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The Starter's Guide To Model Poses

When looking at pictures of models on Instagram or in magazines, it’s hard to imagine that they’re doing anything more than displaying how effortlessly good they look.

However, one influencer and model secret is that it’s almost all about knowing how to pose your body. Virtually all of your favorite social media stars have spent hours posing for themselves, figuring out what looks good on them and what doesn’t.

Studying the methods used by models and influencers alike can help put you on the path to better photos, and perhaps even a modeling career of your own.

These 10 model posing tips will help improve both female model poses and male modeling poses.

1. Positive Mindset

No amount of posing will hide your discomfort on camera if you aren’t going into your shoot with a confident mindset.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but being able to trust yourself and have pride in your looks is already half of any pose you do. Beginner models may struggle with this, but it gets easier the more you practice.

Before you start practicing your poses, try doing some positive affirmations in the mirror to remind yourself that you are a capable model!

2. Stay True to Your Look

Pick poses that show off the way you want to be perceived. If you want approachable and friendly shots for your business page, have a natural smile and keep your arms in a natural position.


If you are going for a more editorial look, don’t be afraid to experiment a bit more with arm placement and a more neutral look on your face - just be sure you aren’t creating too much tension in your face.

In the famous words of Tyra Banks, work on your smile, or smile with your eyes. Mastering this strong form of eye contact can give you more space to play around with the way you look on camera.

3. Lean Forward Into The Camera

Without overdoing it, try to slightly bend towards the camera from your waist. If you lean back too far from the lens, it might appear as if you are running away from the shot as well as affecting the way your bone structure appears on camera.

Adding a slight lean-in will also help you appear more slender. Use this angle to your advantage to enhance your figure on camera.

4. Don’t Face Your Camera Head-On

Try to keep part of your body turned away from the camera as opposed to staring at it head-on.

This keeps the photo more interesting, and much like leaning back helps to provide a slimmer and more defined appearance.


5. Angle Your Arms And Legs

Nobody enjoys looking at stiff arms and legs. When adjusting your modeling poses, give your appendages a slight bend to feel more natural.

Try to avoid having your arms straight and legs wide. A slight bend is all you need to make the shot work.

Arm and leg angle also help your pose feel more relaxed. If any part of you is stiff in pictures, people will find your pose awkward and uncomfortable. Try overlapping or bending your appendages to give the most relaxed look possible.


6. Learn to Use Motion

Modeling demands variety, and photographers expect a model to seamlessly transition between poses. The best way to achieve this is by using slow, subtle movement.

Between photos, adjust your arms slightly or tilt your body in another direction. It may appear similar, but adding these slight movements gives photos more variety.

Normally your photographer will help to direct you, so pay attention to what they ask for in your next modeling poses.

Implementing these movements will come naturally with experience and help make the photo shoot continue smoothly. When it comes to movement, subtly gets the job done.


7. Move Your Eyes

As a model, your eyes tell a lot in your photos. Fierce eyes have an allure that draws people in, but it must be in the right context.

Sometimes staring into the camera - especially in full-body poses - only makes things look awkward.

In these cases, it's best to point your eyes slightly away from the camera. Eyes that are visible but not direct are less intense and give a more relaxed feeling.

Be sure to vary the position of your gaze depending on the photo their taking.


8. Relax Your Hands

Everyone has trouble controlling their hands in photos. It's hard to know where to place your hands and what they should do. For a model, it's just as tricky.

For most photos, hands should relax and fingers should stay close together. Avoid making a fist with your hands and let them relax.

Your hands are best placed either by your side or framing your face. Don't do anything else with your hands unless the photographer asks you to. Relax your hands and try to keep them still, they are usually not the focus of the shoot.


9. Find The Right Photographer

Picking the right people to work with can make or break a shoot. A photographer that you don’t feel comfortable with will only make you tenser, which will translate on camera.

Reach out to the person you’re working with beforehand and express what you may be stressed about. If they’re the right fit for you, they’ll be willing to discuss beforehand and make sure you are prepared for the shoot.

Your photographer will also be able to give you specific pointers and poses that will create the best shot. Remember that a photo shoot is an even exchange where both you and the photographer are putting in your best work to create a final product everyone is proud of.

Posing is something that all models have to practice and master. Don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t come to you right away.

That isn’t a reflection of your looks or your ability to look good on camera. It simply means you have to work on figuring out the best way to present yourself. Remember that the perfect pose is something individual to you, and not a defined look that everyone must be able to do.


10. Practice Makes Perfect!

Practicing poses may feel weird at first, but posing is a skill. Just like anything else you want to become good at, you have to practice it before you’re an expert.

First, try in front of the mirror at home. Again, don’t hold back! Trust yourself and go for it - even if you look odd at first, it’s not like anyone else can see you.

Once you’ve found some poses that work for you, set up the selfie timer on your phone to practice the poses on camera. Study the photos, and see what works and what doesn’t.

Keep adjusting and perfecting until you find something you are confident in - and then keep practicing those poses until they become muscle memory.

By doing this, you’ll be able to walk into any photo shoot and bust out the poses like you’re the next Gisele.


Types of Model Poses

A model pose can come in a variety of forms. Depending on the mood a photographer wants to create, a model should master posing from all possible angles.

As a model, it's important to understand not just the best model poses for each type, but what that type of pose evokes.

Modeling poses are divided into two major categories: full-body and facial features. Here are the top model poses for each category.

Full-Body Poses

As the suggests, full-body poses capture the whole of the model. Photographers creating fashion poses often use these. There are many ways to frame a full-body pose for the perfect attitude.


A standing pose is one of the most common poses in modeling. These poses either have the model facing straight ahead or at a 3/4th angle.

Standing poses are versatile for indoor, outdoor, and studio photo shoots. These poses are helpful in fashion shoots because they give a full image of the clothing.

Even though a standing model pose is common, that does not make it any less useful a pose. Practice your stances to find your best angles.

Sitting Poses

When you use sitting poses, you're not just sitting in a chair. You're making use of your seated position to show off your upper body.

Sitting poses can differ between leaning forward and leaning back. A forward lean is more intense, while a back lean is more relaxed. Each lean conveys a different feel.

Remember that although your legs will rest, the top half of your body should still be working. The placement of your head, shoulders, and arms will change the feel of your pose.

Wall Leans

Leaning on a wall gives a strong casual feeling to the photo shoot. It is the ultimate pose for a relaxed, confident emotion.

Many wall leans will shoot from a side angle, but some wall leans are shot straight ahead. Models typically place one leg over the other leg for a nonchalant look. How you place your legs and arms is the key factor in these shots.

On The Floor

Similar to sitting, on the floor posing involves a relaxed, seated position. A model in this pose can cross their legs, spread them out, or prop one arm on one leg. There are many different styles for this model pose.

Both poses can make use of a chair, but on the floor posing typically sits in front of or beside the chair, draping themselves over it. Use the scenery to your advantage.

Lay Down

Some photography poses to aim for a more seductive feeling. To accomplish this, a model will lie down on the floor and be photographed from above. This is a common pose for female models, but some male models also do it.

It's important to know how to angle your body for these shoots. Many famous photos have the model with one arm facing up while another faces down. There is also often one leg bent slightly while the other remains stiff.

Keep your posture in mind when doing laying down poses.

Facial Poses

Facial poses are photos shot from the waist up. These poses rely on the model using facial expressions to tell the story. Your eyes can show different emotions if you use them right.

It may seem like photo shoots that only involve the shoulders and head are harder to do, but there are still many ways to evoke certain feelings with a close-up shot.

Facing Camera

Models posing directly at the camera are usually not recommended. Photographers often have models stand at a three-quarters angle or look away from the camera in their pose. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

When a model faces their head and eyes to the camera, it gives off an intense gaze that can allure. This often entices a viewer and makes them associate your intense gaze with an intense product.


Many people associate profile photos with the profile of your social media account, but to a professional photographer, a profile is the side view of your face.

Profiles can be of either the entire body or just the face, but the face is more common. Sometimes the actual features of the face are shadowed in favor of the angle used.

For these photos, it's best to maintain a neutral expression and keep your hands by your side. The angle of the shot is more often more important than the posing in the final images.

Head in Hands

This pose is the classic set-up of placing your chin in the palms of your hands. A cute and friendly photo, this pose is often used to evoke happiness and care in viewers.

Make sure when you do this pose that your fingers are kept close together. They should either be flat or lightly cupping your cheeks. Your smile and eyes should also have a gentleness to them.

Hand Near Head

Similar to having your head in your hands, having your hand near your head is used for more gentle and inviting photos. However, there are a variety of ways a model can pose their hand for the shoot.

A model could lean their head into one open palm. Or they could play with a strand of their hair. Or they could gently poke themselves in the cheek with one finger.

The photographer ultimately decides which works best, but remember that a hand has many functions in a headshot.


Head Tilts

Every face has its good and bad angles. For a model to maximize the look of their face, it helps to slightly tilt the head. This helps slim your face in photos and create more dynamic posing.

Be aware of how far you tilt your head in photos. Too small of a tilt will go unrecognized and fail to add dynamic angles. Too big of a tilt will put your head at an odd angle that makes you look strange.

Study the best angles on your face and practice tilting your head just enough to get that perfect shot.

Over The Shoulders

A common model poses for makeup and fashion shots is a model looking over the shoulders. This backward glance acts like an invitation, drawing a viewer into the product.

These photos are usually accomplished by having the model turn their back to the camera and slightly twist their torso to look back. Eye contact is encouraged for this pose.

Pulling off a shoulder glance takes more control than it seems. It requires the perfect angle of your body to get your face in view while keeping your body still. Make sure your neck muscles are properly stretched before doing these poses.


Different Types of Modeling Poses

Model photography takes on many different forms. The poses a model chooses can depend on what the modeling job requires. These are the four main industries for model poses.


Commercial Modeling

A gigantic field filled with female and male models, the commercial modeling industry is the most common area of model poses. Anything from product coupons to business billboards use models for their advertising.

This is a good industry to look for work in as there are many opportunities. However, it is an extremely competitive market that's hard to break into. If you go into commercial modeling, prepare for a few rejections.



Fitness models advertise athletic gear and workout products. Models posing for fitness shoots use more action shots for their posing, such as looking like they're in the middle of a workout. While the industry is expanding, it is recommended to have a fit body for these jobs.


High Fashion

High fashion is what most people associate modeling with. These are the models that wear the newest trends and walk the runway. Noteworthy female poses of the industry involve stoic refinement and poise.

This is the harder industry to break into given its exclusive nature. High fashion modeling is a goal you'll only reach after several years of training.



Glamour photography focuses on the art of seduction. These are the models that work with makeup, magazines, and lingerie advertising. This line of work is for confident models ready to look stunning for the camera.

This is everything you need to know to master the art of model poses. Practice will help these skills shine as time goes on, so give yourself time to grow. When in doubt, remember the 10 most important rules of posing:

  • Positive Mindset

  • Stay True to Your Look

  • Lean Forward Into The Camera

  • Don’t Face Your Camera Head-On

  • Angle Your Arms And Legs

  • Learn to Use Motion

  • Move Your Eyes

  • Relax Your Hands

  • Find The Right Photographer

  • Practice Makes Perfect

However you choose to pull off a model pose, these skills will help you stand out from the crowd. With the right effort, you can make your Instagram posts look like Vogue covers in no time.

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