Perfect the Art of Posing (Sue Bryce - Glamour Photography Part 1)

[Photo by Sue Bryce]

Master portrait photographer Sue Bryce, who makes everyday people look like professional models, recently hosted a workshop on creativeLIVE. The 3-day workshop contained a wealth of information. Sue discussed posing techniques, hair and makeup, Photoshop, and the business side of photography.

Since there was so much information, we decided to discuss some of her techniques from this workshop in separate posts. In this first post, we'll talk about her posing techniques.

Sue Bryce's Posing Rules


Sue instructs all of her clients to push their chin forward, away from the neck, and down. This elongates the neck, defines the jawline, makes the eyes look bigger, and takes off 10 pounds from the face.

She says that many photographers make the mistake of instructing their clients to lift their chin. What happens is that there is no definition in the chin line and it also makes the eyes smaller.

When people look down, their eyes open wider to look up at the camera.

Sue also uses a "chin pan" -- she holds out her hand flat, palm facing up -- to direct a client's chin.


In all of Sue's images, her model connects to the front shoulder. She demonstrated by standing sideways to the camera, turning her face to the camera, and then lifting the shoulder closest to the camera. She calls this "connecting to the front shoulder" and is a key aspect of body language.


There are typically three types of hands in an image: fist, claw (imagine hands like a claw), and thunderbird (hands flat and rigid). However, Sue breaks these rules a bit. For example, she shows the back of the hands. 

It's also important to sit the hands after sitting the pose because hands have a mind of their own. People can be in a great pose but their hands will be rigid. Sue instructs her models to form "ballet hands" and automatically people relax their hands.

[Note by Alica Jeva from Beba Photography]


This is the most desired shape on a woman is the hourglass. Sue always tries to create shape in her photos by having her clients move their hips to one side. To do that, she has her clients bring one foot forward, bending the knee. This automatically shifts the hips to opposite side.

She also has clients cross one knee in front of the other to create the hourglass shape.

Body Language

When women flirt, they touch different parts of their body that they want to draw attention to. This is body language. According to Sue, a great photograph uses body language in the same way. 

Women don't do this naturally in front of a camera, however, so she needs to coach them. She tells them to touch their neck and their hair.

One no-no is to never cross the arm in front of the chest because it blocks the person. Sue demonstrated a diamond shape, from the top of the head to the shoulders to the point under the chest, and said to keep this area open. Pose around the diamond.


The rule here is that if one side is up, the other side is down. Never should the posing be symmetrical. For example, the client shifts her hips to one side. Or one hand is up by her hair and the other is on her waist.

She directs her clients to touch various parts of the body around the diamond, such as the hair, neck, waist, and hips.


You have nothing if you don't have a connection from the model to the camera. Sue says it's important to create a connection through the eyes. 

The problem is that most people lose the connection when she picks up the camera, so she first sets the pose. Then she directs her clients to look down so it "resets" their facial expression and relaxes their mouths. When she finally tells them to look up at the camera, she looks for a twinkle in the eye before she takes the shot. 

To get this look, Sue instructs clients to smile through their eyes. She likens the look to how women look at themselves with a "mirror face" when no one is watching. Their face is completely relaxed, they are smiling very slightly, and they have a twinkle in their eyes. Sue always looks for people's mirror faces.

[Photo by Sue Bryce]

Next Post...

In our next post, we'll go over Sue Bryce's tips on styling, hair, and makeup for gorgeous portrait photographs. Check back next week!

1 comment:

  1. I loved the creative live workshop with Sue, but my notes are so messy! Yours sum it up a lot more nicely and I love your sketch :)