settings are very demanding and work well only with slim to athletic body types. Posing guidelines are simple: The body should be arched in an S shape, hands should be relaxed, while the weight finds support on just one leg.
20. An exquisite pose for slim to athletic models. Many variations are possible. In order to find the best posture, tell the model to slowly move her hands and twist her body constantly. When you see a good variant, ask your model to hold still and take some pictures. Repeat for a full set.
21. An absolutely romantic and delicate pose. Any kind of cloth (even a curtain) can be used. Note that the back doesn’t need to be completely bare. Sometimes as little as a bare shoulder could work pretty well.
So, there’s something for you to start with. Hope you will find at least couple of poses to work with in different shooting scenarios! Keep in mind that each of the initial sample poses is meant to be only a starting point. Each pose has endless variations! Just be creative and adjust the pose as needed (for example, try different shooting angles and ask your subject to change hand, head and leg positioning etc.)
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