Portrait Photo Basics: 25 Failproof Portrait Poses for Women

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Conquering Mixed Lighting (1 of 3)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.0

Shoulders back and down, neck out and forward, fingers in the pocket. Higher shoulder pushed back slightly to even out the look of the posture. Everyone has a higher shoulder due to how they sit and wear bags.

Editor’s Note: Before you even think about accusing us of doing so, a guide on men’s poses will be published in the next couple of days.

When it comes to portrait poses, there has always been a very high emphasis on society making women look their best. Objectification aside, the best thing that you can possibly do for someone as a portrait photographer is to help them become more motivated and feel better about themselves by photographing them looking their best.

Over the years, we’ve tested lots of gear for portrait photography. Here are some basic tips and portrait poses for women that we’ve come up with and why we do them.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer 85mm vs 50mm portrait test Sigma 50mm f1.4 other (1 of 1)ISO 2001-640 sec at f - 2.8

Sitting out from a chair to not flatten the thighs and therefore making them look much larger than they really are. This is also another reason why we prefer to use longer focal lengths for portraits

One arm across the chest  with the hand supporting the elbow of the other arm. Bring the opposite forearm up and have is do something specific. Playing with necklaces, hair or another object works well. In days long ago, a cigarette (think old school pinups like Mae West) would work well but that is mostly shunned on with the move towards a more health conscious society.

One arm across the chest with the hand supporting the elbow of the other arm. Bring the opposite forearm up and have is do something specific. Playing with necklaces, hair or another object works well. In days long ago, a cigarette (think old school pinups like Mae West) would work well but that is mostly shunned on with the move towards a more health conscious society.

Leaning forward, neck upward and creating a straight line with the back. Bring the hair over to one side.

Leaning forward, neck upward and creating a straight line with the back. Bring the hair over to one side.

Back straightened and leaning forward onto something, The hand further from the camera should touch the hair or the neck in a very natural way.

Back straightened and leaning forward onto something, The hand further from the camera should touch the hair or the neck in a very natural way. 

Chin Out and Forward, Nose slightly turned and against the cheek to make it look more flattering and to not emphasize the size of the nose.

Chin Out and Forward, Nose slightly turned and against the cheek to make it look more flattering and to not emphasize the size of the nose.

Legs positioned shoulder length apart (or a bit more) hands on the lower back, lower shoulder brought forward quite significantly, chin down, nose slightly turned

Legs positioned shoulder length apart (or a bit more) hands on the lower back, lower shoulder brought forward quite significantly, chin down, nose slightly turned 

Off the shoulder stop, hands through the hair and grazing the neck. This is a very classic portrait pose that emphasizes femininity.

Off the shoulder stop, hands through the hair and grazing the neck. This is a very classic portrait pose that emphasizes femininity.

The classic "S" pose. Higher shoulder towards the camera, one arm with the hand on the hip, the other arm draped down along the body. Nose turned slightly away from the camera to flatten its appearance.

The classic “S” pose. Higher shoulder towards the camera, one arm with the hand on the hip, the other arm draped down along the body. Nose turned slightly away from the camera to flatten its appearance.

Slightly leaning into something. For this portrait position, it's important to always make the person's higher shoulder lean into the pole, tree, etc.

Slightly leaning into something. For this portrait position, it’s important to always make the person’s higher shoulder lean into the pole, tree, etc.

Contemporary sitting. Bring them forward in the seat to not flatten the thighs, shoulders forward a bit and straighten/puff up, chin forward, hair parted to one way.  Again, bring the hair in the opposite direction of the key light source.

Contemporary sitting. Bring them forward in the seat to not flatten the thighs, shoulders forward a bit and straighten/puff up, chin forward, hair parted to one way. Again, bring the hair in the opposite direction of the key light source.

Forward in a chair, legs both in one direction, higher shoulder towards the camera with the arm resting and supporting the subject leaning back.

Forward in a chair, legs both in one direction, higher shoulder towards the camera with the arm resting and supporting the subject leaning back. This lengthens the appearance of the body.

Higher shoulder back, chin down slightly, ead at a 30-45 degree position from the camera, chin out and forward, hair parted to the opposite side of the key light

Higher shoulder back, chin down slightly, ead at a 30-45 degree position from the camera, chin out and forward, hair parted to the opposite side of the key light Having one are doing something breaks up the lines on the body and also helps to thin out the appearance of the profile

Model: Asta Peredes

Shift the weight on the hips to one side. Bring the forearms and hands up. The hands can do various things. In this Photo, Asta brought them cupped and under the chin. Try to have them play with a necklace or something else expressive that tells a bit about the person.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 50mm f2.8 Touit Review images (1 of 1)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 4.0

Nose slightly turned away, something draped over the shoulder, higher shoulder towards the camera with a shift of weight away from the camera.

Laying Down. One arm draped over the hips, stomach not against a surface. One leg slightly behind the other.

Laying Down. One arm draped over the hips, stomach not against a surface. One leg slightly behind the other.

Arms above the head or through the hair, Shoot from above and have the subject turn their nose slightly away from you.

Arms above the head or through the hair, Shoot from above and have the subject turn their nose slightly away from you.

Sitting back, shoulders slightly askew, hands behind the subject, head slightly turned, hair parted over to one side

Sitting back, shoulders slightly askew, hands behind the subject, head slightly turned, hair parted over to one side

Depending on the person's posture, sometimes it works to bring the lower shoulder forward a great deal and place the hand of the arm connected to said shoulder on the hip. This all depends on wardrobe.

Depending on the person’s posture, sometimes it works to bring the lower shoulder forward a great deal and place the hand of the arm connected to said shoulder on the hip. This can give the appearance of a more flattering neckline.

Shoulders meticulously positioned to emphasize evenness. You'll have to move one behind the other, Bring the hair to the side side opposite of the key light, part the lips slightly and bring the chin out forward a bit more

Shoulders meticulously positioned to emphasize evenness. You’ll have to move one behind the other, Bring the hair to the side side opposite of the key light, part the lips slightly and bring the chin out forward a bit more

Higher shoulder towards a wall. Have the body bear most of the contact on the bicep. Pivot the subject in a 30 degree angle backward. Bring the hair to the opposite side. Bring the arms along the body to give a more natural appearance or bring them up to flatten the profile a bit. And again: watch the nose

Higher shoulder towards a wall. Have the body bear most of the contact on the bicep. Pivot the subject in a 30 degree angle backward. Bring the hair to the opposite side. Bring the arms along the body to give a more natural appearance or bring them up to flatten the profile a bit. And again: watch the nose

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer VSCO Film Fujifilm (5 of 6)ISO 2001-640 sec at f - 1.0

Chin down slightly, head tilted, nose slightly turned to again make the nose look more flattering

This works best with a longer dress. Higher shoulder towards the camera, grabbing said dress and pulling it out a bit. Slight S shape with the body with one hand closer into the torso

This works best with a longer dress. Higher shoulder towards the camera, grabbing said dress and pulling it out a bit. Slight S shape with the body with one hand closer into the torso

Hand to the chin, bring the shoulder forward and turn the head a bit. Bring the hair to one side.

Hand to the chin, bring the shoulder forward and turn the head a bit. Bring the hair to one side.

Hips into the wall, have the subject lean forward and bring one left up. his lengthens the appearance of the body but also keeps it in a compact form for you to photograph

Hips into the wall, have the subject lean forward and bring one left up. his lengthens the appearance of the body but also keeps it in a compact form for you to photograph

BONUS

One foot in front of the other, higher shoulder back, one hand on the hip, the other doing something below the neck line. Bringing one foot forward shifts the weight in the body

One foot in front of the other, higher shoulder back, one hand on the hip, the other doing something below the neck line. Bringing one foot forward shifts the weight in the body