5 Posing Techniques for Portrait Photography

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Posing Techniques for Portrait Photography

If you’re struggling for the perfect portrait picture, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we plan on revealing the top posing techniques that can transform a normal portrait into a memorable image for life.

Knowing how to choose the settings, background and poses for the subject is extremely important when you don’t want to take mundane and plain headshots.

These posing techniques for portrait photography include everything, from setting up the scene successfully to managing the camera settings in different situations for the most impactful picture.

Tip #1 – Perfect background makes a perfect portrait

The background in a portrait photograph matters as much as the subject. Your choice of background can make or mar the portrait photograph. A distracting background can take the focus away from the subject and should be avoided.

Instead, choose a clean, neutral background that will not overwhelm the subject in the photograph. However, this does not mean that you should always choose a plain background. You can choose several different surfaces too, such as a unique fence or wall, which can add an interesting contrast to the picture. Another way to use a background for effect is to use an object or setting which provides context to the picture, such as an artist standing in front of their easel or a fisherman in front of a boat, etc.

Tip #2 – Prepare the subject before the photograph

An unprepared or uncomfortable subject will never produce good results, regardless of the equipment or experience of the photographer. Admittedly, being photographed is not normal for most of us and can even be stressful for many. So, your job as a portrait photographer is also to make the subject feel more comfortable and at ease.

Making small talk, and explaining the kind of shot you are looking for is just a couple of things that can help the subject to relax and produce an amazing portrait. This technique is especially useful when clicking children’s portraits.

In addition, the subject should wear a neutral or dark-colored shirt so that their face stands out in the portrait photograph. Tidy up the clothes of your subject, like the tiniest bit of fluff or dust can become noticeable in a portrait photograph.

Tip #3 – Make your subject pose like a pro

After you’ve got the subject calm and comfortable, you can easily instruct them to pose the way you want throughout the photo shoot. Make sure to work quickly and efficiently by giving clear instructions when you click.

Make your subject pose like a pro

Make your subject pose like a pro

Not every subject will know how to pose. You need to be patient and guide them constantly. Keep the instructions simple and small. One of the most common but memorable posing techniques for portrait photographs is to have the subject lean forward slightly, facing the camera for a more interesting focus.

Having the subject turn their shoulders and body turned slightly away from the camera helps to give the pose a natural, candid feel. An unusually high or low perspective can also make the portrait photograph more impactful, especially in the right setting and background.

Tip #4 – Light your subject well

In general, natural daylight is the best light source for clicking portrait photographs. This is especially true for budding photographers who do not have studio lighting equipment.

Slightly overcast days tend to provide a lovely, soft light that flatters the subject’s features. On the other hand, direct sunlight is mostly avoided for portraits as it creates harsh, contrasting shadows on the subject’s face. In bright, sunny situations, you can choose a shade to click the portrait for an amazing diffused light. However, a bright sun in the background is useful when you wish to create a back-lighting effect in the photograph.

In addition, you can make use of reflective surfaces, such as water, glass, or mirrors, to light up the subject’s features more clearly.

Tip #5 – Find out the focal length that flatters your subject

Focal length has significant importance when it comes to clicking awesome photographs. Hence, you need to find the ideal focal length. If you check the barrel of your lens, you will see numbers down one side. These numbers indicate the focal length of the camera lens.

A 50mm lens’s focal length creates no distortion on the subject’s face and produces the most accurate image.

A lens under 50mm will produce distortion in the facial features, exaggerating the size of the forehead, nose, etc.

Camera lenses with over 50mm focal length will make the facial features of your subject look flattened. Although this is desirable in some situations, some of the more expert portrait photographers prefer using 80mm or 100mm focal length camera lenses.


Hopefully, these top 5 posing techniques for portrait photographs will help you to improve your headshots and click some of the most amazing people photographs in your career.