Thursday, 5 March 2015

How to pose for photos - for blogs or otherwise!

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!

When I first started taking photos for this blog, I would bin over 90% of them because I was e.g. standing awkwardly, like I didn't want to be in the photo (I didn't) / had a horrendous double chin / looked just a bit, well, weird etc etc. But as the years have passed, I've picked up a few tricks about positioning myself in front of the camera. So, when one of my best friends asked me to teach her how to pose for her upcoming wedding (yay!), I thought why not share some of what I've learned here too in case it helps anyone else build some confidence as I've had to? After all, after this long you'd think I'd have learned something! 

And I want to make it abundantly clear I'm not for a moment saying if you don't follow my tips your photos will be dreadful, I'm just saying if you do find posing for photos hard or want to vary what you already do, you might find some tips below. Because if there's one thing taking as many photos as I do has taught me it's that if you feel uncomfortable about being in the photo you will look uncomfortable in the photo. So why not arm yourself with every trick in the book to hopefully make it easier..? It was the best thing I taught myself to do!

HEAD

How to pose for photos - angle your face

Angle your face

This is probably the #1 thing I've learned about posing that has helped me to gain confidence about capturing my face. Unless yours is perfectly symmetrical (and you are probably a model if so and won't need my advice!), you're likely to find tilting your face away from straight-on is going to be more flattering, not to mention makes for interesting photos. It certainly helps me minimise how lop-sided my nose appears and hides my wonky jaw - which in turn, makes me happier with the end results. Photos flatten 3D into 2D, therefore things like this can seem more pronounced than when you just look in a mirror. I'm sure it's partly why you see so many photos taken from odd angles on Instagram - sometimes your face just looks good from above top left! So, play around - try looking at the camera while your head is positioned slightly away from it on one side and you'll probably find, as I did, that you like one side more than the other. And that's ok, no one needs to know... (apart from you all know I've got a 'best side' now!)

How to pose for photos - look around

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.

How to pose for photos - play with expressions

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 ;) ).

How to pose for photos - watch the double-chin!

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!

ARMS & HANDS

How to pose for photos - hand on hip

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.

How to pose for photos - hug your hips

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.

How to pose for photos - raise an arm

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!

How to pose for photos - stretch out your arm

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.

How to pose for photos - hold a prop

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 ;)

How to pose for photos - use your clothing

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!

How to pose for photos - scene interaction

Interact with your scene

If there's a building you could prop yourself up against it, a low wall you can sit on it, a flower you can smell it, a step you can... step on it and if there's a railing you can definitely hold it. Because why wouldn't you when you can look this nonchalant? Joking aside, it's just again about finding a way to add variety to your posing while not feeling so over-staged you look uncomfortable. And the key word there is 'feeling' over-staged - you might be a natural at this kind of 'interactive' pose, but if you try something new and feel silly it'll show in the photos.

TORSO

How to pose for photos - curve your hip

Curve that hip

I'm a very subtle hourglass shape and in photos, can look a bit shapeless if just standing normally in clothing that doesn't define my shape well (i.e. without shapewear doing some scaffolding behind the scenes!). A neat trick is to push a hip out slightly further than you would naturally, as I'm doing in the above photo. The arm the other side is helping to disguise the lack of curve there as you can't have it both ways, but what an easy way to add some pin-up shape! 

How to pose for photos - hide your tummy

Tuck (or cover) your tummy

Perhaps this is obvious, but if you're taking photos in fitted clothes or side on (more on angles later) and you're conscious of your tummy, slightly holding it in can make a big difference to photos. As can strategically placing an arm across it! Whenever I'm wearing something fitted I'm always conscious of holding my tummy in or finding ways to slightly disguise it. It's not the world's biggest stomach, but it makes me uncomfortable having it on full display.

LEGS & FEET

How to pose for photos - legs together

Legs together - in style

Just standing as you would usually with your feet slightly apart doesn't make for a very 'posed' photo usually, but putting them deliberately together and adding a bit of shape by angling one foot is a whole different story. Here, I'm slightly lifting my left foot and pushing my ankle in to meet my right ankle, which automatically makes my toes point a little. It's very feminine and something I totally stole from another blogger ;)

How to pose for photos - lift your heel/bend your knee

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!
 How to pose for photos - drop a leg behind

Drop it back

So again, not a million miles from the above as one foot is lifted again, but this time you're consciously putting one leg back behind another. I don't have much to say about this other than it's good for showing off your shoes and works particularly well when wearing a full skirt (perhaps because you don't see your thighs smooshed together that way!).

How to pose for photos - leg out to the side

Or out to the side

This one comes with a warning - stick your leg out too far to the side and you look decidedly unhinged (while pushing a foot out so far it looks like you're trying to dissociate yourself from one of your legs is hilarious, it doesn't usually result in keepers!). But just a little bit - and it helps to point your toes - and it looks quite elegant, don'tcha think?

DIFFERENT CAMERA ANGLES


How to pose for photos - face the camera, but not straight on

Face on - but not straight on

While it's good if you're trying to show off your outfit in a photo to face a camera, it's not always the most interesting or flattering position for your pictures - especially if you're taking a few similar shots and want some variety. Even just angling your body away a little, while turning your head and shoulders back  towards the camera a little can make for some nice photos.

How to pose for photos - take photos from behind

Back up

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.

How to pose for photos - take photos from the side

Sideways

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.

Happy snapping! Is there anything that I've missed you want to add? There must be something...


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33 comments:

  1. This is such a brilliant post, it's so detailed, it must have taken you ages! I will have to save this for future reference, as wanting to pose properly is something I keep coming back to time and time again. Sometimes I think I've got it, then I find out I have hands that look like lobster claws, it's exasperating!! What a gorgeous selection of photos of you too, it's nice to have a recap of your fab wardrobe. I'm trying to guess which blogger you stole the slightly lifted foot from, I'm going to guess Amber?? You certainly ain't taking any posing tips from my blog, ha!! I get so much stick from my family and friends about looking off into the distance. They just don't understand how hard it is to have that harmonious moment of understanding between model and camera, when it all goes just perfectly. Hope you're having a super duper week xx

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    1. I'm so glad you appreciate how long this took!! Because yep, it sure did take a while, but I wanted to do it for my friend and helping other bloggers was a nice bonus :) I probably should have written more about hands specifically - lobster claw is a real problem in photo posing. It was already at thesis length though so I had to draw the line somewhere... The lifted foot was from Ulrika, although I bet Amber's got that one down too, come to think of it! I think I'm constantly subconsciously stealing poses all the time, so you're probably in my psyche somewhere ;) xx

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    2. Mwah ha haaaa, that sounds ominous me being in your psyche!! You'll be posing like Kate Bush next... ;)

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  2. This is super helpful. I usually feel like a big galumph in photos. haha! I think I shall soon put these tips into practice. One thing that, to me, is of the utmost importance is to have a photographer that you feel comfortable posing in front of. (So that you're aren't feeling self conscious or dopey!) I'm sure that goes without saying, though. :D

    ~Miss Michelle ^_^
    www.delightfulhandwork.blogspot.com

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    1. That's very true - it took me a long while to get the hang of all of this when I switched from a tripod and remote to my boyfriend taking the pictures. I think it helps to realise that the person taking the picture isn't judging you, they're just trying to press the shutter at the right time!!

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  3. Great post! : ) Will be pinning for future reference.

    I haven't tried lifting the feet up...so need to try that one for sure. Same with the one arm up trick.

    The only one I know is to stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth and slightly pull your chin outwards. Both give a nicer jawline...something you don't need to worry about yet, but once you're over 40 gravity takes over.

    bisous
    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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    1. Heh, it probably isn't too long until I have to worry about my jawline!

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  4. I really don't like taking pictures of myself. Like I really don't. I'm kind of happy right now that we have freezing cold temps and over my knee deep snow making it hard to take outdoor pics.
    This was so helpful that I should write down you suggestions, take it with me and take a boat load of pictures. Then find the right poses that don't make me look dorky.

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    1. It took a real forced attitude shift for me to get the hang of photos of myself - partly that I knew that they definitely look worse if I'm grumpy/frowning in them, so I might as well smile and look like I want to be there! Hope you have more luck - it definitely is about finding what works for you, personally...

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  5. Cici darling, this is nothing short of a brilliant, wonderfully put together post that is chock-a-block with stellar photo posing advice for newcomers and veterans to the art alike. (You can bet your bottom dollar, err, pound :), that it will be appearing in a future edition of my Vintage Link Love post - this is far too awesome an entry not to share.)

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Yay, so glad you like it! I would be incredibly honoured to feature among the fab links you share :) x

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  6. Absolutely AMAZING post!! So often we see the same 3-4 tips over and over again. Not here, you did a wonderful job. I am constantly struggling with getting good photos for my blog, it doesn't help that it's the dead of winter and can now only take pictures in my kitchen. I will be revisiting this post frequently, I'm sure.

    She Knits in Pearls

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    1. Thank you - so glad you like it! Really hope some of my tips can help you - it's taken me a loooong time to get to a point where I feel like I have anything worth sharing on the matter!

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  7. This is fab, I've got a long way to go! It doesn't help that I have no one to take photos of me at the moment as soon as I move in with my boyfriend he's going to be camera trained lol

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    1. That's an excellent idea - I'm au fait with a tripod and remote but it's so much easier having someone who can move if you move and can tell you when you've got enough good ones for a post!

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  8. Oh, thank you so much for the post. I have just started my blog a few weeks ago and needed some guide like this! It's a little harder to for me to take photos, because I use film cameras a and therefore cannot look at them until they get developed, and not always have someone to take photos for me. At least now I could use your helpful post and hope for the best ;)

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    1. Ah, I'm so happy to help! I was hoping there would be some tips here for those starting out - I really feel I would have benefited from something like this at the start, which was part of my motivation for writing this post in the first place. Film cameras will definitely add a layer of difficulty - even with these poses to hand I still delete a lot where the wind might have blown my hair over my face etc. Good luck with it al!

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  9. These are really great, practical tips! I really love all the detail that you go into, because usually the issue with a bad photo isn't that everything has gone wrong, but that there's one thing that you weren't aware of or weren't thinking about - the arm squished to the side is my big one. I do a lot of weird things in the my photos because I feel like it makes them more fun and dynamic, so sometimes I forget really simple things like don't give yourself a double chin, or make sure your hands aren't just flailing around. Oh, and thank you for explaining to how actually pop your foot! I see so many people do it, and I never quite understood the mechanics of it.

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    1. Definitely - I'm very guilty of the squished arm which is why I've taken such care to keep pointing out the times it could pop up when you're posing, here! The double chin is so easy to forget about too. Hope you manage some great foot popping from here on out ;)

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  10. Blog photos are so tricky! I really admire bloggers who are able to do all sorts of poses and facial expressions and look good in all of them! My range of poses in blog photos is really boring because a lot of things that work really well for other bloggers don't look flattering with my body and I avoid them as a result. It's not a matter of me deliberately being boring, but more so knowing what doesn't work for me - which is a lot of things really hahahaha. Facial expressions - another thing that I would love to work on, that never works out for me. I have a wonky smile and blink a lot in photos, so I've never been able to get a shot where I'm smiling properly (with my teeth) without blinking or looking cross eyed. Lol. I definitely struggle with knowing how or where exactly to look at the camera, my blooper reels are full of me looking weird or cross eyed :P

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    1. I definitely, 100% can't look good in all poses and with all facial expressions! I've just found the ones I can get away with! I know exactly what you mean about blinking - I probably blink in about a third of all photos ever taken of me, if not more! And we all know I'm working to fix a wonky smile too with expensive dental work... but who says you need to smile with your teeth in photos? Not doing so much hasn't done me any harm :)

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  11. This is such a helpful post, thanks very much for sharing your tips. It's lovely to see how well-composed your pictures are, even though you sometimes refer to not being a 'natural' when having your picture taken, it's not something that is noticeable, and you bring lots of variety to your pictures, which is something I struggle with personally.

    But now I'm hopeful about applying some of your tips. Thank you again for breaking down the poses and demonstrating them, it really is a big help.

    p.s - The stripy wiggle dress and turquoise, floral-print fifties dress were two of my all-time favourite looks of yours, but I admire everything on your blog.

    Saba x

    www.trulymadlydeeplyfashion.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. I'm really glad it isn't noticeable - although will add that it's very noticeable in the photos I don't use in the posts ;) really glad to write a post that you and others seem to find useful, that was definitely what I was hoping for! And glad you love those outfits - they're two of my favourites too (I'm particularly fond of the stripy one) x

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  12. What a fabulous post! ❤ I love all these pose tips you've put together. Most of them I have realized I do unconsciously, but there where a few I'd love to add to my repertoire as pose variation is so important for adding interest to outfit photos. So thank you again for sharing. :) ❤

    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill


    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill

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    1. Glad you like it :D and agree, I think it's important too or photos just look so samey people might lose interest (such is my fear)... x

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  13. Great tips! Thanks. this will be so helpful for the pin up comp i am entering!

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  14. This is a brilliantly helpful post. Full of great ideas. I want to do more outfit posts but really hate having my picture taken and I think some of these ideas will help me with that.

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    1. Believe me I used to really hate having my picture taken too - it was honestly so depressing before I learned how to work with the camera, instead of it always working against me! So if I can help you overcome your hatred even a little bit I'm glad!

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  15. This is such a great post. I do pretty much all of these! I'm glad I'm not the only one who pushes out one hip unnaturally far in torso shots. I look so shapeless sometimes if I don't. You always have great pictures and poses. I'm sure this post will be really helpful to a lot of bloggers who haven't taken ten thousand awful experimental shots of themselves already!

    Jamie | PetitePanoply.com

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  16. This is fantastic! After having a weekend of photos taken at a dance of me that just look terrible (wrong angles, lighting etc.). this has come at just the right time. Thank you for such a marvelous and informative post. I'm going to bookmark this until I have everything memorized.

    Thanks so much

    Liz

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  17. This is fantastic! After having a weekend of photos taken at a dance of me that just look terrible (wrong angles, lighting etc.). this has come at just the right time. Thank you for such a marvelous and informative post. I'm going to bookmark this until I have everything memorized.

    Thanks so much

    Liz

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