Portrait Poses
for Memorable Portraits

"Portraiture is a window to the soul."

Portrait poses are important and can make all the difference between a shot being deleted or framed!

There are few things more disappointing than hiring a professional photographer, or semi-pro, and looking at the photos and seeing little more than snapshots.

Prepare for the shoot by considering what you want to capture. Consider the background, the environment, the subject(s) and even the interests of the people.

If their pet is "part of the family" consider including it, or a mix of casual and dressy clothing and portrait poses to match.

If you cannot find what you are looking for on this page, professional photographer Malcolm Boone has written a wonderful book called 'Posing Secrets - The Photographer's Essential Guide' . It covers portrait poses in great depth.

His technique of looking at the body as a silhouette and simplifying a pose to body lines is pretty neat.

For more about this book and how it may help improve your portraits Click Here.

Basic Reminders for Portrait Poses

Shoot shoot shoot! Take plenty of photos. With today's digital cameras it's easier than ever to plan for the unexpected by having plenty of backup shots. This prevents the blink with the eyes closed in the shot, the yawn or the comment seen in mouth position but unheard. Take plenty of shots to insure the maximum number to choose from.

Use the LCD screen for framing but don't rely on it. You won't likely see those closed eyes, or a pet's flipped ear or the many other things that can happen in the blink of an eye. Still the LCD screen provides a general visual for positioning and insuring everyone is in the photo who is supposed to be.

Make it Personal

Family portrait poses can include a couple with or without children or often extended family. Capturing the relaxed bond of a couple can take some practice but is worth the effort. For children it's even more key to find something they like.

A natural smile shows best and sometimes this can break the tension if on a playground swing or with a sports ball. Short people in the front, tall in the back is standard because it works.

Consider arranging the people so there's a diamond pattern more than a square, and encourage hands on shoulders contact and close together.

Again capture interests - a campfire setting, on a patio deck and other interests that automatically put the subjects at ease as well as captures memorable photos!

Baby portrait poses can be tricky because, like pets, babies don't always listen to the "hold it right there...NOW!" Baby smiles can't be forced or faked.

Working with babies means learning to set up, shoot fast and be accurate. Simple props, basic colors and more attention at getting close with 85% of the photo being the baby is key. Babies change moods often and some react better to certain toys, sounds or people so it's worth having a plan in place.

Sometimes bubbles can light up that smile inexpensively but make sure to keep it away from the camera! Simple props such as stuffed toys, pillows or hats can add variety.

Group portrait poses can be tricky and require special attention to those on the ends to make sure they're completely in the photo.

Remember you are the only one who sees this so if they need to move in more tell them!

Pets as Family

Pet portrait poses are much easier for someone familiar with animals to create. A fast shutter is needed as pets often don't sit still for long. Something to get their attention is needed and expression but use caution using food.

Some breeds of dogs begin drooling which spoils photo opportunities! Smaller dogs and cats positioned on a table, looking towards but not at the camera often gather the best shots. Larger breeds need more room but it is easier elevating them than getting to floor level.

Increasingly other pets are becoming household regulars such as snakes, lizards, rabbits, guinea pigs and even pot bellied pigs. All can take some patience to handle for photos! Solid backgrounds work well and where appropriate a 'sit' or 'down' with expression can turn out outstanding pet portraits.

Location - Indoors or Out?

Location for shooting can vary widely depending on the people, how formal the photos are, the purpose of the photos and how open the client is to creativity. Ask, and be prepared! If it's a soccer family bring a clean ball and in a small area have them toss it among themselves for some unique and relaxed photos.

Indoor photos mean knowing your camera's flash range and lights. If your camera's flash range is 10 feet make sure you're close enough to make use of it – 14 feet back means dark photos!

Use good lighting and while adjusting the ISO setting can reduce the need for a flash this also can increase the chances of "noise" resulting in grainy shots that you don't want!

Pay attention to the background - in particular mirrors, glass and other objects that can reflect the light in ways you really don't want!

Outdoor photos can be challenging but are often worth the effort. Early in the morning or late afternoon make the best use of natural light without harsh shadows or needing a flash.

Use caution in the mixed sun-shade photos - but don't hesitate to make use of an overcast day outside! Use casual portrait poses on a park bench or picnic table.

Use a plan but keep portrait poses as natural as possible - the end results are priceless!

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