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Tips on How to Pose for Pictures

written by: Larry M. Lynch•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/30/2009

When you ask for pictures do your subjects line up for a "firing squad" type of photo with arms at their sides, faces turned to stone and lined up side-by-side waiting to be "shot"? No more. With these photo posing ideas and examples you can improve your photo posing almost immediately.

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    Firing Squad Poses for Pictures

    Open with “Can I take your picture?” and a vast number of potential subjects will “snap to attention”, with hands down at their sides and a stern expression, waiting to be “shot”.

    Tired of those poses that make people look like they’re facing a “firing squad”? Are people automatically assuming stiff poses with arms at the sides, stone faces and a “line-em-up-and-shoot” stance from one subject to the next a typical problem for you? Not to worry – here are some suggestions, how-to tips and techniques on getting more life and spontaneity into your people poses. Your digital images of individuals, couples, small groups and even crowds will never be the same again.

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    Posing Ideas for Individuals and Small Groups

    One rule that is always a good one for posing, whether standing, sitting or reclining, is to give the subject “something to do”. Any posing scenario that allows the subject to focus on an activity rather than being “shot” often goes a long way towards a more natural, eye-pleasing image. It can be as simple as giving the person a prop to hold or utilize in some way. The list of possible small props is virtually endless and many professional photographers keep a stash of different types handy just for this purpose.

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    The technique also works well for two or three people in an image. You can give them a simple “task” or just “simulate” one. Either way, the subjects are usually more absorbed in what they’re doing than the actual taking of the photograph.

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    buying mazorca in Cali IMG 6250 In this image the “pose” has everyone paying attention to the food, not the photographer. You can incorporate up to half-a-dozen or so people in one image by having them focus on something or someone other than you while taking the digital image.

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    Sitting or Reclining Photo Poses

    Kuna Indian woman in Panama 100 2416 Sitting or reclining poses can also be an effective change of pace. This Cuna Indian woman is so busy with what she’s doing, she hardly noticed me. Notice her seated pose with her legs outstretched.

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    March 2007 OLIVERA 079 Sitting or seated poses may be with a three-quarters or full-body view from the front, diagonal or side with the subject’s legs crossed as shown or outstretched as above.

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    Reclining Poses for Photos

    While relaxing in a hammock, swinging gently back and forth, you’ll hardly get a notice from your subjects, even if their eyes are open. Full-body reclining poses can be done on a bed, hammock, beach towel, blanket, lounge chair, etc. or other comfortable surface.

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    The Triangle or Diamond Effect Poses

    James Daniel Steele 124 In this triangle-based image, the three men are focused on a central activity, paying no attention to the photographer. I did arrange them on two sides of the table and facing the same way for even lighting and closer grouping. I complete the “third point” of this triangle or diamond-shaped image. You can also arrange for the subjects to form a visual triangle in the image. Two subjects can be in front with one behind them in the center. You could have a front central figure flanked on each side from behind. Using the triangle format can be highly effective when there are less than about ten subjects in the image.

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    Other Poses for Pictures

    Don’t forget other types of posing and subject positions, such as:

    · Close-up, frame-filling portraits

    · Profile images

    · High angle view or overhead poses (easier to accomplish with children)

    · Worm’s-eye-view poses (camera on ground, angled up from shoe or knee level)

    · Full-body digital images with arms akimbo, crossed or holding a prop

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    The End of the Firing Squad Pose for Pictures

    Never again should you settle for or allow your subjects to assume the “firing squad” pose for your photographs. It only takes a few moments to re-organize your subjects into an eye-pleasing pose or position for instantly-improved digital photography.