The classic posing tip most people mess up (and how to fix it).

I was editing some pics from a month ago and came across the beautiful Queen Elsa.  I snapped a photo to ensure my settings were all good to go, then got to work.


Turns out the test shot reminded me of perhaps the single most well-known posing rule for females: Avoid squared-to-camera shoulders.  

In other words, angle the shoulders (at least slightly) off camera.

The idea here is to flatter the subject.  Off-setting the shoulders both slims and softens the subject.  NOT that we need to slim and soften every female (especially our littles)!  As much, the angle can do wonders at opening up expression. It can often feel less confrontational (DIRECT!) to a kiddo, and so the expression often goes from a self conscious smile to a natural smile. A slight angle also lends a helping hand to “cuteness” from a posed perspective.

See, here’s Queen Elsa squared up to the camera:


Still the most beautiful Queen ever.  But here she with shoulders offset:


The Problems

Most of the problems arise when folks try to bring the face back towards the camera.  There’s a few things that generally go wrong:

  • They don’t bring the chin back to camera far enough, and thus the eyes go looking out the corners.
  • They bring back the chin, but leave it too high.
  • They bring back the chin AND throw in another “tilt”

Combo any of these and it’s easy to be left with the classic stiff pose from 1986.

The Simple Solution

After you have the subject turned (even slightly) off camera, simply have them bring their chin back to their front shoulder.

That’s it.

Don’t over direct!

Just say “Okay, stay right where you are, but just almost touch your chin to your (front) shoulder?”

For the most part, you’ll preserve a natural head tilt and you’ll get the eyes following the nose (as they generally should be).

Here’s another example from Queen Elsa:


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304 thoughts on “The classic posing tip most people mess up (and how to fix it).”

    1. Yes please! I am always struggling with getting my kids to cooperate and look good for the camera. This would really help! Thanks!

  1. Yes, please do! I’m part of a large family (My parents, 13 kids at home, plus a married brother and their baby) and it’s always hard to figure out good ways to pose people, with varying heights. This post was really great – thanks! (And what an adorable little girl. 🙂

  2. I think a posing guide would be incredibly helpful! Given that this course is geared toward parents, I think it would be helpful to give some tips on how to pose throughout development, babies to adolescents. Thanks for all you do, I really enjoy the course and content!

  3. I would love a posing guide too, I’m always referring back to your snackable guides, I love them. I can’t wait for Black Friday for your big sale!

  4. Yes to the posing guide. Please!!! We just took family photos yesterday and I was aware that I should be doing something, but wasn’t sure exactly what to do. A posing guide would be very helpful. This post helped me too. Eyes follow nose… I’ll remember that!

  5. A posing guide would be great. Especially for the little ones who are squirmy and you have very limited time to get the shot.

  6. I’d be interested! But it makes me so sad from a cultural perspective that we need to “slim and soften” our little girls. 🙁

    1. Yes, I need to change that as it’s DEF not what I imply we need. The rule itself is designed for an adult female, but it even so it often lends to a more interesting (and “cute”) look to our littles.

  7. Yes please, I struggle to pose myself for flattering pics. I tend to get a double chin no matter what, even though when looking in the mirror I don’t have one. Much thanks!

  8. Yes on the pose. Personally, I can look at my pictures and see what poses look better. But, I struggle with telling people how to pose for the pictures.

  9. Yes! A posing guide would be wonderful. Thank you!
    We have 8 kiddos (all under 11) and would love tips on posing lots of children too.
    They are very cooperative; it’s just me who needs to learn to pose them. 🙂

  10. That would be so awesome if you did a posing guide! You make things so easy to understand and having a posing guide laid out from you would totally be a plus! x

  11. Would love the posing guide! I was aware of no square shoulders but not the chin to shoulder trick or the eyes following the nose. I also would love creative tips on 3 or more people (guess that’s a group huh) I love a fun cluster.
    I would like to say that I have SO enjoyed all the tips and knowledge and love the Face Book. One of these days I might actually post something.

  12. Yessssss Pleassssse!!!! A posing guide would be so incredibly helpful. I’ll be thrilled with a simple posing guide but I’ll be first in line to purchase a whole course/mini course on it if you ever put one out as well.

  13. Kyle, Yes to the posing guide – simple or detailed. I feel posing, especially group posing, is an area I need to grow. Would love to hear more from you on the subject!!

  14. A posing guide would be awesome! I often find posing males challenging because I quickly run out of ideas of how to place their hands etc without them appearing feminine.

  15. Yes to the posing guide! Especially with the holidays coming up we’re always taking family photos and I know they could be a lot better!

  16. Ooh, I would love a posing guide! This class and the FB group have taught me so much. I have definitely improved in my photography skills.

  17. Hi Kyle,

    Thank you for the tidbits, very helpful! Ummmmmm…..YES, would LOVE a posing guide!! Kids, families, groups. Would this be available soon?

    Thank you for all you do! I have learned a ton from your class and am glad I took the leap to join it. 🙂


  18. I think a posing guide is all that’s missing from your course! I’ve been struggling to try to research it on my own, and I feel like there are always more tips to be found!

  19. I would love posing guide tips, not just for individuals, but groups as well. Every year I take family photos for a close friend of mine. They have a big family! And I would love some tips on how to get everyone looking great…from grandparents to babies.
    So looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

  20. I think a simple posing guide would be very helpful—especially if you had one for groups as well as individuals. Thank you for all your help.

  21. Hi Kyle!
    Loved your course. Still hoping you’re coming out with a Lightroom course. Please make a posing guide, I think this is a great idea and would be so helpful. In photography, I’m finding its the little things that make the biggest difference. Thank you and happy thanksgiving!

  22. Would LOVE posing tips… everything you have shared in your course and the facebook page is absolutely the best. So happy I found your class.

  23. Definitely YES on posing guide! All your tips have been so incredibly helpful! If only I could stick you in my pocket when I go on shoots……

  24. Simple Posing tip guide would be wonderful when taking photos of out “Grand” Children! I sure appreciate all that you have offered your tips and also your Photo SchooL! Thank You !

  25. Yes please! A posing guide would be really helpful. I only have sons and sometimes can’t quite seem to figure out how to pose them without it coming off as a feminine pose. ha!

  26. Yes, please! And include tips for men? I struggle because my husband has a strong brow bone so his eyes often look really dark or are squinted. You rock!

  27. Yes! I have been wasting money for the last year or so trying to buy a decent one online sight unseen. If you made one I KNOW it would be useful!

  28. A posing guide would be fantastic! My hands always look so awkward in photos since I don’t know what to do with them and leaving them natural is easier said than done!

  29. I would LOVE a posing guide. With easy to remember tips or something. When I get into a session, I tend to forget or pay so much attention to other things that I lose focus on the posing part of it.

  30. i would love to learn posing techniques, great idea! i love the course you created and the simple way you present it. i am also learning tons on the facebook community page! thx for all you do!

  31. I’m not sure if you need another comment to encourage you to make a posing guid, since there were a ton of comments already. But yes, a point guide would be very helpful! Thank you for your photographic tips!

  32. I would love to see a posing guide- I always have trouble posing people… even more, I would love a video where you physically show how you are posing your subject! Sometimes written explanations of physical actions are hard to see how to put in place in the 3D world!

  33. A posing guide would be wonderful! My children are older (late teens, early 20s, haha) but I still love to photograph them.
    Merry Christmas!!!

  34. It’s a double edgy sword as a granddad of 5 young grandkids the oldest is 3 and I would love great pictures of the kids, but they do so many posies without knowing they are doing them, and I get great shots of them because there is emotion there for each one , the things I look for in a picture is to make is to make them feel relaxed comfortable.So with me I will wait awhile

  35. Yes! Please please please! I actually asked for a posing guide in my initial question email without realizing you were thinking of making one. That would be wonderful! Thank you!

  36. i would love some tips on posing…if i’m going to take pictures i want them to look great…not just another candid shot..

  37. Yes, a posing guide would be so helpful. I always end up lining up my three kids in a straight line. I know it is not great, but I don’t know what else to do!

  38. Yes! It would also be great to include how to pose groups. I’m my family’s “holiday photographer” (because no one else will do it!) but know very little about photography…

  39. Definitely yes to a posing guide! Please include people of all shapes, heavy, curvy, medium, thin. Also men, there seems to be very few poses that look natural for them.

  40. Yes, please, to the posing guide. My only request for mothers day is a yearly photo with my 3 kids. Getting a decent one every year is a miracle. Ditto for father’s day.

  41. I wonder if you’ve gotten the impression yet that a posing guide would be greatly appreciated by many of us? 🙂 There have been a “few” replies to this, and I have to add my name to the list of “Yes” voters!

  42. I would LOVE a posing guide….for men AND women! I know that men are posed differently but not sure exactly how. And I have my son’s senior pictures coming up soon!

  43. Yes, a posing guide would be very helpful. I would like more variety in my picture poses, but usually end up using the same ones. So having some suggestions would be incredibly helpful!

  44. Hi,
    I don’t have kids but am using the great tips for knowledge.
    Group family shots are always interesting. Any tips?


  45. Yes, a posing guide would be great! Because I can’t picture the “no-nos” of posing that you describe. A guide would be awesome! Thank you for your tips!

  46. Yes! Posing individual kids and multiple kids at once. What are the best poses for 3 kids, or 4 kids, 0r 5 kids! Thanks! Love your stuff!

  47. At this point I have a 1 one year so posing doesn’t really happen 🙂
    But for the future, yes a posing guide would be great!

  48. Yes! Please!!! I would love it if you created some poses and posing tips. I really, really like how clear your instructions are on your page, and love your, “Snacks”! Thank you so very much!
    Maybe you could email us all once you have created your posing tips?
    That would be like getting a gift for “FREE”. I love that idea!
    Thank you for all the help you give all of us!

  49. How cute !
    Gave me some ideas for my niece, please provide something for posing .

    These tips are soooo helpful and your language makes it make sense ! SO easy to follow along.

    Thank you for this work .,

  50. It is such a challenge to find a natural looking pose, both for those I photograph and for myself as the subject of the photo! A posing guide would be very helpful!

    Princess Elsa is so adorable! 🙂

  51. I would love a posing guide that addresses posing along the lines of this tip — casual photos of people (and maybe pets) in several typical locations. Maybe include some suggestions for simple use of flash. Not interested in a guide for studio portraits.

    Many thanks for these tips.

  52. Yes a posing guide would be amazing and also some tips for posing kids. What to say. When working with littles look to your left or look up can result in some pretty interesting poses.

  53. As a SAHM of 2 I’m learning the art of photography and I appreciate it so! Im I too late for the posing guide??

  54. Kristin Martinez

    yes I would love a posing guide not just for when i’m the photographer but also for when i’m in the photo with my kids and husband.

  55. Yes! I would love the Posing Guide. Your courses have been so helpful. I appreciate all you have done for me. Thank you for everything. Pretty soon when life slows down from summer I want to get your online photography course so that I can sit back and learn more.

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