***UPDATE*** The five part series on newborn photography is now complete! Learn to take fantastic photos of your new baby - from setting up a mini photo studio in your home to posing and editing. Click here for part one and links to parts two through five!
Figuring out how to pose your subjects can be one of the hardest parts of taking pictures, so today I'm sharing ideas for posing girls. The example photos I'm going to use are all from high school senior sessions, but the poses work well for girls of all ages. (Click here for ideas on posing boys.)
If you ask a subject to stand in front of a pretty background and pose for you, you'll generally end up with two problems (well, there's probably plenty more than two, but these two are BIG problems): 1. a stiff posture, and 2. both shoulders facing directly at you. A stiff posture makes for an awkward looking photo, and a straight-on standing pose that shows both shoulders evenly makes your subject look wide, which isn't the looks most of us are going for. Standing photos are hard to pull off if you're not a model. This is why I often photograph girls sitting, leaning against something, or even lying down. All these activities cause your subject to shift her weight into a more natural and flattering position than standing directly facing the camera. Here are some examples:
When you ask your subject to sit while you stand, it will cause her to look up at you. This will make her eyes appear bigger and her face look slimmer (and who doesn't like that?). Just make sure she keeps her chin fairly low, so she's looking up at you with her eyes instead of tilting her whole face upwards.
You can also crouch down to photograph a sitting subject on her eye level. Girls are generally pretty flexible, so you can ask them to sit cross-legged for a cute, relaxed photo.
Always ask your subject to pull her legs in toward her body when photographing her sitting on the ground. If she sits with her legs out in front of her, her feet will be quite a bit closer to the camera than the rest of her body, making them look really large. But if she pulls her knees up and wraps her arms around them, she'll present a much nicer picture.
Have your subject sit backwards on a chair for another relaxed pose. She can rest her arms on top of the chair, which solves the problem of what to do with her hands (since girls don't generally look good with their hands in their pockets).
Here's a similar example, except this time the subject is standing, not sitting. She still has her arms resting on a bar in front of her, which gives her a relaxed stance. Additionally, she's leaning in toward the bar a little, which keeps her from looking stiff. You'll notice that I was standing a little below her eye level when photographing her - this works fine with girls and young women, but won't be the most flattering pose for ladies who (like me) might worry about some double chin action going on...
As I mentioned before, you never want to photograph a girl standing straight toward you with her arms crossed over her chest - that can be a great pose for boys because it's fairly masculine, which is the exact reason you want to avoid it with girls. Instead, photograph her from one side, asking her to turn her head slightly to look at you. If her arms are crossed her hands should end up near her chin instead of her armpits.
Here's another example of asking your subject to lean slightly toward an object for support. Having her tilt her head toward the wall she's sitting against keeps her posture looking natural.
Another very flattering pose for girls, especially high school age girls, is to have the lay down on the ground on their side, holding their head up with one hand. This pose works well for full body shots, especially when you have a really nice background.
It works equally well for head and shoulders shots. Be sure you get down on the ground as well - you camera should be right at your subject's eye level. Ask her to place her hand on her head, not her cheek, for the most flattering look.
Here's another option for a lay-on-the-ground pose. If your subject is actually on the ground, you'll need to be on the ground as well. A picnic table makes this pose a little easier to photograph.
Remember to get full length, half length, and close-up shots in each position. Again, be careful about how the hands support the face - you don't want her hands to smoosh her cheeks, so under the chin is a good choice.
This is a really fun, glamourous pose that works well if your subject has long hair. You'll need a tall stool or step ladder to get this shot. Set your stool just out of the frame above the top of her head, climb up, and lean over so your camera is directly above her eyes.
If you do a good job posing your subject, she'll feel more comfortable being photographed, and you can both enjoy yourselves. Talk constantly while you take pictures, asking questions and telling stories. Be ready to snap photos when your subject starts laughing or improvising her own poses - you may end up getting the best photos of the session.
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