Body language plays a critical role in non-verbal communication, and the way we position ourselves can convey a lot of information to those around us. Whether we’re posing for a photograph or having a conversation, the stance we adopt can affect how others perceive us. One of the most significant factors in body language is the positioning of our feet, which can either be in an open or closed stance. This article will explore the differences between open and closed stances, how they affect body language, and the impact they have on posing for photographs. By understanding the nuances of open and closed stances, you can be more aware of how you’re portraying your photography subjects and use this knowledge to more effectively execute your vision.

Open Stance Vs. Closed Stance General Rule

A subject’s stance can reveal a lot about that subject, and what is revealed should be intentional. Open stances, for example, tend to portray strength  while closed stances usually reveal soft qualities.

Open Stance – Open stance is a pose where the feet are shoulder-width apart, with toes pointing outwards or straight forward, and the weight is evenly distributed between both feet.

Close Stance – Closed stance, on the other hand, involves the feet being close together, with toes pointing forward, and most of the weight on one foot. The differences between these two stances can be subtle, but they have a significant impact on our body language.

Open stance typically conveys a sense of confidence and assertiveness. When we stand with our feet shoulder-width apart, we take up more space, and this can make us appear more dominant. In contrast, closed stance can convey shyness or submissiveness. With feet together, we take up less space, and this can make us appear less confident. In some cases, closed stance can be defensive, as it may indicate that we are trying to protect ourselves.

A common misconception is that these terms relate directly to gender, which is actually not the case.  You may have instances when you want your female subjects to express stronger look and feel and instances when you want your male subjects to express a softer look and feel.

Open Stance (Open Pose)

Here is an example of the open stance.  Notice how having the feet apart with the chest out and the arms off the body conveys a feeling of command over the scene and image.

Open Stance Example

Close Stance (Closed Pose)

Here is an example of the close stance (closed pose).  Notice how the legs overlapping with the arms around the body conveys a softer look and feel.

closed stance
Close Stance Example

Wedding and Portraits

Like always, the pose should match the moment. More often than not, whether during engagement, wedding, and family portrait sessions, women will likely pose in closed stances to appear soft, while men will likely pose in open stances to convey strength.

Fashion and Corporate

For fashion, editorial, and some corporate shoots, your female subjects might prefer an open “power” stance to show case confidence and strength.


These are, of course, guidelines, and they are flexible depending on the context of the image.  Open and closed stances are just one aspect of body language, but they can have a significant impact on how we’re perceived.  Whether you’re having a conversation or posing for a photograph, your stance can convey a lot of information about you, and it’s important to be aware of the messages you’re sending.