Photography Tutorials and Articles

Portrait Posing Tip – Positioning the shoulder

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Posing for great portraits

There are many rules for portrait posing. Some of them are more important than others. In this series of articles I am going to discuss a few of the popular ones.

What should you do with the shoulder?

When taking head shots and upper body portraits of people one simple posing tip I’ve picked up over the years is to angle the shoulders of your subject rather than to have them even or squared in your shot. While the shoulders might not seem like an important aspect of a portrait they can actually set the tone for an image because they’re the widest part of your subject and visually dominant.

Portrait Posing Tip

Portrait Posing
Posing the shoulder can add so much dynamic to your portrait photos

Is there a specific reason for this posing tip?

Generally speaking, angling the shoulders slightly gives your shot balance and helps lead your viewer’s eye towards your main focal point (the face). It also prevents your subject from appearing out of proportion as it lessons the width of the shoulders slightly.

Portrait Posing Tip

Portrait Photography
Slightly angled the shoulder and chin up create a pleasant and gentle pose

Does this also influence the size of the subject?

Angling the shoulder of your subject means actually getting your subject to lean in one direction or another or it could simply mean getting them to turn their body a little so you’re not photographing them from directly front on.

Portrait Posing Tip

Portrait Posing
Angled shoulder is very popular among portrait and fashion photographers

Are there any fine tweaks with this posing tip?

Some believe when positioning your subject’s shoulders you should have the one closest to camera be the lower of the two – but I’ve found that you can get an interesting effect by doing it the other way around too. Of course – this isn’t a hard and fast rule and sometimes the completely front-on symmetrical shot can have a very powerful (and often confrontational) impact upon your viewers, especially with posing males. So as always – experiment with posing your subject in a variety of ways and see what works best for you and your subject.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

Portrait Posing Tip

Portrait posing
Positioning shoulder and tilting head as final touch

Natural Light Portrait Photography Workshop An advanced photography class

Saturday April 22nd from 10am to 4pm

If you’re serious about taking your posing skills to a new level check our Upcoming Photography Classes for portrait photography. In these workshops you will be working with models and gain valuable practice in real life situations!

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