Skip to main content

Posing 101: Essentials

Lesson 5 of 10

Basic Posing Demo

Lindsay Adler

Posing 101: Essentials

Lindsay Adler

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

5. Basic Posing Demo

Lesson Info

Basic Posing Demo

What I learned, I found, it's different to see it in a keynote and go like, oh, okay, that's the shot, versus like, seeing it, even if it's the exact same results. Like, when you see someone do it, you're like, okay, I see the distance, I see the exact height they're at. You kind of see those things. So, we are going to bring out Jen. She's our lovely model. Ooh, that was good. (audience laughs) She was doing the robot before, and I was like, oh, I guess we could do that for posing. (audience laughs) Try to figure out how to work with it. Perfect. Okay, so yeah, this is gonna be just super basic lighting. That's not what we're focused on. But for all the tech people out there that wanna know, I have a small Octobox here, two lights on the background. It's white seamless, so it's just gonna be white with some soft light on her face. I'm shooting my 24-105 here, and I have on a Spider holster so that I don't have to put it on the ground every time I wanna move something. So, gonna make i...

t pretty easy. Awesome. Okay, so what I'm going to start off with first is I'm just gonna have you stand there, look lovely, and I'm going to test, no, you can't, you can't real pose. (audience laughs) She's like, oh, I know this. (audience laughs) She's like, I was listening. (instructor laughs) Okay. (shutter snaps) Perfect. Okay, so, let's see how out tether works. Let me make sure. That was our fun test shot. Okay. Yes, it is. Thank you. That's good. Now anything I do now is gonna look awesome. Sorry. But one thing that you'll notice right away, can you tell that she's leaning back? Okay, so one of the things I said is that you want to put your weight back, which is different from leaning back, because leaning back is chest away. Weight back is hips away. So that's something I see right away. So I wanna have you stand flat-footed first. Perfect, just like that. I'm gonna shoot from this height. Great. (shutter snaps) Now can you put one leg behind the other. Good, and now, and now, can you put your weight back? And lean your chest towards me just a little bit. (shutter snaps) Okay, so when you look at these, you'll be able to see. You see that negative space on the side of her arm? In a second, it's gonna pop out even more because she brought her hip back. So I haven't even had her pose with her hands on her hips. She hasn't really done anything like that, and it already gives you that negative space. So, if I'm doing a standing shot, I usually just start like that. Almost always, I have girls put their legs together in some way, unless you're doing a really bold fashion shot. I would say, like, nine times out of 10, I have knees together in some way, because it gives me that narrowing point. So it might be knees turned in, or it might be the one leg behind the other, but again, the knees are lined up, so there's not usually empty space between the legs. So anybody that watches the whole, like, what is it, the space between the thighs, that whole thing online that was a big deal? That's not true in posing. Whatever. If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's like a Victoria's Secret thing, I don't know. Okay. (audience laughs) It all made sense. Okay, perfect. Something else that I want you to do is I want you to put your hand real soft, real soft on your hip, okay. So she does this nicely already, okay? And noticing where she's put it. A lot of people will grip a little bit too tightly. So again, she's just kind of softly placing it. For somebody that is like, rail thin, like skinny, straight lines, no curve or no anything, what I will do, and look at me, let me see. Look at me straight on? Okay, you've got a little curve, but let's say I really wanted to accentuate it. Instead of her when she turns, instead of putting my hand, her hand on her hip, I might actually put it on the waist, because what that'll do is it'll make it look kind of like we have a waist, and then when she pops a hip out, now the differences look even more exaggerated. That's for somebody that just doesn't have much shape, and you're really trying to give them some curve, versus putting the hand on the hip. That doesn't emphasize the curve quite as much. Thank you. Okay, so I'm gonna take a couple shots like that. The next thing I'm gonna do is just talk a little bit about posture, okay, then we're gonna watch her shoulders turning. We're gonna take a look at some foreshortening. So, I can do that in one sec. So, what I'm gonna have you do is just like that, put your weight back one more time on the back. Good, lean towards me. Perfect. (shutter snaps) And watch what you'll see. Okay, now take a look. What's wrong with this pose? It's gonna pop up in a second. What's wrong? You see it? Do you see her hand? She's nervous. But honestly, I saw her do it right before I snapped, right as I was snapping the photo. As soon as I did, she relaxed. But that's the kind of things that I look for for body language that you can tell when someone's nervous. She's playing with her fingernails. So that's why, if I take a shot like that and I look or I notice it, I'll say, okay, just relax your hand, real soft, and try one more, a little softer. Excellent. Good, and lean towards me a little more. Good, okay, not so fake smile. All right, let me see. This is good, perfect, excellent. All right, great. All right, so that would be like, really basic. If I wanna give her a little bit more curve, can I have you kick your hip out just a little bit to that side? Great, perfect, and lean towards me a little bit more. Great. (shutter snaps) And so, this is a chance, this is an example when it would be okay to have space between her legs, and I'm gonna make it even more extreme, is if I'm trying to give her shape, so if I want your eye to kind of follow through. So what I'm gonna have you do is I'm gonna have you do that same thing, but made the space even wider. Good, kick your hip way, way out. Good. Okay, so what my eye will do is kinda the S-curve, because I've given it some place to go. If somebody is, has very little curve or is very straight up and down, if you have everything merged together, there's no curve, so you kinda gotta introduce it a little bit, give your eye someplace to follow. So that's kind of what I'm doing here. Perfect, chest towards me a little more. Good. (shutter snaps) Great. So she will look even more curvy here, given her hip. And so now my eye kinda goes throughout the photo, and then what I would do is then maybe pose her hand. Can you put your hand just like real soft up here? Good, perfect, and let's do (shutter snaps) the bad example. Okay? Okay, and I, I'm gonna teach you, but everyone laughs. I see that nonstop. Nonstop, elbows at camera, or like here, so. Down or to the side. You're cute. Okay. You're cute. Okay, can I have that stool real quick? So I'm going to go the different angles now real quick so you can take a look at that, and then also lens compression. All right, perfect. I'm just gonna lower this, just a second. Okay, so. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take a look at angle, and I'm just gonna have you face straight onto me. Okay, so, go back to where you were a second ago, kind of relaxed. Notice here, I'm gonna take a shot. I'm gonna show you the differences between a length of her neck with posture. So this is how she was kind of sitting before. Let's take one quick shot. (shutter snaps) Okay, now sit up real straight, and pull your shoulders down. Good. (shutter snaps) And if I, what you'll see is watch her neck get a little longer. And the next show, okay. See how she like, her neck got a little longer, and if I wanted it even longer, I'd change my angle, and I get a little lower, and lean towards me. And lean a little more, good. (shutter snaps) So, if I have her, let's say it's a chair that she's sitting back in. Can you pretend you're sitting back in a chair? This is what, if you watch me, ready, if I am sitting forward in a chair. When someone sits back, can you see what my neck does? Sitting forward. So you always want somebody to sit on the edge of their chair. And so, I'm gonna have you sit forward just a little bit. Now, she doesn't have a back to her chair, so it doesn't really matter, but by default, when someone's on the edge of their chair, they don't lean back, regardless, 'cause they're trying to have their center of balance. They lean forward a little bit. So that something is, you don't ever really want somebody lounging. Doesn't really work. So I'm gonna try you leaning back real quick. Lean way back, (shutter snaps) and now lean way forward. And good, chin down a little. (shutter snaps) And you're gonna see, (audience laughs) Well! Well, I don't really really know what to, I don't know what to say to you. Okay. Perfect demonstration. Well, it's always funny when you see like, the before/after shots people do for makeovers where the person looks like they're like dead in the before, and then like really happy in the after. Yeah, that was good, that was good. All right, let's take a look. So, okay, what we talked about so far is putting your weight back, not leaning back. There's a big difference there. Also, you never wanna sit back in a chair. You always wanna kinda lean forward. You want good posture, pulling out through the top of your head. The next thing that I'm gonna have you do is I'm gonna have you turn your shoulders to your right. Good. And notice, when you do that, even sitting, see how it's a little awkward, because it wasn't feet first or hips first? So she is actually kind of straining and fighting against herself. So even sitting, that's why I say, you kinda start from the feet up regardless. So, you wanna turn your feet to the right. Good, and her hips. So now it's much more comfortable, and it's not strained to fight that. Okay, perfect. So notice, and I don't know if you guys can tell this. Even where she's sitting now, she is sitting back a little. It's not just a standing thing. She is kind of sitting back. So even when someone's sitting, I have them lean out towards me. Again, it's going to minimize everything down here, emphasize everything up here. Perfect, so lean towards me just a little bit, great. (shutter snaps) Good. All right, so what I'm going to do is I just wanted to get a shot here. I'm going to take a short playing with angles and perspective, all right, so just so you can see. If I do a mid-length shot, (all laugh) I was teasing her, did you see it? She was finger fiddling. I actually, I used to like, when I first started teaching, I used to bite my nails whenever like it was a break or like on stage, and the in realized that I was biting my nails in front of people, which tells everyone I'm nervous. So now I only do it when you can't see me. (audience laughs) It's true. Okay, so sit up straight. Lean towards me. Okay, so let's just take a look at angle. Remember that invisible plane, the invisible plane kind of deal? Sit up actually totally straight, just like that. Okay. So if I shoot from above, her head is closer. Okay. And her knees and her kind of bottom part of her body will look a little bit smaller. If I want her to look a little more engaged with the camera, I'll have you lean way out towards me. Good. (shutter snaps) Perfect. But when I do so, it does something with foreshortening. See how her torso got shorter? So if you wanna work with that, then you just gotta get a little lower, and that perspective elongates her torso. So like, these are the kind of things I'm thinking about. I'm like, okay. So I'm sitting there. All right, I want a little more engagement with her face, so I have her lean forward. Okay, when she does that, maybe her torso, 'cause I'm at a higher angle, looks a little short, so maybe I get a little bit lower. And it's like tweaks like that. But when I'm shooting, I'm like, click, click, click, good, okay, click, click, click, okay, lean towards me. Like, you know, I just shoot a whole bunch. So maybe one more lower. Good, lean towards me. Excellent. (shutter snaps) All right, so now, we are going to play with perspective. I just want you to see on my 24- the difference between 50 and 85. Will you look right at me? Okay, so this is 50, (shutter snaps) okay, and this is 85. (shutter snaps) And I tried to line it up. So can you see like, I thought I did pretty good. So it's a pretty huge difference between the two. So remember, I recommend a minimal focal length of about 70 millimeters on a full-frame camera for a closeup of about that. However, let's say that I wanna shoot a 50-millimeter lens. I'm just gonna shoot where I'm comfortable shooting. If I'm at 50, I'm comfortable shooting like, (shutter snaps) maybe about this distance. So it's actually pretty far back. It's about as close as I would get a 50. The only other examples when that's not necessarily true is let's say I'm doing a boudoir shot. She's laying on a bed. Her chest is towards me. I want her eyes and her chest to look huge. Then maybe I could get a little bit closer shot with a 50, 'cause it will be huge eyes and huge chest, and everything else gets smaller. So that's kind of how I would use the lens for something like that, okay. All right, so, there's only one other thing I wanted to show, and I'm gonna, let's say lower this. Ah, height looks good. Okay, one other thing I was gonna show is that head turn, and then we'll just move on to other parts. So, facing me and, perfect. All right, great. So, if I tell her to turn her head to her right. (audience laughs) Okay, I don't usually have that problem. I don't usually have that problem. Okay, let me try that again. Would you turn your head to your right? (audience laughs) Okay, good. (shutter snaps) And now turn your shoulders to your right and your hips as well, good. (shutter snaps) And now put your head back towards me just a little. Tilt it that way, yeah, good. (shutter snaps) So all of those things I was doing was elongating her neck. To the side made it short. Her hips and her shoulders to the side made it a little longer. Head tilted back towards me elongated it even more, so I'm looking to make her headshot kind of elongating her neck, and I would probably shoot like, a little longer focal length than that.

Class Description

Posing doesn’t have to be complicated. In Posing 101: The Essentials, fashion photographer and CreativeLive instructor Lindsay Adler gives you an introduction to essential posing techniques you need to start building the posing repertoire every photographer needs.

In this class, Lindsay will lay a foundation of posing basics to get you started on mastering posing. You’ll learn tips on interacting with your subject and how to coach expressions. Lindsay will show you how your lens and camera angle work with different poses. Additionally, she covers best practices for posing each body part, what to look for in posture and how to pose and shoot through flaws.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or have some posing experience under your belt, this course will build a solid foundation that will allow you to expand your posing knowledge and start getting creative.


Stephen Lee

Amazing course, Lindsay presents a ton of great content in a relatively short amount of time. She's got a great lively personality and keeps it fun and interesting. Great job fielding all kinds of questions on the spot - she really knows her stuff!

Aaron Russell

Lindsay is amazing - so much good info in this course! She is knowledgable and inspiring, and a great teacher. However, the two moderator (?) guys who keep interrupting her to repeat her points are so annoying and add absolutely no value. She handles them very graciously as they mansplain everything she says back to her with creepy smiles and fake cheer. They have very Caesar Flickerman from the Hunger Games vibes. I would be so much more excited about Creative Live if they weren't there distracting the great presenters. Anyway, can't wait to watch more of Lindsay's stuff!


First off, I absolutely love the way Lindsay teaches. She shares a LOT of useful information and brings it in a light and cheerful way. There are plenty of examples and photos along with her descriptions. It's a pleasure to watch! This was my first course on posing and I learned a lot. Would definitely recommend this course!