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4 Posing Tips Every Photographer Needs to Know

by Topher Kelly
featured, photo & video

Photo courtesy Lindsay Adler.

Photo courtesy Lindsay Adler.

It’s simple – to be a glamour, portrait, boudoir, wedding or any kind of photographer working with a living, breathing subject, you need to know how to pose your clients. It’s more than just telling people how and where to stand. The recipe for success in the realm of portrait photography is one part communication, one part planning, and one part skill — all topped with a friendly, comforting presence.


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Here are a few pro tips from today’s top working photographers:

Know What’s Natural

Think about your client and how they want to be represented in your image. Most male clients want to appear masculine, but females don’t necessarily want the opposite — they want to be strong. Do your research and interview your subject. You need to know not only what kind of person they are, but how they want to be portrayed. Then, it is your professional responsibility to know how to achieve the desired result using poses that look natural and authentic. This relies heavily on communication with your client to understand their demeanor and personality.

To learn more about effective communication, check out this clip from legendary glamour photographer Lou Freeman:

Know How to Find and Get the Most of Rembrandt Light

Rembrandt lighting is your best friend — but only if you know how to position your subject at the right angles. You can bring in all the flashes and lighting equipment you want, but if you can’t use natural rembrandt lighting, you’ll never be able to move outside your studio! Shadows are great, but you need to find the right balance to get a fabulous shot. Learn from Clay Blackmore here:

Be Aware of the Whole Body

Here’s the truth – the human body is both beautiful and awkward. Making each part of the body look good in a portrait is a challenge. The hair can look great but the eyebrows are off. The legs can look great but the chin is sticking too far out.

Lindsay Adler demonstrates successful posing.

Lindsay Adler demonstrates successful posing.

One of the most common errors amateurs make is to forget about the hands. They are quite possibly the most difficult to master, but also one of the most important. Sue Bryce and Bambi Cantrell elaborate:

Another tricky body part is the neck. No matter the body type, if you pose your client incorrectly, their neck will look thicker than it does it real life. What’s the goal? Don’t make the camera add 10 pounds. Watch this clip from Zach Arias to find out how to avoid it:

Posing Groups

It’s easy to think that once you know how to pose one subject that you easily to adapt to groups. The problem is that every person is unique. They come with their own personality and pairing those personalities together can be a real challenge. In this clip, Michelle Celentano teaches you a few basics for posing families:

To learn more about posing, check out Posing 101 with Lindsay Adler, or learn the best techniques and tutorials for post-processing your photos in Photoshop.


Get your learn on with Lindsay Adler and join her new class Posing for Curvy Women. RSVP Now!

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Topher Kelly

Topher Kelly is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and editor at CreativeLive. Follow Topher on Twitter@Topher_LIVE.