23 Popular Instagram Photographers Reveal Expert Secrets for Posing Models
Ah, posing. It can feel like the most challenging thing to learn as a photographer.
What should you say to the model? How do you set up a pose? What are the big dos and don'ts? It can be very unclear and overwhelming. I feel your posing pain.
As you read this blog post, you will learn the posing secrets of some of the world's most talented photographers. I reached out to over 20 of the best portrait photographers in the game with one question:
What's your best advice on posing models?
The photographers featured in this post have collectively amassed over 700,000 Instagram followers. Some have massive followings already and shoot professionally. Others are rising stars or people who shoot portraits as a labor of love.
They all have one thing in common: an ability to put models at ease and capture fantastic portrait photos.
So buckle up and pay attention. You're about to get a crash course in posing models.
1. Build Rapport with Your Model
2. Create a Welcoming Environment
3. Establish a Connection
4. Communicate About Vision for the Shoot
5. Start By Having Them Sit Down
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6. Start with Directions, Then Improvise
7. Create a Mood Board to Share with the Model
8. Keep a Posing Swipe File
9. Take Inspiration from Your Surroundings
10. Give Specific and Positive Directions
11. Give Feedback to Your Model
12. Guide Them with Hand Gestures (But Do Not Touch, Obviously)
13. Imagine You're a Movie Director
14. Emphasize Hand Movements
15. Ask Them to Convey an Emotion
16. Don't Pose The Models
17. Have the Model Close Their Eyes and Count to Three
18. Keep Up the Conversation During the Shoot
19. Have Them Express a Mood
20. Build Some Drama into The Pose
21. Go With The Flow
22. Think Outside the Box
Saunak Shah @saunakspace
Saunak Shah is a NYC based photographer and the founder of Pursuit of Portraits. Most recently he has been working to promote portrait photography across the globe with the "Global Pursuit" meetups. Within the last two months, he helped host meetups in Vietnam, India, Thailand, China and Singapore - with more to come in 2018.
23. Get Them Laughing
Bringing It All Together - Next Steps
So are you feeling fired up about posing and directing during your photo shoots?
As you can see, there's no one-size-fits-all approaching to posing models. The best photographers have different approaches. Experiment and find out what works best for you.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Building a rapport/connection with your model is key
- Making the model feel comfortable and relaxed helps lead to more natural-looking poses
- There is no single "correct way" to pose models. You can approach a shoot in a variety of different ways
- It's helpful to have example images, mood boards, inspiration, etc to help you set up a pose
If you need some example poses, I've put together a FREE PDF guide called the Portrait Poses Swipe File. It has 48 different photos displaying a variety of different poses that you can try.
You can download the guide when you sign up for the Dan Bullman Photography newsletter through the link below.
About the Author
Dan Bullman is a portrait photographer and YouTuber based in Boston. He produces educational videos, gear reviews and other content to make you a better photographer faster. His videos have been viewed over 1 million times. His portrait work has been featured on accounts like @moodyports @followingboston and @portraitmeet.