Handling a photoshoot with a model who feels awkward can leave the both of you feeling unsure. Sometimes a few quick, go-to, poses can help to convey emotion and put your model at ease. Below are some easy pose ideas that I've found to be helpful when my model and I are both feeling semi-awkward. And if you're the model, you can incorporate some variations of these into your next photoshoot and be a pro!
These pose ideas can be super fun and easy, but don't forget to mix up your camera angle, mess around with different framing techniques, and pay attention to angles within your photograph!
1) Give your model a prop
Simple, easy, straightforward. Maybe the oldest trick in the book because its so effective, plain and simple. Giving your model a prop helps to provide them with something to focus on besides the blatant camera in their face. Tell them to toy around with it as you experiment with different angles, framing, and lighting. A cigarette is a pretty go-to prop since its provides both an object of focus for the model while also allowing you, as the photographer, to play around with the smoke.
2) Don't underestimate the power of laughter
This one's a little harder because it's not necessarily a pose for your model to consciously do. Instead, its more on you as the photographer to try to connect with your model. Telling your model to "pretend like your laughing" doesn't have the same look or feel as a candid one where your model is genuinely LOLing. Making your model laugh can be as easy as telling them a funny, and maybe even embarrassing, story about yourself.
3) Styling hair
So easy. All you need to do as the photographer is tell your model to continually toy with their hair: put it up, put it down, twirl the front pieces, puff it up, whisk it away from their face, etc... After a while your model will get the hang of it and start to do it themselves while you snap away. This one is so effective because, once again, it takes your model's mind of the fact that they're in the middle of a photoshoot. This helps to take the pressure off your model and put them more at ease which always better for your portrait (you can also do this by giving your model continual affirmations like "you're doing such a great job" and "WOW, this looks amazing").
4) Chin up, eyes closed
This one is pretty simple too and can give your photos a peaceful feeling as all your model has to do is close their eyes and tilt their head back. Having your model close their eyes is yet another way to take some of the pressure off them. It's almost like: if they can't see the camera, then their worries about performing for it go away. Finding a sunny spot where your model can bask in the beautiful sunlight can help to evoke a pensive, relaxing, nature in your photo as well.
5) Something to lean up against
Giving your model something to lean up against (whether that be a wall or a mail box) can dually help to provide them with something to do with their arms and legs and create angles within your photograph. An arm or leg that extends from the corner of the photograph into the center can help to draw the viewer's eye where you want it. This can help you to create a visually appealing photograph. This trick works best when you're unsure what else to do and your surroundings seem bleak. Finding a simple object for your model to work off of can be the answer to the uncertainty. Also, by telling your model to look up or look down, you can create a stunning portrait by highlighting their facial features.
6) Sit your model (change the camera angle)
Here's a simple way to mix things up. It's easy to get stuck in the same standing poses, but telling your model to actually get down on the ground or climb on top of something and sit can be a simple way for you to get a different perspective, literally. This forces you to mix up your camera angle which is a super effective way for you to portray emotion through your photograph. Usually, taking a photo from below and pointing up towards your model portrays power and intensity. On the other hand, taking a photo from above your model, pointing down at them, can portray them as gentle, delicate, and feeble. Both are important emotions to know how to manipulate to be able to effectively communicate using your photos.
7) Hand extended toward the camera
This last one is fun, easy, and can lead to some pretty interesting photos. Just tell your model to extend their hand out towards the camera; using their outstretched fingers to create a natural frame and a place for viewer's eyes to be drawn. Other possibilities besides using a hand could be a foot extended off the ground (paired with a low camera angle), an umbrella pointed towards the camera, a flower, or really anything else you can think of to create both a natural frame and angles within your photograph.
These tricks have been helpful for me as the photographer, but don't worry if you're still unsure how to best incorporate them into your shoot (either as the model or the photographer). Reach out to me for more pose examples or to even schedule your own session where I can work with you in person!