“Posing for Portrait Photography, a head to toe guide” by Jeff Smith – Book Review

Posing for Portait Photography, Front Cover, Jeff SmithPosing is integral to the process of photographing people who know they are being photographed.

Know how to direct your models and clients through poses?

Posing for Portrait Photography“, by Jeff Smith, is a guide written primarily for photographers who will be directing poses of models, clients and the like.

If you were more interested in a guide to posing appropriate to both models and photographers, consider instead “Posing for the Camera,” by Shepard and Meyer, for review, click here.

If you are a photographer, “Posing for Portrait Photography” can be a pretty neat read.

Smith learned his craft running a very large and successful Portrait Studio in California.

In “Posing for Portrait Photography” Jeff shares the ‘secrets‘ of posing clients for salable portrait photos.

Jeff’s techniques of teaching are well honed by training his several newbie staff photographers in portrait photography posing over a course of many years in this business.

Newbie photographers are initially put into the enviable job of shooting Senior portrait photos …

These are usually bust up shots.

Jeff teaches how to pose the lower part of these photos in a triangular pattern… the arms or bust forms the base of a triangle, the head the apex.

As the head and shoulders are usually an integral part of any full length portraits, mastering bust up shots is an interesting way of learning piece meal the overall portrait melieu.

This triangular pose is then expanded, as his photographers learn how to grow a bust up shot through to 3/4 length and full length shots.

Focus in on salable photos.  Photos that a Mom would like to buy… according to Jeff, Mom’s make most of the photo buying decisions.

He feels that often starting photographers have lofty artistic type ideals which, among other things, create photos that Mom will not buy.

This is a simple book to understand full of lots of great posing advice including the notable:


  • Make sure the face is never turned away from the main light and use a lighting ratio of 3:1 to 4:1
  • Make sure the shoulders, waist & hips are never squared off to the camera.
  • Make sure arms are never posed in contact with the side of the body.
  • Make sure the chin is never lowered to a point where it diminishes key light catchlights in the eyes.
  • Make sure the spine never forms a vertical line and the shoulders never form a horizontal line in the frame.
  • Make sure never to have an expression on your face you don’t want on the client’s face.

He explains these points at length, then goes chapter by chapter explaining how to pose different parts of the body, like head, arms, hands, variations, etcetera, etcetera…

What is also nice is Jeff often has side by side photos which show how not to do it as well as how to do it.

That is, he will show what it looks like to have a ‘heavy look’ by letting arms touch body sides, then will show how slimming it is to have the arms lifted off the body sides.

All in all, “Posing for Portrait Photography” is a great little easy posing read.

Posing for Portrait Photography” is an easy recommendation for photographers working with human clients in posed situations.

To peruse (there is a free preview of some sample interior pages) or buy a copy on Amazon, click here.

For models, there are probably other more useful books, thought there are definitely some great tips here none the less.

For other posing guide books also consider:

“Posing Techniques for Glamour Photography” by Rolando Gomez, click here for review.

Or another favorite, “Posing for the Camera,” by Harriett Shepard and Lenore Meyer, click here for review.


For a listing of Books Reviewed on GlamourPhotography.co, click here.

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