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A Guide to Effortless Female Poses

8 min read

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female poses

Have you ever felt overwhelmed when it came to giving feedback on female poses? Many photographers don’t feel very confident about posing, and they more enjoy shooting. But after reading through this guide, you will know everything there is to the female pose in portrait photography. We have included examples, books, videos, and even courses!

Once you have a few key poses down, you can use your favorites repeatedly to help your female model or female client feel confident and beautiful on the other side of the camera.

Let’s jump in!

how to pose a women in any situation

Remember the time you photographed your model? You set up the photograph, made sure your background was appropriate, the light was great, and you clicked the shutter. And then you looked at the back of your camera, and your subject looked heavy or unnatural.

You look at it on your computer, and it is still not flattering. How did that happen, you wonder?

Posing is important. It is a way to capture your subject at its most flattering while making the image interesting.

The posing rules differ between men and women, and most of the time, you never want to use male model poses on women or female poses on men. However, if there is a specific reason to cross over the poses, it can create an interesting photograph. Below we will show you some of the best female poses to ask your model to create on your next shoot.

20 Best Female Model Poses for Portraits

If you are a visual learner like myself, you will enjoy this list of the best female poses. You may want to take a few screenshots as well.

1. Looking away from the Camera

female modeling looking away from the camera

If you want to use some more subtle female poses, try having your model look away from the camera. I always tell my female model to look over my shoulder or off in the distance. This also creates a more natural or candid shot.

2. Walking Away from the Camera

over the shoulder female pose look

Tell your female model to walk away from the camera and then look back over their shoulder at the camera. You can have them do this a few times until you get the shot, and it’s important with all these standing poses to tell your model to move slowly and take their time.

3. Standing Poses

how to pose a woman's legs

When it comes to model poses, you will find an array of standing variations. But my favorite standing poses include a model moving one leg over the front of the other. This creates a slimming effect, and what woman doesn’t like to look skinnier on camera?

4. Relaxed Pose

Ask your model to sit on a curb or bench and leave her arms dangling between her legs. You can ask her to pretend like she’s adjusting a bracelet or watch and use her fingers to make the adjustment. Giving your female model something to do with her hands always makes them feel more comfortable.

5. Slightly Forward

lean female subjects slightly forward to make them look skinnier

Pose your model so that she is leaning slightly forward towards the camera. I usually ask my model to bend at the hip towards the camera. This also creates a nice slimming effect. You can use this in many variations of photography poses. Try to ask them to lean slightly forward whenever possible.

6. Full Length

posing guide for ladies

Many posing guides will bring up full-length or full-body shots. Showing your model’s full body is a great way to accentuate their legs and give them the chance to show some movement in the photo. Often I have my female model do a little hop back and forth between legs to add movement to the model’s hair and make her laugh and smile.

7. One Foot Forward

how to pose women's feet

Ask your model to have one foot straight and forward as if they are about to go for a walk. Just like crossing one leg over the front, this will add a slimming and natural look to your photos. It works especially well for fashion and product angles.

8. Hair Toss

women hair toss pose

Have your model slightly tossing her hair makes for great candid shots. Tell her to shake her head back and forth as you shoot, allowing her hair to move freely. You can do this while she is sitting, standing, or walking.

9. Body Movement

posing guide women

As mentioned briefly above, give your female model something to do! Ask her to dance, twirl, run to the camera. Any type of body movement will help your model to relax and give will emotion to the camera.

10. Head Towards her Shoulder

female poses head towards shoulder

Another great idea for female poses is asking your model to turn her head down and towards her shoulder as if she is looking down at it. This accentuates the jawline and creates a slightly more natural look than staring at the camera in every shot.

11. Arms Crossed

arms crossed girl pose

While standing, tell your model to cross her arms in the front. This can create a boss lady look! If she is very petite, it can also give her more strength and a powerful stance. You can try propping her against a wall as she folds her arms over.

12. Leaning Against a Wall

model leaning

Find a fun textured or brick wall and ask your model to try leaning against it. You can have her turn slightly sideways as well to add a slimming effect and as well as a more relaxed look. Try photographing her from different angles as she leans against the wall.

13. Sitting on a Chair

model sitting on a chair

One of the easiest female poses includes having her sit in a chair. If she is wearing a dress, she must cross at the knee or ankle. If she is not wearing a dress, you can have lean onto her knees with one arm or both hands folded in front.

14. One hand in a Pocket

what a model should do with her hands

If you want to show off your model’s curves, have her stand slightly sideways with one hand in a pocket. Tell her to shift her weight back and forth between legs and each foot as you continue photographing at a different angle to see what looks best.

15. Turned Sideways

sideways posing for women

A female model will often look slimmer if you have her turn sideways and move one leg forward. This works especially well when shooting portraits or headshots. Ask your subject to turn her shoulders towards the wall and then her head and chin towards you. This creates a more business pose.

16. Lie Down

female posing laying down

Try a pose where your model is sitting or lying down on the ground. This works better on the beach or during a boudoir shoot with a bed or fun chair. If you use a lie-down pose, it creates a more relaxed vibe and can accentuate the model’s curves.

17. Legs Crossed at the Ankle

how to pose a sitting woman.

Whenever you pose your model in a sitting position, make sure they cross their legs at the ankle. This will make your subject appear slimmer and more ladylike. When a female subject crosses at the knee, it can make their legs look larger or show up their dress.

18. High Fashion Pose

fashion model pose

If you like photographing high fashion, try telling your model not to smile and look intensely at the camera. You can give them verbal cues such as “give me your best Tayra Banks look” or another supermodel you think they may identify with.

19. Showing off Curves

curvy model pose

No matter which female poses you choose, it’s important that you show off your model’s curves. Many women like showing off their assets, and it’s your job as the photographer to frame their beauty. This varies widely between body types, of course. But when you first meet your female model, try to identify what part of their body they like most and even ask them.

20. Creative Female Pose

creativing posing ideas

When it comes to model poses, you don’t have to be afraid of creativity. Try some fun or funky poses. You can ask your model to do a cartwheel or headstand. Ask them what talent they have that may look good on camera. You can even have blur or motion into the photos. Creative portrait work has become very popular with social media. Try something different in every photo. Even contorting their body works nicely.

Additional Posing Tips for Women

Consider these tips whenever posing a female model. They may work with some male shoots as well.

1. Ask your subject to bring their chin down

Otherwise, the neck will command the attention of the photograph. Most often, people will unconsciously lift their chin when being photographed. If you ask them to bring it down a little, they will usually respond that they are afraid of double chins. To remedy the double chin fear, have them push out their chin (I call it “turtle neck”), and that will take care of the double chin.

2. Photograph her from an angle

Unless you have a very tiny woman, no woman looks her best when her shoulders and hips straight onto the camera. Pose a woman with her hips at the camera and then turn her shoulders and face back toward the camera.

female posing tricks

3. On a woman, if it bends, bend it

Women look more feminine if you bend their elbows, wrists, curl the fingers a little (maybe even grasp her collar or necklace with her thumb and pointer finger), have her shift her weight onto one leg, and then bend a knee.

4. Avoid photographing crotches, underarms, and up noses

If you are photographing a heavier woman, find them a prop that is flattering. For example, have them cuddle a cute pillow.

For groups, try to arrange your subjects to form a pyramid (either with the high point at the top or an inverted pyramid). Ensure you can see all the faces and separate your subjects’ heads vertically by at least 3 inches, so the heads are at different heights.

For example, pose Dad and then pose Mom so that her eyes are level with Dad’s mouth. It is always fun to have them cuddle in tight together if they are family.

tips and tricks for posing girls


We hope you enjoyed this guide to female poses. Many photographers enjoy shooting but not so much the posing and styling part. Sadly, we can’t all hire a stylist to help us, so with this guide, you should feel more confident and ready to tell your model or client what they need to do with their body.

Always start with a list and some ideas for each portrait photo you want to create. Then write down the poses so that you feel better prepared before you get started. Obviously, no one needs to see the list. But by writing your female poses down before the shoot, you will be better prepared at the shoot. Lastly, if you want to learn other posing techniques, check out these articles on poses for wedding and posing couples.

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Krystal Kenney is an award-winning photographer residing in Paris, France. She has been photographing for over 10 years and enjoys teaching others about the craft. She spends most days shooting events, portraits, and weddings around Paris and working on writing new books.
Krystal Kenney is an award-winning photographer residing in Paris, France. She has been photographing for over 10 years and enjoys teaching others about the craft. She spends most days shooting events, portraits, and weddings around Paris and working on writing new books.

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