Professional models know the secret already:  amazing portraits have very little to do with physical looks.  Obviously, shapes and sizes vary, and not everyone comes equipped with supermodel proportions.  But everyone has a little bit of ‘model’ inside.   It just take a little coaxing and coaching to help that model make an appearance.

If looks alone don’t matter, what does?   How you move and how you carry yourself.   In short, there are physical tricks that can help make you feel and look like the fabulous rock star that you are.   You might really desire to become a professional model, which is great.  Or you might just need to get through that business headshot session so you can replace that ten-year-old profile photo of yourself that looks like Alice Cooper.   Make the most of it, and  get the best results by using a few posing tips from the pros.  Remember, nobody automatically ‘knows” how to pose for the camera.   Practice posing in a full-length mirror to see what works for you.  Look at fashion magazines to get ideas for poses.  Most of all, practice the tips below.

Posing Tips

1) Whether sitting or standing, the goal is to minimize.  Don’t face the camera with shoulders squared; that’s the broadest portion of you.  Turn one shoulder towards the camera and the other to the back and turn your head towards the camera.  It’s the same with hands.  Position them so the widest portion of your hand (the back) isn’t facing the camera (hello, man hands!) Instead turn your hands so that the sides, or slimmest portions, face the camera instead.

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2) Give yourself a stronger jawline by ‘turtling’ out your chin towards the camera and pulling your shoulders slightly back.  This stretches out your throat and ensures you don’t have multiple chins in your photo.

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3) Lean—most people instinctively lean back, away from the camera.  Instead, lean in and get your face and shoulders closer to the camera.  This is a more flattering angle for your face, your neck and your shoulders.

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4) Smile.  The best smiles aren’t necessarily the full-on, mega-watt car salesmen kind.  If you’re an ubersmiler, great.  For most people a ‘small’ smile will work best.  It’s an elusive thing, but somewhere between a smirk and a full-blown smile works best.

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5) It’s in the eyes.  People will see and connect with your eyes first.   As Tyra Banks says, you’ve got to ‘smize’….Smile with your Eyes.  If you smile with your mouth but not with your eyes, it’ll look fake.

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6) For 3/4 or full-body portraits, straighten your back leg and shift weight to the back leg.  Slightly bend your front leg (the leg facing the camera). This will shift your hips back, away from the camera.

 

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7) Keep it separated.   For full-body or 3/4 portraits, it’s important to not let your arms look glued to the sides of your body.   Bend your elbows, put your hands on your hips, and turn your body so that there is space between your arms and your body.  This will make your body and your arms appear slimmer.

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8) Mix it up! You should be changing poses every few frames to keep it fresh. Changing poses often makes you look more fluid and less rigid.  Your photographer should direct you in ways that keep you in motion and lead to more natural smiles and poses.

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You may never end up on the runway in Milan during fashion week, or gracing the cover of the grocery store tabloids. But if you use these tips you’ll pretty much be guaranteed to rock your next group shot or headshot portrait.