How to Pose Female Clients for Flattering Portraits

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Knowing how to pose women for flattering photos is essential to having a successful portrait photography career. But even some experienced pros might need a refresher course on great poses for non-models.

That’s where Jerry Ghionis comes in with his excellent free tutorial below with tips on how to pose women.

“This video is all about demystifying posing when it comes to female subjects,” Ghionis says. “Not all your subjects are experienced models and very few photographers have ever done any modeling. So, who’s going to be in charge of posing. You are!”

Giving proper posing instructions to non-models requires patience but you also need a sense of humor, as Ghionis explains in his video below.

“Posing can be fun, it’s pretty easy to learn, and the best part is once your subjects realize that you know how to make them look amazing, they’ll be begging you to keep photographing them,” he notes. “When it comes to posing a female, there are a few simple tricks that you can learn that will flatter everyone in front of your lens.”

Here are some highlights of the nearly 20-minute tutorial below where Ghionis demonstrates his posing tips for women while photographing a model. If you want more great portrait tips from Ghionis check out this helpful piece he wrote for our sister website Digital Photo, and this tutorial on how to pose couples.

Give Clear Directions

“How do you bring out the best in a [female client]?” Ghionis asks. “Well, she’s standing in front of you, she’s waiting for a good shot, but you have to direct her. You have to bring out the best in her.”

Create Form

“We want to bring out the shape. What defines the female form, in my opinion, are curves. So, we want to bring out those curves. First of all, I don’t want my subject to ever stand flatfooted. No matter who it is, even if you’re photographing a 12-year-old girl, whether you’re photographing a corporate female CEO executive. I find it’s just very static for a woman or a girl to stand flatfooted. At the very least, all we do is put the feet together and bring one foot in front of the other.”

Mirroring

“The easiest way you can actually pose someone is really not saying a word at all. I’m going to do a demonstration where I’m just going to say one little piece of advice to [my model] and she’ll follow my perspective here. Stand a certain distance apart and say to her: ‘All I want you to do is mirror me.'”

Pose to the Light

“Posing is not just posing for the sake of posing. You have to pose according to the light source. The direction of light is coming from is here: it’s an open garage door. It could be likened to a big window light. What I like to do is turn the body away from the light source until we get a shadow on the middle of the dress. So now her left leg is closer to the camera. The leg that’s closer to the camera is usually the one you’ll always bend. And then we turn her face to the light and her eyes can go back to the camera.”

Arms Off the Body

“When an arm is against the body, it looks bigger and flatter. So, you have to give her an excuse to get her arms off her body. It could be holding her hands up. It could be holding her hair. For a bride, it could be holding the veil out.  It could be anything: just bring her arms off her body.”

Shoulders Back

“What happens when you bring the shoulders back of whoever you’re photographing? What happens is the bust looks fuller and firmer.”

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