Has someone ever taken a picture of you, but you barely recognized the weird, dangling person smiling creepily back at you? An essential and often overlooked element of photography–and this can be for photographers or people having pictures taken–is posing.
What is posing? It is the art of positioning the subject of a photograph in such a way as to best compliment the individual, the setting, and the sought-after mood. However, used in the wrong way, posing can make you feel and look like an overripe pumpkin or a chubby caterpillar.
Posing can be divided into two main categories: female posing and male posing. The same poses are often mistakenly applied to males and females even though in most cases, they are opposites. When applied incorrectly, females can look masculine, angry, and larger than normal in size. Males can seem feminine, abnormally “goofy,” and, if the posing is really off target, even sinister.
So, when it comes to posing females, try to keep it elegant and graceful. Hands should rarely be in pockets or folded over the chest. This makes them appear uncomfortable and insecure. Instead, place their hands in their hair, behind their neck, on their hip, or interacting with an object. Try and create soft angles at the joints to prevent harsh right angles, which can make the subject resemble a robot. Also, avoid shooting them directly from the front–this can make her shoulders seem awkwardly broad and exaggerate her core. Shoot from the side and never from below.
Females often look more friendly and happy when smiling. It doesn’t have to be a seven-inch wide smile; this is not a smiling competition. It just needs to be enough to ensure the viewer of the photograph that this lady is not angry or uncomfortable. Another important posing technique for females is the “pop hip.” This is when the female shifts her weight onto one leg, bending her knee and causing her one hip to kind of “pop” out from the side to create a lovely, soft, feminine outline. However, if this pose is exaggerated, you will end up looking like a Barbie doll, which is not ideal, to say the least.
What TO do
What NOT to do
Posing a male is very different from posing a female, as you want them to look cool and confident. By placing their hands in their pockets or folded across their chest, males look very sure of themselves. Placing their hands on their hips or in their hair can become very weird very quickly. You want to create right angles at the joints and shoot them from the front as this can emphasize their confidence and masculinity. Having the subject glance slightly to the left or right from where you are shooting can also create a chilled, less formal atmosphere.
Unfortunately, males are often only given the one option of smiling in such a way so that all of their teeth show. For most males, this makes them feel insecure and awkward. Males often look great when they “smile with their eyes”–a slight, soft smile, with most of the “smiling” reflected in the kindness in their eyes.
What TO do
What NOT to do
These posing techniques are not engraved rules, merely guidelines and tips that will certainly need to be applied differently based on the person and situation. So, the next time you or someone else wants to press that shutter button, try and apply some of these skills. You’ll surprise yourself by how much you do not look like Jabba the Hutt.
About the Author/Photographer:
Name: Melika Minnaar
How many years have you been apart of TPS?
This is my second year with TPS.
What classes are you taking with TPS this year?
I am taking the Beginner to Brilliant Photography class because I completely fell in love with photography last year after taking the Modern Creative Portraiture class.
What are a few of your hobbies?
Besides eating chocolate, I enjoy cooking, writing, playing basketball, and taking pictures.