A Beginner’s Guide to Posing: Start Basic and ‘Build Up’ the Pose

Posing is a tough skill for beginners to wrestle with; it’s hard to know where to even start. That’s why this video by photographer Manny Ortiz is so helpful. A beginner’s guide of sorts, the tutorial simplifies posing into a easy “building up” process.

For this simple tutorial, Manny and his wife Diana took to the park on a blustery Chicago day last weekend to break down the “art of posing” into something a bit more step-by-step.

For Manny, posing is simply a building up process: you start with one of your go-to poses (“That’s what I think everyone should do, have their set of go-to poses”) and build on it step-by-step until you have multiple looks you really like.

So a simple pose like arm on the hip, staring into the camera:

Is tweaked step by step into something a bit more pleasing:

And this sideways pose is, step-by-step, turned into something a bit more nuanced:

Of course, these are very basic examples—shot on a not-so-great, windy, overcast day in Chicago to boot—but they get the point across. If you’re having a hard time knowing where to start with your posing, follow Manny’s steps: find two or three go-to poses you like (the simpler the better), start your model on one of those basic poses, and then build them step-by-tiny-step.

In addition to helping you capture some keepers and learn what works and what doesn’t, it will also get you more comfortable with directing a model in front of your camera. Or… you know… you could just get a crazy-experienced model that can strike 25 poses in 29 seconds… but that might be considered cheating.

Check out the full video above to see how Manny does it, visit his website to see more of his and Diana’s portraits (and maybe find some go-to poses to use?), and then head over to his YouTube channel for more helpful videos like this one.

Image credits: All photographs by Manny Ortiz and used with permission.

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