Posing women for Portraits in this year of 2021 is a bit different than it has been for years, but, I notice that some of the same principles apply in how to do certain things. For example, the hands, like you see in the above photo, are still being done this way, where the woman shows the side of her hand, rather than the back or front of it. And notice the curvature to the fingers. That is something I hope never goes away. It just says “feminine” to people. It looks good, and it’s worth working with the hands in portraits.
Now, even though the above photo is a horizontal picture, most portraits should be done vertically. Fill the frame with the person.
This photo above I like because it shows how the lighting is a real key to a perfect portrait. The light on this girl is from the side, and it is a type of lighting that has been used on portraits for a long time. The type of lighting just seems to bring out the shape of the face better.
It seems like the girls today, or photographers, I am not sure which, take pictures of women in a very casual setting. No studio, just at their house, or at the park, or wherever it seems nice. If you can control the lighting at all, see if you can have the sun, the lights of the room, or whatever, to the side of the face more, to get the face to have good contour.
If you do some casual shots, the light from a window is nice. This girl has her hands folded inside her sweat shirt, and that’s ok. The lighting again makes this photo so nice.
If you choose to do an outdoor photo, full length of the person, watch for lighting and make sure the girl is doing something different with each appendage. For example: with the above photo, one leg is forward, one hand is in the pocket, etc. So, this makes it look so nice to have the model doing something. And notice how easy it is to get the right lighting on the face.
A Photographer that takes a lot of portraits of women and girls, gave me this list of things he does to make sure you get the perfect portrait:
- Shoot her favored side. Again, girls fight for their best sides even for Facebook photos and yes, it makes a huge difference in how much she will like the images.
- Shift weight to the back. The saying goes, booty in the back for the slimming effect. Do not jet out the hip toward the camera, but shift the body’s weight to the straightened back leg. Front knee is bent.
- Watch the “fat arm,” as girls call it. If our arm looks fat, we think we look fat. Even slender women get it if they are positioned poorly. If she is leaning her weight back on an arm, it needs to be bent and positioned slightly away from her body. Do not let it protrude out so it looks double jointed, this pushs the arm muscle to bulge in the back of the arm. A bent anything automatically looks slimmer.
- Define the jawline. If her jawline isn’t clearly defined, shoot slightly above the subject, looking down. This angle not only gives the jawline more definition, but slims the body, as it looks smaller since it is placed further from the camera. Curvier women look beautiful in this pose.
- Have her lean in. The best and prettiest way to emphasize the face and hair is to have her lean her face towards you, parallel to her bent knees if she is sitting. This elongates the neck, defines the chin, and let’s her hair fall down, away from her body making it look voluminous. Watch the curve in her shoulders and back, make sure she doesn’t slouch.
- Pay attention to what is showing. If a woman was sitting in that position wearing a skirt and you would see right up her skirt, that is a poor pose and angle. Position her hands to “block” that area so it isn’t highlighted, position the leg to the side, move the legs down and shoot higher, have the arm bent on the knee to hang down, or have her wrap her arms around her legs.
- Know slimming poses. No matter what size a woman is, more likely than not, she wants to appear thinner. Have her bring a shoulder to the front and turn her head toward you. Shoot slightly from above and this creates some beautiful angles that focuses on her face.
- Smile with eyes. Show her how to relax her jaw so her lips part, eyes lifted and warm it up into a smile. Try it first so you can show her how to do it.
- Don’t miss the warm up smile. There is something beautiful about the smirk that’s just about to go into the full blown smile. Don’t miss it.
- Tell her to move with every click. My model tip that my girlfriends and I do even for simple snapshots is with every click we slightly move our chin, tilt our head, we mix it up with every shot. We don’t move dramatically, just ever so slightly. If she does this, this will give you more variety especially if you are doing portraits and you are not moving much during the shoot.
And the biggest thing you can do to make a good photo, is this:
Every woman has her own sensitivities and insecurities. It is your job to show her how to pose, give her confidence, and position her in the best angles. Never use negative reinforcement if your model isn’t doing it right such as, “No, like this,” instead, say, “Ok, now try this.” The best thing you can do is to show her.
Try to get comfortable with your model. Learn as much about her as you can by talking with her, finding out what kind of pictures she likes. And then spend time moving her to the positions she is comfortable with. And good luck!