Corrective Posing

Today's post comes from the book Doug Box's Guide to Posing for Portrait Photographers. This book is available from and other fine retailers.

Some portrait photographers create portraits of their subjects “as is,” and will not go the extra mile to make sure they present their subjects at their very best. We’re not working with models, and most subjects have something they’re self-conscious about. By taking some simple steps, we can enhance the subject’s appearance so that when they see their proofs, they’re pleased and feel good about themselves. In this post, I’ve provided some simple tips and tricks for finessing the pose (and lighting, on occasion) to downplay your subjects’ perceived flaws.

A simple change in the posing arrangement of the group resulted in a more polished image with a more cohesive feel. Photographers often position subjects who may be insecure about their size behind a prop or another subject to visually reduce their apparent size in the frame.

Body Size
In previous chapters, we discussed ways to pose the body to present the subject at his or her best. When you have two or more subjects, however, and one who is perhaps a little bit larger than the others and might be self-conscious, it is a good idea to have him or her positioned slightly behind another subject. The longer camera-to-subject distance and slightly obscured view will help the group appear more uniform in size.

When working with an individual subject, you may be able to achieve the same effect using an image element like a tree trunk or a pillar. You can also recommend that your subject wear dark clothing and use a dark background. Have the subject push their chin slightly forward and raise their chin a bit. Avoid rim lighting the subject, as this will draw unnecessary attention to the subject’s body.

Here we have a before-and-after example of the difference that a little corrective posing can make. The subject’s appearance in the original image (above) was improved upon by having him lean forward, so that his midsection would not be closer to the camera than his face. I had him bring his arms across his body and rested them on the back of a chair. This change helped to obscure part of his midsection. I used a higher lighting ratio to darken the side of the face that is turned toward the camera.

Below, there are three poses of the same family. In the first image, notice the faces are all in a row. The overall appearance of the image would have been improved if each subject’s face were in its own horizontal and vertical space. The women on the outer edges of the grouping are beautiful but can be posed more attractively to enhance their appearance.

There are three steps photographers can take to visually slim their subject: you can tuck them slightly behind another subject or prop, have them stand, and/or turn them at a 45-degree angle to the camera. In pose two, we’ve addressed the positions of the women, but the faces are still lined up.

Pose three is the best image. I positioned mom farther from the camera to create a more slimming presentation.


*excerpted from the book Doug Box's Guide to Posing for Portrait Photographers


  1. Nice information on portrait photography! Helpful and practical. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Really like your post. Thanks for sharing tips for good photography. These are really helpful for users. Wedding photography Glasgow