5 Common Mistakes Photographers Make When Posing Models 

I’m back with another blog post! This time on a few points of what not to do when posing models. As the title suggests, unlike my other blog posts, these are a few tips to avoid when you're taking photographs of models or any type of person really. Of course, rules are made to be broken but for a typical portrait session with an individual, model, or aspiring model, I've found it's best to avoid these mistakes earlier rather than later. Without further introduction, here you go.

1. Don’t Do The Model Claw Hands 

When posing a model’s hands its a good idea to keep the hands  soft and loose. The less your models hands resemble an evil monkey claw, a bear claw, or any other type of demonic claw the better! Keep a close watch on what your model does with his or her hands as this is something that a lot of models who start out in the industry fall victim too. If you want help with this particular tip, you can give the models something to do (which as I've stated in previous blog posts) as it’s always helpful to get a variety of interesting shots. Side hands are typically better than palms (at least in my opinion) when you photograph people regardless of who they are (as an added mini tip). 

2. Posing Limbs Toward Or Away From the Camera 

Your pose as a model should be natural and not extend out toward the camera to create unnecessary distortion or awkward framing issues. While this is interesting for more experimental work, for portraits or non-editorial model shoots, stick to keeping your arms, legs, heads, and feet within the same relative frame. This is something than can be worked on for both the photographer and the model.

3. Avoid Cliche Model Poses 

These can be alright at times, when going for a specific mood or look but tight poses or poses with very little movement can hinder your ability to work well with your subjects. I learned this when I was just starting out the hard way through photography trial and error. You need to let your model breathe a little bit and express themselves in a way that feels more natural. Of course since you're the photographer it's also important to give direction, just don't confine the subject to a single pose or stance too long unless the shoot specifically calls for something more elaborate. I know this is difficult at times. It takes practice. 

4. Hiding Specific Body Parts on Models

This is another tip that has to do with how one poses in relation to the camera. As fashion photographers, its important to keep your model’s hands and feet in the frame (at least partially) for most full body or 3/4th crop portraits that you take. When a model is missing a hand in a photo but the rest of them is clearly visible, the human eye gets a little bit confused and your brain will not agree with the final image! This one is one that I will say can be broken but does take a lot more practice.

5. Don't Make Them Taller 

This one is a personal favorite of mine and a tip that basically just means if your a fashion model is already tall, don't give them an excuse to look taller. I know this sounds fairly straightforward (because it is) but I've had dozens of shoots where I think its a great idea to photograph an agency model on a tower or lifeguard station or something, only to realize that my attempt to make an epic photo, resulted in a bit too much height as a side effect. 

That's it for today but stay tuned for more tips in the upcoming weeks! 

Want To Learn More Photography?

If you’re interested in learning more about a specific photography subject or idea, shoot me a message on Instagram or contact me via email info@moreyspellman.com I’m always happy to answer additional questions or comments.

Morey Spellman is a Los Angeles based fashion photographer. 
His work combines a love for beautiful light, authentic beauty, and natural scenery.