5 Posing Tips for Beauty Photography

A beauty model's face emerging from smoke.

When it comes to beauty photography posing, every little detail matters. Everything needs to be right to create the perfect image, from lighting and makeup to wardrobe and props. Moreover, because these images are generally waist or shoulders up, posing is one aspect that often gets overlooked. And when talking about close-up head and shoulders shots, getting the right pose and shoulder positioning becomes crucial to achieving a compositionally interesting final image. Since these images aim to showcase the beauty of the face and neck, any awkward or unflattering angles can detract from that goal. This blog post will explore tips and tricks for posing for beauty photography, focusing on positioning the model’s face, body, and shoulders for the best possible results.

The image’s intent often dictates the angle a model must be photographed. For example, suppose the photograph is intended to show the model’s hair color. In that case, the model might need to be positioned in a specific way that showcases the color in the most appealing way possible. Alternatively, say that a photograph is needed to showcase a haircut’s fullness and texture; the hair’s styling and shape will determine where it looks best. Because of the client’s needs, there will need to be some thought put into the model’s posing to ensure the image showcases the specifics of the product or technique that needs capturing.

Whatever the client’s needs are, when it comes to beauty photography posing, finding the most flattering angle for the model’s face and body shape is of extra importance. The right pose can help elongate the neck, slim the jawline, and highlight the face’s best features. Therefore, it is essential to consider each model’s individual characteristics and work with them to find the most flattering angles for their unique body type and facial structure. Striking a balance between the client’s needs and the best possible positioning of the model will give the best results.

Here are five tips to help guide model posing and positioning to achieve great results.

1. Shoulders Angled

Generally, it is best practice to create a slight angle of the model’s shoulders. The small shoulder turn can create a more dynamic image and provide a more flattering shape. For example, if the subject is standing, ask them to rotate in one direction, bringing a shoulder forward and one back.

A beauty model with green hair posing in front of a muted green background.
A beauty model with a large curly hair style posed in front of a light gray background.

Sometimes however, to show the shape of a haircut or even just for a wider layout, forward facing shoulders can be perfect for a specific image. In these images you can add some dynamic lines by asking a model to drop or raise a shoulder. 

A beauty model dressed in white in front of a white background.
A blonde beauty model with red lipstick posed in front of a light blue background.

2. Elongate the Neck

A long neck can create space between a model’s chin and shoulders, allowing hair to fall without getting pinched. This neck and chin gap also creates a more graceful and elegant appearance. Ask your subject to elongate their neck by lifting their chin slightly and tilting their body forward.

A beauty model posing in black and white.
A blonde beauty model posing in front of a white background.

3. Consider the Head Position

The position of the model’s head can also impact the image’s overall appearance. For example, sometimes, to show off the cut and color of their hair, the models will almost turn away from the camera so much that their back is towards the camera. This dramatic turn of the body, paired with the model’s chin being slightly down, will let the hair frame the model’s face, and the arm will become a compositional leading line up to the model.

A beauty model with pink hair and pink lipstick posing in front of a pink background.
A beauty model with bright orange hair and dark lipstick posing in front of a white background.
A beauty model with curly blue hair posing in front of a gray background.

4. Experiment with Hand Positions

I often avoid having hands present in beauty images because it is always tricky. However, sometimes hands can add interest or pull a viewer’s attention to specific areas of an image. Because the crop is up so high, you will likely lose most of the arm resulting in a visual detachment of where the hands and arms connect. Because of this, the position of hands can dramatically impact the mood and composition of an image. Instruct your model to keep their hands soft in the image, so fingers do not carry tension. Try different hand positions, such as gently resting on the model’s neck, cheeks, or chin.

A beauty model with smudged green makeup in front of a white background.
A beauty model in a white tank top posing in front of a gray background.

5. Use Motion

While not technically a posing tip, motion and movement can enhance a model’s pose and highlight features of the hair or makeup. Fans and wind can create action and motion in an image in a way that simple posing cannot. For example, a simple fan or hair drier can create motion in a mode’s hair. Taking a step further and adding a slight amount of slow-shutter motion blur can further present the feeling of energy within an image.

A beauty model with red and orange hair with red lipstick posing in front of a white background.
A beauty model in a blue denim jacket posing with a black background.

In photography, practice truly does make perfect. Every photoshoot allows the photographer and model to learn and grow. It is important to remain open-minded and fluid during the process, working through different poses and angles until you find the ones that work best and achieve your desired results. Being patient and allowing the shoot to unfold organically can lead to beautiful and unexpected images. Remember, the relationship between the photographer and the model is a collaboration, and the best results often come from a mutual willingness to experiment and try new things. So next time you are on set, take a deep breath, relax, and let the magic happen. You might be surprised by what you can create.

More on Posing

If you are looking for more posing tips check out this article!


  • Wes Kroninger

    Wes Kroninger is an accomplished photographer with over 20 years of experience, specializing in editorial, beauty portraiture, and beverage photography. Known for his innovative use of lighting, Wes' work has been featured in numerous publications and he has collaborated with both small businesses and major corporate clients. As a recognized educator and speaker, he has taught at various photography events and institutions, and currently teaches advertising photography at The Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Wes is also the author of the book, Lighting: Design Techniques for Digital Photographers. Wes was raised on Atari and White Castle and thinks that people that don’t like pineapple on pizza or cats are weird.