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Body language plays a big part in how we interpret a photo of a person. Many photographers know to use angles, curves and lines. How many are thinking about the message they send with their poses?

Body language is non-verbal communication, which means that you can use it in your photos to add another element of interest. We have emotional responses to different types of body language. Why not use that as a tool in your photography?

Using Body Language

Think of all the visual cues you’ve ever seen in another person. Confidence, innocence, seduction, ignorance, fear, or apathy. What are your subjects conveying to people who see your photos?

Consider something basic such as eye contact. Are you drawn more to a photo if the subject appears to make eye contact, or do you feel a sense of wonder if the subject is looking away from the camera? Is a smile infectious, or just cheesy? How does the subject’s stance make you feel?

There’s a good reason to use your own impressions of body language. We all have similar interpretations of the way people comport themselves, though our reactions may be different. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re looking at someone who looks like he’s about to kick your ass. Most people will agree that he looks aggressive, perhaps intimidating. Some may want to run, others may want to fight. The reaction is different, but the interpretation of body language is fairly consistent among all of us.

Most of us don’t think in direct definitions of typical body poses, but we instinctually react to them. If you need some help recalling different meanings from body language, there are plenty of definitions online. With a little time and thought, you can learn to refine the subtleties of a person’s demeanor and start to pose your models to convey your intention.

Think about the pose in the model below. What is she saying to you?

Body Language

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