Getting started with modelling or having your photo taken in a professional photography studio for the first time can be intimidating. How do beginner models pose? Fear not! I’ve got you covered with some simple and effective posing tips for models.

Most of your worries as a new model in the lead up to your first shoot are focused on how to pose in a way that’s just – not embarrassing. How do models look so good in photos? It seems like professional models are on another planet, and when you do an inventory of all the photos taken of you in your life, it’s times when you’ve asked a friend to take some pics, only to hate most of them, awkward ID photos and unflattering pictures taken at formal events.

Believe it or not though, understanding what elements of these photos you don’t like is actually a great starting point in learning how to pose well. Even in circles of top models, bad photos get taken.

It’s important to remember that creating an awesome photograph is a collaboration between the entire creative team on a photoshoot, model included! There’s a lot to think about when it comes to creating the best images for your model portfolio and different poses lend themselves to different areas of the modelling industry. That being said, there are some overarching rules for what helps make strong model poses.

Fashion Photography Posing Tips for Models

These posing tips for models will help you get off to a great start modelling for fashion photography.

1. Relax and Move with Confidence

Keep your body relaxed and include some natural movement (as opposed to static poses) to make your images more dynamic.

Posing Tips for Models - Moving naturally with confidence

Model moving naturally with confidence

Pay attention to where you’re holding tension and whether any parts of your body, i.e. your shoulders or hands, feel stiff. Shake any tension out between shots.

Don’t over-rotate your eyes to meet the camera (this places them at the corners of your eyes). Instead turn your head and/or body to compensate and avoid giving a strained look to camera.

In commercial fashion photography, awkward poses are just more interesting! Think quirky fashion editorials and Zara campaigns. You need to step out of your comfort zone and just trust your team to make it work with you.

As you improvise and experiment, with your posing and movement, whatever you decide to do, fully commit to it! Confidence is key to giving off the right energy and creating a good vibe. When you feel empowered and steadfast, that energy shines through in the images.

2. Create Engaging Shape With Your Body

A good way to add visual interest to your images and make them more engaging, is by creating shape with your body.

One of my favourite posing tips for models that professionals use regularly is making triangular shapes with their bodies. The classic hands on hips pose being a prime example.

Below is an example of a model creating triangles with their body, to add visual interest to the pose/photograph. Observe the model shaping both her arms and lower torso into triangles, by placing hands behind the head and standing with feet wider than shoulder width.

Posing Tips for Models - Using Triangles

Posing Tips for Models – Using Triangles

Bonus Observation: The leaning of the body slightly to one side (breaking the vertical symmetry), further exaggerates the angles created, adding more visual interest than when standing straight.

Another shape you often see is an ‘S’ created by models tilting their hips or arching their backs in poses, in order to create and accentuate curves.

Other tips for shape in poses are:

  • Utilise negative space by keeping a degree of separation between the body and its limbs, creating an openness
  • Hold good posture, think lifted and long
  • Create levels by posing at different heights for visual interest
  • Be aware of foreshortening, when a bent elbow or knee that’s facing the camera directly makes a limb look short
Posing Tips for Models - squatting down and giving an interesting expression

Model Using Levels – Squatting down

Posing is a huge subject. It’s a core capability that requires continuous development for both model and photographer.

An experienced fashion photographer works in partnership with a model, providing direction that ensures the very best images are created together.

3. Visualise the Image You Want to Create

You should have an idea of the images you want to create for a model photoshoot, in your mind, ahead of time. Researching the style of shoot beforehand, creating a Pinterest mood board for poses and practising using a mirror or a camera on self-timer, are all ways of ensuring you have a fresh bank of relevant poses in your mind come shoot day.

Keep in mind the purpose of the images and what they’re aiming to showcase. For example, if it’s a shoot for commercial fashion clients, pose in a way that flatters the clothing and accessories.

4. Note Where Your Main Light is

Professional Photography Studio Lighting showing main light

Professional photography studio lighting – main light

Being aware of where the light is during a shoot will help ensure a good pose doesn’t go to waste when most of your body, or whatever you want to showcase in the image, is in shadow without you or the photographer noticing.

A good understanding of light comes with practice by shooting in a range of different settings, but in the beginning, just knowing where you’ll be in light or shadow is invaluable. Marking out an area to pose within can be helpful at this stage.

5. Ask the Photographer and Team

On-set communication is important. If you’re unsure of a pose, or just want to get a better idea of what energy to bring to the images – ask.

Everyone on set is there to contribute and create amazing images. You can also gain new insight as a model from the team’s own industry experience. Even with lots of preparation, you may find yourself at a blank on how to pose next, so don’t be afraid to ask.

An experienced fashion photographer is familiar working with both new and accomplished models, so that together they get the very best images. They will be ready to provide plenty of inspiration and creative direction.

6. Have fun!

The best images have great energy, where the model had fun with the creative process of making them. It helps to find new poses to practise and develop your own shortlist of favourites, but there is no real need to follow a set script of predefined poses.

Posing Tips for Models - behind the scenes showing a model having fun on ELLE magazine fashion photoshoot

Model Arantza behind the scenes enjoying our ELLE magazine shoot

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to creating the best images for your model portfolio.

These posing tips for models will help you get off to a great start!