Learning how to pose models is one of the best skills that you can learn as a photographer.
When you work with experienced models, they will be able to flow and get into a rhythm with you, moving from pose to pose. But many people aren't experienced in front of the camera.
Sometimes you just want to take photos of your friends. Let's talk about 5 tips for how to pose your friends who aren't models.
1. Give Specific and Positive Directions
A lot of people are very self conscious being photographed. So when you put a camera up to them, they just don't know what to do.
Giving specific and positive directions helps build confidence and lets them get out of their own head. This leads to better photographs.
Now again, the second part of that is POSITIVE directions. You don't want to say "oooo... that looks bad." That will just make them more self conscious.
If you want to correct a pose or change something up, be positive and gentle about it.
2. Tell Them What to Do With Their Hands
I've seen this situation play out a few times. I'll be shooting with a friend, and the first thing they ask me is "what do I do with my hands?"
Your job as a photographer is to learn a few basic poses including, yes, where they should place their hands. Here are a few easy ones you can screenshot and use in your next shoot.
3. Show and Tell: Act Out the Pose for Them
When you're setting up a pose with your friend, actually act it out for them and show them how you would like them to position themselves.
Visual cues are a lot easier to follow and will help them get into the pose.
It also helps to have some example photos on your phone to show them what type of pose you're trying to set up.
4. Make Them Laugh
Laughter is a great way to get your friend to relax and feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
Also, chances are you already know some good ways to make your friend laugh, so this shouldn't be too difficult.
Even if you're going for a moody vibe, cracking your subject up in between poses can help make the whole shoot more enjoyable for them and you.
And more fun = better photos.
5. Keep Them Moving
Instead of just setting up a bunch of stiff poses, it helps to have your friend keep moving from pose to pose in between shots. After awhile, you will develop a rhythm that can lead to more natural looking poses.
Just ask them to keep moving and continue taking photos. If you see something you like, you can have them hold the pose for a few moments while you get the shot.
Now, if you are going for a specific pose, one tip is to have them set up into the pose, move out of it and then re-settle back into the pose. This will make it look a lot more relaxed and natural.
So, there it is - my 5 tips for how to pose your friends in photographs.
If you want some ideas for poses then be sure to download my FREE Portrait Poses Swipe File.
You can get it by clicking on the blue button below and signing up for my email newsletter.
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.