How to create a good pose for your photography session?

So, you wanna make pictures… how are you going to create a pose?  This is a common question for models and photographers alike.  Of course you need to be sure to work on expressions. We have talked separately about expressions and will continue to do so.

For this discussion, only keep in mind that expression will be critically important overall.  While your expressions should generally match the story of your pose, location and props, or should somehow be wildly, quirkily at odds with them, today we are focusing on the pose only.

Viewing being integral to the visual arts, I have created a number of lists of poses for your view, study and practice.  Let me tell you about them and how to use them.

To reiterate, these poses are for illustrative purposes of the pose only.

We are talking about Glamour and Boudoir photography, which can be a bit risqué at times.  Some shots in these lists are therefore quite risqué.   The default  “worksafe mode on” allows only the PG rated shots in the lists to be viewed initially.   To view all of the shots may require turning the “worksafe mode off,” and/or Model Mayhem (MM) membership.


  • The shots are here strictly to learn about posing
  • Lists are organized according to body positions
  • Some shots are fabulous, start to finish, while some are not great over all
  • Some have expressions and/or pose elements which are not perfect
  • Each has some worthwhile pose element in it
  • The lists are entirely dynamic, the contents are subject to continual updates, additions or deletions

Typically when we look at one good photo or another, it becomes overwhelming to determine what made it good.

To aid in this discernment, I have organized the shots into groups by general body positions.  Like from the front, from behind, lying or sitting, etc…


  • If you are a Model:  Look at a particular list before a shoot and practice the various poses in front of your mirror.  See which poses work well for you, your body type and the image of yourself you are looking to convey.  Some of the shots are racier, some more sultry, some aggressive, some demure.  Learn at least one, and preferably at least three different poses that work great for you before you head for your shoot.  At the shoot, when given a chance, show the photographer your poses.  He may modify these at the shoot.  Be sure you have a good working relationship with your photographer and follow his direction.  What he sees in the camera is always somewhat different from what you see, even when looking in a mirror.  While working on your poses in the lists, work your way through each list, one at a time.  Do not jump around from list to list until you have nailed some shots in a list, or have totally rejected the list and are fully ready to move on to the next list.
  • If you are a Photographer:  These poses make useful catalogs of shots from similar camera angles and similar body positions.  You can show poses to your model or direct your model into poses similar to these genres.  Being arranged along similar posing box lines, these example poses will help you get your models into and to tune up poses within your set posing windows.  Make sure a particular pose is comfortable and safe for the particular model.


Photographers usually set their lights and frame their shots for models within a given posing box, within which box the models should generally stay.

Any given box will have a certain depth, width and height range.  The box can usually be thought of as a kind of rectangular box.  It may also have separate boxes within the box.

For instance, maybe the model must stay entirely within a box the size of a king sized bed mattress, while her head must stay within a box the size of a basketball.

One of the reasons for working within each of these lists one at a time is they address posing within somewhat limited body positions.  Like standing versus sitting.  Usually, a shot set up for a standing pose sized box, is different from a shot for a sitting pose sized box.  A shot set to properly light the right side of the face is usually not a proper light set up for the left side of the face.

Movement outside of a set box effects, usually negatively, lighting and camera angles.

Generally, perfect lighting and posing work within fairly narrow ranges of motion and pose.

If you are a model and have a great lying down pose and a great standing pose and keep jumping up and down between the two, the photographer will forever be chasing your pose, adjusting his position, adjusting his lights, and before he gets the perfect shot, you have moved out of the box he just adjusted to again.

Best generally are minor pose adjustments, well-coordinated and communicated between photographer and model.

When a photographer adjusts lighting is usually not the time to change a model’s pose dramatically, unless clearly directed to do so.

As you go through these lists and learn poses, consider how you can modify your pose, from one great pose to variations of the pose, within a given pose window or box size.


While looking at and practicing the poses, try to notice common elements which make the poses work.

For instance, did you notice (in many of the standing shots with torso facing the camera) the pose with feet apart, knees together, hips pushed to one side, breasts pushed to the opposite side, and shoulders swaying back in direction of the hips?  This pose presents a very flattering exaggeration of the naturally feminine “S Curve” of women’s body’s, often quite pleasing in photos.

This S Curve pose is a very good one to practice and nail.


  • Degree of raciness is personal.   Too much?  Too little?  Just right?  Try some of the racy and not racy enough poses.  Try to learn what makes them so.  Then settle into a range of just rights to practice and make your own.
  • Possible?  Some are too gymnastic.  Work on poses you can physically accomplish.
  • Hand and Arm positions.  Practice where to put your hands.  Become as comfortable with hands as you can.  Hands draw attention.  So practice hand position. Try holding something in practice.  See what the models are holding and notice what they are doing with their hands.  Imitate, practice and learn.
  • How are Arms and Props used to conceal those areas where a bit of help is needed?  Notice (Though done right… it becomes invisible, YAY!), experiment, practice and learn.
  • Most important, as you try poses, use poses which most emphasize your strengths.

This is worth repeating.  We are taking photographs here.  Photographs are frozen moments in time.  Fun frozen two dimensional photographic moments of multidimensional lives and  people.

We emphasize strengths.

Be confident.  Every woman is beautiful and good confidence makes for good photos.

If you have a great stomach, that should be a part highlighted in pose and photo.

Great legs and breasts?

The photos, professionally done, will make your breasts and legs shine.

Great left side of your face?

It’s in the photo.

Work to your strengths as your practice.

A good photographer will be looking for and will find your unique special beauty and will photograph you in ways highlighting your strengths.

There is beauty inherent in each woman.

When looking through the poses, find poses which are playing up your strengths.

Then have fun with it.  Play up to and practice posing to emphasize your strengths of which you are most confident.

Confidence is beautiful.

Confidence shows in expression and in poise.

For a listing of Models Profiled on, click here.