Instagram Posing Hacks
Answering the question, "What should I do?" in my photos
“What should I do with my arms?”
“How should I pose?”
“What do I do?”
For most every retreat I host I bring along a professional photographer and inevitably my guests are left scratching their heads wondering how they should pose in photos. Sure, there’s a lot of candid moments, but there’s also moments where I have the photographer capture the magic of my guests enjoying the outdoors offering the question, “Who wants their photo taken?”
I’ve had several photographers give me tips and tricks on how to pose in photos and I’ve taken this knowledge and applied it to my own photography. In fact I’ve learned so much, I’m able to set up my tripod and timer and take photos myself. I thought I’d pass along this knowledge for anyone out there wanting to take their own photos to the next level. If you plan on attending a future retreat of mine, you’ll be a pro by the time you arrive if you start practicing now 😂
Instagram is a visual space. I can write the best caption in the world, but if I can’t stop someone from scrolling with a good photograph, then that person probably isn’t going to stick around my page for long. I want people to follow along on my adventures and attend my retreats, but in order for people to buy from me I have to build trust. The way to build trust is to have people get to know me, and the best way to convince people to get to know me is by entertaining them with good content. So if you’re in a posing funk and want to amp up your visual appeal on social media, or just want to know how to direct your muse to do the same, keep reading!
Pro-tip 1. Make triangles:
Triangles are appealing to the eye so if you’re at a loss as to how to pose your body then try making triangle shapes. For example, if you’re sitting you can bend the knee furthest away from the camera:
As you can see in the photo above the shape of the knee mimics the shape of Half Dome and draws the eye in.
If standing, try having the photographer (or place your tripod) to the side of you rather than directly behind. Then you can pop a knee out and bend the elbow furthest away from the camera so it still looks like you have two arms.
If you do have the camera directly behind you, you can still make triangles by placing one or both hands behind you or place one on the ground and another touching your hat or head. Remember to have great posture if shooting directly behind your back and even exaggerate how tall you’re sitting.
Pro-tip 2. Add props:
Speaking of hats, a hat is my favorite prop to add in my photos. The one I purchased above I bought at a liquor store outside of Yosemite for $15! Hats are great because they add a visual point for the eye and also give something for your hands to do.
As you can see the hat adds a nice contrast of light color to an otherwise dark forest scene. Make sure you look up or tilt the hat back if shooting from behind like this so you can see most of the hat. Otherwise the shape of the hat can’t be seen and that’s what adds interest to the photo.
Baseball caps are also great for offering shade to the face especially if you want the focus to be on the hat. I try and push the hat forward and tilt my head slightly down so that the brim of the hat covers the eyes. I find it’s hard to wear a hat and capture your portrait facing the camera, because the hat will inevitably shade your face and create a weird shadow. If you don’t want shadows you can push the hat farther back on your head so there’s no shadow on your face and ideally have the sun behind you or…
grab yourself a beanie! Beanies are great for taming hair when it’s windy without adding shade to your face. You can also keep the rest of your look neutral and add a pop of color with a bright beanie. As you can see my backdrop is lacking in color so by adding a bright hat I bring the focus to my face.
Pro-tip 3. Polish your Pose:
If you scroll through instagram you’ll notice most of your favorite influencers have nailed their poses and that becomes their go-to for each photo. While I think it’s important to have a “look” that makes you feel confident no matter what the occasion is, it’s also important to me to mix it up. The easiest way to find what works and what doesn’t is to grab your tripod and take some photos of yourself using a remote timer on your camera and go from there. I had a little fun with my Sony a few weeks ago and captured a variety of shots testing out different looks.
Look one: feet wide enough to create a V with my legs, arms a little off from my sides, relaxed shoulders and hat backwards so you can see logo. I made sure my hair as all behind me because your hair should always be behind your shoulders if shooting from behind or in front of your shoulders if shooting from the front.
Look two: crossed legs to create a lean appearance, one arm bent in front, shoulders back, hair forward and leaning slightly in towards camera. If you have longer hair you can touch your hair or ponytail as well.
Look three: one of my standards with hair back and elbows bent at the sides and one leg crossed behind the other. The sweater was a bit bulky so I kept the elbows bent at my side so it made my shoulders and arms look thinner. For these boots I kept the back heel down, but sometimes I like to pop the heel:
As you can see, popping the heel forces the knee out and creates that triangle shape we like! Bright pants are always fun but keep the rest of the look neutral.
And of course, when in doubt I work in a yoga pose. Yoga poses, when done correctly, take the guesswork out of “what should I do for this photo” and they’re always a bit unexpected when you’re wearing street clothing….
or a wearable sleeping bag*:
*Use code Natalie for a discount if you want one of these crazy things for yourself 😂*
And if you aren’t sure what yoga pose to do?
Tree pose is usually what I direct my retreat ladies to do because it’s a lovely shape and everyone can find balance for long enough to snap a photo!
I love how much space this pose takes up as well. When having my photographers take photos at my retreats I try and stagger my guests during yoga so that no one covers up anyone else and my photographer can easily take photos without being obtrusive.
Meditation offerings always capture nicely in photos and these are often the ones my guests love the most because it’s a moment of true authentic heart opening.
So there you have it, a few poses you can practice with whether you have a photographer or just a tripod and a timer. If you’re only shooting with your cell phone they make tripods that are very lightweight that you can attach your phone to. If you can’t master the self-timer then take a video and screen grab from it. I typically shoot with my Sonya7iii in portrait mode and edit the photos in Lightroom. The Sony has an app that I downloaded on my phone so that I can use my phone as a remote timer. This is the tripod I own and though it’s a little pricy, it’s lightweight for hiking and has multiple leveling tools so I don’t have to worry about trying to straighten my photos later in editing. If you aren’t already, always make sure you use the straighten tool in Lightroom or on your phone’s photo editing option, because most people will naturally have an aversion to crooked photos on your feed. If you wouldn’t hang a crooked picture in your house, don’t hang one on your instagram page!
I hope you enjoyed my favorite instagram hacks for taking selfies and have fun seeing what works for you!