Back before I started this blog, the mere suggestion of someone turning a camera on me would have had me running for the nearest door. You see, before the blog days, photos = confidence crisis – I felt I never looked good in any of them. I gradually came to the conclusion that my high failure rate with photos had a lot to do with a) having no idea how to pose for them and b) having a bit of a wonky face. And while I couldn’t do anything about the wonky face, I could get clued up about posing and I knew I would have to if I wanted to show my outfits off to the world and feel confident (enough) about strangers looking at me!
Look around sometimes
This follows on nicely from the above because if you’re experimenting with angling your face differently, staring off into the distance isn’t much more of a stretch… just follow where your face is pointing 😉 I often really like the photos where I’m not looking directly at the camera – they can look more natural (which is hard with something posed), or dare I say it, artistic… and I guess just add something different because of this. Often, I’ll start my pose looking at the camera to help with positioning, then at the last moment will look up over my photographer’s shoulder – it can really help the light to get onto and lift your face.
Play with expressions
This is going to be a good tip if you’ve got a batch of photos you need to pose for where you don’t want to have the same face in every one – i.e. personal style photos for blog posts where the outfit and location doesn’t change. Yes, a smile can of course brighten the face and change the feel of a photo considerably – teeth or no teeth (try both!), but sometimes a brooding look is good for an atmospheric backdrop. And pulling silly or exaggerated faces can make for fun photos, particularly where it suits your personality/the situation. One of my favourites is the exaggerated pout when I’m reviewing lipsticks – when else can you have a ridiculous pout if not when trying to draw attention to what’s on your lips?! As long as you accept silliness for silliness, the playfulness will show in the photo and not actually look… silly (she hopes, re the above). Er. You know what I mean. Ultimately, I find with facial expressions it’s hard to predict what will make a good photo until you’ve tried it out, so embrace your inner-child (and if you can bear it, practice in front of a mirror first 😉 ).
Beware the double-chin!
If you are going to take my advice and experiment with having your head in different positions, looking down can look great in photos, particularly like in the above where you’re trying to put the focus on something else, but be ever conscious that most of us will produce a nice double-chin when tucking it in that bit too close to our chest. You’ll learn the more photos you take what you can get away with and I almost didn’t in this example, to be fair! Try to be conscious of it when you look down; it’s best to look down without moving your head *too* much, essentially a little less than feels natural usually. Thrusting your chin out away from your neck a little more than feels natural also helps to lessen the risk of double-chin, but needs a subtle approach!
Hand on hip
This had to go on this list first as it’s surely the oldest trick in the posing book – in a nutshell, it’s supposed to help you look slimmer because it helps to define your waist. Every celebrity in the world is surely taught this as you’ll see they all do it on autopilot on the red carpet. I think it not only helps add some hourglass shape to your outline, but also is a lot more interesting to look at than just having an arm hanging down by your side – and has the bonus of making your arm look slim and defined too.
Hug your hips
This is especially good for when you’re wearing something fitted where you can’t i.e. hide behind a big full skirt. If your shape is on display, resting your hand on your curves like this can help to emphasise them. Although tip: do what I’m doing here and don’t squash your arms against your sides as they’ll look bigger. I could have also made a more exaggerated shape with my hips too and this would still work nicely – there’s more below on this.
Raise a hand
Lifting your arm in a posed photo can feel like the most ridiculous, unnatural thing to do (trust me, it took me a long time to come to terms with it), yet it’s very popular among both bloggers and fashion catalogues alike. I’ve long wondered why, but I think it’s just because it again changes your shape slightly, often helping to show off what you’re wearing better which is great for a blog or a clothing brand, obviously, but also again quite slimming. Note in my post above that by lifting my arm it’s not squashed by my side, which I know can make it appear bigger. Really, though, I think it just looks nice and adds some variety so it’s a good one to have in your posing arsenal. Lightly touch the back of your head, the side of your face, your collarbone, your hat – whatever you like as long as it’s up!
Stretch out an arm/arms (and always shape your hand)
I’m probably not alone in feeling very shapeless and awkward when I pose for photos with both arms hanging down by my sides. Even though it’s technically the most natural way to stand, in a photo it looks the most unnatural. What’s up with that? Reasons aside, it’s an easy one to fix by just slightly moving an arm, or both your arms, or even by just pointing your hand out to the side. And as soon as you’re lifting your arm away from your body, it’s not pressing against you, which, as I keep mentioning, will make it look bigger usually. Just make sure you’re also thinking about what your hand’s doing at the end of it, to add the finishing touch and take it from awkward to poised.
Hold a prop
This might be more useful for bloggers than for regular photos, as 9/10 times my ‘prop’ will be my handbag because I’m holding it anyway for the shots so it’s easy to move it around – hold it between both hands, dangling off an arm etc. Then again, I would definitely think twice about how I’m doing something simple like holding a bag if a more off the cuff photo was taken of me these days, so it’s worth bearing in mind generally. It’s not just bags though, anything’s fair game from a pretty leaf on the floor to an ice-cream – just try not to let your props melt on you 😉
Use your clothing
Got a full skirt on? Hold it. Got pockets? Hook a thumb into ’em. Got a hat? Touch it. Got a jacket? Throw it over your shoulder. Anything that’s on you is there for being involved in your pose. It can feel really silly to do, but look great in a photo! It can also help your readers if you’re a blogger – no better way to see there’s pockets on a skirt than by slipping a hand into one. Oh, and if you’re keeping up, the above is also a great example of combining two pose favourites – the clothing interaction and the raised hand near the collarbone!
Interact with your scene
Curve that hip
Lift your heel/bend your knee
This is basically the slightly more exaggerated cousin of the above, although you don’t need to have your feet together… I think this works because it slightly mimics your legs when they’re walking, which of course looks natural. It also makes the leg that’s lifted look shapely, which never hurts. In fact, I’m bending one knee slightly in almost every one of these photos, now that I look at it!
If you blog your outfits, it can be good to show how they look from various angles and one of my favourites is to put my back to the camera and look back over my shoulder. I can see this working well in real life too, if you’re a little way in front of your photographer and are going for a ‘coy’ vibe.
Now, this would probably look very silly if you tried to make camera eye-contact as well, but if you’re up for some wistful staring out into the distance, here’s another angle that can really help to show clothes off – shoes in particular! It gets bonus points for looking quite romantic and whimsical, if you’re going for that kind of thing…
NOW, PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
The best way to work any of these tips into your posing is to think of your body in four ‘sections’ – your head, middle, arms-hands and legs-feet. What are you doing with each in every photo? As soon as you consciously do something with each of these sections your photos start looking pretty put together. Sometimes you’ll pose your hands, position your head and middle and then what you’re doing with your feet just doesn’t work. It takes practice – and it’s a good idea to try a few poses in each outfit in front of a mirror before you leave the house to have some readymade for when you’re in front of the camera that you already know look good. And then throw in the camera angles – move your tripod, or get your photographer to move around you and have fun finding what works (and in bloggers’s cases, shows off an outfit etc best).
And of course, take inspiration from other bloggers! That’s where I picked up a lot of these ideas in the first place.