I have had a few people request a post like this and so I hope that what I have to say today is of some use to you guys! The kind of posing/pictures I’m going to help you out with are pretty much outfit/lifestyle photos. I would say fitness or swimwear posing is pretty different and not my element…yet!
The first step is lighting. The sparkle in your eye, your pose, your outfit, almost nothing matters if the light isn’t right. If it’s too bright, too dark or shadowy, etc it can really affect the overall vibe of your photo, aka make it “un-postable”. So basically, you need to figure out what kind of lighting you like on your face but also it depends what you’re shooting. Maybe you don’t even want to show your face, and that totally works if you’re trying to show your hair, or an open back, etc.
There are a few different kinds of light that are ideal for portrait photography. Many portrait photographers believe that cloudy days are the best because cloudy skies give the most even lighting, but to me, cloudy days make for the most flat photos. I like the sun because warmth is inviting but also it adds dimension to my photos. Here are the types of ways you can shoot when the sun is shining:
- Direct sunlight on your face
- (my personal favorite) Direct sunlight behind you but ideally the sun isn’t too low so that it gets in the frame. If it is too low, the photographer should block the sun with a lens hood and/or his/her hand/object. If they use their hand (which we do all the time), it can be cropped or edited out later with Photoshop.
- Direct sunlight behind you and facing a light colored wall, so the sun reflects off the wall and onto you.
- In the shade of a building, tree, truck etc (but keep in mind this will be your background) but facing a wall that is reflecting the sun.
- even when the sky is full of clouds, you can usually still tell where the sun is hiding behind the clouds– and you’ll want to face it, otherwise you as the subject will likely be too dark
Also keep in mind that shooting in the middle of the day, at least for natural light, can often be too harsh.
I like to shoot between sunrise and around 10 AM or so, and then 2 PM till sunset. Most of my pictures are taken in the latter time frame unless I’m traveling internationally. I’m just not a morning person but when we get in a different time zone, anything goes!
The second step is posing, which going to take practice! I think posing is different for everyone and figuring out what kind of pose complements your body is really up to you. Expect to spend some time experimenting. (I’m grateful that I was able to ask my youngest sister to shoot my pics when I first started blogging and didn’t know what the heck to do.) Also what you are wearing, or what you want to show can make all the difference. All in all, you don’t want to look uncomfortable or awkward in your photos. Try to exude grace, happiness, energy, comfort and all that good stuff.
It also helps if your photographer is getting the best angle on you… again, experimentation. I like my photographer to usually hold the camera at my eye level. Many girls ask their photographer to get lower than eye level since the lower the photographer, the taller the subject looks. After you figure out the pose, it’s also about the angle and the height of the photographer as well.
If doing a standing shot, stand straight and be aware of your posture. If you want to make your legs look longer, try to point your toe forward and extend that leg. You can also try walking towards the camera, slowly. I’m only 5’4″, and even with 4″ heels I like my legs to look longer!
Be aware of your hands! It’s understandable to not know what to do with your hands when the camera turns on, because in day to day life we are usually not aware of what our hands are doing. Figuring out what to do them is a challenge for anyone, at least in the beginning. I was once watching Top Model (and realized I actually did this a lot in the beginning of my blogging career) and Tyra scolded a model for doing the “fish hand”!! It’s basically when your hand is limp but your wrist is little lifted. Likewise, do not make fists with your hands. Just try to relax your hands and your arms so that you move in a natural way.
A few things that I like to do with my hands:
- Put one hand in the pocket
- Tuck my hair behind my ear
- One hand in the pocket, too
- Hold your bag or a cup of coffee or both… hold anything that you can really. You can use both hands or one hand, it doesn’t matter.
- Grab the collar of your jacket
- Adjust your clothes, like hold the edge of your skirt on top or bottom or the top of your waistband or your pants etc.
- Bring your hands together front of you barely touching your fingers, This helps show your waist if you have nothing to hold.
- Put one hand on your hip with your fingers back in your thumb in front
Mix and match, Sometimes I do two at a time! In general if you can do something with your hands like throw leaves in the air or pick flowers, etc that will always be more interesting. Photos with movement also really please viewers, so if you can wear an item that flows, like a long soft dress, a flowy coat, skirt, etc then it’s easy to add a little movement to your photo by gently swaying it when the camera rolls.
Sitting shots are much, much harder. I still struggle with those every time. It first depends on what kind of shoes you are wearing. In general, flat shoes or bare foot works best for sitting shots. You can occasionally get away with wearing heels though… Check out some examples of a beautiful sitting shot, with flat shoes:
For straight on sitting shots I would say crossing your legs (for girls that is) is a good and easy one to remember. Also in general when sitting you want to point one toe, and always at least one leg should be straighter and one more bent.
3rd tip is where do you look? Again you have a few options:
- Look at the camera, which is my favorite
- Look down, though some people make jokes and say you’re looking down for the coins you dropped or something like that
- Look away, to the side or upwards a little
- Or just face away from the camera
Try also not to blink too much and don’t talk while the camera is in action.
What it comes down to is whatever looks natural for you. I’ve taken pictures of and with quite a few people that are not used to being in front of the camera. What I found is quite common is as soon as the camera turns on, smiles becomes strangely fake and body posture gets stiff and usually the person doesn’t keep moving… they just stay still in one position.
If you suspect you’re that kind of person, practice smiling in the mirror and also at people and eventually at the camera. If people smile back at you it means that your smile is good, if they don’t smile back, your smile is probably scaring them lol
Realize that when the camera turns on, if you hold one pose the whole time and then you look at the pictures after and you don’t like the pose, or where the photographer stood because maybe they weren’t capturing the pose at the angle you thought they were, you are going to be very frustrated with amount of time you spent taking those photos. The way to prevent it of course is to keep moving, slowly, and keep your movements natural while smiling on and off so that your smile doesn’t become “fake.”
Try to have a good time, and if your photographer is cool and funny, that’s even better because then you won’t have to try to have a good time!!