I wish I could say I’m a natural in front of the camera, but that’s unfortunately not true. My parents once had to threaten me with a grounding so I’d smile for family photos, and I still grimaced in all of them. Thankfully, I’ve made some progress, but I know what it’s like to feel awkward when posing for pictures. Wondering how to take better Instagram pictures? My updated photography photo guide is here, and I hope it’ll help you out.
If I had to describe my current posing style, it’d be experimental & whimsical. I’m still figuring out my niche and what I’m good at, but I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with different locations lately. My top posing tip: Don’t ever be afraid of looking silly. Some of my best photos have come from me throwing a hand in the air or making a ridiculous face. Not taking yourself too seriously is a great mantra for life and an essential one for photography.
Let’s dive in to my posing guide — I’ll be using a recent mini-shoot as an example!
Scout Out Locations
It’s easy to pose in front of a pretty wall and call it a day — which I do often! — but I’ve started challenging myself to walk around a venue/restaurant/event and find a unique perspective. That involves a lot of outtakes and trial and error, but I try to find something that’s interesting to look at. (And I often make Vagner pose first.)
When I first started blogging, a ton of my pictures were fine, but pretty boring — and it all came down to me being terrified of looking foolish. It’d often show in my photos. My shoulders would be stiff, my smile would be fake, and I’d look generally miserable. Before I start taking pictures, I usually take a few deep breaths to loosen up tense muscles and force myself to laugh during my test shots. My rationale: Laughing manically to myself is a surefire way to make sure I’m not super concerned with what strangers think, since most people look at me which a mixture of judgment and confusion.
Try Different Angles
We shoot from above, below and straight on. Sometimes, Vagner will be lying on the ground — other times, he’ll be standing on a chair. (Side note: Thank you, Vagner, for your enduring patience.) Who knows what will work?
Spin around in a circle, throw your hand in the air, look to the side — just don’t stare straight at the camera smiling. (This is what works for us lately, not a steadfast rule — plenty of people take pictures smiling and love it!)
Trial and Error
When I’m working with a photographer, I tend to just trust their judgment, but when Vagner and I are shooting, he asks me for feedback and I am happy to give it! I’ll take a look at the camera roll to see what I like and what I hate, and that often helps us get “the shot.”
A Few Extra Tips, Free Of Charge
If you’re using a friend or family member as your photographer, thank them! It’s such a sweet sacrifice on their part, and a Starbucks gift card or free dinner can go a long way.
Try not to shoot when you’re hungry or tired. I know that professional models can make it work regardless of what’s going on, but I’m a hobbyist and have a hard time not wearing my heart on my sleeve (and in turn, . If I’m exhausted or starving, I tend to relax for a bit before taking pictures.
Remember that practice makes perfect and don’t get discouraged. When I scroll through Instagram and look at the bloggers I follow who seem to have this down to a science, I have to remind myself that I’ve been blogging for 11 months and blogging well for half of that time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it’s ok if your pictures aren’t turning out exactly how you want them to.
Pinterest is your friend! I try not to copy other people’s photo ideas, but looking at creative shots can get me excited and thinking about unique ideas for my next shoot.
My Lightroom tutorial on editing pictures can be found here! Let me know if you have any questions about either post!
Ayana Lage is a fashion and lifestyle blogger based in Tampa, Florida with a background in digital media and content marketing. She’s worked for Bustle, the Tampa Bay Times, the Miami Herald, and numerous freelance clients. As a blogger, she’s worked with 50+ lifestyle, fashion, travel and food brands. When she’s not blogging, she’s focused on her day job in digital marketing, watching Queer Eye, or laughing aloud at tweets from @dril.