How to Pose for Pictures: Expert Tips for Stunning Photos

How to Pose for Pictures: Expert Tips for Stunning Photos

Marisha Lakhiani and Kristina Mand-Lakhiani taking a selfie in Petra, Jordan

Posing can be awkward and intimidating. Learn how to pose for pictures with photographer Paulius Staniunas so you can look your best in every shot.

It’s all about knowing your angles and working them,” as Tyra Banks famously said on America’s Next Top Model. Because, let’s be real, in today’s social media-dominated world, taking pictures is an integral part of our lives.

Knowing how to pose for pictures, whether it’s a selfie or a group shot, can do more than just save the time and effort that comes with “Wait, I look weird; take another one!” It can also help capture memories and make you look your best in any photo op.

Granted, posing for pictures can be daunting for many, especially when you want to look confident, relaxed, and natural. Luckily, Paulius Staniunas, a professional photographer and founder of All Is Amazing, is here to share his wisdom on how to pose for pictures like a pro.

Here’s where he can guide you:

From finding the right lighting to positioning your body, Paulius’ posing tips will help you work those angles to capture the perfect shot every time.

How to Pose for Pictures: 3 Tips for Women

The duck face, the fish gape, over the shoulder, the Marilyn Monroe, and what have you… Because when it comes to knowing how to pose for pictures, women are masters at it.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as a 2020 study by T.J. Thomson, a senior lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, found that women took selfies 8.6 times more often than men. What’s more, they were also photographed 3.5 times more often than men.

When they feel satisfied with their image in pictures, women tend to feel more confident, which helps them connect with their higher selves. So here are three tips to help you get started:

1. Remember your “good” side. According to Paulius, take selfies to identify which side you think is best. “My advice would be that if you don’t know which side is better for you, look how your hair falls,” he adds. “The side where your hair falls on your eye is 90% of the time the better side of yours.

2. Use the triangular method. A triangular in a pose is “the empty space between your hands and between your legs.” For example, when you put your hand on your waist, you create a space—in the shape of a triangle, no less—between your arms and your body.

3. Extend your leg forward. Through my experience,” says Paulius, “a lot of female models always like to look taller than they actually are.” The trick is to extend the leg facing the camera forward. Add in the hand on the hip for the triangular effect, and you’ve got what he calls “tall, graceful, and elegant.

If you’re in need of inspiration, look to celebrities like Zendaya and Cara Delevigne. Even Bibi Brzozka, a conscious sexuality coach and the trainer of Mindvalley’s Waves of Pleasure Quest, is a great source to emulate.

Bibi Brzozka, trainer of Mindavlley's Waves of Pleasure Quest learning how to pose for pictures
Bibi Brzozka, trainer of Mindvalley’s Waves of Pleasure Quest, at Petra, Jordan

How to Pose for Pictures: 3 Tips for Men

Men don’t tend to take self-portraits or pictures as much as their female counterparts. When they do, however, one study found that they opt to shoot the photo from a lower angle, as a way to appear dominant over other men. (Fun fact: the study also found that women tend to photograph themselves frequently from above for a more slender, youthful look. So women, if you want to know how to pose for pictures to look thinner, try this method.)

To learn how to pose for pictures, men can keep these tips in mind:

1. Turn the body 45° to one side away from the camera.Usually, when we come on set, we stand straight and don’t know what to do,” says Paulius. He adds that a simple turn of the body can create a more dynamic and interesting pose.

2. Don’t slouch, especially when you’re sitting. Bad posture can make you look lifeless in photographs. You want to look energetic like Gomez Addams, not bone-idle like Lurch. Straightening your back up a bit can make you look more poised and photogenic.

3. Hold something in your hands. Holding a jacket over the shoulder, placing your hands on your hat, or doing the “cufflink” pose can take your picture to the next level. These types of pictures are what Paulius calls “headshot-worthy,” something that can even be part of your personal branding.​​

One additional tip to consider: look for inspiration from those who’ve been in the spotlight for a while, like David Beckham and Channing Tatum, as well as Vishen, founder of Mindvalley. Pay attention to their body language and try their poses until you find yours.

Vishen, founder of Mindvalley, sitting on a hotel couch in Jordan
Vishen, founder of Mindvalley, at A-Fest 2022 in Jordan

Posing With Friends and Family

Taking group shots is slightly different than when it’s just you and the camera. It’s about the collective rather than the individual.

Knowing how to pose for pictures with friends is similar to knowing how to pose for family pictures. However, according to Paulius, it’s important to consider the relationship between the people in the shot. He adds, “This will determine the poses you’re going to do and the physical contact that they’re going to have with each other.

Here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to group poses:

  • Do consider a cohesive look. To avoid the photo from being too distracting with too many different colors, types of clothes, or poses, consider discussing a mood board beforehand.
  • Do follow the photographer’s directions. If you’re unsure of what to do, the photographer can (and will) give you prompts, like how to position your body or what poses will create a more dynamic and interesting photo.
  • Don’t forget to relax and have fun. Remember that tension and discomfort can be translated into the picture, especially through facial expressions. So remember to have fun—the more relaxed and authentic every pose is, the better the photos will turn out.

One more piece of advice from Paulius? “Once you’re done with all those poses that the photographer was guiding you through, go free flow,” he says. “Do whatever you want and see what happens then.

Men learning how to pose for pictures at Mindvalley's A-Fest 2022 in Jordan

Posing as a Couple

When you pose for photos with your partner, it’s important to pay attention to your body language and the overall mood you both want to convey. 

Will it be romantic, like the “prom pose”? Playful, like the woman giving the man a piggyback ride? Candid, like genuine smiles and laughter? There are several of them you can try to look good in photos and capture the essence of who you are as a couple.

In addition to the aforementioned posing tips, let’s take a look at a few more, specifically for duos.

  • One person stands closer to the camera than the other. If there’s a difference in height between the two, the shorter person should stand more in front of the taller person. “This will visually even out their height or reduce the difference,” explains Paulius.
  • One person sits on a bar stool while the other stands. The shorter person sits with her leg facing the camera, extended so she looks way taller than she actually is. The taller person stands to the side of it with one arm resting on the back of the stool and the other in his pocket (with the thumb showing).
  • Both stand back to back. This is a “very simple, very safe” pose, according to Paulius. “If you don’t know what to do, this is the pose to go to.

Remember to communicate with your partner and work together to create poses that feel natural and comfortable for both of you. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas, trainer of Mindvalley's Calling in The One Quest, and her husband
Katherine Woodward Thomas, trainer of Mindvalley’s Calling in The One Quest, and her husband, Mark Austin Thomas

Pose to Perfection

Photography is a language that can be understood anywhere in the world. And the anatomy of great photos includes the art of posing.

Whether you’re a novice or a veteran photographer, you can get expert guidance and practical tips from Paulius Staniunas in the Picture Perfect: The Art of Looking Good in Photos Quest at Mindvalley. You’ll learn how to pose like a pro and create stunning photos that capture you in your most authentic moments.

The great thing is, you can sample the first few lessons when you sign up for a free Mindvalley account. And your photos will go from awkward to awesome in no time. 

Welcome in.

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Written by
Paulius Staniunas
Tatiana Azman