PEOPLE PHOTOS: Posing Women!

woman wearing pink collared half sleeved top
Photo by Moose Photos on

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.

Photo by behrouz sasani on Unsplash

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.

Photo by behrouz sasani on Unsplash

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.

Photo by behrouz sasani on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash


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!


Photo by Taylor Wright on Unsplash

As time goes on, it’s obvious that the way to take portraits, or people pictures changes. Today, I want to go through some “People” photos and see if you like this new trend.

Is the formal portrait gone? I don”t think so. But, I find it interesting that the photographers who have a portrait studio, spend a lot more time out of their studio, than in it. Now the only thing they use their studio for is “still photography”.

Photo by Stow Kelly on Unsplash

It seems that most photos, the people are interacting with another person, or doing something they like to do. The above photo is a great example of interacting with someone else. Two sisters want a nice picture of themselves, and they show their bond, by the touch of hands.

Photo by Stephen Andrews on Unsplash

It seems that getting a cute photo of children has changed too. Getting a photo of them involved in playing has been a winning photo. That magazine has him focused. And, it shows the child in his environment, the place he is comfortable in.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The more casual portrait is also the new “Norm”. Dressed up in their everyday clothes, no serious posing, a comfortable smile, and you have the new Male Portrait.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Is black and white dead? Oh no! Black and White has become more popular in the last few years. It seems that this is the way the artistic photos are being used. A good black and white print, if done right, is absolutely stunning. Worth trying.

Often a good picture of a person today is the use of props. What makes that person comfortable, or what have they personally created, or even with a pet:

Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash
Tomorrow, I’ll go into the proper way or form of posing people. Even though these photos are just casual photos, if you don’t get their body posed right, this won’t work either. Come back tomorrow.

Make sure you sign up for our newsletter. Some special offers and free material will be available soon to all our subscribers:


photo of people reaching each other s hands
Photo by Anna Shvets on

How to photograph the hand? Is there really a technique for taking pictures of hands? And why would I take pictures of “hands?” Great questions and let’s get on this one.

How to pose hands to make them look nice, obviously goes back to “posing the human body”. When you pose a person, the hands are one of the most important things to pose correctly. If you have the hands flat against the body, or just seeing the whole back or front of the hand is not very “pretty”. And that includes both male and female. That is why I liked the photo above, because you see the sides of both hands, they have a small formation, not like broken fingers, and it is a pose I love of hands.

Use Hand Poses to Flatter the Rest of the Body

Hand poses can make or break what’s otherwise a great portrait. Getting those hand poses right can be tricky to do and tough to communicate. Use Hand Poses to Flatter the Rest of the Body

Sure, this article is to learn where to put the hands. But where the subject places the hands can change the entire body shape.

In general, use the hand pose to create space between the torso and the arms. The subject will look wider if you don’t. Try placing the hands on the hips, for example.

That’s not a hard and fast rule, though. Crossing the hands in an X at the front can exaggerate curves (often used with women).

Crossing the hands with the elbows out can make the shoulders look broad. This hand pose is often used by men because it also highlights the arm muscles.

Smiling tattooed girl with her hands on her hips

Don’t hide or crop any part of the hand.

Hands can add beauty and personality to the images. Why leave them out of the photos? While obscuring part of the hands is fine, avoid hiding everything from the wrist down.

If you ask a model to put his hands in his pockets, you want him to look relaxed, not nervous. Don’t put the hand all the way into the pocket or the hand will disappear. This could even make the model’s hips look a little larger than they are. (Even Hollywood agrees.)

The same applies to determine where to crop the photo. Don’t crop at the joints, wrists and finger joints included. Cropping at a limb feels incomplete. If you’re going to shoot a pose that’s not full-body, crop mid-way between joints for a more natural look.

Woman in a blue dress showing a hand pose
Photo by Samarth Singhai from Pexels

Don’t Place the Hands too Close to the Camera

Cameras should come with a warning almost identical to the one in the corner of the mirrors on your car. Objects are larger than they appear. If something is closer to the camera, it’s going to look larger than anything that’s farther from the camera.

The effect is exaggerated with Wide Angle lenses and decreased by telephoto lenses

Avoid placing the hands closer to the camera than the rest of the body. Or the hands will look larger in the photos than they are in reality.

In a seated position, don’t place the hands beyond the knee. And in a standing position, don’t move the hand more than a few inches closer than the face.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. I sometimes ask engaged couples to hold the ring out towards the camera while they kiss in the background. But that’s okay because the ring highlights their engagement.

The first photo below isn’t wrong. But in the second image, the eye goes straight to the faces. The hand is no longer competing with the faces.

Diptych photo of a couple posing outdoors demonstrating natural hand poses for photography

Use an Angle to Make Hands Look Smaller

The placement of the hands can make them look larger. The hand poses can also influence the perceived size.

A hand straight on to the camera will look larger in the photos. But if you can only see the side of the hand, the hand will look smaller.

Hands should be at least at a slight angle away from the camera. Or you should photograph hands from the side.

This is most important when the pose keeps the entire hand visible. It’s less essential when it’s only a portion of the hand in the shot.

Why? Larger hands will compete with the face. Of course, if there’s no face in the image, getting the hands angled is less important.

Woman posing with chin on hand

Avoid Hands Crossed in Front

For some reason, many people stand with their arms crossed in front in wedding images.

It makes a great joke (for the right crowd) that they look like someone walked in on them in the shower. But it draws attention to the wrong area. You want to avoid focusing the viewer’s eye on someone’s lap.

A young man posing in front of a wall

Here is my biggest guideline to almost every photo with hands:

If you are seeing the back of the hands in your photos, then try to find something different to do with the hands.
woman in white shirt covering her face with white textile
Photo by behrouz sasani on

Watch Out for Tense Hand Poses

How do you spot tense hands? They’re flat and tight or curled up into fists. Make sure you avoid both poses.

In case of tense flat hands, ask the model to relax their hands and curve the hand a bit.

In the case of fists, ask the subject to place his or her hands softly instead.

Like any photography rule, there are always exceptions. This includes photos when your aim is to create tension.

A young man in sports gear posing outdoors

This portrait above is an exception to the rule. But, I am still not a big fan of putting your hands in pockets, like you see above here. My question is, when I see a photo like this: “Is something wrong with fingers? Did he have a hand accident?” I always look at what I can do differently with hands, on either male or female.

Here’s a few more great examples of hands posed right.

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash
man in black leather jacket
Photo by Yogendra Singh on

Most photographers aren’t in the practice of just taking photos of hands, but, if for some reason you have that assignment, use the same principles to get pleasing photos. Here is just a couple of examples of just great hand photos:

persons raising hands
Photo by Luis Dalvan on
elderly man in black suit jacket covering his eyes with his hand
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on


Photo by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger on Unsplash

Taking photos with reflections is one of my favorite things to do. All you need is…….. Reflections. You don’t usually create them, they just happen to be there. You could create some, but, would that be artificial? Let’s take a look at some photos using reflections, and give you some good tips on how to take photos using reflections:

1- First, and most important: Find a reflection.

moon light reflection on sea
Photo by Madex Photography on

One of the most beautiful and popular reflection photos is that of the sun setting or moon setting on the horizon. The photo above is one that a lot of photographers have tried, and everyone will still love what you get from this. What I like even more is if the sunset is reflecting in your photo, like this:

two person on boat in body of water during golden hour
Photo by Johannes Plenio on

With the photo above, notice a few things that make this photo so good: A- the water is still. You can’t get that with the ocean. Do you know a lake that would do this for you? B- A perfect “negative space” photo added to this sunset makes it even better.

2- Another thing you can control with “reflections” pictures is: Adding a subject into the photo, like this:

Uyuni Reflection
Ununi Salt flats

Notice that the person is actually is very shallow water to accomplish this. If you find a reflective pond, or lake like this, add a person to the photo like this. There is something special about the person being in the picture twice.

3- Get close to the surface of the water. Some of the best photos you will take like this may be hard to do with a big DSLR. You really want to put that expensive camera within 1 inch of water? Well, try holding it still at 1 inch from the water. Some tripods however will let you mount the camera on the mounting pole in the middle, or let you reverse it. But, a cell phone camera may be the best option, or even better get a waterproof / weatherproof camera to do this work. But, look at the results:

Photo by Marko Blazevic from Pexels

This article today is just one of 51 subjects in photography. This blog site is going to teach how to do all 51 subjects. Read some of the articles already done by just going to

4- Try photos where the water is not still. It still makes for a great photo. The reason I like to take photos is reflective waters that are not still is that it creates some serious action photos:

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

5- Take photos using “puddles”. This is a bit more tricky, but, when it rains, or you have a bit of reflections of water on the road, or somewhere, try getting a few photos using the puddles. Here are a couple of great examples:

Photo by Luka Reedy on Unsplash
Photo by Serge Kutuzov on Unsplash

Hope that helps, and of course with this type of photography, one thing that will really help you learn about reflections, is to take a lot of photos. Practice makes for some great photos.


woman with champagne celebrating new year holiday at home
Photo by Tim Douglas on

What is an environmental portrait?

An environmental portrait is a photo taken of a person in a place that says something about who they are. It is often a place where they work, rest, or play.

positive businesswoman doing paperwork in office
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Advantages of environmental portraits:

  • gives context to the subject you’re photographing
  • adds additional points of interest to compositions (though this is something you need to watch, as you don’t want to distract from your subject too much)
  • helps the subject relax
  • often gives the viewer real insight into the personality and lifestyle of your subject

Environmental portraits sit somewhere between the purposely posed shots of a studio portrait (environmental portraits are posed and are unmistakably portraits) and candid shots, which capture people almost incidentally as they go about their daily lives.

Tips for beautiful environmental portrait photography

Capturing gorgeous environmental portraits can seem tough.

But there are actually a few simple ways to enhance your portrait photos, starting with:

Spend time getting to know your subject

Before you take your environmental portrait, spend some time with them, learn about the places they like to be. If at work, see if you can spend time with them at work, and find when they are most comfortable at work.

If you can spend time with them at work, following them around (if possible) will only get you comfortable with them and them with you. If you can make it comfortable for them, then you will get the good photo.

man leaning on beige post
Photo by cottonbro on

Choose the right location

Sometimes a location chooses you – but on other occasions, you need to be quite deliberate and purposeful when making your choice. It can take a lot of searching.

You ideally want to find a location that:

  • says something about your subject. After all, that’s what this style of photography is all about.
  • adds interest to the shot. As I’ve written in previous tutorials, every element in an image can add or detract from the overall look. The environment in which you place your subject needs to provide context and interest without overwhelming the composition.
  • doesn’t dominate the shot. Sometimes the location can dominate the image so much that it distracts your viewer from your main focal point (i.e., the subject). So try to avoid cluttered backgrounds (and foregrounds) and colors that are too bright, etc. Keep in mind that you might be able to remove the distractions with clever cropping, depth of field, and subject placement.
woman in blue suit jacket
Photo by Jopwell on

Use natural props:

portrait photo of a woman in black coat
Photo by Vinícius Estevão on

Props can make or break an environmental portrait.

If your props are subtle and naturally fit in the environment, then they can be very appropriate and add to the image nicely.

But you’ll want to avoid any props that don’t quite fit or that distract the viewer.

The same goes for the clothes that your subject wears. Try to be true to the context without getting too outlandish.

Actually try some portraits that the subject is posing for the photo:

man in gray suit
Photo by emre keshavarz on

What sets an environmental portrait apart from a candid portrait is that you pose your subject.

(In truth, it’s a fine line between candid portraits and environmental portraits; you might end up doing a bit of both in any given shoot.)

Don’t be afraid to direct your subject to sit, stand, or act in a way that fits the environment. Some of the poses might seem slightly unnatural and dramatic, but it’s often these purposely posed shots that are more interesting and give a sense of style to your photography.

The expression on the face of your subject is also very important in environmental photography, and you should consider how it fits with the overall scene.

For example, if you’re shooting in a formal environment, it may not be appropriate to photograph your subject with a big, cheesy smile; you might prefer a more somber or serious look.

Ultimately, just mix it up to see what does and doesn’t work!

What kind of equipment should you use for portraits:

monochrome photography of person taking photo of a woman
Photo by Gustavo Borges on

Hopefully, by now you will be using a DSLR camera or the new camera with mirrorless features. You need to be able to control your depth of field to get the best images for portraits. Also, (click here: telephoto lenses ), such as 55 – 85 mm lens would be the ideal lens. The reason for the telephoto lens is that it won’t distort the face of the person, and gives it a more natural look.

Once again, for cameras with depth of field that you can work with, here is a link that shows the best rated cameras:

men s wearing black suit jacket and pants
Photo by mentatdgt on


Doing environmental portraits, like you have seen here are really fun to do. Find someone you know who is willing to let you take their picture and practice with them. I am sure you will come up with some good portraits if you follow the tips here.

Note: some of the content of this article was courtesy of DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY SCHOOL.