Three Overlooked Posing Secrets

The difference between good and great posing is all in the details. Whether you photograph men, women, or couples together, knowing how to make everyone look their best is 110% your job as a photographer.

There are three areas that are the most noticeable in posing, the places that an experienced photographer can be differentiated from an amateur one: hips, hands, and height.

Hips

One of the biggest, yet most basic, parts of posing has to do with the hips. Ideally, hips are pushed away from the camera so they appear smaller. If not pushed away, photographers should at least avoid a “flat-footed” pose. This leaves the hips on the same level, rather than letting one fall lower than the other, and makes the subject less flattering.

Try This:

Next time you pose a subject, have them lean on one foot or the other. You’ll immediately notice a curvature of their body and even a more comfortable look than they would be just standing there evenly.

Hands

Hands are one of the more difficult parts of posing, especially depending on the model. When I’m posing a bride from one of my NYC Weddings, I can always tell if she was (or is) a dancer by how she responds to when I pose her hands. You may not always get someone with graceful fingers, but you here are some tricks to making hands look dainty and less distracting.

  1. Never show the back or the palm of the hand. Always go for showing either side of it.
  2. Avoid placing hands flat. Try to have the subject bend their fingers at least a little bit.

Height

As a NYC Wedding Photographer, I work with couples of varying heights. Sometimes the groom is waaaaay taller than the bride. Sometimes the bride is just a smidge taller than the groom after putting her heels on. Ideally when you’re posing two or more people, you want to have a “eyes to mouth” relation between the height of the subjects. Meaning, the taller person’s mouth should be level to the short person’s eyes. Here are ways to make that happen in less than ideal circumstances. 

  1. If you’re not photographing a full length, have the person you’d like to be shorter take a wider stance with their legs. Never let them hunch! That only makes them look bad.
  2. Try sitting poses or use steps. It doesn’t hurt to have something to sit on, or have one person one a step higher than the other to vary the height. 
  3. Have the person you’d like to be shorter lean on something like a wall, bench, railing or even just exaggerate the lean on their back leg. Sometimes all you need is a little pose variation to help get the height difference you’re looking for!

Check out the video up top to go through the finer points of posing, focusing on the details that make a difference.

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7 Comments

daniel mcgarrity's picture

really love you giving attribution to Sue Bryce and Doug Gordon....I use a similar technique for really really mismatched heights with over 12inches separating tops of heads.
Good Job Vanessa, like the hips tips

Vanessa Joy's picture

Thanks Daniel! Sometimes I can't remember where I first learned things, but when I do I try to remember to mention it!

James Otihi's picture

Insightful article you have here Vanessa. I always look forward to reading your articles. I love the wider stance tip. One thing I also use to compensate for height on some occasions is using the Dutch angle.

Vanessa Joy's picture

Ooooo good one! I think that was a Doug-ism too :)

Grant Schwingle's picture

So glad to see a video and accompanying article! And also the post has some great info! Thanks for posting.

Janaka Rodrigue's picture

Trying to improve SEO for the phrase NYC Wedding Photographer? ;-)

Dr Peter Howell's picture

I couldn't get the video to load but the article and pictures were great thank you.

Peter