Thoughts on Posing

Everybody loves Hat Girl!

I bet if you didn't know Victoria, you'd see these photos and that figure she was an experienced model. On the contrary, friend! This was the first time she had ever been in front of the camera!

"Hat Girl" as dubbed by many Facebook users

"Hat Girl" as dubbed by many Facebook users

Photographing professional models is a blast, but one of the favorite parts of my job is taking someone who has never done photos before and working with them to create the illusion of experience. The key to this is to have my subject be comfortable and act natural. Easier said than done, right?

Now don't be confused,  It's completely normal to be nervous and uncomfortable when starting your photo shoot. Besides professionals nearly every single person that steps in front of my camera is a nervous wreck, but when looking through my portfolio you would hardly think so.

It's my job as your photographer to make you feel comfortable and to help you pose naturally.

The first step to this is to warm up my client and make sure that they know that this shoot is supposed to be fun. The photo session should never be just a job or something to quickly get over with; jokes should be made and laughs should be had! It astounds me that some professional photographers are so cold and stiff, as if they're just doing a job and their client should treat it as a chore as well.

When looking at the end result you can really tell if someone felt uncomfortable. This is why it's important that your photographer is friendly and approachable.

One of the questions I get asked a lot by photographers is how I pose my subjects...

and unfortunately there's no easy way to answer this. Most people would say that the most important thing you can do is practice, practice, practice, and while I agree that practice is important, in my opinion there are other more important ways to improve and learn, and here are a few ways how:

1. Shadow another photographer

If there is a particular local photographer that you admire, I would suggest contacting them and either offering to assist or ask to shadow one of their shoots. When I mentor, I highly suggest that those who are concerned with posing shadow a shoot. There is no better way to learn than being in the field with another photographer. This is the absolute best way to learn. The information you will learn while seeing how another photographer handles their subject is absolutely invaluable. I do suggest following multiple photographers many times, because you'll be surprised at the little tidbits that you pick up here and there. If you're lucky you might be able to pick up a paid assistant gig!

2. Youtube

While nothing compares to observing someone in person, there are so many resources on YouTube that can help you improve your posing skills. There are videos after videos of tutorials and recorded workshops that can really lend some important knowledge. For Example, the "Hat Girl" pose was done with THIS video in mind. Side note: If you weren't already aware, Sure Bryce is the queen of posing, look her up! Also check out websites like CreateLive and Fstoppers, they're always coming out with new content and tutorials to help photographers of every experience level.

3. Photo References

When I first started focusing on portraiture, I remember being completely at a loss on how to pose my subjects. Not only that, what poses would I put them in? I found that referencing photo sites was a fantastic way to learn learn all different sorts of poses, because let's face it; hand-on-hip-and-smile gets boring after a while. Websites like 500px, Pinterest, and even many Instagram pages (make portrait magazine is a great one) are a great way to gather photos as reference.

During your shoot you can make your references available on your phone and you can either show your subject the photo, make them imitate you doing the pose, or you can direct them into it... "put you hand here, look over there" In fact, THIS is a Pinterest board I made after my first or second shoot that I have referenced many times when I'm blanking on a pose.

I'm no posing guru, even now I'm constantly learning new strategies and striving to fill those "uh, I don't know what to do" moments with new, fun poses. But, when I was first learning I combined these strategies with practice, practice, practice and gradually became a little bit better every time.

Happy shooting!


This shoot was done in November 2015, since then Victoria had modeled many times and has shot with many talented photographers. If you'd like to see more of Victoria, you can follow her on Instagram @_vphi and you may message her there if you are interested in hiring or shooting her.