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Advanced Photography Tips: Posing 101

My name is Jamie Gladden, and I'm a modern, fashion-inspired photographer.


Posing 101

A flattering pose is ideal for anyone photographing a person. These rules are meant to be guidelines and things to look out for when you are photographing someone. What's great about these rules is they are flattering on every person and every body shape.

In This Article

  • Arms
  • Triangles
  • S Curve
  • Hands
  • Chin
  • Shoulders

Loose Arms

The arms should be bent and loose.

You've heard the old saying "if it bends, bend it." There's a reason for that. Think about this in your head. If someone is standing straight with their arms straight to their body, it first of all makes them appear larger and who wants that, but it makes for a boring photograph and makes the person look stiff, unapproachable and unnatural.

Ideally you want some sort of bend in the elbows, whether it be a hand on a hip, up to their chin, etc. Even when leaning the elbow should always be bent.

Pro Tip

If you see your client getting stiff. Tell them to shake their arms and loosen up. It will get them to be more relaxed, and (bonus) you might even get a genuine laugh out of them.


Ideally the arms should be creating some sort of triangular shape. This creates a negative space between the body and thus makes the person look more relaxed and smaller.

It also visually helps if the hands are slightly asymmetrical. It creates a visual interest to the photo.

S curve (left) and triangles (right)

S curve (left) and triangles (right)

The S Curve

The S curve comes from the hourglass idea, meaning your body has the slight s shape. What's great about the S curve is that it's flattering on everyone.

Here's how to stand.

Stand with one leg behind the other, slightly lean back, and pop your hip to the back (hip, not bottom). Then make sure the shoulders are back and down, and the chin is forward and down.

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From here you can do a wide variety of posing, by moving arms around.

Soft Hands

Ideally you want hands to be soft and light, like a ballerina. Fingers should be placed at a natural distance together and not straight or touching.

When a person grips their hands it looks unnatural on camera. The same rule for arms applies, "if it bends, bend it."

How to Get Soft Hands

Have your client pretend their hands are like a ballerina, or just have them walk swinging their hands back and forth. The way their hands naturally curve is perfect.

An example of soft hands

An example of soft hands


The chin should be forward and down. It feels super weird but it looks amazing. The key here is to make sure that the chin moves, not the shoulders.

To do this, instruct your client to move their chin forward (like a turtle) and then down. It helps to mention to turn their chin down and move their eyes with it.

Why Does This Work?

What it does it creates a tight neck, which means no double chin, and it accentuates your jawline and gives your more definition, which makes your face look thinner and more defined.

Chin forward and down

Chin forward and down


Shoulders should be loose (meaning not stiff or raised) and rolled backwards, not forwards. When you roll your shoulders backwards, it opens up the chest and also helps improve posture.

Unless you are a supermodel, rolling your shoulders forward doesn't look natural.


Go Practice!

These small tips make such a huge difference in the quality and professionalism of your images, and your client will thank you for making them look their best.

So practice on a friend until you've mastered it.

And know that you are now ready to move up to pro photographer.