how to pose for a corporate portrait (women)

Whether for a magazine article, company website or social media profile – a good corporate portrait is a must. In this article we are going to cover posing for women and in the next article we will cover posing for men. The differences in techniques call for separate articles.


Many women tend to have a default pose that they assume anytime they are faced with a camera lens. The iconic social media pose for women has to be the one where the head is tilted the side with a slight smile (showing no teeth) and eyes rolled up but looking into the camera. While that may make for a cute photograph, it certainly does not exude professionalism. A common mistake people make when posing for pictures is to look away from the camera – more especially avoiding looking directly into the camera lens. The resultant image gives the impression that the person was in deep thought about some serious world issue or they were distracted by something in the background. This leads us to our first and most important posing tip.


  1. Eyes on the lens

If there is one thing you need to remember from this article, it is to always look straight into the camera. Always keep your eyes on the lens. While the camera lens might not be very interesting to look at, pretend as though there was something fascinating deep inside the lens that caught your attention. Try to relax your forehead, so that you are not straining to look into the lens. The resultant portrait will be of an engaging gaze (provided, of course, that you did not blink)


  1. To smile or not to smile… that is the question

Some people have an instant, natural smile that not only lights up a room but is highly contagious – you cannot help but smile back at them. If that is you – definitely smile. Gone are the days where a professional corporate portrait was synonymous with a serious face and stiff lip. Letting your personality shine through can only enhance the portrait.


Some women are very conscious of their teeth or voluptuous cheeks when they smile and prefer to pose with a straight face. Women generally tend to be overly critical of themselves and many of their concerns are not shared by others – women are more beautiful than they think they are. If you are reading this, it definitely applies to you (I hope you are smiling right now).


If your concerns are genuine (like missing front teeth), then try and give a relaxed, slight smile with your lips together. Think happy thoughts – the camera does not lie – a fake or forced smile will look fake or forced. When you think of happy things or people who make you happy, it gets reflected in your facial expression and you will have a pleasant portrait.


  1. Yoga-equivalent twists

The second most important rule of posing (for women) is never ever stand with square shoulders facing the camera. The resultant portrait will be a photograph where you look wide – not at all flattering. Always twist from your waist up so that shoulders are at an angle to the camera. This little trick is both flattering and slimming.

What to do with your arms? When posing, all of the sudden you become more aware of your arms and do not know what to do with them (almost wishing you could detach them and put them aside). The key thing is to keep arms slightly away from your body (to create a slimmer silhouette). Hands placed strategically on the waist give the illusion of a smaller waist. It is important to keep your shoulders relaxed.


Hips should also be twisted away from the camera. Place you weight on the leg that is furthest away from the camera. All of this sounds uncomfortable. You will know you are posing correctly if it feels like you are in a yoga exercise stance (if you have never tried yoga exercises, it will feel like you are being pulled and stretched like an elastic band). You will look great on camera and the resultant portrait.


  1. Stomach in, chest out

The former SAPS National Commissioner, Bheki Cele spoke true words of wisdom when he said “stomach in, chest out”. That is like the ancient secret of modelling and fashion photography. Always pull your stomach in – it will make you look slimmer and well-proportioned in the resultant portrait. Chest out – ensuring that your back is straight and you are standing or sitting upright. This will make you look poised and confident.


We have provided an example of work done for one of our clients – depicting a seated pose. All this information on posing may seem like too much to take in and do all at once. Remember that you only have to hold your pose for a maximum of two seconds but your portrait will last beyond a lifetime. Two seconds is a miniscule sacrifice for a fabulous, professional portrait.

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