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how-to-pose-for-pictures-so-you-don't-look-fat Time Out With Tanya

Anyone Can Be Photogenic! How to Pose So You Don’t Look Fat in Photos

By Tanya Goodall Smith on May 16th 2014

An important part of my job as a portrait photographer is to make sure my client looks good by posing them in a flattering way. Posing is an art form that takes practice and was one of the first road blocks I encountered when I first started doing portraiture. Women, especially, would ask, “What do I do with my hands? Does my chin look fat? I never look good in pictures!” Sound familiar?

I recently came across on article titled 4 Big Reasons You Look Fat in Photographs, by Alea at The Haute Girl. She writes,

…a photo is merely a snapshot of a moving, breathing object. Angles that most people never see because we are constantly in motion and when you freeze frame that action in the wrong moment or bad angle, it’s not a reflection of what you may actually look like to anyone’s eyes. Angles are that important. Ultimately anyone can be photogenic.

I 100% agree with Alea on this one. Posing is something I’m still learning to master so I’ve been doing some digging and found several videos that might help you, too! Whether you’re a pro learning to pose your subjects, or just someone who wants to pose themselves in a flattering way for snapshots, here are 6 videos showing how to pose so you don’t look fat in photos…


Contains 8 Hours of HD Videos & Powerpoint Slides. Flattering poses for men, Women & Groups.


#1: It’s All About the Stance

This short clip shows you how a simple adjustment to your pose can make a big difference in how wide or slim you’ll look in a photo. Check it out!

#2: Accentuate the Jaw!

World famous head shot photographer Peter Hurley (who was a model before he was a photog), says accentuating the jawline is key to creating a flattering head shot. He’s brilliant, so listen up…

#3: On Posing “real” Women

This video is long (an hour), but if you want to learn from the master of posing real women of all different body types, you’ll take the time to watch this tutorial by Sue Bryce. Everything I know about posing women I learned from Sue.

#4: When Posing Couples

The SLR Lounge Natural Light Couples Photography Workshop is chock full of posing tips for couples. In this clip, Pye shows us how to make sure the woman is posed in a flattering way during an engagement shoot.

#5: Posing High School Senior Girls

Lindsey Adler gives her top 5 tips for posing teen girls. I’m heading right into high school senior portrait season, so this is really timely.

#6:How to Pose EVERYONE

Wow, this is a little gem and it’s totally free to watch! A full 2-hour workshop by Jerry Ghionis on how to pose everyone. Women, men, couples, groups… He shares so many helpful tips for posing people in a flattering way without making them looked “posed”. Awesome!

[Free Tutorial: Secrets for Posing Couples, Brides and More]

Ok, now get to work in front of a mirror practicing your poses. I’m on a mission to rid the world of bad selfies, double chins and claw hands in portraits. Are you with me? Having some posing know-how in your arsenal of tricks will make you a more confident photographer (or model). Check out some other tips for building your confidence as a photographer in my interview with Amy Lockheart, FOLLOW YOUR HEART: BECOMING A CONFIDENT PHOTOGRAPHER


Let us guide you in your photography journey with the best photography education and resources. Browse our complete, comprehensive solutions below and take the next step in your photography.

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Tanya Goodall Smith is the owner, brand strategist and commercial photographer at WorkStory Corporate Photography in Spokane, Washington. WorkStory creates visual communications that make your brand irresistible to your target market. Join the stock photo rebellion at

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joel Keller

    Excellent teaching, with concise explanations & modeling. Thank you.

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  2. Alice Zhao


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  3. Michelle Thacker

    The post is really very nice specially for the plus sized. These are the tips which every plus sized person should try so that they look flattering.

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  4. Jacob Jexmark

    The only way for me not to look fat in pictures is the Liquify Tool ;)

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  5. Jeff

    I am a FAT man, 5’6′ 300, I think you named the article exactly RIGHT. You know if your fat, if you can’t deal with it get a sleeve or therapy. I am not in the arts and found the article informative and in no way offending.

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    • Tanya Smith

      Thank you! I, myself am a “plus sized” woman and I don’t want to look fat in my pictures!

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  6. Genevieve

    Thank you so much for this article! It is so incredibly helpful and has so many great tips. This has definitely shed some light on this problem that I have all the time. I will be getting to work using many of these tips right away. And I the title honestly grabbed my attention very well. I think it’s great.

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  7. Nadia

    Yeah the title is awful..but to be fair the article wasn’t great either so can’t complain :)

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  8. Brian

    There are several great topics and videos here, thanks for sharing. As far as the title, etc. I’m afraid that society and people in general are becoming ultra-sensitive to just about anything. Before you know it, folks will stop taking or being in photographs because it sheds them in an unnatural light. Unless there is some explicit racism or discrimination going on here, folks need to lighten up and enjoy life for what it is. It certainly isn’t this.

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  9. MARY

    MORE TIPS FOR MY BAG OF TRICKS. Thanks for putting this all together

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  10. rpavich

    Good article and good resources, thanks for sharing them. Roberto Valenzuela is also a master at posing people so that they are flattered…check him out.

    As far as the title?

    This is what’s bad about the internet, that it allows people to whine like babies over everything that annoys their precious little sensitivities….

    Tip to the whiners: look up the word bigot in the dictionary before you throw it out there; it doesn’t mean “someone who uses a descriptive word that I don’t happen to like”

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  11. Heidi

    The title and article is fine. There’s always someone who will pick things to death. Get over it people. You can’t please everyone all the time.

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  12. Catherine Limpo

    very informative. Thanks! God bless.

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  13. Eroline

    Tq! Very informative with good advice although some suggestions r quite hard to remember. As a marketeer, your caption is fine “… Not to look fat…” In advertisements, there are certain catchy words or statement to get people’s attention to act e.g. To read, then decide the action to view or make it a pass! Tq again.

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  14. Babe Barton

    “How To Look Your Best” would be a much professional and sensitive wording than the word “FAT”. Your article is informative though am not clear on what you mean about “REAL WOMEN”. I am an amateur photographer and not only am I learning from the professionals and non professional photographers, I am learning how to connect with my subjects or images in a sensitive way with dialogues that do not intimidate nor give out negative vibes. There are too much negativity and insensitive words that are up your face on the screen. Thank you for your understanding.

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  15. LeesaM

    Am I the only one that finds the term ‘real women’ demeaning? Aren’t all women ‘real’ – fat, thin and in between? There may be more of me but that doesn’t make me more ‘real’. I know this all about photography, but damn, we women sure have a lot of hoops to jump through to make sure we’re suitable for viewing. Sigh…

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    • Tanya Smith

      By “real women” I’m generally referring to non-professional models, who know how to pose themselves through training and practice.

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  16. Deenus

    Awesome tips ^_^

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  17. Karen Douglas

    If I didn’t look fat in a photo, I wouldn’t look like myself. That would be creepy.

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  18. John

    The title is perfectly fine. Get over yourself people with nothing better to do than try to make yourself feel superior by suggesting that the title somehow negatively effects your life. Kill yourselves.

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    • Dan

      Wow, your comment, especially the last two words has really changed my mind. I would like to thank you for taking time out of your day to really make clear how your feel…idiot.

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    • Andrea

      Folks, take one look at his satanic photo, realize he’s a troll, and do what will really make a troll mad: ignore him, and go live a long, peaceful, joyous life, giving him no credence or attention whatsoever.

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  19. Pam

    I think the title is just fine. It may have been what prompted me to read it and to email it to my husband so we remember to watch it tonight. But I’m a fat chick and it certainly is no secret. Sure I’d love to hide it, but it’s not a zit on my cheek that I can put makeup on. I wear a 22 (US) – I’m definitely a fat chick. Since my husband and I have switched gears and decided to work mostly with plus sized, we have been able to give some beautiful plus sized individuals some amazing pictures of themselves. I actually cannot think of another title for this article that would grab my attention the way it has. Why hide the fact that this article is about posing plus sizes?

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    • Pam

      Oh and thank you for the article. I’ve watched that video by Jerry Ghionis, it’s very well done! He is an amazing photographer and he can truly make anyone beautiful. I hope to be half as good someday.

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    • dee

      The problem with the title is that it assumes that photogenic and fat are opposites. There are many photogenic fat people and most fat people still look fat in photos they just sometimes take better photos than other times. The title is bad because 1. A fat person will not look suddenly thin after these tips and 2. fat and photogenic are not mutually exclusive.

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    • nick

      The title is controversial by intention.. as a result it will be shared many many more times than a politically correct title.

      It’s called marketing

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  20. Dan

    I think it is a terrible title, it could be worded so much better. The article is probably great, but the title has put me off reading it. Maybe show a little bit of tact next time.


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    • Jason

      I think the title is just fine. It’s exactly what most overweight people are thinking to themselves. The author is not calling anyone names, she just knows how people think.

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    • leo

      You took the time to open the article to write a comment on it but not to read it….that makes no sense

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  21. Alison K

    Perhaps a change in article title from “Anyone Can Be Photogenic! How to Pose So You Don’t Look Fat in Photos” to “Anyone Can Be Photogenic! How to Pose So You Look Flattering in Photos” … just a thought :)

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    • Tanya Smith

      Thanks for the suggestion, Alison.

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    • Ad Lib

      I agree with you Alison K. The title of this article is hurtful and offensive. It alienates a large populace of readers and professionals. Which is a shame because the content is really informative for creating flattering positive/negative space between the subject and their environment. I sincerely hope Ms Smith that you show greater sensitivity with your words when speaking to live subjects. The title of this article makes you appear a bigot, and unprofessional. :/

      You do have an edit option, you can make positive change.

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    • Avalon

      ….well…. 99.999 percent of women don’t want to look fat in photos. So… this appeals to a very large audience. Perhaps, some people should be a bit less sensitive. Because if the title of an article makes you that hurt, and hurt enough to say its “bigoted”… you really should work on some personal issues. If the title was “Hey fatty, quit grossing everyone out and look at least somewhat decent in photos..” then yes, it would be offensive. I just don’t understand how people this sensitive and with such delicate, tender little feelings even function in the real world. You can’t change what others say, you can only change how YOU react to it.

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    • nick

      it’s a nice thought.. but titles are “Link Bait” and the word “Fat” is a sure fire attention grabber.

      Your title is nicer, but doesn’t make for viral fodder

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  22. Kallie

    GREAT resource! Thank you!

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