The Best Model Poses to Practice & Perfect

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Photo Source: G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock

From learning to smize to perfecting your angles, you’re going to run into a lot of advice on your road to becoming a model. Posing perfectly for a photo shoot can still be a difficult endeavor, no matter what kind of modeling career you pursue. 

This guide discusses the best poses to master as a model, as well as tips and techniques to bring it at your next shoot.


Basic model posing tips

Model posing in front of a white backgroundDean Drobot/Shutterstock

1. Posture is important

Keep your back straight and chest out to present your best self to the camera. Even in experimental shots that might require that you hunch your back, “Do not be a limp noodle,” model pose icon Tyra Banks advises. “Always pose with tension in your body completely from H2T (head to toe).” 

2. Dance it out

Having difficulty hitting your poses? Feeling stiff and stilted? Keep moving throughout the shoot to work past these roadblocks and achieve optimal flow. Try putting on your favorite playlist—extra points for RuPaul or Madonna—and see if that helps inspire you. 

3. Slow down

Although it’s important to keep moving throughout the shoot, slowing down and taking time for each shot and pose helps ensure that your images are top quality.

4. The photographer knows best

Try to hold whatever pose your photographer suggests, even if it feels strange or awkward. They have experience with what looks good on camera, which doesn’t always correlate with what feels good in your body. If you feel you’re not getting enough guidance from your photographer, ask for clarification or request a posing guide to help show you the ropes.

5. Details matter

Little things can make or break a shot. Pay attention to these details:

  • Pose your hands: Always place your hands in a relaxed but purposeful manner. They should seem like a natural extension of your arms.
  • Put your forehead first: Accentuate your jawline by bringing your forehead forward and down just a smidge.
  • Use your eyes: Do the famed Banks smize by focusing your eyes on the target (usually the camera), doing a small, closed-lip smile, and slightly squinting your eyes. If you struggle getting the smile to your eyes, try starting with a real smile. Close your mouth but keep your eyes in their full smiling position. 

6. Practice makes the pose

With every pose practice session and photo shoot, your ability to aesthetically position your body will improve. Actively consider what you’re doing so that you can constantly improve your model pose capabilities. You can further your posing studies by watching modeling shows (yes, you’re being assigned “America’s Next Top Model” as homework); watching online tutorials; and using apps such as AiryCam and Pocket Poser, which provide images, outlines, and instructions for making your poses pop.

Standing model poses

Model practicing three different standing posesGround Picture/Shutterstock

The best standing model poses capture your body’s gracefulness and energy as a cohesive whole. They include: 

1. The three-quarter turn

One of the easiest and most iconic fashion model poses, the three-quarter turn captures the best of both worlds of the front shot and side profile shot. Place one foot behind the other, turn your hips slightly away from the camera, and give your most powerful looks.

2. The hand-in-jacket

Stand facing the camera with your legs shoulder-width apart and place one hand slightly inside or grasping your jacket label. You’re the focal point, but the jacket position generates drama.

Hand in jacket posePop Paul-Catalin/Shutterstock

3. Both hands up

This variation on either the front-on or the three-quarter pose opens your body to the camera, making you appear vulnerable but strong. Stand with both arms above your head. Play with your hair or rest your hands on your head for an open look, or hold your arms firmly for a more rugged one.

4. Hand in pocket

The pose that took over your Instagram feed did so for a reason. Place part of your hand in your pocket—not the whole thing, as it can look unnatural or like you’re hiding something. Put your elbow back, and stick out your hip. With your other hand, use a prop like a jacket slung over the shoulder to hit a casual-chic look.

Hand in pocket poseRoman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

5. Foot against wall

Lean against a wall with one foot up against it and gaze straight ahead for a commanding look or off to the side for a touch of whimsy.

6. Hands around waist

Cinch your hands around your waist, jut out a hip for drama, and gaze off into the distance.

Sitting model poses

Model posing while sittingS.Bekhinov/Shutterstock

Sitting model poses create interesting visual lines and the appearance of dynamic energy. Some of the top sitting poses are: 

1. Crossed legs

Casual and devil-may-care, a crossed-legs pose can be done on the floor, couch, or chair.

2. Leaning forward

Leaning toward the camera while sitting puts the attention on your gorgeous face while streamlining the rest of your body.

Model sitting and leaning forwardThai Breeze/Shutterstock

3. Leaning forward, resting on an elbow

Depending on the purpose of the shot, try evoking the “most interesting man in the world” with a jaunty elbow lean.

4. Leaning back, legs crossed

Enhance this natural chair pose by gazing wistfully off-camera. Traditionally, female models crossed their legs with the knees together, while male models crossed with the ankle on the opposite knee—but the right variation on this pose is the one that feels best for you.

Model leaning back with legs crossedProstock-studio/Shutterstock

5. One leg up

On a chair or stool, bend one leg, placing your foot next to your hip. Try holding your ankle in your hands for an extra thoughtful pose.

6. Leaning against a wall

Sit on the floor, evoke Fat Joe, and lean back. Gaze at the camera for a more intense shot or to the side for a pensive one.

After playing around with these poses—or seeing if you can invent a new one—check out our modeling auditions and casting calls database to find your next modeling job.

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