Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm a poser, baby: 7 steps for posing naturally in photos

One of the hardest things for me to figure out when I first started taking outfit photos was how to stand and look great. I couldn't figure out where to put my feet or hands, and the whole process seemed so artificial. But after almost a whole year of snapping daily outfit photos, I think I've got a few things figured out. Here are my tips for posing and looking natural in photos. And, bonus: none of these include the word "smize":

1. De-mystify your camera

I hate it when someone takes a photo and makes me say "cheese." It's like a sneak attack that forces me to quickly assume a pose and create a fake smile, which often can give off a "deer in the headlights" effect. I think this is why it's sometimes difficult to be in outfit photos -- because most of our experiences in front of the camera are in groups and in unnatural poses. So, it's time to get more comfortable with your camera. Spend an afternoon with your camera, a tripod or a willing photographer. Do any sort of pose you can think of -- stand, sit, lean and take pictures from different angles. And don't be self-conscious -- emulate Vogue models, pretend to be a ballerina, be a clown, whatever! The point is to find the poses that make you feel natural and look your best.

2. Find inspiration.  

Look at your favorite magazines, photos and blogs. How is the subject standing? How is their posture? Where are they standing? If you like these elements, how might this translate to your own photos? The pose above was inspired by an old magazine shoot. After some practice and setting up my camera, I got the shot I wanted.

3. Lean on something.

Okay, this sounds like something a cool cat like James Dean would have done. But the reason why I often gravitate toward fences, walls or docks is because they are a natural place to rest, and they often give you something to do with your hands. The leading lines that these structures have also add a geometric, visual interest to the photos as well.

4. Use a prop.

Holding something in a photo doesn't have to look staged or artificial. Having something tangible in your hands puts you at ease, gives you something to do with your hands, and often implies an action. So go ahead -- grab a purse, hold your bike handles, hug a puppy. Experiment!

 5. Put one foot in front of the other. 

Look at any red carpet and you will see this particular pose in play. By putting one leg in front of the other, it shifts your weight, elongates your torso and makes your legs look longer.

6. Posture, posture.

I'm not trying to sound like your mom, but this advice does have some good use. It straightens your body, and creates a smooth line from your back to your legs. In addition, I think it can also elevate your own mood: you stand taller, and probably feel more confident and elegant. 

7. Lead by doing. 

Our eyes are drawn toward action. Moving around is probably the most natural thing you can do because it makes your camera a mere background observer, rather than the instigator of the action. When my sister Nik used to take outfit photos, she would just move around naturally in front of the camera until she got the shots she wanted. So go ahead -- walk away, jump around, dance, or whatever your heart desires! Some of my favorite outfit photos imply some movement on my part.

How do you pose in your photos? What's your best tip for looking easygoing and flattering? What doesn't work for you?

[How to take outfit photos when you're uninspired]

signature1 by you.


  1. You are brilliant, you know that?

  2. Great tips!! I love the title of the post too :-)

    I don't do outfit photos but I do have my 'blog' face. It took practice to get the angle and smile (if you can believe it) I think is most flattering for me.


  3. Great post, and good tips! XOXO, Natalya

  4. Those are some great tips. I like the leaning one personally, haha. Sometimes it can be awkward to pose for pictures, but this gives me some things to keep in mind for tomorrow's shoot :0)

  5. Wow, awesome tips! I definitely need to try some of them!

  6. Thanks for sharing! I def need to add some interest to my outfit shots!

  7. Great tips, and you look gorgeous in all of those photos so we know they work. I especially love the navy dress with the small floral print...

  8. Great tips, Joanne. I am a big fan of the lean myself. I'm still working on the awkwardness especially in my face.

  9. I LOVE these tips! Thank you so much for sharing! You always have such great pictures! Hah, I appreciate the lack of smizing in your advice too! Although knowing that I'm going to crop my pictures or hide my face means I end up with some really strange expressions... so maybe I need to smize more. And I always have trouble figuring out what to do with my hands! Great post! :)

  10. GREAT post hunnie....with great pointers..I love it!!!

  11. This is so useful! I'm still pretty new to the taking-good-pictures-of-myself effort, and I'll definitely try these tips.


  12. J, these are some great tips. I always feel like I pose the same way... and maybe that's a good thing, it could be my "signature pose". lol.. but I want to find new ways to showcase moi. hee hee.

    I hope you're doing wonderful!

    xx Love & Aloha

  13. Great post, thank you! Do you use tripod or do you have a friend who makes the pics? You look great on every pic there is alot we can learn from you :)
    I think I should make more outfit pics, too.. weeheee

    Times Like Mine

  14. Choice tips! I definitely like the prop idea (that photo of you is so pretty!), some of my photos that I think turned out decently had me holding something, hanging from something, throwing something...

    I also like wide shots that show the backdrop of where the photos are being taken, if I think the photo location is particularly inspiring. :)
    Toast with Charmalade

  15. I love this blog because your tips are awesome!

    I have to say that the foot over another foot is like a standard blogger pose. And another one is looking down or tilting the head downwards and posing with a crossed leg haha

  16. Thanks so much for these tips. I feel like I'm constantly trying to snap pictures that look a little more natural, and this post will certainly help me.

    By the way, as soon as I read #6, "Posture, posture," I sat up a little straighter in my chair!

  17. Perfect! Great posing coach indeed! Your outfits are KILLER!

  18. these are amazing tips. .and one more: smile! you sure are smiling loads which adds so much sunshine to your shots :)

  19. I love your how-to tips!!

  20. These are great! Thanks for sharing and congrats on 1 yr of blogging! :)

  21. Very inspiring and helpful!Thanks for all the advice.

  22. For me standing on an angle and looking at the camera works best. I very much dislike my side profile but like my front view of my face. slight angle with one leg bent just elongates me.

    I like your tips.

  23. Thank you for the tips!! I just started a fashion blog and have been struggling with this very issue. I will definitely be making use of your suggestions!


  24. These are such great tips! As I move more and more in to doing outfit photos, I find myself playing more with posing. I'll definitely try out a lot of these.

  25. "SMIZE" lol

    Thanks for the tips. I've taken so many outfit pics I don't post because the posing looks way off.

    I especially like #7 about moving naturally. I'm gonna do something like that tonight and see if it works.

  26. great post! thanks for the tips, they are really helpful!


  27. Thanks for the tips!

    I just started a blog and I didn't expect it to be so hard to get a good pose in. I look so awkward in most of my pictures. I try to emulate models and popular fashion bloggers but I think I'm still just learning to be comfortable in front of the camera rather than forced and awkward like you said. I'll definitely try out your tips. Check out my blog!

    i wander, i wonder

  28. Great post! I'll try to put your tips into action.
    One problem I have is: I tend to forget my "natural poses" when I'm standing in front of my tripod. I DO put one foot in front of the other when I'm waiting for the bus, but I'm too stupid to do so when taking outfit pictures.

  29. Great tips! I myself am a firm believer in the "movement pose" though I rarely takes outfit pictures because I don't want my blog to be all about me.
    Maybe I should start practicing..

  30. AWESOME tips! I think it's great advice to spend a whole afternoon messing around with poses. It's like public speaking... when you have someone film you, you watch the playback to see what looks good and what needs work. It's the same thing here.

  31. Thank you for these tips! I'm always struggling to not look like a total dork in front of the camera, and as a result I always wind up doing the exact same poses every time. These are great ideas!

  32. One million times Thank You. This post is gold to a relatively new outfit poster (like me)!!!

    Leaving the House in THIS?!?!

  33. I think it all boils down to comfort in front of the camera, doesn't it? At first I was a bit stiff and it showed; but after months of outfit shots I have a better idea of what looks good and what looks stupid.

    These are great tips though. Posture really is so important, and I love a good action shot!

  34. hehe, very good pointers here. If only the people I took pictures of read this before I run into.

    Angels Point of View - Street Fashion Blog

  35. Great pointers!

    Btw, I LOVE your dress collection!

    Just Better Together


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