Creating great portraits takes a lot of time and experience. Some people need years to learn what poses for photography are stunning, and become a success. In the modelling world, striking a pose is equally important for, not only, creating a good vibe on set, as well as economic efficiency.

While a few poses are only a change in facial nuances, some involve the complete body to work. In contrast, there are poses that differentiate through a unique set only. Here are 17 ideas to make your next shoot easy and finding great portrait photography poses.

1. Close up straight to the face

This kind of capture dates comes directly from the early ages of photography and never came out of fashion. From an end to end smile to zero facial expression, everything is possible.

2. Bottom Up

This angle creates the most bossy type of language. It is mostly seen in fashion campaigns and was popular during the 90’s, and now, has come back in the retro era.

3. Leaning head

This pose creates tranquility and supports a very calm storytelling. Almost any type of object can be used for these portrait photography poses.

4. Strictly 90 degrees

This is giving the model a professional and serious look, especially when the face isn’t graced with a smile. The background, and/or setting usually gets a large part of the attention, because models act as objects in these scenes.

5. Chin up

To use if you want the photo to look a little bit cocky, bold and edgy.

6. Couple portrait

It’s good to translate values of friendship and love. Portraits of two will instantly give a sense of a mature and balanced brand in fashion for example.

7. With flowers

Those are not just a gimmick. As they are living objects, flowers add a feeling of sensuality and emotion to most photos or film. Picking the right flowers for portrait photography poses to match your styling is not easy. It depends on the specific season, the lighting, they have to stay fresh and so on. But that shouldn’t keep you from trying.

8. Energetic pose

For bold but equally amorous brands and figures.

9. Hands near the face

It creates a misty, moody and exciting vibe on every photo. It has to come across quite naturally to not look cheesy, so some experience is needed with this pose.

10. With lifestyle objects

You can add anything you want, from sporting gear to food. Ideally it matches with the character and the storyline of your project.

11. Small person in spacious environment

Putting things into perspective creates stunning effects. This is a widely adapted method to capture people which performs extremely well on social media – and in magazines.

12. Colour explosions

You never can be wrong with lots of colours.

13. Masked

It doesn’t have to be a full mask, but only be partial. A great hoodie, a baseball cap pulled deep into the face – there are numerous ways to cover the face. You can go to extremes of course in portrait photography, using masks.

14. Overboarding Make Up

This is the kind of look that’s really nice for portrait photography but too much for every day life. Think of a festival visitor, a masquerade or a live painted body as blue prints for your inspiration.

15. Antique

Here it’s all about styling and make up. Soft edges dominate models faces, light is scarce (just as it was shot with a camera, ages ago). If you want to see some great examples of antique-style photographers, check out the ones we have found for you here.

16. Plastic Look

Hard to achieve and not easy for beginners, the plastic look involves first of all the right kind of model, styling and make up, but also unique settings in light and a detail oriented post-production. Once achieved, it’s a great look for campaigns or personal projects.

17. Black and White

B&W works great for several reasons: colour gradings are much softer, they are sensual, and they are strong. Most brands have used B&W photos for campaigns. They can also trick the eye – a not-so-well shot coloured photo can be a nice black and white.

As you see, there are many types of portraits. And while you might have experimented a lot in the past, there is endless inspiration for new projects and works. You can find more interesting portrait features on our blog, for example “Body Mo(o)d” by Adriana Napolitano or a film series by Victoria Will.


Posted by:Philipp Baumgaertel

Philipp is the founder of Cherrydeck. He is all about people, nerdy things, and the startup culture. Follow him on Instagram @philippb_ok

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