The glamorous world of fashion photography turned out thousands of iconic images with an abundance of supermodels and fashion poses. How can you do the same?
The secret to grasping the genre is becoming an expert not only at taking pictures but directing your model as well.
Master 33 stunning fashion poses by reading on or learn more about the basics of photography.
33 model poses for fashion photography
1. The three-quarter turn
The three-quarter turn is a class model pose that can be masterful in its simplicity. It got its name from the flattering angle it provides. To try this pose yourself, ask your model to stand at a slight angle, turning - you guessed it - three-quarters of their body and face towards you. Adjust the angles and tilting of your model to get becoming shots. Play with light, the background, and various props to spice it up.
2. Pushing shoulders forwards
High fashion poses are often abstract and artistic rather than natural or comfortable.
Have your model hunch and push their shoulders forwards. It might feel awkward to do so, so direct them until they get the pose right. Tilt their chin upwards to show their height and avoid creating a C-shape with their body overall.
This pose conveys vulnerability and self-reflection.
3. Leg up on a wall
Have the model prop up a leg on a wall and lean on the said wall or their knee. Supporting their weight this way creates interesting body lines. It also lets you capture their entire outfit from head to shoes in a fresh, unconventional way. You can go with a wide-angle shot to include the background.
Try different angles with this fashion pose to capture something unique.
4. Exaggerated leaning pose
This unnatural pose became popular in the 60s with high fashion photography, and it never went out of style.
Directing your model to exaggerate the lean will create interesting body lines. Their legs will look longer, giving them a taller appearance overall. Their proportions will be stretched too.
5. Sitting with one leg bent
Bending one leg will break up the symmetry to a sitting pose, especially in clothes that show the shape of legs. Have the model sit on a relatively flat surface to utilize this. The floor should work just fine!
If heels go with your concept, check out how they affect the look. They should elongate and highlight the legs further, instantly drawing the eye.
6. Walking with hand in pockets
A simple, casual posing option is your model walking towards the camera with one or both hands in their pocket. This movement helps the subject remain natural. Repeat the walk a few times to capture the right moment!
Accessorize with items that flow like scarves or jackets to accentuate this pose.
7. Sitting on the floor
Sitting on the floor is an intuitive pose that even inexperienced models can master. The key here is to make sure that your subject is comfortable and relaxed. Otherwise, the shots might come out stiff. Have them move around a bit before taking photos to end up with better images.
This shot gives off a low-key, casual vibe.
8. Standing with arms crossed
A powerful yet defiant pose, standing with your arms crossed evokes a range of emotions. This spans from defensiveness and anger to radiating confidence.
One of the common fashion poses, some argue that it's overdone. Use it with caution to avoid the pictures coming out cheesy. A relaxed model will pull it off a lot better than a stressed or nervous one.
9. Sitting and looking away
Looking away while seated is a good pose for an image with a disinterested look. It can highlight elaborate hairstyles or hair accessories.
The sitting position can work in several ways, like on the floor or chair, leaning against something, spreading the legs… The possibilities are endless.
10. Arms crossed at the back
To highlight the back of an outfit, any pose where the model has their back turned fully or partially is an excellent choice. A possible variation is asking them to softly cross their arms at the back.
These romantic and subtle fashion poses are a popular choice for wedding photography. It can make an otherwise plain position unique. The model can look into the lens over their shoulder, keep their face turned to the side, or turn their back to the camera.
11. Fluid pose with arm out
To master this pose, your model needs to be completely relaxed. They may move around slowly as if dancing. Swinging their arm or both arms back and forth creates artistic, high fashion poses.
This is one of the more risky posing suggestions. If executed well, it emits a graceful, imaginative vibe.
12. Hands cinching waist
Similar to putting their hands on their waist, this pose also creates the illusion of the feminine hourglass silhouette. Use it to enhance clothing with a cinched waistline or flared sleeves to amplify the effect.
This pose also works well in boudoir photography since it creates a sensual bodyline. The facial expression can be key here, accentuating or deflecting the heat factor.
13. Sitting with legs wide
Sitting with legs wide is a contemporary, apathetic pose that often defies gender norms and conventional etiquette. The model can either be seated on the floor with legs bent or extended, or site on an elevated surface. The latter, combined with a slightly low angle makes the model appear powerful and dominant.
14. Crouching in front of a wall
Not every fashion shoot is done in the studio. If looking for an urban vibe or simply more context, consider taking pictures outside, in front of a wall.
It might seem risky, but for an edgy vibe, try a crouching pose! This obviously works best in street or activewear and often covers a significant part of the outfit. It can be used to broaden out your shot list and provide some options.
15. Standing with one foot against a wall
Have your model pop up from that crouching position, and stand against a wall with one-foot bent, resting against it. This classic fashion pose has several variations. Your angle to the model makes an impact, and so does the wall itself.
Don’t get me wrong, a plain white wall will do in a pinch. If looking for something more visually interesting, try to find one with texture or color and consider adding an object to the foreground to create depth.
16. Dramatic lean on the wall
Dramatically leaning against a wall is a way to seem nonchalant while creating flattering lines with the body. There are variations to the dramatic lean. The model can support her weight with her elbows or put their back flat against the surface.
17. Sitting on a chair with an elbow resting on the knee
Sitting on a chair with an elbow resting on the knee creates a compelling zig-zag shape from top to bottom. It makes the model appear cool, aloof, and fashionably bored.
This shot can be utilized in a studio with nothing more than a chair and a monochrome background. It can work well for catalogs since it involves no distractions from the clothes and model.
18. Hands on hips
Standing with hands on hips creates the illusion of the alluring hourglass figure. It creates a slimming effect and makes the model appear confident and assertive.
For some variation, experiment with weight distribution. Have the model switch their weight back and forth to break up the symmetry and avoid looking like Superman.
19. Full frontal close-up
Less about the body and more about the facial expression! A full-frontal close-up allows the face to take central focus. Practicing this shot will help you and the model capture the correct facial expressions.
The goal with this shot is to communicate strong emotions with just the face, or often just eyes. As a photographer, your job is to catch the right moment, focus on the eyes, and expose the image correctly. For more tips, read about portrait photography.
20. Leaning on something
Leaning on something may seem like generic advice, but the truth is that this pose has endless variations! Use your environment, especially on location to place your model in context and give the shot an almost voyeuristic feel. Experiment with different props and surfaces and see how they affect the silhouette.
21. Shooting on movement
An experienced model will never hold the same pose for more than a few seconds at a time. By slightly changing their facial expression or hand position, they keep the shoot fresh and provide options for the final edits.
Even if your model doesn’t do this themselves, request them to do so. Then shoot on movement for dynamic shots you otherwise would’ve missed.
22. Facial play
Fashion poses are beyond body movements and positions. Playing with facial expressions allows your viewers to feel more connected to your model. It also lets them express their personality!
This type of pose works best if your model is relaxed and a degree of trust has been established. Direct them to move around and convey certain emotions, like playfulness or anger and capture the magic as it happens.
23. Almost sideways
The almost sideways is an evergreen classic of fashion poses. Get your model standing turned 35-45° to the camera and either look into it or away from it. They often twist their body slightly or in unnatural ways to create lines with their body to appear taller.
24. Totally sideways
Transform the previous shot by having your model turn further sideways until 90° from you. Have them look over their shoulder and keep eye contact with the camera. This pose excels at showing off the back of your outfit and the model while still keeping their face in the shot.
25. Standing back to the camera
Standing with their back turned to the camera creates original shots where the viewer feels teased or ignored. Selling and showing off the clothing is always a purpose for fashion photography. This pose is an excellent choice for dresses or other pieces that feature intricate detailing in the back.
Take a full-length shot to feature the clothes entirely or get closer for a more artistic feel.
26. Standing near chair
Using props, especially ordinary ones that people encounter daily, creates an interesting perspective to fashion poses. Standing near or leaning on a chair provides context to a shot and helps viewers relate to it.
Picking the right chair is not inconsequential either. Find something that fits your concept and mood, or go the opposite route. By offsetting and contrasting the world of fashion with, for example, a rustic, rickety chair, you create a visually interesting concept.
Take a look at tips for high fashion photography for unique ideas.
27. Hands in pockets
Models emit so much confidence with this simple pose. Direct your model to put their hands in their pockets fashionably or casually. This will make them appear self-assured and cool, and it’s easy to execute.
Experiment with the difference between pocketing their whole hand or just a few fingers. Have them stand with the legs shoulder-width apart for a power pose, or walk around for the natural feel.
Strolling creates a dynamic shot with loads of movement. It’s a great pose to show off the legs but can be used to add drama to a long skirt or dress as well. Give your model plenty of direction if you notice them struggling. They might not have a comfortable “fashion walk” unless they work runways.
A strolling shot is usually captured at an angle to give some depth, but try shooting from different positions relative to the model to see the effect.
29. One leg up
Lifting one leg is a more quirky and risky pose, but it can be worth it, especially if the outfit involves pants. The variations are endless, but it’s smart to give the model something to support themselves on unless they have the balance of a flamingo.
Play around with angles and how natural you want the look to feel. Remember, high-fashion photography often goes for fashion poses that are glamorous but unnatural. Do not be afraid to take risks that will pay off in the long run.
30. Draped with fabric
Using fabric can add drama and mystery to your shots. It's an essential component of fashion. Evoke feminine, graceful energy with this shot.
You might need a fan and an assistant operating it. Take your time getting this shot right, and try out different fabrics to see how they hang, stretch, or flow.
31. Walking towards the camera
Walking towards the camera is another classic fashion pose that takes some practice to master. In this shot, the model faces you and takes slow, exaggerated strides. They’ll likely have to do this several times to get the right shot.
This pose synergizes well with the background, especially if there are leading lines present. Place the model on a staircase or in an alley to frame them interestingly. To recap the basics of photography and composition, check out Photography 101.
32. Sitting cross-legged
Sitting cross-legged is a simple and elegant pose that most models are familiar with. They’ll be seated on a chair or sofa with their legs often taking a focal point in the composition.
A high-slitted skirt compliments this pose extremely well.
33. From above
Photograph your model from above for a unique perspective. By looking up at the lens, they will seem vulnerable and soft.
Experiment with the steepness of the angle to see how it affects the feel of your image. Finding a shooting location with an elevated platform of sorts will certainly make this shot easier. A staircase, overpass, or in some cases, a ladder can work perfectly.
3 quick tips for posing models
1. Start with simple portrait poses
It’s good to start off on the right foot in your photo shoot, especially if you don’t have an established relationship with your model. By starting simple, they can warm up to the camera and become more aware of their bodies without getting overwhelmed. Start out with simple portrait poses like sitting and standing comfortably and build from there.
These photos might even be used in the final shot list, but they’ll help get into the right mindset. Give direction to the model while building up their confidence, and then move on to more complex fashion poses.
2. Experiment with various angles
Keeping things fresh and versatile is a requirement for any aspiring creator wanting a break in fashion photography. Don’t settle into a comfortable rhythm even if you found shots and angles that work well.
Experiment with various image components and schedule enough time for photoshoots to have time to explore your creativity.
3. Add movement for dynamic shots
After a while of shooting, you might notice your model looking a bit stiff. Have your models move around during your photoshoot! Dynamic shots with models are walking, running, or jumping often end up more natural and fun than static poses.
You have two options here. Have the model jump, leap, and dance for wild and risky shots! Keep shooting as they move around, and don’t expect to nail it the first few times. Hopefully, your model has the stamina to keep up. Pay special attention to their facial expression and direct them to seem calm or happy, not like they’re exerting loads of effort and energy.
If going for a more relaxed, chill vibe, aim for more natural movement. The model can flip their hair, cross their legs, or shift their weight back and forth repeatedly. These movements will still alleviate the stiffness static poses radiate while remaining tasteful and reserved.
What’s next? Learn more with James Nader’s masterclass
I hope you gained some inspiration! Are you ready to dive into the exciting world of fashion photography?
Experiment with the fashion poses above or learn more with our complete guide on fashion photography. Find your unique style and improve your craft until you’re one of the greats.
Enjoy the journey!
How to plan poses for a fashion shoot?
Create a pose guide prior to your shoot to be able to easily explain your vision to the model. Direct and encourage them while leaving some room for improvisation.