Model Posing Technique


I am writing this brief model posing guide for clients coming to my studio for professional and personal portraits, though models and other photographers who happen upon this page are certainly welcome to the advice.

Going back at least to the ancient Egypt, the art of portraiture is as old as art itself, and naturally so is posing for it. What "sitters" wanted in their portraits has varied from ancient Rome to present day, with tastes of the time and depending on intended use. However one key thing has remained: a real portrait is not just a high quality capture of your likeness, it is an endeavor in pursuit of a purpose. That purpose can be showing a specific side of the inner you, how you relate to your family, your professionalism, dependability or strength, your freedom, your sense of humor. Definitely think about this well before the session and discuss with me several days ahead of time, as it impacts lighting, blocking and props, meaning a good bit of studio configuration for the shoot.

However (like everything else in life), modeling and posing is an exercise in balance. You want to be relaxed and natural, but you also want to be aware of where you stand and look in relation to camera and light. You want to show the best of you, but you still want to look genuine. Think of it like holding a bird in your hands - if you try too hard you will crush it, but if you lose grip it will fly away, leaving you empty-handed.

Before The Shoot

Technical Modeling & Posing Tips

Keep in mind that, depending on the shot's objective or what you are generally trying to convey, any of these rules can be deliberately broken. A boxer can of course clench his fists; a heavyset character actor may choose to celebrate rather than obscure his physical presence, and so on.