10 classic posing mistakes every portrait photographer makes (and how to fix them)

10 classic posing mistakes every portrait photographer makes (and how to fix them)

Portrait photography used to be subject to all sorts of ‘rules’, and while many of them have been thrown out now there are still a few that are worth considering to get you started and prevent unflattering images.

Continuing her series looking at some of the common mistakes photographers make across all genres, our head of testing, Angela Nicholson, takes a look at some of the worst posing mistakes portrait photographers can make, and suggests how to avoid them.

10 classic posing mistakes every portrait photographer makes (and how to fix them)

Posing Mistakes Portrait Photographers Make: 01 Uncomfortable subject

If the subject is uncomfortable there’s a chance that they will look uncomfortable and as a result the images make awkward viewing.

Chat to your model before you start shooting and discuss the types of photographs that you (or they) would like to produce.

Show them a few examples of images that you like and explain why they work. Showing them a small selection of images that don’t work can also help avoid a few pitfalls.

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Get to know your subject a little so that you can chat between shots and help keep them relaxed.

Explain to them how you want them to sit or stand and suggest that they try a number of poses or looks from that position.

If something’s working let them know, but if it isn’t be tactful and say something like, ‘that’s great, now let’s try…’


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Posing Mistakes Portrait Photographers Make: 02 Awkward hands

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Inexperienced models often struggle to know what to do with their hands.

Having the arms hanging limply by their sides rarely feels or looks right, but slipping them lightly into the top of trouser can work well.

Crossed arms can also be very effective, but beware of them creating a barrier to the viewer.

Unless you want to convey anxiety or tension, make sure that the hands look relaxed rather than clenched. It can help to give your subject something to hold or asking them to touch a near by prop.

If they’re standing behind someone who’s seated for example, they could put their hands on the chair back or the other person’s shoulders.


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  • dudu✯finger

    You seriously want me to hit next page 5 times? Awkward hands. Got it.