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Basic Tips for Posing Female Models


My name is Mark Fitzgerald, and I’m a photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. In this post, I’ll be discussing basic model poses for female models. Whether you are a model choosing a pose or a photographer posing your model, this is a decision that can shape the look of the image and therefore the success of the campaign.

Warning: Some of the portraits below may not be work friendly.

The right pose in the right circumstances can make all the difference, particularly when photographing for fashion or advertising.

Basic Model Poses

There are a few standard fashion poses. These are the stances we see in lookbooks, brochures, and online stores. Although hardly groundbreaking, these are classics that can add style and grace to a collection and are expected by many clients. Even if you think you are going to extend the shoot beyond these, it is a good idea to be able to get these looks quickly.

These poses are usually simple and relaxed.

You can mix up the poses by turning your body (or your model) in different directions and by looking in different directions:

  • Into the lens
  • Over the photographer’s shoulder
  • 45 degrees to the left or right of the camera
  • Up or down
  • Into the key light

Seated Poses

A lot can be said with a seated pose. This pose can be strong and distinguished or it can communicate relaxation or vulnerability. A seated pose can be as versatile, if not more so, than a standing pose.

To make the seated pose a success, think about:

  • Whether the shot should be from below, above or equal height.
  • Direction of knees and feet
  • Be careful of making the shot too crotch-centric. You can use a hand or leg thrown casually in the foreground to stop this.
  • Is the seat height right for the shot? If it looks or feels awkward, perhaps a lower or higher seat is required.
  • Ensure that if you’ve previously been doing a standing pose, that the light is brought down to meet the new seated pose.

Beauty Poses

These are some of the most difficult poses to master. So much rides on expression, perfect angle, perfect lighting and perfect makeup and hair. In beauty photography success is all in the details.

Pay attention to:

  • Expression expression expression. Whether it’s neutral, happy or serious, the expression is crucial.
  • Jawlines create much of the shape in a beauty shot. Use the shadow by pushing the jaw in different directions.
  • Beware of shooting from below as chins and nostrils can become too prominent, depending on face shape.
  • Hands are often a feature of beauty images. Make sure their positioning is appropriate to the feel of the scene.

Stepping it Up

Once you feel you’re at a position in the shoot to take the poses to the next level, try new things. This can include laughter and new expressions that might have previously been risky. It can include more interesting poses with more contortion and greater difficulty.

Here are some things you can try:

  • “Popping” a hip, elbow, knee or shoulder into a new direction. Not all at once.
  • Extend a limb or stretch out.
  • Squat, crouch, stand on tiptoes.
  • Have a laugh, pull a face or play with your hair.


We’re into higher difficulty area now. Movement requires great timing by the photographer, the model and the two together. Movement catches the eye and adds another dimension to a still image. It may take one shot or it may take many attempts before perfection is achieved.

Be aware of:

  • Strange facial expressions: When jumping, flicking hair, spinning or running, it is difficult to hold a “normal” expression.
  • Fingers tend to do weird things during movement. Keep them in check.
  • Photographers: there is usually only one suitable split second moment during a movement. Be ready!

About the author: Mark Fitzgerald is a professional advertising, fashion, and commercial photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Fitzgerald’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.