Photographing Women: Better Candid Photos and Poses

I often see a lot of photos celebrating the beauty of different women. Frequently, it is a very glamorous portrait that requires a lot of effort to be produced. These portraits can be beautiful works of art, but when you are starting out, you probably need to have a ton of things to create a high-end portrait. Professional setup, hours of makeup, and styling are just a few things. You will also need a professional model and advanced retouching skills.

But, you don’t need to be starting your photography journey with all of the high-end glamorous photos. Photographing women don’t need to include all of that. Why? Sometimes, you don’t want to create another cover of a magazine.

There is something so special about learning how to capture a candid moment, someone’s raw beauty, and the true personality of the person that you’re taking photos of. 

Today, we’ll cover…

  • What is the latest trend in photographing women
  • Why is this gaining more and more popularity
  • What kind of poses work the best to achieve that

The trend of candid photos

“Candids” are increasing in popularity. You would be surprised how many times I get asked questions such as, “Can you just focus on the candids?” “Do you know any good poses that don’t look like I’m posing?” We are living in the social media era, where everyone is under pressure to show off their life in the best way possible. While it needs to be aesthetic and pretty, it also needs to be believable. And that is the magic of candids!

Some of the photography trends of the past made some photoshoots look a little tacky and exaggerated – and that is currently no longer the game. The trends now are all about being natural. This shifts a lot of things for the photographers, too. In the past, we were praised to have the best light, the sharpest images and lots of gear. Now, our clients don’t really care about that – they are mostly looking at the energy from the photo. 

So, what is a candid photo?

A candid photo is a photo that doesn’t involve any posing and enhances the natural expressions of your subject/s. You could be doing candid photos of people walking down the street, wedding guests, or other special events. Sometimes, photographers observe their subject for a few minutes before they can release the shutter.

Can you really have a candid photo on a paid photoshoot? Yes and no. Obviously, your client knows that they are being photographed. This is called a “staged candid”. In order to achieve that, you need to give precise directions for posing. That means having both great communication skills and lots of posing ideas on hand. 

My Favourite Poses (That are not ‘Poses’)


You can always go right with walking photos! Have you realized that this is the most used pose of bloggers? It’s simple and effective, and it adds so much action and movement to the shot. When you tell people to pose, they usually get very scared and freeze their expressions. With walking, they focus on the activity, so they’re likely to look more natural!  You can also see that holding something in their hands, like coffee or a handbag, helps a lot. 


One of the cutest poses is a nice laugh – and it’s only believable when you do it with the whole body! As you can see in the photo below (see Image004), it helps to have your subject lean a little closer to the camera with their hands in front of you. This way, their whole body language is consistent with the smile and it isn’t too rigid.

Looking Away

It can be so intimidating to look into the big lens in front of you! That’s why I love to tell my clients to look away, pretend like they are discovering the city or find a point in the distance that they are looking at. This also makes it feel a little more “paparazzi” and a little less staged! 

Being Silly

Candid doesn’t mean boring! You can always encourage your models to do something fun that first comes into their minds. It can be anything like jumping, silly faces to the camera, or a twirl. Anything energetic will elevate the vibes of your photo! I always love to incorporate at least one fun image to the photoshoot, so when clients pose their photos, they can be a little more balanced.

Eating or Drinking

Any activity that looks natural is great! Find a cute coffee shop and buy some pastries and coffee and let your model hold the cup and take the first sip. Or go to a local fair and walk around with cotton candy. Buy a drink and stand next to the vending machine. Or simply enjoy the ice cream on the street together with your model! 

Interacting with the Scene

What is the story that you want to tell? What are the things you have around you? What is the life story of the person you are photographing? You can ask all of these questions when deciding what kind of interaction to put on the photo. As you can see, the woman in the photo is working on the laptop – which is a great scene if you want to do business portraits but you don’t want just boring photos next to the wall. 

The Twirl

Getting your subject to spin is the best pose if you want to highlight the happy aesthetics of your photoshoot. It is so joyful, makes their clothes and hair flow, and immediately creates a smile on your client’s face. It’s great to use for full body shots, but also for details on the face and capturing expressions! 

The Hair Touch

Whenever my clients struggle with what to do with their hands, I love to tell them: “Imagine that you’re fixing your hair.” It’s such an effective way of using the hands naturally and incorporating them into the composition. It always looks nice showing this part of the body instead of having the focus only on the face most of the time. 

The Hair Flip

Have your model stand in one spot, focus on their face, and let them face away from you, and wait till they turn around to capture your shot! This is so much fun and adds a lot of personality to the subject. This pose is also perfect with a more serious expression, but laughing is way more candid in this case.

Looking Back

Make your model walk a few steps away from you and look back while doing it. The story you want to tell is as if your subject is smiling and saying, “Oh, are you still following me?” It’s a cute interaction to capture between the subject and the photographer. You can also accentuate the story and feeling of the photo by using clothing, such as in Image 012 where they have brought the jacket on the outfit around the subject’s arms, to create a more laid back and natural photo. 

Playing with Clothing

Whenever your model wears a dress or skirt, you can ask them to play around with it for a dynamic action shot! You can have your subject walk side to side, make the skirt or it flow, or hold it with one hand. This pose brings more confidence to the photo and the posing won’t be too obvious and pushy. You can also try it with a jacket or other accessories as well. 


When explaining the candid poses, make sure that you let your model be themselves, but at the same time, give proper directions. You are the person behind the camera who knows how it looks – and the first photo isn’t usually the one you’re looking for. Practice giving constructive feedback! That means not being afraid to express concrete adjustments like the position of the hand, distance from the object, the intensity of the action, directions of the spin, and softness of the smile. These are all very small things that only you are able to see in order to make the perfect photo.  

Self-Check Quiz

  1. What is the difference between high-end portraits and candid photos?
  2. What are candid photos? 
  3. Why is this photo style becoming more popular? 
  4. What is the most natural candid pose? 
  5. How can you enhance the body language on the laughing photo?
  6. What are some of the activities that can count as posing? 
  7. Is it important to work with hands on the photo? How can you bring them to the shot? 
  8. What are some of the candid poses that include hair? 
  9. How can you include a dress in the pose? 
  10. What are some of the important things you can say to your model when giving directions? 


  • Make some candid self-portraits! Put your phone or a camera on a tripod and try some of these poses yourself. How did you enjoy them? Which one felt the most natural? Why?
  • Bring a camera to your family’s event. Try getting as many beautiful unposed photos as possible! What made your favorites stand out? 
  • Open the social media of someone you’ve been following. Can you see a pattern in the posted photos that makes you realize that they’re made in a way to not look too staged? 
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