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FAST CLASS: Posing 101

Lesson 3 of 29

Posing Guidelines

Lindsay Adler

FAST CLASS: Posing 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

3. Posing Guidelines


  Class Trailer
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1 Introduction To Posing Duration:04:38
3 Posing Guidelines Duration:16:05
6 Posing For Body Types Duration:05:00
7 Posing & Shooting Flaws Duration:03:59
8 Male Posing Guides Duration:03:41
9 Couples Duration:05:10
12 Shoot: Mature Male Poses Duration:01:47
13 Shoot: Mature Female Poses Duration:02:02
14 Shoot: Boudoir Poses Duration:03:45
15 Shoot: Plus Size Poses Duration:01:57
17 Shoot: Mature Couple Poses Duration:02:17
19 Shoot: Bridal Couple Poses Duration:02:06
20 Shoot: Group Poses Duration:02:38
21 Shoot: Bridal Party Poses Duration:03:00
22 Shoot: Family Poses Duration:03:49
24 Shoot: Single Child Poses Duration:03:56
25 Shoot: Maternity Poses Duration:04:55
26 Shoot: Maternity Couple Poses Duration:02:15
27 Shoot: Same-Sex Couple Poses Duration:02:00
28 Shoot: Fashion Female Poses Duration:03:12
29 Shoot: Beauty Poses Duration:02:19

Lesson Info

Posing Guidelines

I have made a nerdy little legend key for my presentation. Okay, I was a nerd in school. It's OK. I'm cool. That all right? If you see a gigantic acts, that means this post sucks. Not really, but it means or something wrong. Between the photos that you're seeing on the screen, there's something wrong. Check means it's good or improved. If you don't see anything underneath the photo, that means that it's a it's OK. I could take it or leave it. You know it's not the best pose, but it's not horrible. So you'll see a couple of those. A big circle means a problem area. Something in this photo that I want you guys to train your eyes toe wash, for I think that's one of the most important things I'd like to get out of. This first section is really learning to train your eyes, okay, and then the arrow is watch this area for a few before and after is there's a certain area that I want you to look at as a person moves. And so this is what you should use as your guide for the rest of this. Now we'...

re going to talk about some of the important things for posing. And one of them is how your camera sees. Because how your camera sees effects posing. So I have seen tons of times where oppose looks crappy to my eye. But the way you shoot it transforms it completely, and it makes it actually look good to the camera. So what looks good in reality might not look good to the camera and vice versa. So we're gonna talk a little bit about that s o posing fundamental number number one beyond anything is whatever is closest to the camera looks largest. And the other way is that whatever is furthest from the camera looks smallest. So Okay, this is basic, but you okay, right? All right, now next photo is going to be even. Wait. Okay. So watch. I mean, not to be watched the size of her, but but seriously, watch the sides for but looking about. So, uh, okay. So if I'm facing you guys and I have this leg Ford, if I'm leaning towards you guys, that's going to make my stomach and my hip look smaller. If I'm neutral, it doesn't do anything. If I push that hit back. I moved everything away from the camera, which slender rised. Everything related to that is something called foreshortening. So, for example, in that picture where she held her hand towards the camera, it actually mean our minds know this but actually look like she had no arm because it was completely hidden behind her hand. So any time an appendage comes towards or away from the camera, it does something called for shortening, where it makes it look shorter or compressed, and it's usually not a good thing. So just to give you a very blatant example of a don't enter do so. This is related to four shortening, and I'm gonna tell you this doesn't mean it ruins your photograph if you don't have this but notice because instead of her hand on her hip out to the side, she had her elbow pulled back, her arm looked shorter and she loses her hand. So the next one is your camera angle makes a difference, and it's actually for the same reason it's It's for the same reason, because if you're at a higher angle, what's going to be closer if I'm higher up photographing someone's that sitting down their face will be closer. If I'm lower, their knees or their waste will be closer. But there are. Sometimes you do want to break these rules, so let me just take. So this was the hips closest to the camera and hips away. Example Will watch this camera angle. Example. This camera angle on the left. I'm laying on my stomach. The camera angle on the right is I'm standing about 2.5 feet, Um, on a little stepladder above the ground, photographing down. So that is not alone. That's not the whole lunch change thing that is from shooting drastically different angles. Okay, um, one thing to know is the effects of your height. Your camera angle are much more pronounced when you're closer to your subject. So if I am standing 30 feet away from my subject and I stand up on a ladder and take a shot and then I get down on the floor and take a shot, you don't see that much of a difference because of that distance. But when I'm up close, that distance is drastic. So, for example, I am about like three feet from her, and so you can see stomach on my knees standing and then elevated above her. Both of these would be OK. Both of these would be totally fine. This elevated position. I would use more for someone. I needed to slim a little bit more, just a little bit, push their hips away and shoot just a little bit higher ankle or somebody where I really wanted to emphasize their eyes. Whether opposes good or bad sometimes depends on camera angle. I'm going to be talking about beauty photography, and I think people I really don't see how much angle plays. The difference in beauty photography. Typically in portrait, it's we do this last one. We shoot from a slightly just a little bit above eye level because that makes someone's eyes look bigger for beauty photography. I shoot this one because in beauty photography we want long necks were elongating their next as much as possible. It's okay for them to look like they're looking down on us a little bit there, beauty photography's models. So no, that that makes a difference. The 1st 1 is I am shooting, basically, even with her clavicles. That's my camera level And that's what makes her look so long. Getting so tall, the 2nd 1 of about eye level and then the 3rd 1 I'm above her eye level, So just noticed the length of her next changing what lens you choose for your camera. Majority of what I'll be shooting today, Um, and for the rest of time is going to be the signal. 24 to 10540 just because then I don't need to change my lens so much. I'm shooting in a studio environment, so I'm not going to need to shoot below for Oh, most of time will be shooting at F eight anyway. Um, and it's going to give me most flexibility, but let's talk about compression. First. General Element is a wide angle. Lens exaggerates distance, so I just want to give you an example here that I thought was pretty cool. They did not move. They did not move an inch. They stayed in exactly the same place. The picture on the left, that shot with a 70 millimeter lens. The picture on the right was shot with 1 80 it looks like she's basically sitting next to him. OK, so this is her face photograph. This is I'm shooting with a canon five D mark three. So it is a full frame camera, so just know you're equivalence if you're shooting crops. Answer. So I'm shooting a 51 4 and this is just from a 50 two in 85. That is not that much of a focal length difference, and it makes a massive, massive difference. Okay, so there isn't really a right focal length. Here's a general guideline that I would recommend if you're shooting a tight head shot. I'm saying, like, here. Okay, tight headshot. I would not shoot any wider than 70 millimeters for that on a full frame camera. So just to give you an idea just so you could see the kind of lineup there um no. Photoshopped done nothing like that. 24 50 85 200. There is a difference between the 85 200. But as soon as it was a 85 it was pretty acceptable to me. And then the more the wider you are in the further back you are again. The less that you notice these things, it makes much more difference for close of headshots that you'll see this. So the next one. Posture, posture, posture, pressure posture. Okay, posture is super important. Because when you say when you tell someone to relax, they often let the posture just fizzle out of their body. And the posture is what flatters people. Whatever you're thinking imposes almost always think. Long game. All right, so what I generally tell people is I've held them feel like they're just string in the top of your head and pull up through that string. So literally, what I'm doing is I'm elongating their spine. So this I told the girl. Go ahead, just take a seat. Relax, relax. Like if you were watching TV, even though, you know, you have no back in your chair, so that doesn't make sense. But I was like, OK, so this is where she was sitting. Okay. Watch her shoulders there. All right, then I told her to sit up straight. Okay. So you can clearly see the tension. So then I said, relax your shoulders so she looks much more slender. Look at how much longer her neck is. Her neck is much, much longer. When she can sit up straight and relax your shoulders. Okay, Next thing is cropping. Kate doesn't sound like opposing thing, but it's so is because a lot of poses will only look good when cropped a certain way. And that's OK. It doesn't need to look perfect. It could just crop nicely here, or it could just crop nicely from one angle. But there's a couple other points that people don't realize about cropping. When you're cropping in camera, you want to crop at the narrowing points of the body. So what that means is, if you're trying to make someone look skinnier, you wouldn't want to crop at their chest. You want a crop just at their waste, and you wouldn't want a crop at their hips. You would want to crop either at the waist or below, like 100 the narrowing point of the knees. So my trick when I want and I find dresses a little loose to tell this. But my trick is when I want somebody toe look really skinny and really curvy is I will cropped just above the knees. If I could do this and I'll have them talk their knees over okay, because what this just did is when they stand like this. It's a straight line. When you crop, I'm actually cropping at a wider point. So the rule that you probably all heard before is about cropping appendages or pieces like don't don't crop elbows or don't crop knees. All right, so the general rule of thumb the general rule of thumb is don't crop directly on joints, so you don't really want to crop is on your wrist on your elbows on your ankles or really directly on your knees. It's basically where you have a joint. You don't want Teoh crop there. You also don't really want a crop, just the tip of an appendage like the toes where if a girl is going like this like the tip of her fingers cause it's unsettling. So here's the rule of thumb that I say if you're going to crop, look like you mean it. No, I mean, like, if you're gonna crop crop it don't just crop off like a little part. Um, you know, make it on purpose. So just to give you an idea of couple guidelines again, the one that's the real problem area and this one would be the 2nd 1 That's the real problem area because it's just above her ankles and it's just very abrupt versus it's much more acceptable above the knees or when you include the full shot. This is the one that's problematic or similarly cropping at the wrist, cropping up part of the hand, cropping out the tip of the fingers. I mean, for that I would either crop in really tight to just her head or include everything or just pick a different pose. All right, so another point you guys will see me throughout this class. I will have posing inspiration. I will bring shots that I want to do. I don't know. I mean, I don't know why people think that's bad. How I use this. This is kind of my ploy proposing is I will do one of two things. I'll say all season like OK, guys like toe portrait session, I'll say OK, I brought supposing ideas. Have some, like, cool new things they wanted to try, so I brought them so we can take a look at it. Okay, No one's judging you now, OK? Or another thing that I'll do is I'll say, You know, I've actually brought some posing inspiration. So just in case something's not working, I can show it to you so we can work together. So now I'm helping them versus helping me. And now I'm the hero. Um, so feet setting the tone. So this is what I recommend for your order. When you're trying to get a shoot ready your feet pose first, then your hips, then your shoulder than your chins and in hands last. So if you're posing a guy and you want to do something where he has his leg off to the side and he's leaning, obviously you can't do the lean before the feet, so that makes sense. So it's just making sure you translate that to standing and laying and sitting poses as well. I'm going to talk about how to direct and move different parts of the body. And so even though I said we start from the feet up, I'm not starting with the feet. E want to start with the shoulders? You want a long neck? Okay, so a general rule of thumb is if you want a really long neck, you want the shoulders to follow the nose line. Okay. What does that mean? All right, so if I am sitting up straight and I turned my head to the side, my neck actually looks a little shorter. But watch how long my neck looks when I turned my shoulders. Do you see how that line got bigger Verses? Okay, straight on. Turn to the side. It's little. Follow the shoulders. Monette comes back. So I have a picture. You can actually see it straight on to head inside. Okay, so it's about how long her neck looks turned to the side. But when I follow the shoulders now, her neck got that much longer. All right, So cautioned four raise shoulders. And this is kind of what I was talking about. If you are going to have them raise their shoulder, make sure that it's on purpose. So here's what I see that that's not good. Okay, so here she just looks off balance shoes. Looks like she's tilted. If you're gonna raise that shoulder, it should, maybe for a reason. Versus just like I'm shrugging that shoulder. Maybe if her hands on her hip, you could kind of do something like that. So that doesn't work here. Look, no neck at all. Neck goes away here. She has a neck, but it's not really doing anything here. It's like, OK, that was on purpose. Was trying to do the coy little look over the shoulder thing, so that will work. Okay, so this is one more thing about shoulders, actually, 1.5 more things. Something that I wanted to include. And this is something I see all the time. My rule of thumb usually is when you have a subject facing you would ever sign of. The neck is closest to the camera. You usually want to pull the hair away from, because when you cover that side of the neck with hair, they don't have a neck. So if you want someone to look skinnier or more slender, you pull that hair to the side and now you're introducing and neck and for front, I mean front on is when I think someone can get away with hair in front of both sides. But if it's to the side, I usually pull it to one side or the other. It just makes somebody look taller. So the other problem thing that we have here with her is kind of a shoulder. Thing is she's also, since she's trying to keep her posture up. Can you see how she's leaning away from the camera? Can you kind of see that? So her body language tells you that she's uncomfortable where she's afraid.

Class Description


Try a Fast Class – now available to all Creator Pass subscribers! Fast Classes are shortened “highlight” versions of our most popular classes that let you consume 10+ hours in about 60 minutes. We’ve edited the most popular moments, actionable techniques, and profound insights into bite-sized chunks – so you can easily find and focus on what matters most to you. (And of course, you can always go back to the full class for a deep dive into your favorite parts.)

Full-length class:  Posing 101 with Lindsay Adler

Subscribe to CREATOR PASS and cue up this class and other FAST CLASS classes anytime.


  • Use camera angle, lens choice, and cropping to improve your poses
  • Hide unflattering problem areas
  • Address different body types through posing and wardrobe
  • Go for simple poses rather than extravagant ones
  • Pose couples, individuals, and groups to ensure everyone looks good
  • Understand the differences between posing women and men


Posing is one of the fundamentals of great photography. It’s also the thing that photographers have the least control over. We can choose our lenses, set up, lighting, and retouch with Adobe® Photoshop®. But when it comes to photography poses, we need to pay attention and work closely with our subjects to find the perfect pose and the best way to capture the most flattering image.

Fashion and portrait photographer Lindsay Adler will break down the fundamentals of perfect posing, giving you the basic rules you should follow to make your subjects and your photos look their best. Through live photo shoots and slides, Lindsay demonstrates the do’s and don’ts for every category of subject, including men, women, older people, couples, brides and grooms, groups, and more.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Connect with your subjects through sincere compliments, repeating their name and discovering their passions.
  • Avoid using negative terms that will make subjects feel ill at ease.
  • Master the rules of posing, then know when to break them.
  • Be confident when posing couples at a wedding whether it's a bride and groom, mature couple or same-sex couple.

This course is perfect for novice photographers just getting their feet wet in the world of portrait photography, but it also offers useful advice and techniques for even the most skilled professionals. By the end, you’ll be able to discover the beauty in every one of your subjects and bring it out for the world to see.


  • All levels of photographers who want to set themselves apart and up their posing game.
  • Professional photographers who want to learn new ways of posing women, men, children, couples, and groups so they can impress current clients and attract new ones.
  • Hobbyist photographers who want to learn to pose their family and friends.


Samantha Riegels

This is a great course for a quick reminder of things to keep in mind when headed out for a particular shoot. It's bullet points. General principals. If you are new to posing, you'll want a more in-depth course where she has live models and is positioning them rather than just talking about posing techniques. But for a Fast Class, I think this is perfect. Wonderful job, as always Lindsay!

a Creativelive Student

Fantastic quick but comprehensive summary of the key points for many different types of shoot. As always Lindsay Adlers delivers excellense. Brilliant