Strike a Pose

by Lysle - October 06, 2023
blog-10-23-top-jpg-road with Lysle

As photographers, we are so often behind the camera that we forget how to be in front of it!  Our daily prompts call for all kinds of subject matter that often involve models, and frankly, we are not all that lucky to have a handy or willing model to pose for us.  Sometimes, when we actually do have a willing victim--err model--, they might give you the 'okay but it's a one-shot only' option, the 'okay, but maybe next week' option, or the 'okay, but I am not leaving this room, changing clothes or acting' option. Sigh.  I don't know about you, but this is my dilemma daily.  So!  What to do?  

Strike a pose!
Come on, vogue (vogue)
Hey, hey, hey
Let your body go with the flow
You know you can do it

That's right.  Be your own model and own it.  We already do it during "picture life" week.  Let's ramp it up and make yourself the best model you can be.  By using just a few simple tips, you can find the Linda Evangelista, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, or David Beckham in you.

All you need is your own imagination
So use it, that's what it's for
Go inside for your finest inspiration
Go ahead and vogue!
You know you can do it ~ Madonna

Not only will you learn how to be your best you in front of the camera, but you will learn how to pose others as well.  Be your "practice model" and you will learn how to pose, how to feel comfortable in front of the camera, and how to then make others feel comfortable when you take their pictures.  If you can't relax in front of the camera, you can't really expect others to either.  This posing exercise is a win-win.  Let's do it.

Being your own model gives you the freedom to take your picture wherever you want and in your own time and space.  Don't be afraid to do it in public.  In my experience, people are mostly intrigued and amused.  It is a wonderful way to engage with your community and make yourself a topic of conversation and amusement. I am never afraid to dress up, drag around props, or in general make a spectacle of myself. Hey, it's art' and it's fun, and honestly, do those people watching actually know you?  Most likely not.  So who cares what they think?  Try it!  It is liberating.

If you are not comfortable with posing in public, start out in your own home or yard.  If your family and pets are amused, well, you've made their day!  I have a little studio set up in my garage where I can hide away and snap away to my heart's content. I have so much fun in there creating all kinds of scenarios and practicing poses.

blog-photo-10-23-no.3.jpg-Lysle in white

Have I convinced you to try it yet?  If you are scared to go out in public and pose by yourself, take a friend.  I have the best friend and 'sherpa' and 'human tripod' in my husband Ron.  He is for the most part a very willing helper.  I also have two other wonderful friends I have been lucky enough to have met through 365 Picture Today.  Not only have they engaged in what I call my "Documentart" but are also the most amazing natural posers.  Both have agreed to help me with today's blog about "posing". 


Garnett is a natural beauty and poser perfect.  Not only does she instinctively know the best angles to photograph herself, but she also runs a portrait photography business and gets the best poses out of her clients. Her business offers her the opportunity to not only serve her community on a volunteer basis, but to capture memories for deserving families.  She knows how best to pose them while being friendly, confident, and relaxed behind the camera as well as in front of it.  I have asked her to demonstrate a few posing alternatives in this blog.

Diana is a stunning model and has an eye for the perfect composition.  Diana has a clothing design company that features her own art.  She has a natural, easy, relaxed way in front of the camera and is the best model for her own clothing line.  Diana is here to show some easy ways to pose in your selfies that are guaranteed to make you look great!

Me? Well, I am just a poser!  With a background in bodybuilding I am a self-taught poser. (When I was competing, the angle of my poses meant the difference between winning and losing). I like to alter my stance while standing and sitting to make a story out of my photographs.  I like to take a simple portrait and add some props and some attitude to turn it into a little document.

I hope our 'do this', 'don't do that' photos will help you get out of your comfort zone and take some amazing pictures.

blog-photo-10-23-No.6.jpg-Lysle on bridge

This blog is to help you take selfies with your camera and phone using a remote or 10-second timer.  I will admit, I very, very rarely use my phone for my photography, (mostly because my phone is a dinosaur) so that might just be a whole other blog by someone who is an expert in that!  I do know, however, that your iPhones have the timer function exactly like on your DSLR, so we shall achieve the same results.  If you choose to use your iPhone and mirror system, or the handheld iPhone trick, remember that this blog is all about the poses and not the equipment you use to take your photos. The same principles apply.

So what do you need?  Your camera or phone, a tripod, and a great attitude! (and maybe a victim/model helper)

Let's get started!  First need to put yourself at ease and make yourself POWERFUL in front of the camera.  SHOW SOME ATTITUDE!  Remember that dynamic poses are way more engaging.  

Let's VOGUE 

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Deville.

Let's start off with the true and dreaded portrait selfie!  

Find your best angle.  Did you know that one side is probably better than the other?  I have read some studies that claim that the left side of your face is usually perceived as somewhat more pleasing because it reflects more true emotion. 

 *Side note. Did you know that flipping your photo is a thing? The reason is that when we look in the mirror at ourselves, our faces are flipped, so technically, we see the opposite of what people see when they look at us.  Mind-blowing!

In Garnett's sample "Do this / Don't do that" you will notice that by tilting her head toward her best side, Garnett was able to enhance the natural angles of her face which made her look instantly more friendly and approachable.  Also, Garnett used all her facial muscles in her "do this" photo instead of smiling just with her teeth in the "don't do that" picture.

Be a Garnett!  Do this!  (Although, I do believe Garnett looks adorable in both samples!)

blog-photo-10-23-No.7.jpg-Garnett in orange headshots

'Seas the Day'

Diana has some great advice on making your body look longer and leaner.  It is a simple trick that will have all of us running to get on our bikinis and giving it a whirl!  Well, maybe not the bikinis but giving it a whirl anyway!  By shooting from a lower angle, you can slightly distort your body making it look longer and leaner! If you look at the two photos, Diana looks much taller in the 'do this' photo!  Diana also made triangles out of her arms by putting her hands on her hips and angling her legs for a leaner and much more intriguing look.

Be a Diana!  Do "this" not "that!" (Although, the beauty that is Diana just glows in both samples! If only we all looked that great in a bathing suit)

blog-photo-10-23-No.8.jpg-Diana in bathing suit

"Sit happens"

Don't be afraid to use props in your selfies.  Sometimes having a simple inanimate object gives you a little confidence and something to do with your hands and feet.  Let's try posing with something as simple as a chair.  There is a lot you can do with a chair.  You can sit on it, hold onto it, stand on it, place one foot on it ... heck, hold it over your head if you so please!  For this exercise, let's try sitting.  An easy way to effortlessly pose with a chair is the traditional way of simply leaning forward with your elbows on your knees. You can also lean back on it or turn sideways on it. Try not to sit straight on unless you tuck in a leg like a pretzel, or cross your legs, or do something interesting with your limbs! Show a little attitude with that chair and your picture will be instantly more interesting.

Do what Lysle does...if you dare!


blog-photo-10-23-No.9.jpg-Lysle on chair

"Walk on the sunny side of the street"

Instead of facing the camera straight on, turn your body slightly to the side. Why?  It makes a huge difference!  By doing this you add a certain "je ne sais quoi" to your photo.  It will accentuate your curves and make you look more flattering.  Just a simple 45-degree turn is ideal.  Also, always check your posture.  Stand tall, stand straight, pull your shoulders back, and tuck in your chin or tilt your head slightly.  This will make you look taller, thinner, and most importantly, confident! Make sure you do something with your arms. Don't just hang them by your side; use those limbs to tell a story!  Remember to use real laughter and put a genuine smile on your face.  It will add enormously to your photograph by making you look “in the moment”, fun and interesting  

Do what Garnett does! (Because she is really good at it!)

blog-photo--10-23-No.10.jpg-Garnett in blue

"Let's be weird and wonderful together"

Are you lucky enough to have someone to pose with?  As photographers, our spouses often look to be single parents!  When was the last time you had your picture taken with your loved one?  Please don't say it was your wedding pictures; unless that happened last week.  Now is the time to grab that special person, family member, or even a complete stranger off the street if you must and practice some couple posing. 

Try not to look like that stern couple in the famous painting "American Classic"! Try to look like you actually like each other and have some fun.  You won't regret it.

Some helpful hints for posing with your partner: 

  • Lean into one another.
  • Hug from behind.
  • Turn toward one another.
  • Mirror-image your pose with his/hers.
  • Hold hands, kiss, touch noses...
  • Stand back to back.

Stand behind your partner and wrap your arms around his/her neck, tilt your heads or have your partner look up at you.  

Interact with one another while you take the picture!  Talk, smile, stick out your tongue, twirl, dance, make a face....anything to make you look less stiff and more relaxed.

Show some emotion, some joy, some fun, and a sense of humour to take your photo from American Gothic to WOW!  The trick is to convey the story behind your relationship to one another.  If one pose doesn't work, mix it up, and keep trying until you get what you like and which best conveys who you are.

In Diana and Ken's first sample they look as cute as can be, but in their second version, they show how adorable they really are!  By standing sideways, mirroring their body positions, and altering their arms and legs, they make this photo a winner.

Do what Diana and Ken "do's"! They are good at it!

In my first sample with Ron, we truly do look like the American Gothic couple.  By mirroring our body positions and changing the way we hold our arms, we ended up looking much more approachable and fun.

Do not do what Lysle and Ron did in the first sample....unless you like this look!

blog-photo-10-23-No.11.jpg-Diana and Ken
blog-photo-10-23-No.12.jpg-Lysle and Ron

While posing and staged photos aren't everyone's cup of tea, there are times when you may need to do it and why not like it more?  It doesn't have to be something you 'have to do' but something you 'want to do' to create selfie memories you don't have to groan about and detest.  

By now you understand that posing is a key aspect of a stellar selfie photo.  The right pose can make all the difference in how you look and how you feel about the final product.  Why not step up your game by practicing on yourself so that at the next family event you can be picture-perfect and feel really good about yourself?  All your family will want to pose like you!  

Some further helpful hints:

  1. Create negative space next to your waist by bending your arms and placing your hands on your hips.  This will help you look leaner.
  2. Be aware of your hands and how you hold them!  Relax!  Hold on to something or someone.  Try not to stand like a continental soldier! Bend your arms.  To me, a well placed arm is key to a fabulous photograph.
  3. Distribute your weight onto one leg.  By having one leg bear more weight you instantly look much more relaxed.
  4. Remember your posture! Pull your shoulders back.  This makes such a huge difference! 
  5. Smile with your whole face.  (Apparently it helps to put your tongue behind your teeth…who knew?)
  6. Lean on something or someone.
  7. Tilt your head up or sideways!  Look down over your glasses or from under a hat for intrigue. Remember to also shoot from behind.  You can turn your head over your shoulder for a demure or sassy look.
  8.  Use props!  Hats, glasses, and scarves can all add to your photograph.
  9. Twirl!  Turn slow circles and capture yourself with high-speed multiple shots.  Or jump! Also, did you know that walking towards the camera is a great way to create a natural pose.  By walking you are not creating an “acting” pose but instead the ‘real deal’. It is often easier than just standing.
  10. Relax. Get silly. Have fun.

Below are some further "do this" / "don't do that" poses to study.

blog-photo-10-23-No.13.jpg-Diana in blue dress
blog-photo-10-23-No.14.jpg-Garnett by the pool
blog-photo-10-23-No.15.jpg-Lysle sitting on ground

"Try it, you'll like it"

The more you practice posing the easier it will become.  Try some experimentation and find out who you are in front of the camera!  You might like that person very much.  Selfies and posing yourself are a great way to practice your skills.  

And remember...I am watching you! :)

Let's vogue!



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