Ep 33: 7 deadly posing sins – and how to avoid them

If you’re photographing portraits, there is a HUGE difference between and good shot and a great shot. Even if you are technically brilliant, the “magic” only comes when you can really connect with your subject and ensure they are posing in a way that’s natural – but that looks amazing. As photographers we can’t blame our subjects if they feel awkward or nervous. It’s our job to direct them to achieve the best possible shot. It’s also about choosing the right environment to suit.

In this episode, Gina and Valerie discuss the 7 deadly posing sins – and how to avoid them. You’ll discover what to do with awkward hands, how to choose the right backgrounds, how to get the right expression in a subject’s eyes, and much more.

This week’s theme for #ginachallenge is “deadly sins”!

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Show notes

Useful links
Wife Leaves And Takes All But The Dog, Guy Responds With Incredible Photo Series

Photo Critique
From Andrew Deagle in NSW, Australia.

Andrew Deagle 1

Andrew Deagle 2
Taken with Canon 5D Mk3, Tamron 70-200 F2.8. Front facing 109mm focal length and back facing 200mm focal length. Umbrella and a soft box used.

Listen to the episode for our critique on Andrew’s shots.

The 7 deadly posing sins

1. Hands
A nervous model will not know what to do with their hands. Many revert to the default settings or:

  • Clenched fists
  • Awkward or clumsy looking
  • The dreaded goalie or goolie pose
  • Claws

When asking models to rest their hands on their face or their bodies, ensure they are only lightly touching with their hands so they don’t distort the face or body. Hands look best when they are photographed side-on as it reduces their size.

2. Expression

  • It doesn’t work when there is no connection in the eyes/scared eyes.
  • Avoid the fake smile or the “cheese” smile.

3. Awkward pose
This is often a combination of model left to their own devices or photographer making the model look and feel awkward.

Focus on connection and use your “go to” poses.

Give really clear direction. Make sure it’s visual direction not verbal direction.

4. Background choice
Ensure there aren’t things growing out of the back of people’s heads!
Don’t pick a background with too much detail.

5. Poor focus
Always focus on the eyes.
Watch depth of field: f1.2- 2.8 on couples and groups may cause you to miss focus.

6. Poor lighting
Avoid a situation where you have no catch lights (black eyes look evil).

Also be careful with:

  • overlighting
  • under lighting
  • shooting in dappled hard light
  • hard/harsh lighting causes shadows
  • overlighting and blowing out highlights
  • backlighting blowing out highlights

If you are using soft lighting, use a really big modifier.
Use a reflector for catch lights.
Best catchlights are big windows or banks of light.

7. Bad shooting angle

There is one “go to” angle that works because everyone is different. So you need to mix up your shooting angles depending on the situation.

  • Kids look better from eye level
  • Shooting from too far above can look really dated
  • Shooting from slightly above can make model look softer more approachable
  • Shooting from below makes people look more powerful. Great for CEO’s
  • Shooting from below can make chins appear larger
  • Try and shoot portraits slightly above eye level
  • Full length from about waist high elongates the body

#ginachallenge “deadly sins”


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How to direct and pose like a pro


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About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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