How to pose for photos without looking awkward or unnatural!
For most of us, posing in photos is the most uncomfortable and awkward experience. And it can really make or break a shoot. You can put all this effort into planning an amazing personal branding shoot, and then when the day comes you freeze out and you end up hating how you look in photos. So if you’re in team awkward when it comes to posing in photos, stay tuned because I am going to sort all of that out in this video.
Hi and welcome back, or if this is your first time here, welcome, my name’s Kat Elizabeth. I am an actor and personal branding coach and obsessed with personal branding photoshoots. And I have spent years figuring out how to finally look natural in photos without having to pose like some want wannabeto be model.
So what I have done now is narrow down all of the different things that helped me figure out how to look like a pro in these photos and look really natural and real and I’ve put it all into this one video so that you can pose like a pro at your next photo shoot.
So let’s get straight down to business. Tip number one is a simple one. I want you to keep moving so where it probably goes against the grain because you feel like you need to just stop and hold the perfect pose until the photographer gets the right shot. If you actually watch professional models in action, they move constantly, because that’s how they end up looking natural and the photos can look dynamic.
It’s really obvious when you’re holding a pose and someone takes a photo of you, like it looks like you’ve been holding that pose for awhile. The same goes for your facial expressions, so whatever you do, keep moving. Make the movement movements really small and subtle though. So I don’t mean go from here to here to here. I just mean keep kind of changing your angle gradually thinking about different thoughts, feeling free to to laugh. If you go on a walk, just take little steps and kind of keep moving. It’s like feel like you’re little bit in slow motion, which might feel silly, but trust me, it looks amazing on camera, because the one issue with moving is that if you go too fast, you can become a blur in the photos, and they’re not going to be able to focus on you properly.
Tip number two is a bit of a weird one that I got taught a long time ago and it’s to look over the fence. So one of the things that most of us were really self conscious about is getting a double chin in a photo and losing our jaw line in general. So the look over the fence is essentially, you’ve got to pretend that you’re actually like a nosy neighbor peeking over the fence and it, as you can see, it just kind of lifts up the back of your neck and puts your chin over and it helps kind of tense the muscles in here so you get a much stronger jaw line.
Now this takes a little bit of practice, so don’t try it for the first time at the shoot, but it’s something that you should definitely be practicing when you’re getting selfies taken and things so that you can see what looks natural versus where you’re looking like really stiff.
Speaking of getting too stiff in the face, let’s talk about tip three, is really making sure that you keep giving you the face the opportunity to completely relax between shots. So one way you can do this is actually push your tongue into the back of your teeth and it’s going to force a lot of these little muscles that often get really tense to just kind of relax. But the other thing I will do is if I find that I’ve been smiling for too long and my thing is that when I get a bit nervous or uncomfortable, I’ll kind of put myself into this fake smile and I can feel that I’m getting sore cheeks from it.
I’ll just kind of go [inaudible 00:03:33] or bah and have a bit of a laugh and then I’ll go back to posing again. I know that it can feel really silly, but as long as you’ve picked a photographer who is down to earth and friendly and makes you feel comfortable, then you should be able to do this and they’re going to appreciate it too. In fact, I’ve found that the best photographers I’ve had have actually called me on when my face is starting to look too locked into place, because the photos start to look a little bit stiff and uncomfortable as well.
Number four is about knowing your best angles and I mean I don’t know many people that don’t have a side that they prefer of themselves, but if you don’t then it’s something you want to think about. Have the look in photos that have been taken of you in the past, and see if you can notice that your favorites all tend to be from one specific angle.
Like for instance, I always favor this angle, I’m a bit asymmetrical when I’m on this side. I looked different to this side. So generally if a photographer is trying to take too many photos of me from this side, I’ll be like, “I’m sorry, do you mind actually focusing on this side instead?” It sounds very vain and ego-driven, but the fact is it’s your photo shoot. You need to love these photos. And so if you know that you’ve got a better angle or an angle that just makes you feel better, even if no one else can see it, then just own that and get more of the photos taken from that side.
Number five is really about knowing how to work with your clothing and with your environment. So where professional models really stand out is that they can put on a certain outfit and they immediately know how to work that outfit to really sort of take the photos to a new level.
So an example is if you’re wearing a blazer, it’s a fantastic prop that you can use to then not have to be just standing there with your arms limp by your side. You can actually be walking along and pretending to slightly put on the blazer. You can be looking down, you can be adjusting your sleeve. You can be buttoning up your blazer. For personal brand shoot, this makes perfect sense because you’re in action. It’s something you’d be seen doing in real life because we feel so awkward when we have nothing to do with our hands.
It’s not very common day to day for us to not be doing something with our hands, like we normally working or picking something up. We’re having a drink, we’re using our phone. So then to get in front of the camera and have nothing to do is awkward. It’s not you being a terrible… I was going to say photographee. That doesn’t make sense. It’s not you being a bad model by feeling weird when you don’t have something in your hands. It’s that we just naturally need something to do.
Number six is about creating shape and this is probably one of the tricky ones. It takes a little bit more practice. But what you always want to be thinking about is trying to elongate, create long lines, create interesting shapes in photos. So a really simple example of this is that if you’re sitting down in your, your legs, one is crossed over the other. If you flex your foot, you kind of create the yucky angle and it shortens the look of your leg. Whereas if you can point your toe at the end of your leg, of course it’s at the end of your leg, then it’s going to create a much longer look.
So always be thinking about how can I make myself the longest in this photo? What’s an interesting shape that I can create instead of just standing straight? Like a plank, a plank is not a shape. In this case, we’re looking for actual angles and to create flow and interest. So one of a really easy way of doing this is sitting cross legged. It could be leaning against a wall so that you create a nice diagonal shape, things like that.
And what I recommend is, again, have a look in magazines and even just on Instagram at people that are really good at posing and have a look at the shapes that they’re creating and you’ll see that they’re creating visual interest and it sounds really complicated, but it’s less complicated than you think.
My next tip is to have some damn fun already. Trust me when I say that if you approach a photo shoot really serious and putting all sorts of pressure on yourself about the results and you’re like, “I just have to get it right.” It’s not going to go well. It’s going to be stressful, you’re going to look uncomfortable, you’re going to hate the photos and it’s just going to be a disaster.
So the shoots where you find the right photographer, because obviously that’s a huge element of it, and they encourage you to have fun and experiment and just play around. They are the ones that always work best. So whatever you do, please just show up at the shoot, really open to having some fun. You’ll feel a little bit silly, but once you relax and just roll with it, you’re going to just get in flow. And when you start to see some of the previews of the shots that the photographers are grabbing while you’re having fun, while you’re laughing, while you’re messing around, you’ll be encouraged and you want to do it more.
So try and trust the photographer, give yourself permission to be silly for that hour or two hours, and trust me, it’s going to pay dividends. It’s just there’s no point doing a shoot if you go in and go there and just be completely serious and stressed.
Number eight, and this is one of my biggest ones, it’s the one that’s taken me years to perfect, but now that you know this, hopefully it won’t take you that long. So you need to actually work on your smile. You need to know what your best smile is so that you can bring it out in photos. And so for some people a full toothy grin is your best smile. For some people it’s like mouth open, like kind of mid laugh. For some people it’s that little, “Hey,” and you don’t actually want to show your teeth because again, like some of us are going to have teeth that we love showing off. Some of us feel self conscious about our teeth. There’s no sort of right or wrong way to smile except not smiling. That is the wrong way to smile, and remember that a smile needs to be in your eyes as well.
So this is kind of more of an acting tip, but I want you to actually be thinking of happy things, thinking of great scenarios, thinking of a joke that someone told you that always makes you laugh, and it’s not necessarily that you want to actually laugh. But have that almost laugh happening. If you just go, “Okay, I need to smile,” then you are going to have issues because you’re going to have the dead eye effect going on, which is thing that just always makes me face palm when I see someone like with the toothy smile and then the killer eyes. Where you know you cover your mouth and it’s just like… But then they’re like, “Hey…” You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
So this is one where if you can practice in the mirror with selfies, all of that and start to get good at your killer smile, the good kind of kills smile, then you are going to be able to unlock all of that potential in the photo shoot.
8.5 is to learn how to fake laugh. Now this sounds crazy, but this is my own little secret. So when I really laugh in photos, it can be a bit much. Okay? I’m going to give you an example. My eyes disappear. It’s all teeth. It’s really scary. It’s not something that is going to really help grow my brand. But I figured out that there is a half smile, half laugh, almost fake laugh, whatever you want to call it, that I can do where it’s like the beginnings of laughter, and it gives me all of the best elements of a laugh, but not all the weird ones that happen when I’m really laughing.
And so what I do is kind of go… I feel really stupid doing it now, but basically kind of go, ah-ha, ah-ha with my mouth slightly open, my eyes are laughing. What you’ll find is when you start to do it, it makes you really laugh. So that’s a good thing. But don’t let yourself get hysterical because then that’s when it goes to it too fast.
My final tip would be to actually communicate with the photographer about what you’re trying to achieve. Ask for feedback if things aren’t working and that the best thing that you could do, which can be a little disconcerting sometimes, is ask to see some previews of the photos on their camera as they’ve been taking them. So just take a little break and have a look, so that you get to adjust things as you go.
So I found once that I was wearing an outfit that when I sat it in certain way, created all these rolls and I felt really gross about it. So once I saw that I was like, oh gosh, I need to sit up straight up because I’m creating all of these roles and it’s not a flattering look. If you can do that, if you can get past the ego of being like, oh I don’t want to se myself, you’re going to be able to sort of give yourself constructive criticism to go, right, that pose isn’t actually working, or oh no, the jacket’s not looking right. Because while some photographers are amazing at pulling out those kinds of things and going, “Oh, by the way, this isn’t working.” Or they’ll make an adjustment to your hair, other photographers are just just snap, snap, snap, snap, snap. And they’re just trusting that your working all of your magic on your end.
So if you have one of those photographers who’s just kind of passive and just taking the photos, you need to take control, have a look at these poses and how they’re turning out and make sure you adjust as you go so that you don’t get to the very end of the shoot and have them send you the photos and you go, “No!”
So those are my posing tips. I know there’s a lot you’re going to need to do some practicing, but, hey, it’s worth it. You pay hundreds of dollars for a good photo shoot and I just think it’s worth making the most of those instead of leaving it up to chance.
Now, I didn’t mention this at the beginning, but I do actually have a little bit of a freebie for you if you’re interested. So if you are planning a photo shoot that’s coming up, I created a free photo shoot planner for you that’s going to walk you through all of the elements of planning a shoot, right from finding a photographer, locking in a location, right through down to all the details. There’s even a shot list in there and a checklist of everything you need to do up until the day, like it’s pretty awesome if I say so myself. So if you want a copy of that, have a look for the link in the description and the comments below and grab yourself that one.
Give this a lot of thumbs up if you liked it and learn something new. Make sure you subscribe for future videos on these kinds of topics and share it with a friend if you want to pass on some good karma. Thanks as always for watching and I’ll see you next time. Bye.
Kat is an actor and personal branding coach as well as the host of The Personal Branding Project Podcast and her self-titled YouTube channel. She started her career off by playing Marilyn at Warner Bros Movie World, went on to perform in the original Australian casts of Jersey Boys & Hairspray and eventually found herself writing/producing her own work before becoming a self-employed copywriter and marketing strategist. She now offers 1:1 Coaching and Online Courses for entrepreneurs, freelancers + multi-passionate creatives.