Home Portrait Photography 35 Portrait Photography Posing Tips and Tricks – Part 1

35 Portrait Photography Posing Tips and Tricks – Part 1

20 min read

This is a Part 1 of a two part article
Part 2 can be found here

This article is sourced from Benji’s Sonshine Studios. He is the author and copyright holder of the tutorial.

There are 35 rules (suggestions) that should be followed if one expects his or her portrait images to rise above the “that is a nice picture” to “WOW you did that?” status.


35 Photography Poses Banner


Now onto the Portrait Photography Tips

Why Are There Rules to Posing for Photographs?
People will simply not spend $100.00 for an 8 x 10 snapshot. They will however spend $100.00 for an 8 x 10 if it is a beautiful portrait, and if you follow the photography poses rules in this tutorial you should get beautiful portraits. Once you learn them you can then judiciously bend or break them a little to achieve that “perfect” image that you see in your mind.

This photography posing guide is for portrait images. Just as there is a difference between a pick up truck and a sports car, even though both are motor vehicles, both run on gasoline and both will get you to your destination in comfort, there is also a difference between portraiture and fashion images. In portraiture it is all about the face. In fact the word “portrait” literally means “A pictorial likeness or photograph of a face.” In fashion photography it is all about the clothing. While some rules will cross over some don’t.

Rule # 1. No Sleeveless Clothing in The Head and Shoulders Portrait.
I took the image on the left, cloned her blouse several times in order to cover her right upper arm. Note the difference as to where your eye is drawn when you view the image. In a portrait the first thing you should see is the face.

Sleeveless Photography Poses

Rule # 2. “No shorts in group portraiture.”
This happened to me twice this year (for the first time in years!) Even though we specifically state in our clothing consultation NO SHORTS we still get people who show up in shorts. When this family called, they said they wanted to be photographed in blue jeans and asked if that is OK. I said yes and told mom to make sure the shirts/blouses are all the same color. I of course was expecting long blue jeans NOT shorts. The image below is one of the poses. Note how dad’s and his youngest daughter’s bare legs really attract attention. That is because our eyes are attracted to bare skin, and that is why the ONLY bare skin that should show in PORTRAITURE is the face. Remember, the FACE is what portraiture is all about.

Portrait Photography Tips by Rob Fam

3. Avoid Bright Colors and Bold Patterns in Clothing.
The idea of a portrait is to see the face of the subject. Brightly colored clothing and bold patterns draw the eye away from the subject’s face. (This is especially true in the head and shoulders portrait.)

More Photography Posing Guide, Tips and Tutorials

Did you enjoy Part 1 of 35 Portrait Photography Tips?
Now Read Part 2

For more in-depth reading, we recommend you pick up these two great photography posing guide (available from Amazon.com). They belong on every portrait photographer’s bookshelf. Doug Box’s Guide to Posing for Photographs Portrait Photographers and Posing for Portrait Photography: A Head-to-Toe Guide.


  1. Brian Jennings

    December 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I can’t believe I found this article. I have been looking for free tips on portrait posing for a while now and this is the best one so far. I can’t wait to read part two.

    My favorite tip is how to tilt the head for a masculine or feminine pose. I never even considered such a thing. Thanks!

  2. Tam Gray

    March 17, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Great tips!! Keep’em coming!!

    I found this to be a very well written and informative instruction.


  3. Peter Teaco

    March 18, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Really good articles. Surprising how little info on posing is on the web that really hits the mark. All of the points here are gold to a new photographer. Well done 🙂

  4. Jen

    March 26, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Great post! This is exactly what I’m looking for 🙂

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  11. Dana

    November 17, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    So much to learn – it’s very intimidating just how many things you can get wrong in taking a portrait photo.

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