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Tricks for Photographing Women

Updated on June 6, 2016
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been mastering photography and photoshop for many years and sells some of her work. She hires out her skills to help people.

Some photography tricks for posing women

When photographing yourself or your family, have you noticed that some women look fabulous all the time and others (possibly yourself) just take terrible pictures? I’ve noticed and there are reasons that are so subtle that you may not be aware of it.

The really good wedding photographers know these tricks. No matter what weight or size the bride is, you want her to be happy with her photos and that isn’t always easy. I’ve seen brides with strapless gowns who had little rolls in the back under the shoulder blades. You know she doesn’t want to see that in the photos. What is more, some brides choose sleeveless gowns when they have larger than average arms that aren’t very flattering. How does the photographer get around that? There are ways. Here are a few tricks of the trade to help the hapless amateur photographer make women look really good.

This moment only happens once.

It never ceases to amaze me how often a friend will call us because their daughter or son is getting married and they want a good photographer. Only later they call us back and say that the kids changed their mind and to save money they are having “Uncle Joe” or some family member do the photography and videography. It is very discouraging for us naturally, but more so for them. Years from now they will look back on Uncle Joe’s hoe-hum photos and blurry action shots and wish they hired a professional. You only get married once (to that person or at that date) and there are no do-overs. Sure a great party is fun but 10 years later the party won’t be what they want to look back on; it will be the photographs capturing the moment. With that in mind, here are a few clues to make good pose choices for the bride.

Greek statue in contrapposto pose.
Greek statue in contrapposto pose.

Contrapposto

When you stand directly in front of the camera and smile, that may feel natural but it isn’t flattering. The ancient Greeks knew this. You may never have noticed before, but look at any Greek statue. The women are all in the contrappasto position with the shoulders tilted one direction and the hips the other. To get this, tell your model/bride to bend one knee. Automatically the hips also tilt; one up and one lower. To balance, we naturally tend to shift the shoulders the other way and voila: contrappasto.

A woman’s best feature…

So what is a woman’s best, most womanly feature? Well, usually it is the bosom. However you don’t see the best feature very well when the woman is facing directly at the camera. Have her turn her side to the camera so you have a ¾ view and with the bent knee, the camera sees the best angle. This is great, you are almost there, but there is more!

The dreaded bulge.
The dreaded bulge.

Have you ever heard of contrapposto before?

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Gravity helps.

With the side or ¾ view the best, most curvy feature of a woman is at a better angle for the camera but it still isn’t accentuated. To get the most out of this angle you have to ask your bride to lean forward slightly; bend at the waist. This makes gravity help your profile, pulling the best womanly feature every so slightly outward. Suddenly she has more bosom than before. I have to admit that this is actually an uncomfortable pose but the camera loves it and the bride will also, looking back at her great physique in the photos years from now.

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Hold your arms away from the body to appear smaller.
Hold your arms away from the body to appear smaller.

What about the arms?

I know it is my biggest pet peeve when taking a photo. I do it because I was a shy kid and I always wanted to make myself smaller, so I clinched my arms tight to the side of my body. That is a big mistake for women. We have one bone extending from the shoulder to the elbow: the humerus. Surrounding this bone is soft tissue, muscle and skin. When you pull your arms in toward the body the soft tissue flattens out and the arm appears wider than it actually is. To make the arm appear slim, hold it away from the body. Models and movie stars know about this; they typically put one hand on their hip to make the arm slim, and point the other arm away from the camera. Very smart.

Suzie is a very slim girl but look how big her arm looks as she is holding it close to her body.
Suzie is a very slim girl but look how big her arm looks as she is holding it close to her body. | Source

Heavy arms

If you have an unfortunate bride with heavy arms and a sleeveless gown, there are ways to cover this flaw. Some photographers like to use props to cover flaws. Having the bride stand in a doorway leaning against the frame covers one arm and the other is turned away from the camera. Having the groom hug the bride also covers the upper arm. Lots of other things can camouflage a flaw: flowers, family, doors, etc. It seems insulting, but trust me the bride will be happier with the final result than if the camera records for posterity every embarrassing flaw and body bulge.

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Group shot

My husband, a great wedding videographer and pastor officiating at a number of weddings, always says, “if the Bride ain’t happy, no one is happy.” He makes a very good point. The wedding is really the Bride’s party. You want the mother-in-law to be appeased but you want the Bride to be HAPPY!

When we do the obligatory family group photo whenever we all get together, everyone is standing ram-rod still facing the camera, and I know they would be happier if they bent a knee and leaned a little forward. Still you can’t make people change long-standing habits.

Greek statue of Nike.
Greek statue of Nike.

Suck In!

My sister is so offended by the camera, that her rule is never to point a camera at her without announcing, “Suck In!” That has always been her method of throwing out her chest and making her waist as small as possible. As we get older, we almost don’t care to “suck in” anymore, but my sister still want’s to be warned that a camera is pointing at her. Do you have that problem?

Men

Men are easier than women. Having a little stubble on the face is actually masculine. Being a little unkempt is considered rugged. Some of the best photos of grooms I have ever seen, was photos of him straddling a backwards chair with his arms on the back. He looks relaxed and manly. Still I think that the ¾ rule instead of the full frontal photo is best for men and women. There is something about the full frontal photo that flattens out the characters, both men and women. They appear more dimensional in a ¾ view.

Group shots

Fun group shots have become very popular but extremely difficult to pose and perform. I’ve seen them where the bride, groom and whole bridal party are running through a field, where a T-Rex was photoshoped into the photo later. Fun but not so practical, and somewhat overdone.

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Spontaneous

I, for one, really enjoyed the unposed, spontaneous photos of the bride and groom walking and talking. Sure you have to fight the lighting but spur of the moment pictures are really engaging if done well.

The spontaneous photos are the hardest to capture well. I find that I have to take hundreds of photos to end up with just a few really awesome ones. This is why photographers often say that they take more bad photos, or photos the bride will never see than great ones that end up in the bridal album. In the end, it isn’t about volume as much as it is about really great memories.

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Posing Comments welcome here.

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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 11 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Brilliant hub about the tips and tricks for photographing women!

      I love to take pictures and have been doing so since childhood. In those days it was not easy to take perfect photographs but I still enjoyed it. It was expansive too. Now things are easy due to digital photography. You can edit them , enhance them and take as many as possible unless you get the satisfactory results.

      Your hub is really very informative and I learnt a lot of new things about photography by your useful hub.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 11 months ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks for the great suggestions. I'll have to try them out next time I can corner someone to pose for me. My family is camera shy, so I tend to stick with landscapes and animals. lol

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Those are really great tips. I'm going to a wedding this weekend and I'm going to try and incorporate them in my pictures. Thank you, Denise!

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 11 months ago from Texas

      This is awesome. I'm going to share it with a bride to be.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      ChitrangadaSharan,

      I'm so glad you learned something new from my hub. It is true. Things are so much easier with digital cameras and photoshop enhancements. I love the things I can do today that I could never do before. Thanks for commenting and happy picture taking.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      phoenix2327,

      It's not easy when so many people are camera-shy and hate photos of themselves. Many of my family are like that. But with a few tricks like these you can make them look really good.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      billybuc,

      Thank you, Bill for your continued support. I love taking photos and I'm always working to make my craft better. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      shanmarie,

      I'm so happy you saw something useful here. I love sharing what I have learned from trial and error. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 11 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Denise, it makes sense. Women are much more sensitive about their bods than men, and flattery's on the cards. I've seen wedding pics taken by family, and I've seen the 'kosher' thing. No comparison. My grandmother (wedded in the early 1920s), her younger daughter (wedded in the early 1950s) and daughter-in-law (late 1950s). They each looked 'regal', taken in a studio on their own. (I didn't see the first two with their grooms). The third set was taken in the grounds of a small country church, in colour with the groom's brother (my Dad) and others etc. More informal and cheerful.

      My second (present) wife wife was attired in a cream coloured Restoration-styled (1660s) floor-length silk dress with St Paul's Cathedral as a backdrop. It doesn't get swisher. She still has the photos somewhere. I can't get into the suit I wore any more (I was about a stone-and-a-half lighter then), but she'd fit into that dress.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      alancaster149,

      It must have been a very beautiful affair with the dress and the backdrop. My mom can still fit into her wedding dress but I sure can't fit into mine. Oh well. Time happens to all of us. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • craftybegonia profile image

      craftybegonia 11 months ago from Southwestern, United States

      Very interesting tips. I think that in wedding photos, the most important thing is not necessarily capturing every detail of the bride's dress or her veil or flower bouquet, I think capturing emotion is even more memorable. Being able to get the chemistry between the bride and the groom on film, or photographing little emotional vignettes with the friends and the members of the family might mean more to the bride and groom in the future than cool posing just for esthetics.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 11 months ago from The Caribbean

      I'm much wiser about how to pose for pictures. The heavy arms always annoy me; now I know. Thanks for sharing these very helpful tips.

    • devalym profile image

      Deval Shah 11 months ago from India

      There are so many new things that I didn't know before while capturing a woman in camera or man also when you take misbalance the photograph then its hard to edit in a professional way to looks like real.

      Now, my lots of thoughts are clear about photography on Women as well as Men also. Thanks for such a nice Hub Post and you're kind suggestion.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      craftybegonia,

      I agree with you. The emotion and charged feelings of the day are very important to capture. We have shown up at weddings and tried to get to some of those behind the scenes places where the moments are only to have family members ask us, "are you supposed to be here?" or to have it so crowded with friends that we couldn't get close for intimate shots. It's a little discouraging to have to interrupt the bride and get her to tell people these are the photographers, let them through. You'd be surprised how many well-meaning protective family members won't let us close to the bride. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      MsDora,

      Oh, my friend, you are very welcome. I lean against door frames myself to hide my heavy arms. But what can you do in group shots? Especially if you are short and they keep putting you in the front of the group. I'll let you know when I find that one out. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      devalym,

      You are very welcome for the tips. I hope you have fun taking great photos and portraits of women in the future. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • word55 profile image

      Word 11 months ago from Chicago

      Felt Magnet?? Anyway, nice going Dora. These are great ideas for the way women should take pictures. This is good for all photographers to know as well. When I get hooked up I'm going to have the photographer read your hub :-) Thanks!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      word55,

      That's very nice. Yeah, Felt Magnet seems to be where they put creative pieces that the admin thinks are better than average or something like that. It's one of the new specialized hub sites. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • word55 profile image

      Word 11 months ago from Chicago

      Felt Magnet?? Nice going Denise. These are great ideas for the way women should take pictures. This is good for all photographers to know as well. When I get hooked up I'm going to have the photographer read your hub :-) Thanks!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      word55,

      Thanks for your comment. I feel honored. Felt Magnet is one of the new sites that HubPages created for some of our newer hubs. I'm thinking this one is for creative pieces. Have fun taking pictures.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • profile image

      stella Vadakin 11 months ago

      Hi, I really like the tips you have given us in how to take a photo. I like the one about the arms, I needed to remember them, Thanks, Stella

    • profile image

      Stellla Vadakin 11 months ago

      Thank you, that trick with the arms, because they look so fat, it does work. I wish I would of know about this a long time ago. I look so much better.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
      Author

      Denise McGill 11 months ago from Fresno CA

      Stella, you are very welcome. I love sharing these tips as well. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

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