Model Poses For Any Situation
One of the most common things that people say after their studio sessions are “I have no clue how models do this all day!” I could not agree more, that’s why I stay behind the camera. However, photographing thousands of people each year, you learn what works and what poses are best.
Translating the dynamics of a person into the flat surface of a photograph is one of the most important parts of model photography. Model posing is challenging to learn, so this is definitely a place where many images are lacking. Not only is the lighting important, the way the photographer poses models also comes into play, which is something that only gets better with work.
Researching various poses on Google, YouTube, and Pinterest is an excellent place to start. Putting together a collection of images you wish to emulate and then practicing various poses and looks while looking in a full-length mirror will help the process along nicely and help you prepare for a photoshoot.
Once shoot day arrives, expect to chat with your photographer a bit before getting to work. It’s nice to get to know each other a little bit and build a level of mutual comfort. The photographer is the person running the shoot, so it is essential to communicate to them that you are open and willing to try things. They are there to help you look your best, the goal at the end of the shoot is for everyone to be pleased and this may include a little give and take. In my experience, the best images come from working together. This means that you should follow the photographers’ direction, but if you have an idea, don’t hesitate to throw it out there. You are both artists working together to create the best photographs possible.
It’s usually best to start the shoot with simple poses, sitting and standing, get some decent poses and photos in the bag, and then move on. As the shoot progresses, you can incorporate things that are a little more creative, more candid shots, looking off-camera, folding your arms, moving around a bit. Some of the best photos have no eye contact with the camera, but the subject is still showing all of their emotion and letting you see into their personality. Working together, the photographer and model can have a smooth, painless shoot!
5 Tips for Model Poses During a Photo Shoot
1. Use the profile and 3/4 angles to create a bit of extra depth. With sharp lighting, a more angled look will really jump out and show the correct shape of you and the outfit you are being photographed in.
2. When changing the direction of your head, don’t lock your eyes to the camera, instead let them move with your head to keep a bit of candidness in the look. If you are looking towards the camera, look past the camera. In some cases, this makes for a bit more thoughtful of a look. Some looks will definitely have you looking intensely into the camera, but be fluid and change it up. Your photographer should be directing you, so if you go too far, they can help balance things out.
3. Movement. Keep your poses fluid, unless you know precisely what look you are going for, keep a little bit of fluidity in yourself and move around slightly every few seconds to change things up. Try to avoid drastic movements, but turning your head, raising/lowering your chin, moving your arms slightly. This will help keep things fresh.
4. Keep your arms and legs angled a bit. Think triangles. Making triangles with your body will keep things creative and allow for nicer compositions. There are some cases when keeping everything straight is necessary, but most times, a little bit of a bend here and there will help tie things together.
5. With that said, keep your hands closed, pleasant and straightforward. No balled up fists or spreading things out, try to keep your fingers close to one another.
13 Different Model Poses for Photoshoots
Standing will work with just about every look and has the most versatility as anywhere you go, you can stand up and have a bit of flexibility.
Facing the Camera
One of the most essential things a model will do is face toward a camera. Whether it’s for a headshot or advertisement, you should know the best way to position your head and shoulders, a squared up straight on shot tends to be boring, try letting your weight fall to one side or the other to give your shoulders and head a little lean and tilt.
Posing Your Face
Do you have a mirror? Bring it into a well-lit space and practice posing your lips and face. Not every shot will be a smile or smug look, work on finding all of the in-betweens and figure out what works best for you.
Find a Wall or Chair to Lean On
A simple lean on a wall or chair becomes very dynamic in the camera if done correctly. Take an extra step away and let the lean be a bit more dramatic than usual, give your legs and arms a slight bend as well to build in some shape and watch the magic happen.
Even if you do not have something to lean on, let one foothold more weight than the other and let your body drift in that direction. Also a slight lean can be pleasing on the eyes and give some additional definition to the image.
Bring A Hand Toward Your Face
Be careful when you bring your hands into the image that you do not put them in front of you, if your hands are closer to the camera than anything else, they will seem very large. That said, bringing a hand up, wether to rest your head on or simply rest on your shoulder like the above imager, will add an extra element to the image. The image above is significant because the arms and hands build leading lines that draw you to the models’ face.
Show Your Profile
With excellent, sharp lighting, profiles look incredible. Once you’ve gone through a bit of the shoot, ask the photographer if you can do some tapered profile shots being lit from the side you are facing. The light falls off, and contrast makes for incredibly striking images.
There is a pretty good chance that at some point in your modeling career, you will need to show off your shoes and have a full-length shot done. Full body dynamic is a must for this, a half step here or there, and a side step while standing in the epic light will help a full length shot look great!
Whether on an apple box in the studio or a bench outside, knowing how to correctly set for a photo is essential. How you sit for a shot will depend on the look you are going for, and the final outcome needed should drive this decision.
Sitting On An Angle
Just like when you are standing, angles absolutely add to the dynamic of the look and the photograph. Sitting square to the camera will make you look quite broad, turn a bit to the side where the light is coming from to build up the dynamic and slim down your torso in the shot.
Sitting While Leaning
While sitting, you can either choose to lean forward or lean back for two distinct looks. Leaning a little bit forward keeps you looking proper and attentive. This is best achieved by sitting closer to the front edge of a chair, so your feet are firmly placed on the ground. Leaning back is best used when you are trying to set a more sexy or playful mood, often done with a bit more directed and intense lighting, when this look is pulled off correctly it is a killer.
Head tilt can make a world of difference in an image. Many people say that ahead tilted down a little and in the direction of the lower shoulder is more powerful compared to a head tilted back and towards the higher shoulder, which can seem more playful.
Look Back Over Your Shoulder
The ultimate playful way to end your shoot and get a fun photo. Looking back over the shoulder is a classic look that has been used time and time again and definitely something to throw in the mix to cap off a busy day!
There are a handful of different categories to differentiate model poses for both men and women. Most people have a specific market to target, so figure out what works best for you and position yourself in a way where you can create some great work.
5 Key Model Posing Categories
A fitness model will often be dressed in athletic gear and have more ‘action’ shots. Whether it’s doing lunges, pushups, lifting weights, planks, running, or jumping, you need to be in excellent shape and know how to properly do a lot of exercises and yoga poses.
Commercial models have the most versatility. They are found and used EVERYWHERE. You need to look natural like an everyday person as you will be depicting an average person for advertising, commercial and editorial uses. This is the biggest market, but also the most competitive.
For corporate models, looking the part is 90% of the work. You need to look like you belong in a bank, law firm, or big agency. A very professional look is key to blending in, whether it’s for a recruitment brochure or other use, you should have the look of someone who would actually work at the firm you will be representing.
4. High Fashion
I think the dream for most people who aspire to be models is to end up as a high fashion model. These are the images we see in magazines like Vogue and Elle. This is also where you would work with high-end fashion brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga, and Versace. Posing for this type of shot relies on the model being proper, accentuating their features, and lifting their head a bit higher. High fashion is one of the more difficult places to end up but is where fame is found.
Glamor models are often used to look seductive. Looking fierce will undoubtedly help you make your mark here. Often working with a makeup artist for a sharp look around the eyes, glamour models often pose for high end makeup brands, fierce magazine covers, and commonly for commercial uses in lingerie or swimsuit advertising.
In The End
Modeling is a tough job. It may seem simple for someone to simply pose in front of a camera all day, but there are a lot of nuances that need to be learned and strict regimens to be kept in order to have a very consistent look. We offer model test shoots and help build look books if you’re interested in shooting with us, please get in touch!