3 Best Poses for Sitting Portraits of Women

Portraits of sitting subjects can make up a big portion of a gallery, particularly for those who shoot indoors. To help avoid shooting unflattering poses, photographer and educator Jessica Whitaker has shared her best tips on how to capture seated women looking their best.

Seattle-based Whitaker has shot numerous portraits — both on location and indoors in a studio or the client’s home. In the 8.5-minute video above, she introduces three subtle tips that can easily transform a sitting portrait from average to visually pleasing.

1. Longer Legs For a Chair Portrait

Starting with the subject sitting on a chair, Whitaker explains that most people will sit down in a way that’s natural and comfortable for them, but may not necessarily look flattering on a camera. Photographers are in full control when posing their clients, so it’s essential to gently guide them through posing to create images they will feel confident about.

Best sitting poses

Instead of simply sitting up with a straight back, Whitaker asks the model to sit closer on the edge of the chair, slightly lift the crossed leg instead of having it relaxed, and point her toes in the same direction. The same method can be applied for crossed ankles and uncrossed legs by slightly lifting thighs off the chair and pointing toes to create a sense of elongated legs.

2. Strong Core For a Pleasing Sofa Pose

Best sitting poses

When using a soft sofa to sit on, it’s important to ask clients to engage their core, which will help lift them up, Whitaker says. Same as with the chair, it helps for clients to sit halfway off the sofa, instead of letting them disappear in the soft material. Slightly lifting an arm, instead of letting it rest on legs, can help create a pleasing shape that visually lengthens the body.

3. Sitting on the Ground With Crossed Legs and Straight Back

Portraits of subjects sitting down on the floor can work well for different types of photo sessions to add a sense of relaxation and a casual vibe. Whitaker says it’s best to avoid letting the subject show too much of the crotch area. Although it’s a natural way to sit, it doesn’t look great in photos.

Best sitting poses

To fix that, Whitaker recommends asking clients to put more weight on one hip and slightly turn to one side, while using the opposite arm on the floor to support them. To take away the attention from the crotch area, Whitaker usually covers it up with the knees. Same as with other poses, toes are pointed and the back is straight, while the waist can be emphasized by placing a hand on it towards the back.

Sitting on the floor offers a large variety of poses that can be tried. And, with just a few posing alterations, photographers can make their clients flattering and confidence-boosting.

More of Whitaker’s work can be found on her website, Instagram, as well as her YouTube channel where she shares other photography tutorials and tips.

Image credits: Photos by Jessica Whitaker.