If you ever run out of ideas, get stuck in creativity or simply need some guidance when shooting female subjects, you may use following posing samples as a “posing cheat sheet”. Many pro photographers use such a technique when preparing for and during the photo shoot.
The poses in this article are selected as initial reference. I would advise to look at the poses together with your subject, especially if she’s inexperienced. During a photo shoot don’t hesitate to discuss with the subject which pose is or isn’t working in any particular situation. It’s usually very productive and you both will feel more confident in what you are doing.
OK, let’s start, one by one.
1. Good starting pose. And very nice way to make the model slimmer. The model should push her chin forward and tilt it slightly down while at the same time the shoulder up, but not too much! There should definitely be a little gap between chin and shoulder.
2. Most often the best poses are the simplest ones. For female models supporting body on just one leg and curving the body in an S shape is a simple starting rule.
3. Very beautiful way to utilize a wall or some object for a portrait pose. Model should gently touch a vertical surface with her hands.
4. If your model has long falling hair, try showing them in motion. Ask her to quickly spin her head to a desired position allowing the hair to continue the movement. You might want to experiment with different shutter speeds to either capture or avoid a motion blur. These are usually very positive and rewarding shots.
5. Suitable for sitting on a couch or in bed. In order to add some thematic depth, the model could hold a coffee cup in her hands, maybe implying that she is warming her fingers.
6. A nice and cozy pose, very suitable for indoors with the model sitting on a couch.
7. Another variation for a model sitting on a couch.
8. Very nice looking casual pose for a model sitting on the ground. Try different shooting angles, for example, move gradually around the model or change the shooting point’s height.
9. Sitting positions are not limited to casual shots. Don’t be afraid to try some sitting poses also for more formal shots.
10. According to some popular and commonly exploited body language rules, crossing arms and legs means putting up some barriers etc. Even if such beliefs are widespread, it doesn’t mean they are correct. In pictures crossed arms on the chest don’t send any subconscious signs or warnings at all! Crossing arms and legs in all different ways is absolutely fine for people photography.
11. Not always your model needs to “place” hands somewhere specifically. It is absolutely fine to leave them loosely by the sides. The same goes for legs, no exaggerations – one leg supports the weight, that’s the only rule you need.
12. Just another sample for a full height shot you can use as a starting point. Thumbs or hands partly in side pockets also work fine.
13. A very nice pose for summertime. Let her lose her shoes and ask her to walk slowly. Walk and take your shots slightly from behind.
14. Hands behind the back, unusual but very open gesture. She might as well stand and support herself against a wall.
15. Very easy and beautiful pose for a formal portrait. Model should turn a little bit sideways, head turned slightly down and towards the camera.
16. Placing both hands on the waist is also a very photogenic pose. Works well both for half and full height shots.
17. If available, some higher furniture or interior object might be helpful to place an arm on and slightly support the body. This will create a formal but at the same time an open and positive posture.
18. Partly sitting on some object is another very nice pose. Works well indoors as well outdoors in a city.
19. An example of a feminine and fashionable pose for a full height picture.
21. Lovely looking pose for the appropriate settings – the model is supporting herself against some fence or bridge railing or some similar object. Shooting from a side with a large aperture provides good opportunities for a shallow depth of field with a nicely blurred background.
So, there’s something for you to start with. Hope you will find at least couple of poses to work with in different shooting scenarios! Keep in mind that each of the initial sample poses is meant to be only a starting point. Each pose has endless variations! Just be creative and adjust the pose as needed (for example, try different shooting angles and ask your subject to change hand, head and leg positioning etc.)