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How to Pose Anyone: Five Creative Techniques For Non-Models

Lizzie Peirce and Anita Sadowska share their tips for creating flattering portraits
how to pose non-models

If you’ve had the chance to work with a professional model you already know they make the work of a portrait photographer a breeze. But the vast majority of most photographer’s clients aren’t going to be pros. Knowing how to pose everyday people is crucial to having a successful photography career. In a new video Lizzie Peirce and Anita Sadowska share five flattering poses that work well for non-models. These poses will lead to shots that have a cool editorial feel. 

Pose #1: Squat and Curl

“This pose is kind of like the elegant way of taking a poop in the middle of the street,” Lizzie Peirce says when explaining the first pose. That might not sound like a flattering look, but actual results are really cool. Plus if you make that joke you might get your portrait subject to crack an authentic smile. The hardest part of this pose is getting your subject into the low crouching position. Once they are on the ground encourage them to use their arms to frame their face or create an angle.

Pose #2: Long and Tall

This classic pose creates an elongated form that will define any female portrait subject’s shape. Ask the client to put one leg in front of the other and then bring the front leg a little more forward. Asking your subject to throw a hand on their hip and have their other arm in their hair will further elongate their body and add some drama.  

Pose #3: Lean and Arch

This particular pose will take a minute to coach a subject into, but once you do the results are extremely flattering. Ask the portrait subject to keep knees unlocked and their core engaged. Have them arch from the low back and pull their shoulders back. The pose will create an S shape with the body when done correctly. To further elongate your subject’s form ask them to tilt their chin slightly up and put their hand at the crown of their head. 

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Pose #4: Legs Crossed

Anita Sadowska says she often uses this technique when she’s shooting on the beach. Ask your subject to sit on the ground and put one leg underneath the other and then bend the knee of the top leg to elongate the form. Have the subject lean back with their arms behind their back to open up the shoulders and minimize the size of the waist. 

Pose #5: Sassy Sit 

This particular pose works best when you are working in a studio setting where there are an abundance of high stools. Rather than having your subject sit firmly on the stool, ask them to lean their butt against the edge of it. Then have them prop one leg against one of the stool’s rails, while keeping the opposite leg on the ground. Hand can be placed on the hips or behind the head to create extra drama in the frame. This is a great seated pose for making your subject look super tall. 

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