10 Foolproof Solo Poses for Pictures, So You Always Get a Great Shot

from the trusty raptor pose to candid shots

Here’s a familiar scenario: You’re traveling alone and ask a stranger to take your photo so you can remember your trip to this gorgeous locale. There’s just one problem. Your new photographer is an average Joe who shoots in auto mode with their $10,000 camera (the sacrilege!) and you’re not a professional model. Lucky for you, that’s teachable. Everyone can learn what to do (or don’t) with their arms and figure out how to make the camera work for them. And newsflash—even models have had to practice. Next time you’re on a trip, try these 10 solo poses for pictures, approved by yours truly, a photographer.

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poses for pictures: woman walks on driftwood on the beach
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1. Walk

There’s a technique to this one. Your legs and feet will look best if you pretend you’re walking on a tightrope in slow motion. As you walk, occupy your hands by putting them in your pockets, playing with the fabric of your clothes (swishing a skirt or holding lapels, for example) or tucking your hair behind your ear.

poses for pictures: woman leans on tree
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2. Lean on Something

A wall. A tree. A fence, car, chair or table. Leaning allows you to create a subtle diagonal line with your body, giving the eye a neat path to follow in an image. Put a hand on your waist (we call it the “teapot,” no shame), cross a hand over your body and rest it on the opposite arm, tuck your hair behind your ear or slide it in your pocket.

poses for pictures: woman wearing sunglasses grabs the brim of her sunhat
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3. Grab Your Hat

We know, we know. You can’t play with your hair in every photo, so here’s a great alternative that works with hats, earmuffs, headscarves and other sundry accessories. This can go two ways. Either bring both hands up to grab the brim/muffs/bow—or use one hand, while the other holds your lapel, your skirt, coat or purse. (You can also combine this with pose #2 and lean your hand against something.)

poses for pictures: zendaya poses on emmys carpet
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4. Raptor Pose

The teapot pose’s chic cousin (and a celeb go-to), wherein you hold your hands in front of you as if you were carrying a tiny purse. Pull this one out if you’re on holiday in Rhode Island touring The Breakers

poses for pictures: woman twirls
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5. Twirl

Big skirt, coat or other piece of fluid and diaphanous fabric? Twirl, and the movement of the clothing will be the eye-catching focus of your photo. You won’t even have to think about what to do with your hands.

poses for pictures look over shoulder
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6. Look Over Your Shoulder

Stand facing away from the camera, then turn your upper body and head around slightly so you’re looking back over your shoulder. Put your hands in raptor position, grab that hat, use your pockets or break out the reliable teapot pose.

poses for pictures jump
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7. Jump

I love asking subjects to jump because it’s a great way to reveal their personality. And when the whole of your body is flying through the air, everything’s more fun and relaxed. (Tip: This is best shot on burst mode, and if you have a body of water, even better.)

poses for pictures: woman wearing dress and hat sits in front of trevi fountain in rome
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8. Sit

Unless you’re on a ledge of a cliff, always sit on the edge of your seat. (Trust me: Leaning back doesn’t look good on anybody.) Then, you can lean forward, resting your elbows on your lap. If you cross your legs, be sure the one closer to the camera (if your photographer is shooting at an angle) is crossed on top. Or you can rest your hands next to you and kick out one leg.

poses for pictures: indian woman rests chin on one hand while holding a wine glass
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9. Rest Your Chin on Your Hands

Building off the previous pose, rest your chin on your hands. But remember, don’t interlace your fingers (they’ll look like slugs). This also works if you’re sitting at a table, which you can lean on instead of your lap.

poses for pictures candid
Xavier Lorenzo/Getty Images

10. Get Candid

Ask someone to take photos of you doing whatever activity you came to try. Whether you’re bouldering, admiring the cherry blossoms, ice skating or enjoying afternoon tea, action shots give you plenty of opportunities to get a good photo.

MW 10

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