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Model Poses - The basic do's and don'ts of basic model posing

Author: Denise Salceda

Photo Credit: Nikola Borissov


The word “pose” is a bit misleading when it comes to describing what a model does front of the camera. A good model knows how to move during a photoshoot. In reality, the poses come in between the moving, and the poses are what the photographer captures when the shutter clicks. So what does moving in front of a camera look like? Imagine a pose that is never completely static. The model is always morphing from one pose to the next adjusting the angle of her face, her shoulders, her legs; changing her facial expression, moving her hair. Depending on the mood of the shoot, the style of movement will be different—ranging from mellow, to sexy, to energetic. One thing is always the same though; the model never fully stops moving. To truly move without inhibition or feeling self-conscious at a photo shoot, it’s important to be comfortable with the camera; and not only that, but also to be comfortable with yourself and familiar with how you look through the lens. To accomplish this, practice moving and posing in front of a mirror. Do you have a side that is more flattering than the other? Have that side face the camera more than the other. Know your best features. Are they your piercing eyes? Your shapely lips? Your defined cheekbones? Your delicate collarbones? Your silky hair? Your narrow waist? Your long legs? Play those up. Know your angles. Does your face look more flattering when it’s tilted slightly up or slightly down? Practice moving your shoulders, your hips, your legs. Play with hand positioning. It ultimately comes down to having confidence and leaving your insecurities at the door. Don’t worry about making mistakes or looking a bit goofy at a shoot, because you may discover an amazing pose along the way. Also know that the photographer will normally take a lot of shots—from 1000 to 2000 (or even more)—so you have many opportunities to try different things and find something that works. All the shots where you blinked, got your hair stuck in your lip gloss, were talking, or made a less than flattering face or pose will be tossed into the virtual trash bin.

Once you know your best features, your angles, and are ready to start moving and posing, what else can you do to prepare before actually stepping foot in front of the camera? Look through magazines and create a Pinterest board for pose inspiration and pin to your heart’s content. Practice these poses in front of the mirror until you have them down pat. Don’t forget about facial expressions! Although we’re only going to touch briefly on this topic in the pose guide, facial expressions are extremely important and are usually what a lot of models struggle with. You don’t want to have the same exact face in all your photos. It’s important to show that you can express a range of emotions from anger and melancholy to passion, bliss, happiness, surprise, and ecstasy. In a sense, to be a good model, you have to be a good actor. You must portray a character—and be convincing at that. Are you a fierce, strong woman that doesn’t care about what anyone thinks of her? Are you a sassy man-eating seductress? Are you a delicate princess lost in an unforgiving forest? These all require different attitudes and facial expressions. Being able to emote well will take a lot of practice but it will set you apart from other models whose faces seem to remain frozen and emotionless. Music can be extremely helpful when it comes to getting into the mood for a shoot. Have playlists with your favorite songs of different genres: one of upbeat and another with more mellow songs. It’s up to you and what inspires you to move and emote. One last thing before we move on to the actual do’s and don’ts of posing. Make sure your poses are relevant to the environment you’re shooting in. If you’re in a studio on a plain black or white backdrop, almost anything is fair game. However, if you are shooting on location, angular, high-fashion poses will probably seem out of place in, say, the middle of the forest. It’s up to your discretion (and mine as the photographer). It’s also dependent on the styling (wardrobe, accessories), but that is a whole other topic of discussion.



​Face the light source. Think long and lean. Use your hands. Flow with your poses. Relax your face + body. Show different emotions. Be relevant to your enviroment.

​Squish your limbs. Do "duck face". Get stuck in a pose. Pose out of context. Poof hair up with hands. Jut limbs out towards camera. Have tension in the face.

​Keep it simple. Think tall & lean. Keep shoulders back and down. Place on hand behind your hair. Keep your hands soft and unclenched. Slightly bend one leg, while keeping the other straight. Have a relaxed facial expression and softley open mouth.

​Bend of limbs at the same time. Squat down, reducing your height, Look like you're coming of your shoes. Smile for every shot - vary your expression. Pose in a way not relevant to your environment.

Look natural. Place one hand close to jawline. Tilt head slightly up the elongate next. Slightly curve back to create "S" shape. bend one leg, while keeping the other straight.

pose in an artificial way. Bend both knees at the same time. Look like you are about to fall over or lean back in an awkward and unbalanced way


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