Here are some posing tips to help you shoot stunning (self)portraits
If you photograph professional models, they know their tricks. But photographing yourself or non-model friends can be quite a challenge because not all of us know how to pose. Sorelle Amore has created a fantastic video to help you get through this. She shares a bunch of useful posing tips and tricks to help you take awesome portraits of others or of yourself.
Sorelle Amore is focused on self-portraits in this video, and she even poses herself to demonstrate what she’s talking about. I’ll also write from this point of view, but of course: you can use all these tips to direct the other person in front of your lens.
The general tip for posing the body is to look relaxed and natural. Stand or sit straight, engage your core and don’t slouch. Still, don’t go overboard and push your shoulders back too much: it’s uncomfortable and looks unnatural.
Then, give your limbs some space. Separate your arms from your body a bit, because squishing them against your body makes them look bigger. The same goes for legs if you’re sitting down: try to lift them off the surface a bit so you’re not squishing them against it.
Another tip is to create curves with your body. Turn your body a bit, create curves and angles. If you’re standing, put your weight on one leg. Put one leg or arm slightly in front of the other. If you’re sitting down, again, everything is about the angles. There are plenty of different poses you can take, and here are some examples from Sorelle Amore:
With group shots, the same tricks apply. Only, in this case, make sure to take plenty of photos. If there are more people in a photo, the chances are bigger that someone will blink, turn their head or take an awkward pose. You want everyone in the photo to look good and to be satisfied with how they look.
Face and facial expressions
Many of us don’t know how to act in front of the camera, considering that we’re not professional models. So, don’t feel silly if you need to practice the facial expressions. Try them out in front of the mirror, in selfies or in self-portraits (it’s not the same). See what works for you and memorize it.
Then, keep in mind that most of us have the “better side” of our faces. Figure out which one is yours. ; ) And if you like both sides of your face: awesome, even better!
If you look straight into the camera, tell the story and convey the emotion with your eyes. Don’t look at the camera like a deer at the headlights, relax your eyes a little bit.
As for the lips, don’t grind your teeth or press your lips together. Relax your lips open just a bit and you’ll look more comfortable and relaxed.
Have the chin facing a bit forward and down. It looks better, and it’s a useful trick to hide a double chin.
You can look more natural and relaxed in photos if you tilt your head a bit. Just remember, when you’re talking to someone, your head is never fixed and faced straight at the other person all the time.
It’s not really a posing tip to chase or create a good lighting for (self)portraits. If you’re shooting in natural light, choose a large window as your light source. Or if you’re in the studio, set the artificial lighting as you like it. But if you’re outside in the midday sun, here’s a posing tip: tilt your head up a bit so you avoid harsh shadows on your face.
Some extra tricks and things to avoid
If you want to laugh in photos, start faking laughter. It’s awkward at first, but it will make you burst into real laughter. I even once talked to a friend on Skype while I was taking a self-portrait, he cracked a great joke, I started laughing and captured it. There are a few more tricks to make yourself smile or laugh naturally, and you can check them out here.
In case you’re photographing someone else, there are plenty of ways to make them laugh or smile naturally. And no matter who’s in front of your camera, avoid photographing them while laughing too hard because it may look forced even if it’s genuine. And not to mention that you shouldn’t fake a smile, it just doesn’t look right.
Make sure to take enough photos so you can find the perfect one. But at the same time, don’t shoot aimlessly. Figure out the poses, composition and camera angles before you start shooting.
Work out the camera angles that work best for you, your body type or the story you want to tell. For example, if you want to make your legs look a bit longer, shoot from the hip height. Keep in mind that angles also convey a message: for example, if you want to appear fragile, shoot a bit from above. If you want to appear powerful and strong, shoot from a lower angle. Study angles and composition, learn the rules but don’t be afraid to break them when you think it’s appropriate.
You gotta work with what you’ve got
As Sorelle Amore puts it: “figure out your body type and own it!” Work with what you’ve got and don’t think the grass is greener on the other side. As a woman, I know that most of us are never fully satisfied with our bodies. But trust me, your friend who has legs to die for: she wishes she had a thin waist like yours. So, work this out: stand in front of the mirror, discover your best assets (we all have them) and love yourself. You don’t have to look like a supermodel to be gorgeous or to stand in front of the camera and express yourself through a photo. I definitely don’t look like a supermodel, and it doesn’t stop me from taking self-portraits and enjoying it. : )
Finally, just like with any other skill, you have to practice posing. You can take self-portraits and work out the best poses, facial expressions and angles. Another great way to practice is to pose to a friend you trust, and you can also take photos of them.
Both of these approaches are fun and build your skills both as a photographer and as a model, in case you want to stand in front of the camera sometimes. But another useful thing here is that you’ll learn the posing tips and tricks, so you’ll be able to direct your models in the future, and make them both look and feel great!
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.