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3 Simple Tips for Posing Non-Models


Many (if not most) of us will spend at least some time photographing non-models—whether we’re talking about a bride, a high school senior, or just a good friend or sibling. Here are 3 simple tips that will help you help them look their best.

This quick video comes to us from Rachel and Daniel of Mango Street Lab, who created it as a sort-of followup to their popular Couples Posing video we shared with you last month. After that video, many of their subscribers asked for a solo-posing tutorial, so they roped in Rachel’s not-a-model sister to demonstrate three simple posing tips.

1. Straight Lines and S-Curves

This tip is borrowed from an earlier video Mango Street did about photo styling, and it goes something like this.

Straight lines = rigid and masculine

S-curves = soft and feminine

Porting this over to portraits, you can ask your subject to keep their limbs “straight and jagged” or “softly bent and curved” depending on the mood your going for.

2. Direct Instead of Pose

Especially when you’re working with people who have never spent any time (and are probably uncomfortable) in front of a camera, don’t try to mechanically pose them—it’s easy to wind up with an unnatural mess of a pose.

Instead, direct them. After you’ve given them some very basic guidelines vis-a-vis the shape of their limbs (see tip 1), give your subject a role to play or an emotion to act out instead of a pose to strike. This will lead to much more natural-looking expressions.

3. Utilize Motion to Add Interest

Finally, if you want your subject to loosen up, make them move. Have them walk towards you, flip their hair, or perform some sort of other action. Done right, this is a great way to capture a “candid” moment, and it gets your subject to stop thinking so hard about his or her expression.