21 Fashion Poses for Photographing Models
In fashion photography, posing is key – arguably more so than in any other photography genre. Why? Because the poses must work to showcase the garments and accessories as well as the subject.
On top of that, they have to help tell a story, convey a mood, or even sell an entire lifestyle.
So, whether you’re in front of or behind the camera, having a wide repertoire of poses up your sleeve will help.
In this post, we’re going to look at 21 poses you can use in your next fashion photography shoot – regardless of whether you’re the model or the photographer. Then, we’ll run through some quick tips for models on how to become a posing master.
Let’s jump in first to the poses.
Table of Contents
21 Fashion & Model Poses for Photo Shoots
The poses you choose to use in your images will depend on a lot of things, like whether you’re shooting in a studio or on location, the style of the clothing, etc. So find the ones that work best for your situation.
1. The three-quarter turn
Let’s start with one of the most simple and classic model poses out there: the three-quarter turn.
This is the position that’s in between a front-on shot and a side profile – i.e., you’re showing three-quarters of your face and body to the camera. Let’s be honest: it’s pretty much universally flattering!
To get the pose just right, get the model to place one foot behind the other and turn their hips slightly away from the camera.
You can then play with it by adjusting the angles, tilting the model’s chin up or down, or adding accessories and props.
2. Standing with shoulder forwards
One of the beautiful things about fashion poses is that they can be more artistic and exaggerated than those you’d find in other genres (such as portrait photography).
Think of the high fashion images you see in Vogue magazine: both the outfits and the poses are (quite deliberately) far removed from reality.
In the example above, you can see how the model is hunching forwards so that her shoulder comes toward her chin. This pose also works great with the face turned toward the camera, with the chin right on top of the shoulder.
3. Leg up on a wall
This is a slightly unconventional pose, but one that’s worth experimenting with.
Get your model to place one foot up against a wall, then lean on the knee of the raised leg with their opposite arm.
Getting down low with your camera works well here as it gives the impression of the subject looming large. It also allows you to shoot wide and include some of the background if you’re doing your photoshoot on location.
A benefit of this pose is that you can capture much of the clothing in the shot – including even the shoes – while simultaneously breaking away from the traditional full-length body shot.
This pose is also perfectly suited to both males and females – another reason to keep it in your repertoire of model poses if you’re a photographer.
4. Standing with hand on jacket
If you’re after ideas for unisex poses, here’s one to keep up your sleeve. The model stands front on, legs shoulder-width apart, one hand grasping their jacket.
This is a great one for studio work: it’s simple and strong and the model and clothing are very much the focal points of the image. No complex backdrops are needed to add context. It’s also an easy one to use as a self-portrait pose.
5. Standing with arms up (soft)
The model stands, front on or turned three-quarters, and raises both arms above their head.
Stretching the arms up has the effect of elongating the torso and flattening out the abdominal region. At the same time, it’s an empowering pose: research shows that when we adopt open body postures, we feel more open and confident as well.
This pose can be very soft, with arms delicately resting on the head or playing with the hair, or more angular and powerful (see below!).
6. Standing with arms up (hard)
As discussed above, standing with arms up is a simple position that offers many variations. If the mood you’re going for is more tough and powerful, direct your model to keep their arms straight and angular rather than softly draped.
Notice in this example that the hip is also popped to one side, creating a sensual and confident power pose – great for portraits.
7. Walking with hand in pocket
As far as photography poses go, this one may seem a little cliché… but that’s no reason to dismiss it. The established standards are useful for every photographer and model to master.
A little movement helps to keep the subject natural and fluid. The model simply walks towards the camera, with one hand stuffed casually in their pocket.
8. Standing with one foot against a wall
This is one of those photography poses that’s equally suited to men or women. It’s cool, simple, and works with a wide variety of backdrops – from clean white walls to gritty rollar shutters.
As well as front-on, you can also incorporate it into your photoshoot from a side-angle. In that case, play with a shallow depth of field to get the wall blurred and the subject in focus.
9. Exaggerated leaning pose
If this pose is giving you ’60s, Twiggy-esque vibes, you’re not alone. It’s another one of those high fashion model poses that plays with lines and proportion.
You can have a lot of fun with exaggerated poses where the model is arching or leaning back, extending their limbs, or making otherwise unrealistic shapes with their body.
Poses like these work especially well with tall or leggy models as they play up the length of the limbs.
10. Hands cinching waist
Certain fashion poses lend themselves well to clothing with a feminine silhouette. If you’re photographing a dress with a cinched waist, this is one that never fails to make for a striking image.
This pose is even better if you have exaggerated sleeves – like bell sleeves or bishop sleeves – to show off.
Keep the model’s elbows flared and neck elongated to achieve an elegant silhouette that’s right out of a 1950s Richard Avedon shoot.
While hands-on-hips is another classic photography pose, bringing the hands higher to the waist and further forward to the front of the body really helps to highlight a feminine shape. It also works well in lingerie as a flattering boudoir pose.
11. Sitting with one leg bent
Sitting down poses (like these) also make for great fashion photos. This one works well if the model is directly on the floor or sitting on a step.
Consider the clothing when working with model poses like this one. A full-length flowing skirt, for example, wouldn’t create the same effect as an outfit that shows the shape of the legs.
Heels, on the other hand, work beautifully as they serve to lengthen and highlight the legs further, making them a focal point of the image.
Don’t forget – heels can be worn with almost anything, including bikinis!
12. Sitting on floor
Let’s face it: posing males can be hard. So, here’s a seated pose that gives off a cool, casual vibe and is easy to pull off even for models with little experience.
The key is really in relaxing the arms and legs so the model doesn’t look stiff or uncomfortable. If you’re the photographer, get the subject to move around a little and sit in a way that’s comfortable and not too posed: you’ll end up with much better images as a result.
13. Dramatic lean on wall
A little drama goes a long way in fashion photography – especially if the clothing isn’t drama-shy either.
For this swoon-worthy pose, the model should stand a few feet away from the wall and then lean back onto it, tilting her head back dramatically.
If you’re the photographer, try getting down lower with your camera – this adds a dramatic perspective to your images as well.
14. Sitting on chair with elbow resting on knee
If you’re shooting in a studio, you can create a wide range of model poses with little more than a plain white backdrop and a fold-up chair.
Have a look at the angles in the composition above. The posing is quite simple, but the finer details count.
Firstly, the lines of the model’s body create a zig-zag shape from her head, down her back, and down the 90-degree angle of her bent leg. Then there’s the intersecting walls behind her: by positioning her in the corner of the room, the image gains depth.
These are all things to look out for when posing a subject if you want the best result for your final images.
15. Standing with arms crossed
There are some traditionally masculine model poses that you might want to try if you’re shooting menswear; this is one of them.
Crossing your arms is a closed posture that can signify many different things, from defensiveness to anger to defiance. It can also convey strength or bravado – hence why it’s a such a popular pose for men.
That’s not to say you can’t use this one with females, too! The key is really to decide what mood you want to convey and ask your model to act it out and really feel it.
If you’re on the photography end of the shoot, it’s not enough to simply position the model’s body – you need to give them all the information on what you’re trying to achieve so they can fully get into the role.
16. Sitting and looking away
This seated position works best with masculine or androgynous clothing pieces, like pants and flat shoes. You simply won’t create the same vibe in a dress and heels.
As such, it’s another one that’s suited to both genders. Try it with the model looking at or away from the camera – either will work.
17. Sitting with legs wide
Seated, legs wide, one arm draped and one resting on the knee: similar to above, this position has a cool and nonchalant vibe.
The unconventional use of the armchair’s back in the photo above makes it more interesting and adds to the model’s rebelliousness. Keep that one in your back pocket!
18. Facing away with arms crossed at back
If you’re looking for model poses that highlight the back of an outfit, give this one a try. It’s perfect for capturing backless dresses, or back details like buttons and pleats. It’s also a popular wedding pose, to highlight the details on the back of a wedding dress.
The subject turns their body away from the camera and interlocks their arms at the back. They can then look over their shoulder directly into the lens, or keep their face in a side profile.
19. Crouching in front of wall
If you’re shooting photos of streetwear and you want to capture an urban vibe, you can try crouching model poses like this one. It’s suitable for both male and female models.
It won’t take much time or practice to master this one: it’s all in the attitude of the people and clothing you’re photographing. That said, finding interesting backdrops will really add a lot to your images.
20. Fluid pose with arm out
Getting your subject to loosen up and slowly move around in front of the camera can make the poses more graceful and fluid.
Notice in the above image the softness of the model’s hands and arms, and the way one arm falls away from the torso at a rather unnatural angle.
Leaning the head to one side completes the nonchalant, almost listless nature of the pose.
21. One hand on hip, one hand holding hair
Give a simple twist to the hand-on-hip pose by adding the model’s ponytail into the mix. This works particularly well with the subject looking down at the camera in a slightly imposing way.
Play around with this one to create different model poses on your next photoshoot – perhaps by adding other props or a hat.
5 Quick Posing Tips for Models
For all the models reading this, you’ve now got some new poses to go out and play with on your next photoshoot.
But before you go pose up a storm, here are some quick tips that can help you nail it in every photo.
1. Know your body
The best models know and understand their own body. What’s your natural body shape? What are your physical limitations (flexibility, movement, etc)? Explore all of these things and it will help you get comfortable with posing.
2. Make friends with the mirror
Let’s get one thing straight: the mirror is your friend. Practice your poses in front of it, perfect them; see how the subtlest of movements can change the lines of your body or affect your silhouette.
Practicing your poses using your smartphone camera can be helpful to a degree; but just be aware that if you’re going to model for a photographer with a DSLR or mirrorless digital camera, the results can differ.
That’s why the mirror is still the best and most efficient way to practice your posing.
3. Create space between your body and your limbs
One way to instantly look better in photos is to create some separation between your limbs and body. For example, avoid pressing your arms into your torso as this will flatten them out and distort their natural shape.
4. Relax your hands
If you’re holding tension in your hands while posing, it’s going to show through in the photos. You don’t want your hands to be stiff and unnatural, or balled up into tight fists.
Be conscious of keeping your hands soft and relaxed (unless, of course, the photographer directs you to do otherwise).
5. Don’t just model: Act
A final tip on model poses: they’re not just about how you hold your body. You’re looking to convey a mood, a feeling; what that is will depend on the style of the clothing and the vision of the creative team.
Perhaps you’re looking to convey softness and sensuality; perhaps the attitude is fierce, or playful, or melodramatic.
Whatever it is, the best way to get it across in photos is by getting into the right mental state. Act out the mood in your mind, and your facial expressions and physical poses will follow.
Hopefully, this post gave you plenty of ideas for poses that you can take to your next photoshoot.
If you’d like to share your own tips or tell us about your latest shooting experience, do leave us a comment below.
Tania Braukamper is an Australian-born writer who also loves to take pictures on her banged-up (yet surprisingly resilient) Canon 5D Mark III. She currently lives in Portugal.