Creative Ideas On portrait poses Of Individuals

Even using just a few of these ideas for portrait poses of individuals will make a big difference in the quality of your portraiture.

These ideas are simple to follow. Just copy these poses and use them for your own people posing.

  1. Take the right angle.
  2. Choose the best format.
  3. Get the head tilt just right.
  4. Choose a unique environment.
  5. Find leading lines.
  6. Frame in your subject
  7. Handle the hands.

1. angle the pose

One of the biggest and most common photo mistakes that many photographers make when posing people is having their bodies facing directly at the camera. When your subject faces their body and head straight at the camera, we call it the "soldier pose."

Poses of individuals directly facing the camera gives is not good because it gives you the broadest perspective. Angling your subject one way or another helps offset their two shoulder heights to not be the same. This is a good idea when posing individuals.

female senior portrait poseDiagonals create a path for viewers eyes to move.

It's fine for the stoic, patriotic look of a military or law enforcement portrait. It's not the most pleasing photograph for having the subject of your photograph look their best.

Take a look at the individual posed portraits in this article. Have your subject turn their body 30 to 45 degrees to one side. Then have your model turn their head back toward the camera. 

2. choose the posing format

Horizontal portrait poseHorizontal format

portrait of landscape poseChoose to hold your camera horizontal or vertical.

In this masculine portrait of this athletic male, I had him cross his arms across the back of the kitchen chair.

I chose to photograph him using a horizontal (landscape perspective) composition which then made his arms serve as a framing device, creating a base at the bottom of the composition.

Notice that in this portrait pose his body was turned to my right and his head was turned backed to directly face the camera. This pose, combined with his hand formed in a fist, makes it a classic masculine pose. The next photography tip involves using a little tilt of the head.

3. use the correct head tilt

male head tilt poseVery slight head tilt
Makes a big difference

Understand that adding just a little tilt of the head in one direction or another can have a big impact on your portrait pose.

In this tuxedo portrait, my subject is tilting his head forward to the left just a little. It's a little bit more "posed" and offsets his head angle from his shoulder angle.

This is the classic masculine pose.

Take a quick look at the poses of my female model below. Compare the the slight difference between the two of them. 

Individual pose without held tiltIndividual pose without held tilt

Individual pose with held tiltIndividual pose with held tilt

Notice how her head is tilted slightly forward. This is normally not a feminine pose, but it's a better portrait pose.  At this point you may be calling me a chauvinist. Just stay here with me for a second. These were the "rules" I learned back in portraiture class in photography school in the early 1980s.

If you had a chance to read some of my other articles on this photo tips website, you'll know that all of these tips for taking better photographs are meant to be used as guidelines. Learning some of the classic rules of posing will help you improve your photography. Remember to use the rules and then break them as well.

4. Choose unique Environments

Posing individuals in unique environments, sometimes story-telling environments makes for a more interesting pose than a plain boring studio background. Just make sure that the environment isn't too distracting and steals attention from the subject photographed.

Individual pose in solariumIndividual pose in solarium

Individual pose in libraryIndividual pose in library

The two examples above were part of a photo shoot I did for an author at a local university. We walked to a few different locations to get a wide variety of different environmental poses. These were two of my favorite photographs.

5. find Leading Lines

One of those universal "rules" that can be employ is to incorporate leading lines within your photo's composition. Well, rather than have your subject be a leading line in the pose, find a location that has strong leading lines.

Leading Lines PoseDiagonal lines in
foreground and background

Leading Lines PoseThis pose has vertical and diagonal lines

Leading Lines PoseLow perspective to
strengthen diagonals

Those leading lines bring your eyes into the portrait. Experiment with a variety of leading lines to see which is the most appealing. Have fun using your creative talents and occasionally  break some of the rules of composition and posing.

6. frame In Your Subject

Framed pose senior portraitFrame your subject

Whether you're photographing an individual or a small group, this is an oldie, but still goodie. Try a pose that includes a frame around your subject.

You can use a traditional picture frame, a window, an archway, or shoot between two trees. You could even frame in your subject within an old tire. Just look around the environment you're shooting in for other ideas on how to frame in your subject in her pose.

7. Pose The Hands Right

Take a quick look at all of the photos in this post and notice the individual subjects' hands.

Proper hand posing is a topic for a complete article, but this is all you need to know for now. If your subject is feeling relaxed he'll place his hand in a way that is natural and relaxed. Leave it as is.

male hand poseGood male hand pose

On the flip side, if your individual's hand look awkward you should make an adjustment. Okay, here comes the sexist part. Women' s hands are usually pose open with fingers slightly curled. Men often have their hands in a gentle fist or are holding or grabbing.

Don' t follow these ideas as absolute rules, but be aware of them and be observant is the main idea.

I hope you found this article helpful You may also be interested in one of the related topics about family portrait ideas and group poses. See the links below.

Stay inspired. Shoot more portraits.

Article published by Bruce Lovelace


Bruce is the publisher of this website. He is the author of the book "Improve Your Photography Instantly."  Read more on Bruce on his Bio Page. He's been known as The Traveling Photographer ever since 1994. Read more about this website.

View some of Bruce's photos on Instagram.   Visit the Facebook Page. Watch him on YouTube.  Bruce runs photo workshops for kids and adults, and provides one-on-one photography coaching.

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Photography poses for groups. Want to learn some tips for photography poses of groups? This article has tips for posing groups of 3 people and has links to several other articles on posing other group sizes.

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Free (Older Style) posing guide - PDF