How to Pose for Pictures

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Learning how to pose for pictures is an essential skill for getting the perfect selfie or having your photo taken.

If you aren’t a model or receiving instructions from a professional photographer (who knows how to pose), being in front of the camera isn’t as easy as it seems.

Whether you need fashion pictures for social media, want to pose and not look awkward, or are just experimenting with how to look your best on camera, this is the guide for you.

(We’ve already written a guide on how to pose (other) people in photos, sp this one will be concentrating more on tips for you as the subject.)

Let’s take a closer look at how to be more photogenic with 10 posing tips and ideas from photographers, influencers and models.

How to Pose for a Picture like a Model (10 Tips)

1. Find your best angle

Girl taking a selfie with smartphone

Credit: Tommy Huang

You probably have a side that you like more than the other.

Browse through your gallery or your Instagram account and find the images where you feel you look best – you’ll likely have the same side of your face turned towards the camera in all of them.

We all have a more photogenic side. Some studies show that the left side of our face reflects more emotion, and therefore is perceived as more pleasing.

Either way, to learn how to pose for pictures, you first need to find your best side. This way, you can practice different poses and expressions on that side and find your perfect angle.

To do this, you can practice your poses in front of a mirror, record yourself on video, or take a bunch of selfies using burst mode while you move – it’s your choice.

2. Tilt your head

Using a head tilt in portrait photography

Credit: Nappy (left) / Italo Melo (right)

Now that you know which side is your best angle, make good use of this knowledge and tilt your head towards your best side.

This will enhance the natural angles of your face and will make you look more approachable.

This tip can be useful for full-body pictures or tighter crops; whether you’re sitting or on your feet. It’s a subtle thing that can help the overall look of your poses.

3. Turn 45-degrees

45-degree turn pose using a male model

Credit: Samad Ismayilov

This is a classic posing rule that makes anyone look more photogenic despite their age, gender or body type.

Instead of facing straight towards the camera, twist your body to one side – your best side.

Don’t turn all the way to your profile – stop halfway, when you’re at a 45-degree angle from the camera. This will make you more approachable – just like the head tilt – and make the image more dynamic.

Your body will look slimmer with this pose as it accentuates the natural curves. This applies to both men and women as it has to do with soft and fluid lines instead of sharp angles and bulky shapes.

Most articles you see in glossy magazines about how to pose for pictures skip over this tip, but it’s a good one, so make sure you try it out next time on Instagram or for a new profile photo.

If you’re a couple, these poses can work well if you mirror each other and lean on a wall, with each person leaning with their opposite shoulder.

4. Keep the weight on one leg

Photos demonstrating pose with weight on one leg

Credit: Anthony Shkraba (left) / Chloe (right)

When you pose for photos, try not to stand with equal weight on both legs. Instead, lean slightly and send the weight to one of the feet.

When you do this, the other leg is free to bend the knee and look more relaxed. If you want to accentuate the effect, you can also cross the leg in front or behind the other one.

This movement also highlights the body’s natural curves because it automatically pops the hip. As such, it’s a great pose for women.

You can also achieve this effect by walking. Do your best runway walk (pretend you’re posing like a fashion model!), and the photographer can shoot in burst mode to capture the perfect moment.

5. Improve your posture

Good posture is key to looking good in photo

Credit: Ralph Rabago (left) / Oziel Gomez (right)

Whether you’re standing up or sitting down, doing a full-body portrait or a head shot – good posture is key to looking good in photos.

To improve your posture, you should keep a neutral spine, which means that it should follow the natural curves – avoid hunching your back or shoulders.

Also, when you pose, keep your shoulders down and elongate the neck as if something was pulling you up from the head – you’ll see professional bikini models posing like this all the time.

Incorporating all these things into your poses will make your face and body look slender, and you’ll convey confidence in every photo.

Having great posture is a neat trick when posing males, since it conveys strength and confidence, regardless of the model’s height.

6. Do something with your hands


In everyday life, we’re mostly worried about haircuts, makeup, clothing and things that make our face and body look good; we rarely think about our hands.

When we’re learning how to pose for pictures, we suddenly become extremely aware of our hands. We don’t really know what to do with them and, as a result, they usually look very awkward in pictures.

One of the best solutions is to hold or do something with your hands. That way, you incorporate them consciously into your poses.

You can use props such as a bag, a ball, a briefcase… you can browse Instagram or Pinterest to find some creative ideas.

If you don’t want to introduce new elements into the photo, you can use your clothes. Grab the collar of your jacket and pull it up, or put your hands in your pockets.

If you’re wearing clothing like a dress that doesn’t have a pocket, or you think this is too informal, you can do the classic ‘hand on hip’ pose – but that’s mostly for female models.

Finally, you can rest your hands on your chin or use them to hold your hair. When you’re in front of the camera, try different things and just have fun with it.

The video above will also fill you in on how to pose for pictures and which things you should avoid, so do check it out.

7. Stand next to a window

Girl in window light

Credit: Cottonbro

Lighting might seem like a separate issue to posing, but it’s actually quite related. This is because the contrast between light and shadows will create depth in the image and shape your face and body.

When you pose yourself next to a window, you’ll automatically create this effect without needing a complicated studio setup.

It’s best if the light from the window is diffused, since this will avoid hard shadows that can be unflattering. To achieve this, make sure the sunlight is not hitting directly on the window.

It can be an overcast day, the golden hour, or simply a time of day where the sun hits a different part of the building.

8. Separate the arms from the body


The arms are another tricky part to pose. If you’re doing something with your hands, this action will also guide the movement and position of the arms.

For example, if you have your hands in your pockets, you’ll automatically be bending the arms – which is good because it separates the arms from the torso, making you look thinner.

But what about other poses? The first thing is that you shouldn’t press the arms against your body because this will make you tenser. Also, this makes them look thicker than they are (most women find this especially undesirable).

Another thing to avoid is the ‘dead arm’ look. It helps if you always bend the arms a little to make them more dynamic – you’ll see this a lot in senior poses and pictures, since teenagers seem to be quite aware of what looks good on camera!

9. Push the chin forward

Portrait of a girl posed with chin forward

Credit: Min An

When you pose for pictures, make sure you push the chin slightly forward. This small movement can make a big difference.

This pose is especially helpful if the photo if taken with a telephoto lens (like most professional portraits are), because these types of lenses create a compression effect where things look closer together than they actually are.

By doing this, you’ll create the effect of a long and elegant neck. It also makes your shoulders look slimmer and avoids the double-chin.

If you’re learning how to pose for pictures for a boudoir or glamour shoot, keep reminding yourself of this little tip – especially if you’re laying flat on a bed.

10. Relax

Girl looking natural and relaxed in front of camera

Credit: Vlada Karpovich

Unless you’re a professional model used to posing, most of us get nervous in front of the camera. That’s completely normal, but it’s also something that you can learn to control.

Even the best-looking people aren’t photogenic if they look forced and uncomfortable in the picture. On the other hand, there’s nothing more flattering than looking confident with a nice smile.

Just have fun and relax. I know this can be difficult when you’re still learning how to pose for pictures and you lack confidence – so remember to try as many poses as you want and take as many pictures as you need. You can change what you’re wearing or try different setups.

None of the stunning photos you see on Instagram was a ‘first-shot’! Influencers and models take many pictures before they choose the one they should post.

First of all, the more pictures you take, the more choices you’ll have to find the perfect shot.

Also, you’ll practice your poses, get more comfortable in front of the camera, and feel more confident in your own skin. It’s a matter of practice and getting to know and love yourself.

You can also do some exercises to relax your body and your face. Stretch your muscles or simply close your eyes and count to ten – whatever works for you.

Another idea is to enlist the help of a best friend to practise your poses – then you can give honest feedback on how to pose for pictures.

Final Words

Whether you want to become a professional model or you want to look good in your Instagram selfies, learning how to pose for pictures will come in handy.

I hope these tips and ideas will help you improve and have fun the next time you’re getting your picture taken.

If you have any more suggestions, please share them in the comments section – we’ll love to hear from you.

Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.



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