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Knowing how to pose for pictures—especially if you aren’t a trained model with a skilled photographer on-hand—can be way more difficult than we ever expect it to be. If you’re anything like us, you’ve likely experienced the frustration of asking someone to take a few photos of your new outfit, only to dislike every single picture they took. And while sometimes the factors are unavoidable—bad lighting or a friend who barely knows how to work a camera—others can be easily rectified with some simple posing tips.
The content we post to Instagram is often referred to as the “highlight reel” of our lives, full of swoon-worthy photos of faraway places and life’s happiest moments. Both models and influencers are pros at making their Instagram feeds—and specifically, photos of themselves—look truly stunning. So, who better to ask for posing tips than the experts? STYLECASTER talked to two models and two influencers to get some major tips on how they pose for photos—from finding the best light to testing out some new and fun angles. Consider this a masterclass in how to pose for pictures, according to models and influencers who do it all the time.
Of course, let us be clear about one thing: No one needs to look thinner, have perfect skin or an incredibly expensive ensemble to look stunning in a photo. Beauty comes from within, and confidence can be a major game-changer when it comes to posing. The posing tips we’ve collected below are meant to serve as ways to find your confidence in taking pictures—not make you look like someone else.
For even more professional tips on the art of self-portraits (aka selfies) check out this comprehensive guide above.
1. Know Your Angles
Shannon Thaler, a model who’s done campaigns with Tory Burch, Bobbi Brown and Supergoop (and even modeled for Stuart Weitzman alongside Gigi Hadid!) says, “When taking a full-body pic, I like to have the camera [person] hold the camera just below eye-level. A pic aimed ever-so-slightly upward makes for long lines—Hello, legs!”
But Thaler poses for a lot of portraits, too, and says that the best angles for your bod aren’t always the same for your face. “I find that taking a face shot from above gives the angles of my face more definition,” she tells STYLECASTER. “To master this, snap away! It’s all about finding that sweet spot and having lots of options.”
2. Check Your Lighting
Isabella Carr, a model who’s worked with VS Pink, Abercrombie and Charlotte Tilbury, tells us to “always turn your face toward the light—especially if it’s natural sunlight. This brightens your face and makes you glow, which kind of results in your blemishes being blurred away!”
3. Relax, Girlfriend
London-based Instagram star Kate Rooney knows that the best way to look calm, cool and collected in your photos is to actually be calm, cool and collected. “Relax your body—your eyes, too. If you’re uptight and stressing, you’re not going to get the shot, and your body is going to emulate that,” she says.
4. Demonstrate Good Posture
“Never, never, never slouch!” Carr instructs. “It makes you look insecure and frumpy, and your belly will not look its best if you’re wearing a crop top. Always stand up straight. You will look confident, happy and all-around more beautiful.”
Take Lizzo, for instance. This gorgeous photo of her features a seriously strong posture that makes her look high-key powerful. We stan.
5. Take Bursts Of Photos
Most of us aren’t professional models, meaning we don’t always have a fancy camera on deck for our photoshoots. Instagram influencer Rose Crombie gets it—and her recommendation is to take “bursts” on your iPhone, instead.
To do so, simply ask your cameraperson to hold down the button instead of tapping it once. The result is, like, a gazillion photos that capture every single little movement you make in front of the camera. Afterward, you can choose the best ones. (Side note: This is great for when your “photographer” is actually just your impatient significant other.)
6. Get Inspired
“I actually have a Pinterest board called ‘Insta Inspo’ where I pin pictures that I would love to have on my feed,” Thaler admits. “Having a set intention usually makes for a much more successful shoot—I already know what poses and mood to aim for.”
Going through your some of your favorite Instagram accounts—like Ashley Graham’s, obviously—can help give you ideas for future photoshoots, too. You can save them on Instagram and peruse when you need a burst of inspiration.
7. Opt For Camera-Ready Looks
Rooney says one of the most important things to consider before shooting is what you’re going to wear. “Some outfits just don’t translate well on camera,” Rooney explains. “Wear colors and styles you know look good in photos.”
Black and white looks are always a good option—but you can amp it up with some polka dots like Jordyn Woods. Experiment with colors and patterns to see what produces your favorite photos!
8. Own Your Good Side
“If you have one,” Crombie says. Some people feel they look their best facing either side, but there are tons of us who feel more confident facing one way or the other. So if you got it (on the left, but not so much on the right), flaunt it.
9. Keep It Moving
“Some of the best poses aren’t really poses at all, but actions caught in the perfect moment,” Thaler explains. “Take advantage of that and snap a burst.” See? Back to bursts. “A picture with movement is always more interesting and fun to take…and fun to look at,” she adds.
10. Try Your Tiptoes
Carr reminds us that you can adjust your poses by making yourself look more elongated. “You can do this by standing on your tiptoes or by sticking a leg out when taking your full-body picture,” she suggests.
11. Watch Out For The Flash
OK, this one’s a little tricky—but basically, greasy products make for shiny foreheads. In turn, shiny foreheads cause your camera’s flash to bounce off your face instead of lighting it up, Rooney says. This isn’t a huge deal during the day (you know, when you’re not using flash). But if you’re aiming for a night photo op, consider what beauty products you’re using on the front-end—and avoid any you know don’t make you look your best.
A version of this story was originally published in March 2014.