You may have noticed recently that some of my blog postings have included useful information for other photographers.  This post is includes photographer tips for posing clients.  Guest blogger Lisa Foreman, the Marketing Conversion Manager at Nations Photo Lab, provided the content for this article – I hope you find it helpful!

Tips for Posing Your Camera-Shy Clients Comfortably


Learning how to pose human subjects in a natural and flattering way is one of the hardest things for any photographer to do. In the past, photographers relied on studio backdrops and formal poses to create uniform portraits. The rigid poses often made clients look and feel uncomfortable, which resulted in static, awkward photos.

These days, the best photographers try to capture people in their natural settings. Instead of posing people to create a uniform look, posing is an important tool that lets clients be themselves while telling a story about their lives and interests.

Posing a Sitting Subject

To pose sitting subjects, think about the ways you might naturally sit. For example, if you’re sitting on a sandy beach, you’re not going to sit with a bolt-upright torso or legs sticking straight out in front of you. Instead, you’ll take a more relaxed approach:

  • Bend the Knees: You can have your clients bend the knees slightly, fold the knees to the chest or sit cross-legged to make them look and feel more natural.
  • Use the Arms: Instead of letting the arms hang awkwardly, wrap them around the knees. If your subject is leaning back, let them use their arms to support their torso.

Some people are more flexible than others, so keep this in mind as you’re posing sitting subjects. If sitting cross-legged or folding the knees to the chest is physically uncomfortable, the discomfort will show in the finished portrait.

Standing Without Looking Stiff


As with sitting poses, you’ll need to think about what people normally do when they’re standing. People don’t stand and stare at cameras. Instead, they lean on things, walk around and engage with their environments. Add action to a standing pose by capturing your client as they walk around and interact with their environment. If your subject is stationary, have them lean on something — a wall, a fence or a tree trunk. Let the pose come naturally rather than forcing the client to lean in an uncomfortable way.

During a portrait shoot, no one ever knows what to do with their arms. For a casual portrait, you can always have the client put their hands in their pockets. If the subject is leaning back against a wall, you could let the arms hang, and possibly even ask them to place one foot on the wall. If your subject is walking, have them reach out to brush a nearby flower or tree branch.

Making Couples Connect

Adding a second person creates another dimension in your photographs. With couple’s photography, you need to illustrate the connection between these two people. You can do this in one of several ways:

  • Stacked Poses: Stacking your subjects lends a playful tone to your photographs. Place one person directly in front of the other, and experiment with different interactions between your subjects. For instance, the person to the rear could whisper a secret. You could also have the front person lean against the person to the back, or have the person in the back wrap their arms around the front person’s shoulders. Unless your clients specifically ask for it, avoid the clichéd “prom photo” pose in which the rear person wraps his or her arms around the front person.
  • Walking: When your subjects are walking towards you, it helps give your images a natural, casual appearance. Suggest intimacy by asking your clients to walk hand-in-hand, laugh as they interact with their surroundings or gaze into each other’s eyes. Avoid having your subjects look directly at the camera because it reduces connection between your subjects and their surroundings.
  • Formal Poses: If your clients want a formal portrait, a “V” pose is a great way to get the shot without creating a dated or contrived image. Have your clients stand with their shoulders touching, but turned in to face each other rather than facing you. Ask women to rest their hands on their significant other’s chest, or ask your clients to clasp hands. Your subjects should be looking at each other — not at you — to help build an even better emotional connection.

Creative Group Photos

The quintessential family portrait used to be boring and stale, with everyone lined up in order of height or arranged so that the youngest were to the front. Everyone turned to face the camera, and everyone wore an identical expression — often with identical clothes. Current group photography trends call for action and personality, which lets you get much more creative when posing a family, wedding party or any other group shot.

There are infinite ways to express action in a group photo. Many brides ask for a photo of their wedding party jumping all at once. You can also ask the group to walk or run toward the camera, or grab shots as they frolic among leaves. Young families make great portraits when they hold their children’s hands, or even swing their children gently. If you’re shooting a family with teens, arrange everyone in a playful group hug, and then get in close to take a great shot of their smiling faces.

To master group shots, you’ll need to adjust based on the group’s personality. More reserved people will feel awkward if you ask them to frolic in front of the camera. An outgoing group, on the other hand, might look stiff in a more formally posed portrait. However you decide to pose your group, the key is to capture naturally happy expressions rather than forced smiles. Get your group to laugh a little, and the varied expressions in your shots will make your portraits come alive.

If your client is uncomfortable or feels awkward, the final prints will feel uncomfortable and awkward, too. As you’re learning to pose your clients, your biggest concern should be making your clients feel relaxed and happy.


Lisa Foreman is the Marketing Conversion Manager at Nations Photo Lab, a leading professional photo lab that specializes in a wide range of print options for hobbyists as well as professionals.


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What a beautiful Fall afternoon I had to photograph this awesome family at Morven Park in Leesburg, VA.  I love this park for on-location portraits as there is so much variety and the property is beautiful.  I apologize for the over-share but I just had too many favorites!!

Photography at Morven Park in Leesburg, VA

The last time I saw Mandy & Scot was when we did 1st year portraits for Lily, almost 2 years ago!  This time there was an addition to the family and Logan was just about to turn one as well.   We got some special pictures just for Logan too:-) Both Logan and Lily were all smiles and gave me some great smiles.  We had an awesome time exploring the park.

1st year portraits at Morven Park
golden hour at morven park

Capturing families walking is a sweet moment I like to capture.  I like to do this at the end of the session, everyone is relaxed and ready to go home.  Very rarely do I have to even instruct them, they just naturally walk and I take their picture!  As an added bonus, Scot’s brother and parents joined us and we got some great extended family portraits.  Extended family pictures are some of my favorites.  Three or four generations of families together.

Collage 1

If you are interested in Fall portraits later this year, I’d be thrilled to be your Morven Park Photographer.  I am located in Leesburg, VA for family portraits.

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I’ve been busy the past few weeks with newborns, and this little cutie was my most recent newborn session.  Her name was True and she was just as sweet as can be – and one of the tiniest newborns I’ve ever photographed weighing in just over 5 pounds!  Her momma’s prayers were answered when she received this beautiful gift.  Nicole and Talib are wonderful parents, I could tell from the short time we spent together.  Congratulations guys, thank you so much for allowing me to capture these precious moments of your brand new babe!!

posed newborn with parents
newborn in bowl on wood floor backdrop
Washington DC Newborn Photographer

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Oh little Samuel, how alert and sweet you were for your newborn pictures!!  I was lucky enough to get to photograph his older brother just two short years ago and I was so excited when Christina asked me to do another First Year package for her 2nd baby.  Samuel gave us lots of wide eyed shots and some sweet smiles as well.  He is going to have a great time with his big brother.   Be on the lookout for some more pictures as Samuel grows – I think he’s going to look just like his big brother!

Flokati newborn session
newborn pictures with teddy bear hat

Brambleton Newborn Photographer

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Oh little Leo, how adorable are you!?  It was my pleasure to photograph this cutie newborn – who just happens to be my nephew!!  I’m so excited for another best friend for my three little boys (grow up fast so you can come play!!)  I couldn’t help but kiss this little baby on his sweet little face any chance I got.  Leo is just a sweet little soul.  Just like his daddy.  And he’s a future Hokie too!  (Or maybe a Florida Gator… to be fair to Mommy and all)  ;-)

Newborn sleeping photography
VA Tech Hokie newborn baby
Cori wanted to do something special with Leo and take a picture of him while wearing her beautiful wedding gown.  This was a special memory Cori had since there was a similar picture of her own mom holding her as a newborn wearing her wedding gown.
Newborn baby and wedding dress
Macro photography newborns
Mother and newborn baby
And could his momma be any more beautiful and glowing?!  Just stunning Cori is!!  I know from the bottom of my heart that Jon and Cori are going to be the best parents ever.  Leo is already spoiled with love, I can’t wait to see him grow up!!  I love photographing newborns and this was was just so extra special.  And if you missed it, be sure to see his newborn hospital pictures too – SO FRESH!!  Fairfax Newborn Photographer

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