Whether it’s for a special occasion, modeling portfolio, or publicity shot, the way to have a winning photoshoot is make them feel and look beautiful.  With 10+ years of professional modeling experience personally, I have enjoyed taking what I’ve learned being on the other side of the lens to help new or experienced models, and even the girl next door, to achieve the looks I want to capture.

Two Important Rules

  1. First, always ask if she knows her best profile.  If she knows it, remember it, and tell her to remember to show her good side even if it is a sight tilt.  This is the utmost importance.
  2. Second, recommend that she gets her hair and makeup professionally done and give her referrals if needed.

Remember the basic photography rule

What is closest to the camera will appear larger.  Pay attention to what body parts you put closest to the camera. If you are trying to to slim something, place it in the back. This also applies if you are shooting a group of women, put the skinny girls in the front.

Things to remember while shooting female portraits

  1. Shoot her favored side. Again, girls fight for their best sides even for Facebook photos and yes, it makes a huge difference in how much she will like the images.
  2. Shift weight to the back. The saying goes, booty in the back for the slimming effect.  Do not jet out the hip toward the camera, but shift the body’s weight to the straightened back leg. Front knee is bent.
  3. Watch the “fat arm,” as girls call it. If our arm looks fat, we think we look fat. Even slender women get it if they are positioned poorly. If she is leaning her weight back on an arm, it needs to be bent and positioned slightly away from her body.  Do not let it protrude out so it looks double jointed, this pushs the arm muscle to bulge in the back of the arm. A bent anything automatically looks slimmer.
  4. Define the jawline. If her jawline isn’t clearly defined, shoot slightly above the subject, looking down.  This angle not only gives the jawline more definition, but slims the body, as it looks smaller since it is placed further from the camera. Curvier women look beautiful in this pose.
  5. Have her lean in.  The best and prettiest way to emphasize the face and hair is to have her lean her face towards you, parallel to her bent knees if she is sitting.  This elongates the neck, defines the chin, and let’s her hair fall down, away from her body making it look voluminous. Watch the curve in her shoulders and back, make sure she doesn’t slouch.
  6. Pay attention to what is showing. If a woman was sitting in that position wearing a skirt and you would see right up her skirt, that is a poor pose and angle.  Position her hands to “block” that area so it isn’t highlighted, position the leg to the side, move the legs down and shoot higher, have the arm bent on the knee to hang down, or have her wrap her arms around her legs.
  7. Know slimming poses. No matter what size a woman is, more likely than not, she wants to appear thinner.  Have her bring a shoulder to the front and turn her head toward you.  Shoot slightly from above and this creates some beautiful angles that focuses on her face.
  8. Smile with eyes.  Show her how to relax her jaw so her lips part, eyes lifted and warm it up into a smile.  Try it first so you can show her how to do it.
  9. Don’t miss the warm up smile. There is something beautiful about the smirk that’s just about to go into the full blown smile.  Don’t miss it.
  10. Tell her to move with every click. My model tip that my girlfriends and I do even for simple snapshots is with every click we slightly move our chin, tilt our head, we mix it up with every shot.  We don’t move dramatically, just ever so slightly. If she does this, this will give you more variety especially if you are doing portraits and you are not moving much during the shoot.

Biggest tip

Every woman has her own sensitivities and insecurities.  It is your job to show her how to pose, give her confidence, and position her in the best angles.  Never use negative reinforcement if your model isn’t doing it right such as, “No, like this,” instead, say, “Ok, now try this.”  The best thing you can do is to show her.

Shooting examples

Leaning in, defines the jawline and focuses on face and eyes.

Warming up into a smile.

Slight slimming trick, one shoulder back, leaning over, shooting from above to define jaw.

Showing the “good side”

Shifting weight to the back, front knee bent.