Posing Tips for Portrait Clients Who Are Not Models

Let's face it, when you're in business as a portrait photographer, the person who usually ends up in front of your camera is not going to be a professional model. That's why it's all the more important that you can give a regular person the guidance they need to look and feel like a superstar.

As a portrait photographer, I have been asked countless times by anxious clients “what do I do?” before the lens cap is even off the camera. Nerves, anxiety, and fear of the unknown can wreak havoc on a client's self-confidence in front of the lens. One of my most important tasks in each session is guiding and directing them to maneuver their bodies into poses that are magazine worthy. Sometimes, it's a struggle to know and remember what will look best for each body.

That's where this video from Anita Sadowska comes in. While photographing non-models and fellow photographer, Irene Rudnyk, Anita demonstrates the why and how of creating a model-worthy look on most any everyday woman.

The key takeaways here include finding ways to add interest, like experimenting with fabric, exaggeration of shape and movement, and getting your subject to relax and get comfortable in model mode. Other interesting notes include the importance of shaping the body while accentuating curves and different ways to shape the legs.

When it comes to positioning limbs, especially arms and hands, clients really rely on our guidance to know what to do. (Remember that scene from "Talladega Nights"?) It's also important to remember that in order to ensure that your client is comfortable and has fun with the shoot, keep giving feedback and encouragement. Tell a few corny jokes to coax out a natural smile. Most of all, have fun!

Check out the video for more great tips on posing everyday people.

Jenny Edwards's picture

Jenny Edwards is a portrait photographer based in Amarillo, TX. She specializes in family and generational portraiture, as well as fashion-inspired portraits for high school seniors.

Log in or register to post comments

An important topic because we'll often be shooting people who aren't professional models. I did a session with a person for my book and was surprised how natural she was in front of the camera. It wasn't till after that I learned she'd been a professional model.

Believe me, it's tougher than you think. Some people have no clue on how to pose, or how to get a pose from someone so that they don't look like Borat's mugshot. I should know, it's one of my greatest challenges ... LOL!

Funny thing is when I'm in a photo, I don't know how to pose myself! Mind you, the raw material isn't that flash anyway.