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Design & Style

How to Pose for Photos: 7 Tips for Taking Flattering Photos

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 22, 2020 • 2 min read

It can be intimidating to be in front of the camera if you don’t know how to pose. Even if you aren’t a professional model getting paid to do photoshoots, it’s worthwhile to learn some simple posing tips that will make your next selfie or group shot better.

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Learn RuPaul’s Tips for Posing for Photos

7 Tips for Posing for Photos

Here are some simple tips to help you end up in the best poses the next time someone takes your picture:

  1. Be conscious of lighting. Turn your face to the light. This may be fairly obvious when posing for headshots, but it applies to even the most informal photo shoot. Whether you’re posing for a closeup or a full-body shot, look for the light and turn your face toward it.
  2. Know how the camera position affects your appearance. Do you want to look taller? Have your photographer position their camera a bit below your eye level. That angle can also help accentuate your jawline. Or perhaps you want to hide a double chin? Have the photographer shoot from slightly above you.
  3. Know your good side. We don't all look equally good from all perspectives. Professional models know their best angles and seek to be photographed from certain directions. It helps to know which direction to face when you want to look your best. Sometimes those angles won't be possible—like in an impromptu group photo. But if you're posing for headshots or a formal shoot, go ahead and let your photographer know how you think you look best.
  4. Take a lot of photos. You're more likely to end up with a photo you like if you have a many to choose from. This especially applies the first time you're posing for a real photoshoot. So take large numbers of photos when possible. If you're using a phone camera for group shots or selfies, be aware that most of these devices offer a burst mode where dozens of photos can be taken in quick succession if you hold down the shutter button.
  5. Move around. If you're doing a formal shoot, it helps to keep moving. This provides your photographer with a wide array of poses and angles to choose from. It also keeps you from being overly stiff. Don't be self-conscious while you pose. Be present in the moment, and worry about the final images later.
  6. Change your facial expression depending on the context. Some photos — particularly those involving sales and marketing — call for direct eye contact with the camera, a bright smile, and a warm effect. For other photos, you might not look directly at the camera. For instance, research has shown that online dating platforms may yield better results when you don't look straight at the camera for your profile pic. Influencers and bloggers might want to look straight into the camera, while fashion models might want to look a little off to the side.
  7. Relax. Although it's easier said than done, the best photos tend to feature subjects who are relaxed and at ease. A relaxed body projects both confidence and authenticity. Stand up straight with good posture, but don’t be overly stiff. Stand or sit in a way that reveals your authentic self, not a rigid, artificially posed version of what you actually look like.
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