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10 Great Posing Tips for Striking Portraits

How to get non-models to pose like professionals
Photo of posing tips

Posing tips for better portrait photos are a perennial favorite topic amongst Digital Photo Pro readers so here’s another great tutorial on the art of the pose. In the below video, photographer Simone Ferretti shares ten key tips to help get your subject of pose like a professional model, even if they’re not a model.

The posing techniques advice that Ferrenti, an ex-professional model himself, dispenses below should come in handy when working with clients such as wedding couples and their friends and family, or other non-models for posed portrait sessions. The tips are also great if your budget for a fashion shoot is bare bones and you might be working with an amateur or aspiring model who needs help posing.

“As an ex-professional model, I totally understand the awkward moment where you don’t know how to pose in front of the camera,” Ferrenti says. “That’s why I decided to make this video to give you more tips on how you can actual improve your posing in front of the camera.”

To demonstrate these tips, Ferrenti photographs working pro model John Zunda and shares footage and photos of the portrait session to explain in practice how these posing tips can help you take better portraits. (Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in more posing tips, check out our popular tutorial from the beginning of the month on how to pose couples for attractive portraits.)

#1 Plan & Repeat

“This is about planning and doing a movement multiple times,” Ferrenti says. “Whenever we have something in mind, maybe we want to do a walking shot, then we have to think we need to do that again, so you’re going to try to repeat the same movement multiple times. This is because it will allow the photographer to understand exactly your movement and to then get the composition right.”

#2 Be Relaxed & Fluid

“I completely understand this is not an easy thing, but it comes out naturally over time. Whenever you’re too rigid or you don’t know what to do, you feel very awkward. But you need to aim to be relaxed and this could be achieved in several ways.”

#3 Body Balance

“When you’re taking a photo, if you’re skewed to watch one side only, there’s a very high chance that that photo won’t look very balanced. So try to balance, for example, the movement of one hand with the movement of the opposite or the same leg depending on what kind of direction you’re going.”

#4 Outfit Is King

“You do not have to have an amazing face like a model. You do not have to be Tom Cruise in order to take an amazing portrait, but you do need to have a cool outfit. And a cool outfit can be very simple: you can wear everything black with a black jacket or just wear a blazer with a white t-shirt below. Just think of something that is cool. You can take inspiration from literally everywhere.”

#5 Imitate Others

“You can find some poses you like on the web or even on my profile on Instagram where I show you loads of poses and then try to copy the exact same position.”

#6 Play Around with Your Outfit

“If you have jeans, maybe you can put your hand in the pocket. If you have a jacket, maybe try to remove it, put it up again. Maybe play around with your shirt or button or unbutton your jacket, your shirts, whatever you have.”

#7 Use a Mirror

“Usually, you do not understand your body unless you see it from an external site. So, when I’m taking a picture of you and then you were expecting to be in a different way or maybe you were expecting to be moving from one side to the other, it is best to have a mirror so you see yourself and can adjust accordingly without only the photographer having to tell you.”

#8 Use Props

“Try to think of what kind of props you can use to make it more playful or just change the mood a bit or just fill up the photo so you can play around with that type of prop.”

#9 Move Randomly

“Just try to move randomly, literally. At the beginning, it’s not going to be easy to find the right balance so the key is to just take a thousand shots and then find maybe 1,2,3,4, or 10, 20, 50 photos that you think could have the right balance as to your body position, your face position, how you move your hands, how you move your feet.”

#10 Practice, Practice, Practice and Practice!

“Posing is not an easy thing. That’s why there are models around. This is a profession. And therefore, if you think you’re going to be able to imitate one of the biggest models that you see on a campaign with just one single shot, this is not going to happen.”

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