Monday, October 8, 2012

Photography Tips for Great Portraits - Guest Post

This Article is a Guest Post.

Every phone currently made has a camera now. So, it would only make sense that we all take great pictures, right? Well, the pictures on Instagram seem to dispute this fact. In many cases the worst pictures are actually of people. Photographed in strange positions, with duck faces, or even in the mirror with their shirt raised to show off their six packs, these portraits would make even an amateur photographer cringe. 

Here are some better ideas for portraits that you would actually be proud to see posted to your Facebook wall.


  Different Angles

1.       Thin - To make the subject seem thinner, take a photo from the side. Have them bend the leg farthest from the camera up slightly (about 45 degrees) and place one hand on the hip facing the camera. The other hand should be raised above there shoulders: placed on top of their head like they are holding back their hair or they can point to something in the distance. This will create the optimum thinness illusion. You can also try a variation of this by having the subject cross their arms across their chest with the hand closest to the camera on the subject’s chin, or just crossed.
2.       Firm rear – To show off a curvy and firm rear end, take the photo from behind. Have the subject turn their body about ten percent in the camera’s direction so it is not straight on and then have them look over their shoulder at the camera. Their hands should be at their sides and flat against their thighs. You can also try a variation of this with their hands on their hips.
3.       Tiny waist –Another side photo, in this one have the subject put the leg closest to the camera slightly behind them, keeping it straight with their toes touching the ground. Have them lean forward and put their hands over their head, palms touching. Have the subject stretch out in the position, the hands and foot moving back as the chest and waist are pushed forward, forming a C shape.

Full Frontal

4.       Stick thin – If your subject wants to look tall and show off their natural shape, try having them stand straight but on tip-toes. Put their hands at their side palms down and parallel to the ground. Alternately, they can stand flat with their legs slightly wider apart then their shoulders in a relaxed position with their head cocked slightly to the side. If a female subject wants to show off her cleavage, she can stand with feet apart, hands on hips, and lean towards the camera at an 80 degree angle. Have her cock her hip slightly and make sure her hair stays back.
5.       Curvy – To make a subject look more voluptuous, have them bend one leg slight in front of the other. This automatically creates more curves. You can have the subject raise on or both hands above their head to make their waist look narrower. Or put hands on hips or at their side to create a leggy look.


A chair can be a versatile prop and offer many poses that standing can’t. Try having your subject sit in a plain, unpadded, and open backed chair for the best effect.
 Side Shot
1.       Leggy – Sitting sideways in a chair shows off more leg. Make sure the subject has their toes pointed and not flat for the best effect. Have the subject cock their head as they look towards the camera. They can also lean their head back and balance with one hand on the seat behind them. For extra leg wow, have the subject raise the leg farthest from the camera to a 45 degree angle, keeping it straight. The matching hand should be wrapped around the ankle and the head leaning forward. The other leg should remain touching the floor at a 90 degree angle.
2.       Sleek – Have the subject lean back in the chair with the leg farthest from the camera bent and clasped between their hands. Do not have the leg get too close to the chest and the arms should be almost fully extended. The other leg should be raised slightly off the floor as they balance. Make sure the subject’s hair is over the shoulder farthest from the camera so the sleek lines can be fully appreciated.

 Full Frontal
4.       Daring – For the brave at heart, have the subject face the camera and spread their legs further apart than the legs of the chair with their toes pointed and touching the ground. Their hands should be on their knees and they should be leaning forward slightly. Have them look to the side and not directly at the camera.
5.       Sweet – Have the subject sit up straight and cross their legs with their hands in their lap. Alternately, they can sit with their legs down and put their elbows on their knees with their hands supporting their face as they lean towards the camera. 
 Chair Play
6.       Balanced – Have the subject turn their back towards you at a diagonal with the chair and with their calves up on the back of the chair. The arm closest to the camera should hold onto the chair leg behind them and the other hand should be on the chair back or on their head. Have them look over their shoulder at the camera.
7.       Dynamic – Turn the chair sideways and have the subject sit in it with the back of the chair between their legs, their forearms should be resting against the top of the chair’s back and hands relaxed. Their toes should be pointed and angled slightly near the chair’s legs. They should sit up straight and turn their head to face the camera, forming a box shape with the chair. Alternately, have the subject face the camera and lean one elbow on the chair’s back, supporting their face with that hand. The hand closest to the camera should be clutching the back of the chair. Have the subject straighten out the leg closest to the back of the chair and bend the other leg up until their heel touches the chair leg.
8.       Bold – Have the back of the chair face the camera and the subject sit with their legs around the chair’s back. Have them place one elbow on the top of the back of the chair and support their face with that hand. The other hand should be relaxed over the top of the chair’s back. 

High and Low

Taking pictures from above or below your subject is a great way to shake things up. Try a small stepladder for high pictures and get low to the ground for low pictures. Low pictures make the subject look more powerful and also longer legged. High pictures make the subject look more submissive and dramatic.

Down Low

  Looking Down – It is all about attitude. When the subject looks down at the camera it displays a stronger and more dominate attitude. Have the subject look straight down at the camera or keep their head level but their eyes looking down.  
Looking Up- For a different approach have the subject look into the distance, look up, or even close their eyes.

Up High

Clothing – Your subject’s choice of clothing and footwear will make a dramatic impact on these shots. Tighter clothing is better and shoes that have an interesting top are recommended.
Eye lines – Have the subject cock their head and look up at the camera. Alternately, have them look back over their shoulder. 
You should also play around with different facial expressions to see what looks best. There is a ton of ways to get good photos. All it takes is a little effort and a lot of shots to capture the perfect pose. Thankfully, having digital cameras and phone cameras means you don’t have to pay for film. Just have fun clicking away and see what great shots you can capture! 

Author Bio:
Ken Myers is the founder & contributor for He frequently researches and writes about a variety of topics like education, Technology, Health and many more.   He welcomes your comments.   

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