I’m a photographer who shoots primarily people with little to no modelling experience and I always get asked ‘what should I do?’ or ‘how should I pose’, so I made this extensive guide, with photos of things to do and things not to do in a photoshoot. I hope you find this useful.
Catberry Photography and Charlotron’s big fat posing bible.
General DOs and DONTs. Please keep in mind this is a general guideline, all rules are meant to be broken at some point, but first master the basics! Just don’t forget — you are awesome, don’t be afraid, you’ve got this.
No More Hunchback
The #1 thing everyone does on a photo is hunch. We all hunch, we do it without thinking, it’s become our standard posture. Always be mindful of your back and shoulders on photos.
When you’re having a shoot you should never relax your body. Keep your muscles tense and always remind yourself to keep your back straight. Even when in uncomfortable position, like sitting down, make sure your back is straight and your neck is aligned to your spine (line in yoga).
EXCEPTIONS: More feminine characters tend to hunch a little bit and bring their shoulders together, strong male characters have their chest puffed up.
Always think in triangles
Yes, you’ve heard it a million times. Because it’s 100% true. Triangles always look good, but also keep in mind that it has to look like a triangle to the eye of the lens. Don’t point your elbows or knees towards the camera, tilt them to the side instead to form a triangle.
There are many ways to do triangles, depending on your body shape and mood or character you’re trying to portray. Experiment a little, make a Pinterest board of inspiration, get creative!
… and don’t push your body together. Create shapes and gaps, not one big blob.
Know your good side
Everyone has a side of their face that looks best on photos. Make photos of your face like the ones shown above and find your best angle, then make sure you’re aware of it and use it often. It’s okay to tell photographers to move or flip your pose, so that they shoot your good side instead. It’s especially important to keep that in mind during group shoots. It’s hard to keep track of multiple people, so you can’t expect someone to tell you to flip your pose when you’re in a shot with 6 other people.
Don’t let your weapon (or limb!) disappear
Don’t point your prop directly towards the camera. Same goes for limbs — anything pointed directly at the lens will become a dot and anything behind it is lost completely. You may lose an arm or a leg this way! Be careful. It can be used artistically towards the lens, but tilted up or down, so that the full length is still visible.
Always have your legs to the side when sitting down. Once again — they will become really short and the whole silhouette is destroyed.
Leaning Forwards and Backwards
Leaning forwards or backwards is very situational. It’s usually used only if it’s in character to do so. Please avoid leaning forwards when doing cute girl cosplay. It is a very common mistake, seen as cute, but in reality, if you look at the middle picture, it makes your torso and whole body look way shorter, making your shoulders appear bigger and it’s rather unflattering, especially if your stomach is exposed or you have broad shoulders.
Tilting your head
The number one rule in head tilting is DO NOT tilt your head to the side — it will either look extremely creepy or like your head is just disjointed from your body. It’s unnatural. However, tilting your head down can contribute to the intensity of the image or even backwards for a very proud character. Unless you’re aiming for horror of course, in which case go for the broken neck!
The Body Twist
Now, ladies and gents, get your memos out and write this down, because this is the golden rule of looking slimmer and better on photos. Twisting your body to the side, instead of standing straight to the camera is an easy way of lengthening your body and adding a hint of movement to the image, making it more exciting. Try standing to the side, then twist your upper body towards the camera, almost frontal. The more you twist, the more feminine it looks, as it makes your waist look thinner.
Watch your elbows (and knees!)
Always be aware of where your elbows are. They should never point towards the camera. Creating gaps always looks good on camera, but also your hand looks strange and short when it’s pointing towards the camera.
Don’t be afraid to experiment; change poses often; flow
Once you’ve got the basics down, don’t be afraid to go crazy. Change poses as much as you can, dance, act, jump! You don’t always have to show your whole prop or look towards the camera. Taking 10 bad shots is better than taking 10 shots of the same pose, so don’t be afraid to switch it up constantly. I can take 5 photos every second, how often can you change your pose?
Embrace the derp
I’m just kidding.
Please be aware of your chin. The best way to ensure you don’t get double chin is in fact, not to pull your chin higher, which is what most people tend to do, but extend your chin forward and then pull it down a little bit, creating that separation. Tightening your muscles in the neck area also helps, but can look a little bit ‘angry’.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide, please let me know if you have any questions or would like to see something specific in the future. I am always looking to remaster and improve this guide.