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Posing 101

Lesson 3 of 35

Posing Guidelines

Lindsay Adler

Posing 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

3. Posing Guidelines
Get the lowdown on some key posing techniques every photographer should know, from how to make your subject look slimmer to how to accentuate their best features.

Lesson Info

Posing Guidelines

I have made a nerdy little legend key for my presentation. Okay? (audience laughs) I was nerd in school that's okay. I'm cool with that. Alright. If you see a gigantic X that means this pose sucks. (audience laughs) Not really, but it means there's 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 okay. I could take it or leave it. 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 to watch 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 afters. There's a certain area that I want you to look at as the person moves. And so this is what you should use as your guide fo...

r the rest of this. Do you guys have any questions? I have one that I want to just get out of the way at the beginning. Perez Photograph says, Yes? "are these tips intended for working with models, "or just your everyday bride or portrait client or whoever?" It is absolutely everyday people. In fact I have one or two actual professional models in this whole class. Most of the people are here work at Creative Live. So I am photographing everyday people. And yesterday they were teasing me 'cause I'm like I'm photographing non models and they're like oh what? We're not model worthy? And I'm like I didn't mean that (laughs). (audience laughs) So yeah. Everyday people. That's exactly what it's intended for. Cool. Lindsay when you look back at your original photographs. When you first were startin' out where, you know where I'm goin' with this right? What do you slap your wrist on? What do you look at? So a big one I would say would be posture. Because I wanted people to be comfortable, and so the comfort thing definitely works to encourage people to be comfortable. But from a comfortable pose you can improve posture. And posture is what makes people look skinnier and elongated. And a lot of times I had a lot of slunch. And I'd watch a lot of people that are trying to do fashion photography and they do like the model does the hunch pose. That is never good. I've never seen (laughs). Like I don't even think in fashion photos it looks good. And a lot of fashion photos by the way, are terrible posing. But the girls their pretty in pretty clothes so you overlook it. So it doesn't mean that just because it's in Vogue does not mean it's a good pose. Just sayin'. Or because it's in a book on posing does not mean it's a good pose. I wish I could show you my books of just (laughs). It was brutal. (laughs) That would be fun to see. Let's see Pro Photographer, "how do you respond to people who want to do their own poses "especially when their poses are not strong ones." (Lindsay laughs) Oh I totally know this. (Man laughs) I have a specific example of a high school senior girl that wanted to be as sexy as possible and, it was definitely not appropriate. So, for people that want to do their own poses, I will let them do their thing, and I'll be like that looks great but actually, and I'll tweak it. 'Cause every pose no matter what someone does, I can tweak almost any pose that someone does to make it acceptable. Or to shoot what they want and be like oh that's great. It just gave me an awesome idea for another pose, and then it can be totally something different but it will kind of go with that flow. And in all I, oh this is a good point. Okay. So something that I do for people also to make them feel comfortable in portrait sessions, is portrait and weddings is I give posing pep talks. I teach them kinda what I'm teaching you. Things that help them look better. Or things that they don't want to do. So I will say to a woman very specifically, have you sitting there on the couch but you never want to sit back. 'Cause that's gonna make your stomach look bigger and trust me they won't sit back (laughs). (audience laughs) Or I'll say for a bridal, like when I have a big bridal party. Like huge. You know how hard it is to make sure everyone looks good? I mean it's, Photoshop is your friend (laughs). Sometimes it can be really stressful. So what I'll do instead for the girls is I'll give them a little posing pep talk. Okay now for this pose, what I'm gonna want all of you to do is put your weight on your back hip, and just real soft hands. I just want real soft hand on your hip okay? And then I'll get everyone, maybe not everybody but at least half of them close and then I can tweak the rest of them. Yeah. Okay. Cool so, alright. So this is the bulk of the presentation. That was kind of overall intro and expression. 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 a pose 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. Alright, so posing fundamental number number one beyond anything, is whatever is closest to the camera looks largest. And the other way is that whatever's furthest from the camera, looks smallest. So, okay. This is basic but okay, right? (audience laughs) Okay? (audience laughs) Hand towards the camera. Her hand looks larger than her head. But that goes for anything and everything. And so I'm going to use an example of standing, but this applies to sitting this applies to anything. Whatever's closest to the camera looks smallest so, or looks, whatever's closest to the camera looks largest, whatever's farthest away looks smallest. So in this instance she's goin' like this. Okay? Alright so you've got me hip towards the camera. Alright now, next photo is going to be even weight. Okay? So watch, I mean, not to be watch the size of her butt but seriously watch the size of her butt. (audience laughs) Really. Look at her butt. (audience laughs) So ah, hmm okay. I'm getting off track but I do have to say this. So, there was a guy that was a friend of mine that he photographed what I'm going to call booty magazines. Magazines that were focused on a girls butt. (audience laughs) Okay that, I mean just being honest. He would not pose with the weight away. The whole purpose is to draw attention there. So when I'm saying all these guidelines, they're guidelines. So anyway, so here weight towards the camera. Butt looks bigger. Neutral makes it smaller. Away, even smaller. That's all I have, there's nothing that changed. I'm completely, so it's one, two, three. And so that's what people are talking about when they say put your weight on your back leg. I don't know if you guys have heard that a lot. Because that's basically what it's doing. So if I'm facing you guys and I have this leg forward, 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 hip back, I moved everything away from the camera which slenderized everything. And so the reason you hear move your hips away from the camera is 'cause people are usually talking about posing standing up. But the same exact thing is true, if I'm sitting in a chair. Or leaning against a wall. So for example, okay. Real quick. (scuffling) Let's move this just a little. (scuffling) Okay. Can we see this wall okay? Alright cool. So when somebody poses against the wall, if you guys are the camera and they're leaning their hips, I see this a lot in people trying to photograph like women's fashion. They'll do something like this with the girls foot up on the wall. But, (patting) my stomach gets pushed out towards the camera. And so it's going to look larger. So usually what you want to do would be to kinda lower that leg a little bit. Kick your butt back. And lean towards the camera. So in this case, hips and waist get smaller. Gets bigger. (laughs) (audience laughs) So your chest might look a little bigger which is probably what somebody would want. Likely. So it's not, this is not just something that just applies to standing. It's sitting, it's laying and this applies to men, women, children, everything. So just keep that in mind as well. So we're gonna take a look at that just so you can see it side by side. Again, so I think that is massive and that is a lean. Nothing more. So that is posing essential number number number one. Okay now, related to that, that whole concept whatever's closest, whatever's farthest. Related to that is something called foreshortening. So, for example in that picture where she held her hand towards the camera, it actually, I mean our minds know this but it actually looked like she had no arm. 'Cause it was completely hidden behind her hand. So any time an appendage comes towards or away from the camera, it does something called foreshortening 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 and a do. And I see this a lot. If you are posing a girl with her hand, and you want her elbow up near her face, you don't want the elbow coming straight out at the camera. Because all you see is an elbow nub. Instead, you want to bring that elbow down. Or you could bring the elbow off to the side, if you wanted to. I just, okay so I have a posing, it's not like a super pet peeve and so anybody who like submitted this, don't freak out. It doesn't mean it's gonna be a bad pose. But armpits freak me out. Well, ugly ones freak me out (laughs). (audience laughs) 'Cause like most people don't have super nice armpits. Oh my Gosh, when I see like poses of like musclemen guys and they have like hairy armpits and their arms are up I get all freaked out. That's a phobia of mine (laughs). That's something I can't do. Anyway. But, so that's something that like, it's okay for her and that doesn't bother me. But like a really really close up shot of somebody where you're really noticing the armpit, I would watch out for that. So if you want somebody's hand up, maybe it's posing so the armpit isn't as central. Arm down instead of arm up. And definitely definitely not at the camera. Okay? So let's take a look at a couple more do's and don'ts. So this is related to foreshortening. 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 looks shorter and she loses her hand. So it's technically kind of incorrect. This isn't a really bad example of it but a really bad example of somebody's hand is basically pulled straight back. It's weird 'cause your mind knows that it's an arm but it looks funky. And I actually saw this in a photo I was looking at this morning. Same thing. The arm was pulled back so far that it looks really small and in perspective wise, that looks much more like an arm the way it's supposed to look. I'll also see a lot where people have their hands like all the way hidden but just a little bit of their fingers showing. (audience laughs) And that's something you generally want to avoid as well. So I have a couple examples of that. Okay. Camera angle. So we talked about just now, general foreshortening. Whatever's closest to the camera, that makes sense? Okay. So the next one is your camera angle makes a difference. And it's actually for the same reason. 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 that's sitting down, their face will be closer. If I'm lower, their knees or their waist will be closer. But there are sometimes that 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. Well 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 two and a half feet on a little step ladder above the ground photographing down. So that is not, that's not the whole lens change thing that is from shooting drastically different angles. So, here's what I want to keep, kind of give you an idea for you to keep in mind. I actually would sometimes shoot this full length, even though you're shooting a little bit under her jaw, if I'm trying to make someone look tall and powerful. Like maybe in a fashion shot. So if you watch me in my studio, most of the time I am backed up, sitting down, and zooming into the subject. And I'm like laying on the ground. Because the fact that I'm at such a low angle, makes them look endlessly tall and that's what I want to convey in a fashion model. But maybe not in a portrait. It's maybe a little bit too much. Okay. Well, then sometimes in a portrait, it's nice to shoot at a higher angle because whatever's closest to the camera is largest. So if somebody, I said their best feature was their eyes and they have big doey eyes, you will go ahead and shoot from a higher angle. Do you guys remember there was controversy over a Vogue Adele cover? Where they said oh they Photoshopped the crap out of her or something? A lot of that was an extreme angle. They were standing on a step stool basically shooting above her with her looking up, so of course her waist and hips will look much skinnier. Because she had them, I mean it was more or less they were pushed way way back. And she's looking straight up so her eyes will look big, her face will look big and her waist will look small. So when people were freakin' out I'm like okay I'm sure there is some Photoshop, but a lot of that is an extreme extreme angle. And so you can do that as well. I do not shoot from a higher angle, I can say this pretty concretely, I don't shoot from a higher angle ever, when they're standing. Because that does that kinda foreshortening thing. As you go higher up it's basically now your body's coming at the camera which makes it look shorter. It's just foreshortening from a different angle and so now it's your whole person. Well it's funny Lindsay I think about that as the MySpace shot. That everyone was taking Yes! from up above. (audience laughs) And the reason is because it works. Yes. It does exactly what people want it to. It's really funny. Exactly. Yeah the things that are closest to the camera are here to here. People like that (laughs). (audience laughs) Definitely works. Okay. 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'm 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'm 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 okay. 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 angle, or somebody where I really wanted to emphasize their eyes and their face. Both are fine and it's relatively convenient for me. I'm five foot three and three quarters. (audience laughs) And I find my height to be a pretty good height to shoot standing shots from a lot of times. If I want someone to be taller then I kneel a little bit. Whereas my significant other is six foot three and if he photographs a girl from standing he'll always have that side last perspective. So, obviously this is going to depend for every single person here. So just take a look. This was standing 15 feet, 200 milliliter lens. (clicking) And laying. See how there's not that much difference? I'm gonna do that again. (clicking) Because it's from far away. But it a little bit of a difference. Ah. Alright so again, whether a pose is good or bad, sometimes depends on camera angle. So. Can I have the little stool please? (footsteps) Do you want to be my model for a second? Sure. Okay cool. (footsteps) Alright. (thud) Would you sit here, cross one leg over and just look debonair? Okay. Of course (laughs). (audience laughs) Okay. So for a pose like this, if I'm shooting down really low, what's closest to my camera? Foot. His foot. If I'm shooting down up from really really high, his head is but then maybe I can't see negative space. There are a lot of times for women where I'll have them put their knee to the camera, and their hands on their knee. And if I shoot low, I don't see their bodies because it's blocked by their knee but if I shoot high it's just nice crossing of their arms. So it makes a big difference. So, I have this mentioned later on and I recommend that if you do wedding photography that you check out Roberto Valenzuela, Valenzuela. His class on wedding photography, and he has this awesome example and something that I recommend that you kinda think about. So we're talking about whatever's closest to the camera is biggest. So the example he uses, and I love that he did this example. I'm gonna borrow this. Is he says, when you're photographing your subject, you have to think of the front of your camera basically spitting out this invisible plane. It's the plane of your camera. Like literally the sensor. So whatever's closest to it will look biggest. So there's a couple different ways you can modify these things. So for example, if I'm photographing him, I'm gonna turn you this way so that camera can see. Okay perfect. So if I'm photographing him from here, and I, and this is, you'll love this in his class. It's great. He says if this invisible plane pops out of my camera, first thing that it hits would still be his head even though his foot is popped out. Just because of the higher angle. Whereas if I get low, runs into his foot first. So, when you're photographing something, somebody and you're looking and you're like, okay. Their hips are lookin' too big. Their thighs are looking too big. Their hand is looking too big. Kind of picture that. Like if you had a plane, how do I change the angle that I'm at, or the height that I'm at, or that persons pose just by them leaning? 'Cause I could, if I wanted to shoot a little lower, I could just have him lean towards me. Lean, lean, lean. I could have him lean towards me if for some reason I was trying to make a background behind him look cleaner. And if I was shooting from a different angle it's construction. Maybe I really have to shoot at that angle. So you can work with, the way you tilt your camera, the height of your camera and then also their pose, to really emphasize the assets of that person. So, yeah definitely check that out it's a good class. (audience clapping) Yes thank you, wonderful. (audience laughs) That was superb. So, this plays out a lot in close up shots. And so on the very last day, I'm going to be talking about beauty photography. And I think people really don't see how much angle plays a difference in beauty photography. Typically, in portraits, we do this last one. We shoot from a slight like, just a little bit above eye level. Because it makes someone's eye's look bigger, for beauty photography, I shoot this one. Because in beauty photography we want long necks. We're elongating their necks as much as possible. It's okay for them to look like they're looking down on us a little bit. I mean they're, it's beauty photography, it's models. So know that that makes a difference. The first one, is I am shooting basically even with her clavicles. That's my camera level. And that's what makes her look so elongated and so tall. The second one I'm about eye level. And then the third one I'm above her eye level. So just notice the length of her neck changing. Can you guys see that? Yeah so there's that. Alright. So let's talk about lens choice. Alright. So what lens you choose for your camera. Majority of what I'll be shooting today, and for the rest of the time is going to be the Sigma 24 to 105 4-0. 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 4-0. Most of the time I'll be shooting at F8 anyway. And it's going to give me most flexibility. But let's talk about compression. This makes a big difference in portraits. And so just knowing, there's some general guidelines that will really help you with the posing and the way that the image looks. Alright so here you go. First general element, is a wide angle lens exaggerates distance. Okay. So if I photograph, can you guys get me here? if I photograph you with a wide angle lens, he looks much farther away. If I'm shooting you with the 24 millimeter lens, he looks really far away. If I back up, switch to like a 120 millimeter lens, he looks right behind you. Okay people think of that but they don't realize that that plays a big role on faces as well. So I just want to give you an example here that I thought was pretty cool. They did not move. (audience laughs) They did not move an inch. They stayed in exactly the same place. The picture on the left I shot with a 70 millimeter lens. The picture on the right was shot with and it looks like she's basically sitting next to him. Okay, well that exact same thing, happens when shooting a 70 millimeter lens versus a 180 on somebody's face. And there's not one right focal length but knowing that this happens, and I thought this was cool. (Lindsay laughs) I was like that's cool. (audience laughs) This looks creepy. Knowing that this happens is important. Okay. So this is her face photographed, I'm shooting with the Canon 5D Mark III so it is a full frame camera. So just know your equivalence if you're shooting crop center. Alright so I'm shooting a 51 4. And this is just from a to an 85. (clicking) 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. In general. 'Cause that's when I start seeing distortion. At 70 for a tight headshot it's usually acceptable to me. I personally like and beyond. And I again, a lot of beauty photographers, that's the reason they shoot a 70 to for those tight head shots. Because then they're not going to shoot any wider. I see a lot of times what people will do is they'll have their 24 to 105. They'll be a little closer and they might shoot it more to 60. Or 50. And that's when I start seeing that kind of bloating face effect. The way that it might help you, might, is if someone was a little larger. Because a wider angle lens exaggerates distance. And whatever's furthest from your camera looks smallest. If you have somebody that's a little wider, and they're sitting and they're leaning towards the camera, that wider angle lens will make this look further away which makes this look smaller. Their head might be a little bit bigger, but you're actually using your focal length to make this look smaller because you're shooting wider, which makes it look further which makes it look smaller. So these are all things that you think about when you're posing, figuring out what lens that you want to choose. (clicking) So just to give you an idea just so you could see the kind of line ups there. No Photoshop done, nothing like that. 24, 50, 85, 200. There is a difference between the 85 and 200, but as soon as it was at 85 it was pretty acceptable to me. And then the more, the wider you are, and the further back you are again the less that you notice these things. It makes much more difference for close up head shots that you'll see this. Okay. She looks younger too. The 24 makes her look younger than the 200 makes her look older. Yeah so, and one of the things, I think that's a good point. He was saying that she looks like a little bit younger in these pictures than she does over here. And one of the reasons is as we get older as women there's two things. One of the things, is that our skin usually clings a little tighter to our faces okay? So our bone structures become a little bit more defined as we lose like kind of that plumpness in the skin. So, she has less bone structure here, because her face is bloated out more from the lens. Whereas it would be more defined here. And you would see someones cheek bones and their jaw line a lot more with an 85 or a 200 than you would over here. The other thing is is with youthfulness, we also perceive big eyes as being youthful. So if you are going for a very soft and youthful look, maybe you would want to go for a little bit wider lens. I have definitely photographed children with wider than recommended lenses from completely unrecommended angles, shooting with a 50 straight down at them because all you see are these giant eyes and no body and it's super cute (laughs). Breaking the rules. But that's why she looks younger. It's the bigger eyes and the more plump skin. (clicking) Alright. So the next one. Posture, posture, posture, posture, posture. Okay. Posture is super important. Because when you tell someone to relax, they often just let the posture just fizzle out of their body. And the posture is what flatters people. Whatever you're thinking in poses, almost always think elongate. There are a few, very few times where you don't want to elongate. Like, Jennifer Hudson for example did a class here on Creative Live. And she did this one pose, it was outside, and she had the model like curled up in a little ball. And she's going forwards meant to be like fetal and vulnerable and submissive. That's the feel. Okay yes. Those times, okay sure. But if you're doing a portrait where you want to flatter somebody you don't want them curled up in a ball, you don't want bad posture. Think elongate for everything you do. Alright. So what I generally tell people, is I tell them, feel like there's a string in the top of your head. You want to pull up through that string. So literally what I'm doing is I'm elongating their spine, versus say I'm sitting, okay? And someones, okay you're slouching right? Alright so two things, I'm gonna demo on myself. Okay. When someone slouches and they have a little weight, it all gathers right here. All of it when you slouch. When you sit up straight, it pulls it out and away (laughs). (audience laughs) Okay? So good postures everybody (laughs). The other thing, that ends up happening as well, is when people slouch a lot of times they get that double chin. 'Cause this is loose. When they pull up through the top of their head, it's elongating it a little bit. Pulling that a little bit tighter. One other thing recommended to this, is the reason I say pull up through your spine and the top of your head, is when I tell people to sit up straight, I definitely have people do this. Okay? And it's, you see all that tension. So instead, I just want them to elongate. Versus be tense. So that's why I usually use those terms. If I say sit up straight, people, they go at attention kind of military style. (audience laughs) It's true, so, especially little kids. So then I kinda try to elongate them that way. So you never want to slouch. So I just want to give you an idea here. Okay. So, this I told the girl, go ahead just take a seat. Relax. Relax like if you were watching TV, even though I know you have no back in your chair so that doesn't make sense. But she was like okay. So this is what she was sitting. Okay watch her shoulders there. Alright, then I told her, to sit up straight. Okay. So you could clearly see the tension. So then I said, relax your shoulders. (clicking) So she looks much more slender and look at how much longer her neck is. Her neck is much much longer when she can sit up straight and relax her shoulders. So, posture is super important and then here's that side view again. You're really, if you want someone to lean forward towards the camera, I don't, if they say, if you say lean forward, a lot of times people when you say okay, lean forward towards the camera, they kind of lean forward at you especially if you're at a lower angle. Let's say that you're maybe a little bit below eye level. You say lean towards you and they do this. What you actually want them to do is not bend forward, they're literally leaning. And I, I'll do this. If I have a subject, who when I say lean forward they do this, I'll say no, okay pretend you have that string pulling up through the top of your head, and now you're just gonna lean your chest forward you're not gonna bend, you're not gonna do anything like that, so pull up and then lean versus bending towards me. That works pretty good. But the same thing is true, like okay. Sitting makes sense. I guess you could picture standing, but also like when you're on the ground, like that pose on the left isn't bad but she looks more slender on the right because I've just had her pull her shoulder up a little bit. I see this a lot for boudoir photography, when people have girls lying on their stomach. Okay, or like pushing up on their side. 'Cause they're trying to have them be relaxed, and they'll have kind of raised shoulders and kind of hunching. Versus trying to pull those shoulders down and elongate. So watch that too if you're doing kind of lying on the bed poses, lying on your stomach that you don't let everything collapse into your shoulders. It might be uncomfortable but you do have to elongate through. And so that's something that you'll see in boudoir and when we're posing on the ground, is to pose them and then have them kind of elongate and straighten everything out. Okay. Next thing is cropping. Okay, doesn't sound like a posing thing but it so is, because a lot of poses will only look good when cropped a certain way. And that's okay. It doesn't need to look perfect. It can just crop nicely here. Or it can just crop nicely from one angle. But there's a couple other points that people don't realize about cropping. When you are 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'd want to crop just at their waist. And you wouldn't want to crop at their hips. You would want to crop either at the waist, or the below like kind of at the narrowing point of the knees. So my trick, when I want and my dress is a little loose to tell this but my trick is when I want somebody to look really skinny and really curvy, is I will crop just above the knees. I dunno if I can do this. And I'll have them tuck their knees over. Okay? Because what this just did is when they stand like this, it's a straight line. And when you crop, I'm actually cropping at a wider point. Okay? When I put my legs together it's still cropping. But if I tuck my knee over, I just made a point at the end of my body. So you go (whooshing), and you crop it right there and now I look really really curvy, and then you can't really tell like height so then I can look taller. I know I pose myself too. (audience laughs) And if you see, if anybody, I promise you, if any of you pose with me for a Facebook photo you'll instantly see this. My arm around you. I got my hips back. I've got my leg crossed over because I've got that angle. So now if you've ever seen me on Facebook go watch. They're all the same. (audience laughs) I'm giving away my secrets here. But, so to take a look, just looking for narrowing points, see how like this is a little more slenderizing than shooting here? And this is a little bit more slenderizing than shooting here? She's really skinny. So it's not as defined. But it's definitely true. You're better up, and it doesn't mean there's something wrong with this head shot but, if you wanted a head shot, you'd probably be better off cropping here, versus cropping right at her chest 'cause she looks a little broader. Unless you're trying to draw attention to her chest. Okay that whole thing. But yeah. Cropping at a narrowing point is definitely one way to slenderize somebody and give them shape again for the curve. Cropping there. (clicking) Okay. Lets do, okay. So the rule that you probably all heard before is about cropping appendages or pieces. Like don't crop elbows or don't crop knees. Alright. So the general rule of thumb, the general rule of thumb, is don't crop directly on joints. So where 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 to crop there. You also don't really want to crop just the tip of an appendage like the toes. Or if a girl is going like this. Like the tip of her fingers. 'Cause it's unsettling. So heres the rule of thumb that I say. If you're going to crop, look like you mean it. Know what I mean? Like if you're gonna crop, crop it. Don't just crop off like a little part. Make it on purpose. So just to give you an idea of a couple guidelines again. The one that's the real problem area, in this one would be the second one. 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 out 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. The other one that bothers me which I don't have a sample photo of, is in beauty photography, when they have hands coming from nowhere. And they just see like little nubs of fingers from the top, 'cause sometimes I'm wondering if it's like, someone else's hand. (audience laughs) Which I've seen done in fashion shoots. Have you seen the ones where they'll have, I love, okay there's just one shoot that's gorgeous, where it's this girl and then she just has all these manly hands all over her. Okay, that's cool. Finger nubs from nowhere not cool. So just keep that in mind. (audience laughs) Okay. Alright. Any questions on that? You guys good? General stuff? Okay cool. So, directing your subject. I'm gonna give you my guidelines for, kinda how I tell people how to pose and get them to do what I'm looking to do. So the first thing I told you was totally the confidence thing. 'Cause as soon as you're not confident they shrivel up. And they got all freaked out. Always positive reinforcement. One that I, this is me personally, everybody has a different style. I definitely like to do the mirroring thing. And like, I really like, I'm proud of myself. I have it mastered where I can tell you to look left and I actually mean your left (laughs). (audience laughs) Do you know what I'm talking about? Like that is, it's a mind trick. But I can actually direct people. But usually, can I borrow you? I'll have you sit there. Want me to sit? Yeah you can sit. Okay. So usually what I do, is I try to direct people with hand motions. I have certain hand motions that I do over and over again. Okay. So for example, and I'm looking at you guys but I'll look at her in a second. When I want someone to turn their head, I pretend I'm grabbing their chin. Versus when I want them to tilt their head, I pretend I'm grabbing their face. But I do the motion the whole time. So I will say, can you do me a favor? Can you just like turn your chin to your right? Good. Okay now I'm gonna have you tilt it back. Good. Like I mean, that's what I will do. And it works pretty well so, for me it's guiding the chin, and I do the same thing. I'll turn it the direction that I want them to go, and then I'll tilt it. And then I do shoulders. Turn your shoulders away from me. Turn your shoulders towards me. Those are kinda the big ones that I do. But in general, you're actually better off directing from feet up. So one of our producers here Heather, I was teasing her because we were doing a posing thing the other day and I said, I said okay I want you to turn your hips to your right. And she literally did this. (audience laughs) And it was like, I dunno if the camera can see that. But she turned like this and it's super awkward, like she's like fallin' over. And I was like, okay. Turn your feet to your right and turn your head, oh okay. (audience laughs) It's true. It's true. So it's for that reason, why if you want something specific you actually start from the feet up. Because once you get the shoulders, if the feet aren't following it's kind of awkward and it changes your center of balance. Okay that was it. I was just doin' the, it worked my point was. Okay. Great. Alright. So another point. You guys will see me, throughout this class, I will have posing inspiration. I will brings shots that I want to do. I don't know, I mean I dunno why people think that's bad. How I use this, this is kinda my ploy for posing, is I will do one of two things. I'll say, I'll say something like, okay guys, like to a portrait session. I'll say okay, I brought some posing ideas 'cause I have some like cool new things I wanted to try so I brought them so we can take a look at it. Okay no ones judging you now. Who cares? 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. Instead of like I actually need something to reference to. And it's not a big deal. When I do a fashion shoot, I have a 27 inch iMac that's just off to the side. I can tether to it if I want. But often what I'll do is I'll put up five or six inspiration photos on that computer so that my model knows what I'm looking for. Has an idea. Are they aggressive poses? Are they sultry? Like what is that I'm going for? And they can see that there. And so if we're channeling Beyonce that day, it'll be all photos of Beyonce posing and looking hot. And then we can direct that way. So, I would tell you that that's not a problem. If you want to bring inspiration bring inspiration, but make sure it's clear it's not a crutch. If you can look at least one to start with and then tweak it and then go okay that was a great first pose. Let's try something different. I think I have this cool idea. Just make sure it's posed, or presented in a way where it doesn't sound like you don't know how to pose. And just then nobody has a problem with it. Alright. So I said posing from the bottom up. 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, then your chins and then 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. And so let me just show you real quick. I talked about this already. Just to show you a visual. Straight towards the camera. When I say turn this means turn. When I say tilt that means tilt. Turn, tilt. So, the next section that we will be getting into is going to be getting into posing parts. 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 (laughs). (audience laughs) I'm gonna start with the shoulders. Okay. So, shoulders. We already talked a lot about posture. And there are a couple things that I wanted to recommend about posing shoulders. One big one, that I just wanted to say is a pet peeve. Okay? This is not in a photo. A pet peeve of mine is for girls when their shoulders and their chin merge. Unless it is clearly on purpose. So what I mean by that is if you have someone turned to the side and from your camera angle their chin interacts with their shoulder, and I have a couple examples to see this. Usually it just makes their neck look larger and they look more tense. Versus if you're gonna do the chin to shoulder, make it on purpose versus they just turned their head and it looks uncomfortable. Similarly you see a lot of the over the shoulder shots. When I do that I don't like when the chin dips below the shoulder. You want to avoid that merger. So I will tell a girl to drop her shoulder, and lift her chin a little bit or roll her head towards me. Instead of having it hidden below the shoulder. That merger makes it look like she has no neck. So although that's kind of a chin thing, it's a chin shoulder interaction, just watch out for that. We always want to have elongated necks. So if someone looks like they don't have a neck, figure out what you can change to make it look like they do. Alright so let's look at an example. So I said sit up straight, relax shoulders, pull shoulders down. 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? Alright so, if I am sitting up straight, and I turn my head to the side, my neck actually looks a little shorter. But watch how long my neck looks when I turn my shoulders. Can you see how that line got bigger? Versus okay straight on. Turned to the side it's little. Follow the shoulders my neck comes back. So, I have a picture so you can actually see it. Straight on, turn the head to the side. Okay so that's about how long her neck looks turned to the side. But when I follow the shoulders, now her neck got that much longer. So that's what I do in beauty photography. So for a woman, this works for guys as well, if for some reason you want their head turned, just watch that they didn't completely lose their neck. I would say that's probably one of my biggest critiques I have for all of the beauty portfolios that people ask me to critique, is they'll do a head turn but the shoulders stay broad to the camera. The other reason that's a problem is, for her it's not that big of a deal but, in this case she has her, the broadest part of her body is going to be her shoulders. So when she just turns her head to the side, she's minimized the size of her head, and then her shoulders stay really broad. It depends on the lighting in a photo but sometimes now you barely look at the persons face and all you look at is broad shoulders. So watch out for that. It's a big one that I see a lot. So again. So, big one. (clicking) Alright, so caution for raised 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's not good. Okay, so here she just looks off balance. Like she just looks like she's tilted. If you're gonna raise that shoulder it should maybe be for a reason. Versus just like I'm shrugging that shoulder. Maybe if her hand was 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 okay. That was on purpose. She 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 one and a half 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, whatever side 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 a neck. And for front, I mean front on is when I think someone can get away with hair in front on 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, is can you see how she's leaning away from the camera? Can you kinda see that? So, her body language tells you that she's uncomfortable. Or she's afraid. So trying to explain or pay attention in your poses, there's definitely a difference between like if someones leaning towards the camera, that's not slouching. It's still a good posture, its a lean. You can have good posture while leaning. So just keep that in mind. If you tell someone to stand up straight, and your cameras, so your camera's over here, if someone stands up straight all of a sudden, it's the same problem with the hips. You can still stand up straight and lean towards the camera. And so that's going to emphasize your face and the chest.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.


  • 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 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.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1

Keynote 2

Keynote 3



Bridal Couples

Bridal Parties




Couples - Different Height.




Female Seniors

Folding - HowTo


Male Seniors



Mature Couples

Mature Men

Mature Women


Parents Children

Plus Size

Same Sex-Female

Same Sex-Male

Women Posing

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I would highly recommend this class! I have been shooting for some time now and I've been pretty satisfied with my pictures from each session. A few weeks ago, I happened upon this class and thought it would be nice to get some new ideas. I then took the ideas from this class and applied them to a maternity shoot. I must say it took my pictures from good to amazing!!!! My clients bought them all😊 Thank you Creative Live for offering such amazing classes to help any level of photographer learn and grow!

Ruth Ganev

Lindsay is such a great teacher. She doesn't overcomplicate things - so that you can really learn. She also reviews things again and again - only in different contexts - that make total sense. I have learned so much from watching this course of lessons. I went to a natural lighting portrait workshop a couple of weekends ago - and was able to put into action what I have learned. The models loved my photos, too. She keeps things moving, is clear and to the point. I highly recommend this class to anyone wanting to become better at posing. It is so rewarding to look back at my previous photos and understand what doesn't work and why, and also to see things improving. She is a natural teacher - the course is not boring - you will learn tons!

Maya Tleubergen

I really love it! Thank you, thank you, Lindsay! Beautiful girl with a huge talent to teach! I absolutely love it! Worth every penny!