The 7 Keys to Posing like a pro!

Falls park engagement session in greenville sc - photo by corey johnson studios

I get told by almost eyer couple I work with that they are so awkward in front of the camera and don’t know how or what to do when posing. I reassure them that I am here to guide them through it all and there is nothing to worry about! 10 out of 10 sessions end with the couples saying wow that was so easy! I never knew I could do that! 

Posing is an art that I have been able to master through years of shooting. I want to share 7 of my top tips for looking like a pro in your photos! enjoy it and I hope you learn a lot! 

Brevard NC engagement sesison with a classic and joyful couple - corey johnson studios

All about the eyes

The eyes are the window to the soul, and during photos, you need to make sure your eyes are telling a story and not just looking tired or upset. I love getting to photograph couples who smile all the way from their mouth to their eyes! You can slap on a beautiful smile, but if your eyes aren’t working with that gorgeous smile, you will look like that dreaded department store cheesy grin photo everyone seesaw in memes. 

If you feel like your eyes are not cooperating and making you look joyful, try to close them for a second and give them a rest. Yes, even our eyes can get tired especially after a long day at work. A pro tip is to squint your eyes ever so slightly. A genuine look of joy will often make your eyes squint a touch and create some laugh lines. Practice in the mirror by covering your mouth with your hands so you only see your eyes. Then smile but see if you can see a difference in your eyes. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to feel the difference between ehh and that perfect eye smile!

Engaged couple in asheville nc

Hands, shoulders, knees, & toes

Much like the children’s song, head, shoulder, knees, and toes, in posing the key areas of tension can be seen in the hands, shoulders, knees, and feet! I am going to go through each one and give you some tips on how to make it more relaxed and natural so you can rock your next selfie or photo session! 

Hands

As humans, we do so many things with our hands! They are used in aspects of providing nourishment, fulfilling work, showing affection, and even a sign of nerves. When posing make sure your hands are ALWAYS doing something. For guys, this can be an easy fix of popping the hands in the pants pockets with thumbs out. Girls tend to have a harder job of posing their hands. When posing a couple, I love having the guy put on hand in his pocket and another around the waist of his lady. The girl can then gently place one hand on his chest and the other around back and over the closest shoulder to her. While they both are doing things with their hands, the girl’s hands can sometimes look stiff or mannequin-like. A pro tip I use with my couples is called the princess’s fingers. To achieve the more natural hand look, separate your pointer and pinky fingers slightly from your middle and ring fingers. This slight separation breaks up the mass of your hand and creates a softer look. 

Some great ideas for hand placement of girls can be a gentle touch of their man’s face, brushing through their hair, thumb through a belt loop, hands in a jacket/skirt pocket, pinching the fabric of their skirt, on their mans’ shoulders, neck or chest, or even grabbing the lapel of his suit. As long as your hands aren’t just hanging there by your side, you will look like a pro! 

Timeless engagement photography in Lake Lure NC - photo by Corey Johnson Studios Asheville Wedding Photographer

Shoulders

Your shoulders can give off a feeling of scared/nervous or relaxed and comfortable. For both men and women, the way your shoulders look in a photo makes a big difference in a good photo and a great one! Imagine your in a car riding down the road and a car swerves in front of you! What do you do? In most cases, you tense up and throw your foot on the break. When you tense up your shoulders raise toward your ears and your neck gets shortened. We do not want that look in photos. The more relaxed your shoulders are, the more elongated your neck is and the more natural you look. Be sure when posing to relax those shoulders and push them back slightly. It’s better to be up straight and not slouched over. 

Knees & Toes

These two are similar but play a different role in photos. With posing your knees, you always want a bend in one knee! For guys, this can be achieved by standing with your feet shoulders width apart. Then take one foot and push it forward toward until the toes of your other foot are lined up with the middle of the pushed out foot. After doing this you will lean back on the foot that you didn’t push forward. This will give a slight bend to the front knee. 

For the ladies, the bend in a knee is something super easy to achieve. When posing you can take and “pop the toe” of either leg. How do i “pop a toe” you may ask? You simply lift your heel and place that toe on the ground toward the middle or back of your other foot. This easily creates a beautiful bend in one knee. 

PRO TIP!! If your a girl and worried about your figure in photos, I suggest popping the knee closest to the camera. It will shift your hips back away from the camera and give you a more slimming look. 

Stunning Bridal bouquet - Classic bridal bouquet - The Blossom Jar - Photo by Asheville Wedding Photographer Corey Johnson Studios

Laugh out loud

Photos are not meant to all be serious, HAVE FUN! When I photograph my couples I love to laugh and have a great time. No matter if it is on mountain tops, in beautiful gardens, or posing a couple in front of an outdoor yoga class (yes, that actually happened:, having fun makes your session even better! I love laughter in shots. It creates that candid but still gorgeous portrait look! Next time you are doing photos, try some with a slight laugh. You will be surprised at how joyful you will look!  

Add movement

A little movement can make a photo look so captivating! It can be walking hand and hand through a beautiful location, the wind blowing through your hair, the fluttering of a veil in the wind, or the swirling of a dress while your man spins you around. Adding movement is so easy and truly will add variety to any photo session. Photos with movement in them are an immediate way to create those more candid style shots! 

Couple sitting on church stairs in greenville sc - greenville sc engagement session - photo by corey johnson studios

Master the sitting pose

Who doesn’t love a good sitting pose? While they look gorgeous, they can be tricky. Use these tips when doing a photo sitting. You want to have your knees facing different directions. For couples, the guy will sit with his hips and shoulders facing the camera but add a slight angle with his knees and toes pointing in different directions. The girl will then sit with her back to his side. This will allow her to prop her arm on his leg and have her knees facing a different direction. Also, sit to the front of what you are sitting on. Whether it be a chair, bench, staircase, etc, sit to the front half of whatever you are using. This will allow you to sit straight and not look like you are slouching back in it. 

Problem Areas & Tips

Everyone and I mean EVERYONE has areas of their body they don’t necessarily like. It could be your arms, chin, ears, stomach, chest, etc. It is a good thing to let your photographer know what your problem area is so they can do their best to avoid posing and angles that will show that area more. 

An easy way to help make your arms look thinner is to slightly separate them from your body. Adding a touch of space between your arms and torso will let your arms hang naturally and not be pressed tight up against your body creating more mass than there is. 

For the chin area, take and bend slightly toward the camera from your waist. This does two things, it pushes your hips further from the camera making them look smaller, and it also causes your neck to elongate a little giving you a more defined chin. Another tip is trying to slighting bring your forehead to the camera. I’m not saying tilt your head but bring your face closer by pushing your forehead and chin out. This helps pull the skin on your chin tighter and giving your jaw a more defined look. 

This one is for guys specifically! Guys look most masculine when being photographed with their shoulders square to the camera. This will accent their shoulders being the widest part of them and giving them that masculine look. 

Now for a tip for the ladies! Whenever you can have your hips and knees at an angle to the camera. This will help make you look more feminine and give your figure a slimmer look. 

It’s ok to feel awkward 

I tell my couples so many times, “this probably feels awkward but it looks gorgeous!” What couple stands in a gorgeous open field chest to chest with the girl laughing down toward his elbow and him pulling her in tight and lightly kissing her forehead? NO ONE does that, and if they do they may have some slight issues haha. It is ok to feel awkward! Most poses and movements look so natural and romantic but don’t feel natural or romantic. Embrace the awkwardness and sue it as a time to laugh, have fun, and make some fun memories. 

I hope these tips will help you in your next photo session. No matter if it is a phone picture taken by your aunt Sally, or a professional photoshoot, knowing how to use these tips to look more natural and flatter your figure will improve all your photos! Can’t wait to see how you will use these tips and tricks! 

Warmly – Corey 

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