Posing for Portraits

Photos That Can Be
Head and Shoulders
Above the Rest

When posing for portraits remember to Get in close! Pros know that zooming in or moving in "fills the frame" and captures the best shots.

Angle the shoulders of your subject by having them turn their body a little so you aren't taking the photo from the standard "head on" shot. Expand from your standard way of thinking.

When posing for portraits, ask your model to Raise one shoulder, then the other for different photos. Have them lean in one direction then the other to mix it up. Try telling them to raise their shoulder nearest to the camera then raise the one furthest from the camera for different effects. These motions will lessen the width of their shoulders slightly and give the shot more balance and help to lead a viewer's eye to the main focal point which is your smiling subject!

Squared off shoulders that are flat to the camera can express a confidence and provide the traditional portrait look so try them too.

  • A head tipped back slightly will generally give an attitude of toughness and probably will not have to be prompted by you considering today's little football players.
  • A head tipped back to the high shoulder will feel fun and flirty for your budding actress.
  • A head turned down toward a lowered shoulder can provide the Zoolander "power" look!
  • Have them play in front of a mirror rocking and twisting and trying to duplicate a favorite dancer, singer or cartoon character they want to mimic. When they are relaxed and having fun, they will naturally adopt a pose.
  • Capture Body Language

    Capture different body language in your subjects while posing for portraits. Each body part can reflect your subject's personality depending on how it posed. Loosen up the mood and see what component will help to flatter your subject. Long hair can be twirled to bring some attention to it. Some striking eyes might need extreme close up shots. Chins rested on palms, phones that are held up to an ear, photograpy props , and favorite hats that can be tilted several ways all add to the moment. The key is to make it fun to smile for the camera. Remember, if the mood breaks down or your subject gets too cranky, stop, pull back and regroup for a later time.

    Play With Eye Contact

    Jackie Onassis' eye contact

    Looking away from the camera can create a feeling of movement and add a little mystery.

    Looking at a point slightly above the lens is a timeless way models look at a camera and is said to have been practiced by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for a more regal and assured pose. (It happens to be a great tip to help prevent "RED EYE" since the subject's pupils are not straight on and affected from the flash.)

    Create a "story" with the shot by having a child look at a ball, or a younger sibling, or at a big plate of spaghettio's to provide a second point of interest and establish a relationship between it and your subject. Some final quick tips are to frame the photo with parts of your subject's face left out of the image. Drop a hat down in front over one eye, put a "bandit's" handkerchief over a mouth, or have them mess around with a scarf. What other props come to mind considering your subject's personality?

    Take a series of shots with your camera's "continuous shooting" or "burst" mode and hold down the shutter to fire off more than one shot at a time while your subject is posing for portraits. You either will add to the odds of getting a favorable photo or you might create a series of images that you could frame together for a very nice piece you can be proud of with your loved one as the subject.

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