Have you ever felt overwhelmed when it came to giving feedback on female poses? Many photographers don’t feel very confident about posing, and they more enjoy shooting. But after reading through this guide, you will know everything there is to the female pose in portrait photography. We have included examples, books, videos, and even courses!
Once you have a few key poses down, you can use your favorites repeatedly to help your female model or female client feel confident and beautiful on the other side of the camera.
Let’s jump in!
Remember the time you photographed your model? You set up the photograph, made sure your background was appropriate, the light was great, and you clicked the shutter. And then you looked at the back of your camera, and your subject looked heavy or unnatural.
You look at it on your computer, and it is still not flattering. How did that happen, you wonder?
Posing is important. It is a way to capture your subject at its most flattering while making the image interesting.
The posing rules differ between men and women, and most of the time, you never want to use male model poses on women or female poses on men. However, if there is a specific reason to cross over the poses, it can create an interesting photograph. Below we will show you some of the best female poses to ask your model to create on your next shoot.
20 Best Female Model Poses for Portraits
If you are a visual learner like myself, you will enjoy this list of the best female poses. You may want to take a few screenshots as well.
1. Looking away from the Camera
If you want to use some more subtle female poses, try having your model look away from the camera. I always tell my female model to look over my shoulder or off in the distance. This also creates a more natural or candid shot.
2. Walking Away from the Camera
Tell your female model to walk away from the camera and then look back over their shoulder at the camera. You can have them do this a few times until you get the shot, and it’s important with all these standing poses to tell your model to move slowly and take their time.
3. Standing Poses
When it comes to model poses, you will find an array of standing variations. But my favorite standing poses include a model moving one leg over the front of the other. This creates a slimming effect, and what woman doesn’t like to look skinnier on camera?
4. Relaxed Pose
Ask your model to sit on a curb or bench and leave her arms dangling between her legs. You can ask her to pretend like she’s adjusting a bracelet or watch and use her fingers to make the adjustment. Giving your female model something to do with her hands always makes them feel more comfortable.
5. Slightly Forward
Pose your model so that she is leaning slightly forward towards the camera. I usually ask my model to bend at the hip towards the camera. This also creates a nice slimming effect. You can use this in many variations of photography poses. Try to ask them to lean slightly forward whenever possible.
6. Full Length
Many posing guides will bring up full-length or full-body shots. Showing your model’s full body is a great way to accentuate their legs and give them the chance to show some movement in the photo. Often I have my female model do a little hop back and forth between legs to add movement to the model’s hair and make her laugh and smile.
7. One Foot Forward
Ask your model to have one foot straight and forward as if they are about to go for a walk. Just like crossing one leg over the front, this will add a slimming and natural look to your photos. It works especially well for fashion and product angles.
8. Hair Toss
Have your model slightly tossing her hair makes for great candid shots. Tell her to shake her head back and forth as you shoot, allowing her hair to move freely. You can do this while she is sitting, standing, or walking.
9. Body Movement
As mentioned briefly above, give your female model something to do! Ask her to dance, twirl, run to the camera. Any type of body movement will help your model to relax and give will emotion to the camera.
10. Head Towards her Shoulder
Another great idea for female poses is asking your model to turn her head down and towards her shoulder as if she is looking down at it. This accentuates the jawline and creates a slightly more natural look than staring at the camera in every shot.
11. Arms Crossed
While standing, tell your model to cross her arms in the front. This can create a boss lady look! If she is very petite, it can also give her more strength and a powerful stance. You can try propping her against a wall as she folds her arms over.
12. Leaning Against a Wall
Find a fun textured or brick wall and ask your model to try leaning against it. You can have her turn slightly sideways as well to add a slimming effect and as well as a more relaxed look. Try photographing her from different angles as she leans against the wall.
13. Sitting on a Chair
One of the easiest female poses includes having her sit in a chair. If she is wearing a dress, she must cross at the knee or ankle. If she is not wearing a dress, you can have lean onto her knees with one arm or both hands folded in front.
14. One hand in a Pocket
If you want to show off your model’s curves, have her stand slightly sideways with one hand in a pocket. Tell her to shift her weight back and forth between legs and each foot as you continue photographing at a different angle to see what looks best.
15. Turned Sideways
A female model will often look slimmer if you have her turn sideways and move one leg forward. This works especially well when shooting portraits or headshots. Ask your subject to turn her shoulders towards the wall and then her head and chin towards you. This creates a more business pose.
16. Lie Down
Try a pose where your model is sitting or lying down on the ground. This works better on the beach or during a boudoir shoot with a bed or fun chair. If you use a lie-down pose, it creates a more relaxed vibe and can accentuate the model’s curves.
17. Legs Crossed at the Ankle
Whenever you pose your model in a sitting position, make sure they cross their legs at the ankle. This will make your subject appear slimmer and more ladylike. When a female subject crosses at the knee, it can make their legs look larger or show up their dress.
18. High Fashion Pose
If you like photographing high fashion, try telling your model not to smile and look intensely at the camera. You can give them verbal cues such as “give me your best Tayra Banks look” or another supermodel you think they may identify with.
19. Showing off Curves
No matter which female poses you choose, it’s important that you show off your model’s curves. Many women like showing off their assets, and it’s your job as the photographer to frame their beauty. This varies widely between body types, of course. But when you first meet your female model, try to identify what part of their body they like most and even ask them.
20. Creative Female Pose
When it comes to model poses, you don’t have to be afraid of creativity. Try some fun or funky poses. You can ask your model to do a cartwheel or headstand. Ask them what talent they have that may look good on camera. You can even have blur or motion into the photos. Creative portrait work has become very popular with social media. Try something different in every photo. Even contorting their body works nicely.
Additional Posing Tips for Women
Consider these tips whenever posing a female model. They may work with some male shoots as well.
1. Ask your subject to bring their chin down
Otherwise, the neck will command the attention of the photograph. Most often, people will unconsciously lift their chin when being photographed. If you ask them to bring it down a little, they will usually respond that they are afraid of double chins. To remedy the double chin fear, have them push out their chin (I call it “turtle neck”), and that will take care of the double chin.
2. Photograph her from an angle
Unless you have a very tiny woman, no woman looks her best when her shoulders and hips straight onto the camera. Pose a woman with her hips at the camera and then turn her shoulders and face back toward the camera.
3. On a woman, if it bends, bend it
Women look more feminine if you bend their elbows, wrists, curl the fingers a little (maybe even grasp her collar or necklace with her thumb and pointer finger), have her shift her weight onto one leg, and then bend a knee.
4. Avoid photographing crotches, underarms, and up noses
If you are photographing a heavier woman, find them a prop that is flattering. For example, have them cuddle a cute pillow.
For groups, try to arrange your subjects to form a pyramid (either with the high point at the top or an inverted pyramid). Ensure you can see all the faces and separate your subjects’ heads vertically by at least 3 inches, so the heads are at different heights.
For example, pose Dad and then pose Mom so that her eyes are level with Dad’s mouth. It is always fun to have them cuddle in tight together if they are family.
Videos for Learning Female Posing Techniques
These videos give a more in-depth view of how to pose women. Have a glance at each to further understand the best female model poses for your next shoot.
How to Pose Women (10 Quick Tips)
This video is short and sweet on the top 10 tips for posing women on any shoot! Feel free to share your favorite videos in the comments section of this article as well!
Posing Women’s Hands for Portraits
This may not be something that you think about on a regular basis but knowing how to place a women’s hands will make your photos look so much more professional and help your client to feel comfortable. Never hear the phrase “WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS?!” again.
If you really want to take your portrait photography to the next level, try one of these courses geared towards female model poses. Courses are one of the best ways to gain confidence when learning photography poses.
Posing Like A Pro: Create Your Best Portraits Ever!
Pro photographer Sandy Dee created this course to help photographers create more ideas about posing. The course helps you to evaluate locations and subjects to decide which poses will work best. Also, you will gain ideas about posing hands, props, telling a story, and much more. Even better, photographer Sandy Dee teaches the importance of how to pose people with weight issues.
Posing for Curvy Women
Photographer Lindsay Adler shares her techniques for accentuating the best features of her female models. Whether you are working with a full figure or curvier female model, this course will help you to highlight any model’s curves in a flattering way. You will learn camera angles, and which lenses to use so your model will feel comfortable and happy with the resulting images.
Portrait Photography: High School Seniors
Photographing High School Seniors is a lucrative business for many portrait photographers. This course taught by Derrick Story teaches you everything you need to know about working with younger female models. Including how to tell a story about their personality by choosing the right outdoor locations and angles. You will learn the art of the modern portrait and how to plan a shot list. Also, Derrick explains how to create a portable and budget-friendly studio on the go.
These are some of our favorite books when it comes to portraits using different female poses. Shooting people of any gender naturally can sometimes prove difficult. But with these books, you will further cement the best poses into your mind.
The Photographer’s Guide to Posing: Techniques to Flatter Everyone
Every woman’s body is different and requires different techniques to make them look and feel the best. This book by Lindsay Adler explores all the different shapes of ladies and which poses work best.
POSE!: 1000 Poses for Photographers and Models
If you need even more ideas about the best ways to pose men and women, this book is for you. It explores one thousand different poses! As well as giving photo examples of each. You will never run out of ideas once you add this book to your collection.
We hope you enjoyed this guide to female poses. Many photographers enjoy shooting but not so much the posing and styling part. Sadly, we can’t all hire a stylist to help us, so with this guide, you should feel more confident and ready to tell your model or client what they need to do with their body.
Always start with a list and some ideas for each portrait photo you want to create. Then write down the poses so that you feel better prepared before you get started. Obviously, no one needs to see the list. But by writing your female poses down before the shoot, you will be better prepared at the shoot. Lastly, if you want to learn other posing techniques, check out these articles on poses for wedding and posing couples.
One of the best ways to learn how to pose others is to get on the other side of the camera! Our very own Taya Iv have put together this video course on how to create gorgeous self-portraits on a budget! Have a look here to sign up today and start feeling more confident about posing yourself so you can teach others the same! Discover your best angle and how to pose yourself for your next portrait.