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15 posing tips for better portraits


Normally people do not stand stiffly upright, unless they are a guard for the Royal Palace! Yet this is the first pose that most people will do when a camera is aimed at them, along with a big cheesy smile. For a photographer, learning to pose your subject so that they look relaxed and comfortable will definitely improve your portraits.

And if you are going to be photographed by Albedo Photography, the following offers a glimpse into the behind the scenes and why Richard and I might be telling you.  We find that when we do a photoshoot, be it a wedding or engagement session, my subjects will end up learning quite a bit about how to pose. By the end of the night at a wedding the entire bridal party know to stand, to turn their body sideways, and they’ll know what to do to avoid a double chin!

Bride posing at wedding

Bridal poses

Relax your subject: As a portrait photographer it is your job to chat to your subject, encourage them, excite them, to suggest basic poses and even demonstrate how they should pose!

Bring props: Before the photoshoot, encourage your model to wear their favourite clothes and accessories. You can even ask your subject to bring props, such as a favourite toy or instrument.

Ask your subject to put their weight on only their back foot, which causes t

heir knee to automatically bend and their back shoulder to automatically be lowered, making thesubject look relaxed.

By turning the body on an angle to the camera, the body looks thinner. In general you should ask you subject to turn 45 degrees away from the camera. If you are taking a group photo, split the group down the middle and ask everyone to turn 45 degrees inwards, so they are facing towards the centre of the group.

Keep space between arms and body. To make your subject look more slim, ensure they leave space between their arms and their body. This can be as simple as asking your subject to put their hands on their hips.

The side of the hard looks much slimmer and more flattering than the back of the hand. Hands can easily look dominant in a photo, which will detract from the subjects face, especially if you have a hand facing front on to the camera, or clasped hands.

In a group photo try and hide as many hands as possible. You can hide hands behind the subject. If you are hiding hands in the subjects pocket, ask them to leave just their thumb hanging out as this looks better than hiding them completely.

Move everyone is close for group photos. In a group photo, even a small gap between people will look huge in a photo. And no matter how much your subjects will want to do a “rugby tackle pose” with their arms around each other neck, you need to discourage this.

If their chin is forming a ‘double chin’, ask them to lift their head slightly, or to push their chin forward a little. No matter how excellent you lighting and composition, if your subject has a double chin then they will not like your image at all!

When the subject is looking away from the camera, be aware of the whites in their eyes. If they are looking too far to the side, or to high there will be a lot of the whites showing, and this can look creepy. If you can see too much of their whites, guide your model by telling them where to look.

Don’t just take photos of you subject looking at the camera. For variety, I recommend you take a mixture of photos with the subject looking at the camera, and then looking away.

Take photos of mixture of happy and neural looks. If you find that you are only getting big smiles, ask you subject to do a soft smile. Then ask your subject to do a serious face- although it must be noted that trying to do this usually ends in a burst of laughter- which is great!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with motion. One of the benefits of digital photography is that you can be more experimental as you are not limited by the number on a roll of film. A spin, a jump, a flick of the hair, can both engage your subject and help them to relax in front of the camera and enable you to capture much more natural image of them.If I am asking my model to experiment with different poses, I will just let them know to wait until they hear the shutter click (or the camera flash) and then move into their next pose.

Bring inspiration.  For inspiration, take a few fashion magazines along to you photoshoot, and try to replicate the poses. This will give you a good starting point to begin some learning and experimentation.

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