27 Flattering Portrait Poses for Photographers & Models

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One of the most difficult things when photographing people is posing. It doesn’t matter if you’re the model or the photographer – this is something where we can all use some help!

This is especially true if you’re a regular person who has no modelling experience or aspirations but wants to have their photos taken.

(Maybe it’s for your wedding day, your senior photoshoot, or you simply want to look attractive in photos!)

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Practice makes perfect – there’s no doubt about that. However, knowing some photography poses to use as guidelines can help you improve quicker.

In this article, you’ll find portrait poses that you can start practising right away.

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Also, there are some extra tips at the end to help you become more photogenic and learn how to pose.

There’s a lot to cover and tons of great photography poses, so let’s get started!

27 Great Poses for Portrait Photography

1. The 45-degree rule

Models turned from camera in 45-degree poses

Credit: Behrouz Sasani (left) / Prince Akachi (right)

When face and body look straight at the camera, you can end up looking bulky. If your body is turned 45 degrees towards one of the sides, you’ll look

slimmer and more relaxed.

Alternatively, you can have the body facing forward and the head turned 45-degrees. This is one of the most classic poses in portrait photography.

You’ll see this classic stance used time and time again both in famous portrait paintings and photos.

2. Put the weight on the back foot

Photography poses with weight on back foot

Credit: Maria Orlova (left) / Victoria-Borodinova (right)

With this pose, you position the subject with one leg placed slightly forward than the other, keeping the weight to the back foot. By doing this, you allow the front leg to bend and look more natural.

This works well for both male and female models. For women, it has the added advantage of popping the hip to accentuate the body’s natural curves.

You can read our guide to great male poses for more ideas for posing men.

3. Standing with crossed legs

Female model standing poses

Credit: Jeff Denlea

These portrait poses are normally used for women. You can cross the leg in front of the one that’s holding the weight or behind it.

In both cases, the crossing of the legs makes the hip look curvy, accentuating the body’s shape.

Check out our guide to posing females for some more ideas.

4. Leaning back

Leaning back portrait photo pose

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio

This is a great pose because of its versatility. You can use this on men and women, children and elders; for casual and formal shoots, groups or single portraits – with small variations between them.

The idea is that by having physical support, the rest of the body can be more relaxed.

You can mix it up with other poses and make it fit the situation and model.

For example, if you’re photographing children, you can ask them to tilt the head back towards the wall, while for female subjects, you can ask them to curve their backs a little to enhance their natural curves.

5. Leaning on a wall with leg up

Standing against a wall with one leg up

Credit: Prayoon Sajeev

If you’re looking for full-length portrait photography poses, this is a simple and relaxed one. It’s a casual variation of the previous pose where you simply bend one leg up to the wall.

It’s usually better to do this if the model is wearing trousers (long pants) since having the knee pointing towards the camera isn’t very flattering.

6. Leaning forward

Portrait poses with forward lean from model

Credit: Michael Dam (left) / Shawn Olivier Boivin Blanchard (right)

Leaning forwards towards the camera is a great way to shape the body and make the face the focal point. That’s why leaning is used in a lot of portrait photography poses.

Keep in mind that anything closer to the camera will look bigger, so this will automatically slim the body.

You don’t want the face looking disproportionate either, so stand at a reasonable distance and avoid using a wide-angle lens. This will prevent distortions.

7. S-shape pose

Female models doing s-shaped poses in fashion photos

Credit: Ferdinand Studio (left) / Neemias Seara (right)

This is mainly a feminine pose. To accentuate the natural curves and give more flow to the body, pose your model or client following an S shape.

It shouldn’t be exaggerated in a way that looks awkward or that she is uncomfortable – even a hint of the S shape is good.

This pose can be done with the model sitting, standing or lying down – you’ll see many famous portrait photographers doing this.

8. How to pose the arms

Shotkit Writer & Camera Gear Reviewer

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

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