How To Shoot Full-Body Portrait Photography (+ Best Lenses)

There are so many different types of photography. Learning to master them all is the best way to boost your portfolio and become a well-rounded photographer. One such type of photography is full-body portrait photography.

How To Shoot Full-Body Portrait Photography (+ Best Lenses)

Being able to take beautiful full-body shots of your models is a great way to capture the entire essence of your subject. However, this is a very specific skill that needs to be honed. 

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about shooting full-body portraits and how to make them as beautiful as possible. We will also look at the best lenses for shooting this type of photography. 

What Is A Full Body Shot In Photography?

A full-body shot in photography is fairly self-explanatory. It refers to a manner of photographing a model who is framed in such a way that their entire body is captured from head to toe.

If you have studied photography or ever read up on different techniques, you may have heard of this type of shot referred to as a wide shot, full-length photography, or full shot. 

In order for a photograph to be considered a full-body shot, the entire body has to be visible within the frame. Aside from this rule, you are free to do whatever you want with the rest of the portrait and it will still be considered full body. 

These types of shots work equally well in studio settings and on location. In fact, they are often used in catalog shoots and other types of fashion photography.

Taking full-body shots on location can be a great way to bring scale to the photograph and add drama to the shoot. 

Most commonly, full-body shots are used for wedding portraits, lifestyle photography, and catalog shoots as we mentioned above. With that being said, there is also a place for full-body shots in other areas of photography such as casual shoots. 

Key Posing Tips For Full Body Portraits

While it is important to know the lenses and angles that you should use when shooting, your photographs are only going to look their best if you know how to best direct your models.

If you have shot any kind of photography before, you will be used to using different lenses and angles to get the perfect shot. But none of that is going to compensate for the perfect pose. 

Below are some tips on how to direct your models to ensure that you get the perfect full-body shot. 

Understand Body Language

When you are shooting full-body portraits you have to think about more than simply beautiful poses. When you can see the model’s entire body, you are looking at much more than just a facial expression or a shape.

Full-body photography gives us the opportunity to communicate through images. 

The body language of the model is key to creating beautiful, memorable images. In order to shoot great full-body portraits, you need to have an understanding of basic body language.

For example, an open torso and straight posture convey confidence while crossed arms indicate being guarded. Similarly, relaxed shoulders and limbs communicate that the model is relaxed and at ease. 

When you have a good understanding of body language, you can use it to guide your model’s poses. This knowledge can be used to intertwine poses with the theme of the shoot to create a stunning photograph. 

Keep A Fast Pace

When taking full-body shots, it is easy to become caught up in getting your model into the perfect pose. However, this can take a long time and slows down the flow of the shoot.

When a model has to hold a pose for an extended period of time, they are likely to end up looking stiff and unnatural. This is a natural consequence of holding a position or expression. 

In order to avoid taking pictures of a stiff and unnatural model, it is important to keep up the pace of the shoot. The easiest way to do this is to trust your model.

Before you begin shooting, discuss the aim of the shoot, the types of photos that you want to get, and the sort of body language you want them to have. You can even come up with a rough guide to the types of poses you want to see.

This can help to prepare the model for the shoot and ensure that you are both on the same page in regard to what you are aiming to achieve with the photographs. 

If It Bends, Bend It

We have already mentioned the importance of body language and making sure that your model looks as relaxed as possible. This also applies to the position of the model’s limbs.

While good posture is a good quality to have in a model, having a pose that is too straight up and down can end up making them look like a soldier. This might be appropriate in some shoots but not the majority. 

A simple, general rule that you can apply to your full-body shoots is that at least one limb should be slightly bent at all times. This can be a bent knee with a dropped hip or an arm holding a prop.

This instantly makes a pose seem more natural and relaxed. It is also an easy direction to call out while you are shooting. 

Relax Your Model

Standing in front of a camera can be an awkward experience no matter how many times you have done it. This is something that can clearly be seen in full-body photographs.

When models have to think about every part of their body and how they are moving or holding it, it is very easy for them to get into their heads about their job. This leads to stiff and awkward photographs. 

To avoid this happening or to get your model out of their head, it is important to help them to relax. Thankfully, there are many ways that you can do this.

Some models respond well to being distracted by casual conversation throughout the shoot, others vibe to music that sets the tone for the shoot. You can even make them laugh or engage in activities such as jumping jacks to shake out their body.

Some models will feel more comfortable and confident if they have some suggested poses to help them get into the swing of things. 

Ideas For Full Body Poses

How To Shoot Full-Body Portrait Photography (+ Best Lenses)

In order to be able to suggest some poses to relax your model, you need to have some ideas of poses to suggest. Below are some ideas for full-body poses that can work for any shoot. 

Standing With Crossed Legs

One of the most simple and flattering full-body poses is standing with your legs crossed. Simply crossing one ankle in front of the other adds an interesting shape to your body and makes you look relaxed.

This pose is so effective that there doesn’t need to be any further direction about arm placement. Just make sure that the weight is kept on the back leg. 

Hands In Your Pockets

One of the hardest parts of posing for full-body shots is working out what to do with your hands. The easiest way to solve this age-old problem is to place your hands into your pockets.

This works equally well with pants pockets and jacket pockets. Because this causes a bend in the arm, it effortlessly adds shape to the body. Depending on the type of shoot and the clothes that the model is wearing, this may or may not be possible. 

Leaning With One Leg Bent

Another super common pose that is used for full-body shots is leaning with a bent leg. For this pose, you will need a wall or other surfaces such as a desk, car, or bench to lean against.

As you lean against the surface or wall, bend one leg so that the bottom of your foot is resting against it. This creates a relaxed and cool look that is perfect for urban shoots. It also adds some dynamism to the image.

S Curve

As we mentioned above, having your model standing perfectly straight makes for a boring and unnatural photo. Adding some shape to the pose helps to avoid this. The S curve pose is perfect for avoiding soldier poses.

All you need to do to master this pose is shift your weight onto one leg. This causes the hip to pop to one side while the torso leans the other way.

Complete the pose by tilting your head to the same side as the popped hip. This pose is perfect for shoots with larger props. 

Lying On The Side

It is important to remember that not all full-body poses have to be standing up. Sometimes, a laying down pose is perfect for your shoot. Laying on your side instantly gives a natural shape to the body.

The hips and waist are accentuated and the legs naturally bend to support the body. You can add more shape to the pose by elevating the upper body. This can be done using a block or by resting on an elbow. 

Sitting With Legs Forward

Full-body poses can also include sitting down. This is a great option for shoots where you may be sitting on the floor. Instead of sitting with crossed legs or kneeling, you can sit with your legs stretched out in front of you.

Beware that having both legs straight in front of you can look child-like which isn’t always appropriate for the shoot. Simply bend one leg or cross it below an outstretched leg to avoid this. 


You can never have too much movement in a photograph. In order to get relaxed and natural poses in full-body shots, you can simply walk toward or past the camera. You will naturally position your arms and legs in a relaxed way.

This is perfect for times when still poses feel awkward or restrictive. It also helps to provide clothing with movement. 

Lying On Their Back

Another option for a beautiful full-body shot is to get the model to lie on their back. This is another pose that offers lots of options. Legs and arms can be bent or straightened. The spine can be curved or straightened.

The body may even be slightly twisted. For best results, this pose should be shot from a high angle. 

Tips For Shooting Full Body Photography

How To Shoot Full-Body Portrait Photography (+ Best Lenses)

Now that you know how to pose your model and how to help your model relax, it is time to look at how to make the most of these poses through your photography. 

Get The Angle Right

This doesn’t just refer to working out your model’s best side. Taking a photo straight on certainly has its place in full-body photography. However, it can create quite dull images. Instead, you can get creative with your angles.

There are certain types of shoots that can benefit from low or high angles that offer a different perspective. Lower angles make the subject look bigger while higher angles can make them look smaller depending on your needs.

Decide On Orientation

When we think of full-body shots, it is easy to only consider portrait shots. However, full-body photographs can also be shot in landscape.

While using a portrait orientation is more common with full-body shots, especially when the model is standing, it isn’t always the best option. If you want to include more of the background or environment, landscape orientation is best.

This is also a good option for shooting groups of people or if the model is sitting or laying down. 

Composition Is Important

In the same vein as orientation there is composition. When we are talking about full-body shots, composition refers to the pose of the model.

However, it also refers to the placement of the subject within the frame and how it is interacting with other elements of the photograph. Poses create shapes and lines that add dynamism to the photo.

You can also use the rule of thirds to draw the eye to different aspects of the photo.

Find The Depth Of Field

A common theme that you will see in full-body photography is a blurred background. While this is a popular technique, it isn’t always necessary. There are times when you might want to blur parts of the background to keep focus on the subject.

However, there will also be shoots where you want the background to be in focus to add to the photo. You should also consider the focal length that you are using and the distance between you and the model or the model and the background. 

Play Around With Lighting

Any photographer worth their salt knows that the most important thing in photography is the lighting. There are so many different options for lighting, all of which offer different benefits and effects.

Whether you are shooting inside or outside, you can make use of artificial lighting to get the brightness that you want. It can also be used to generate effects.

Of course, to create the most natural photographs, natural lighting works perfectly if you have enough of it.

Use Props

Props will almost always improve a photograph. Not only does it add some scale to photographs that are shot in a studio but it also gives your model something to do with their hands or something to interact with.

This can lead to more interesting and natural photographs. 

Best Lenses For Full Body Photography

When shooting full-length body photographs you can have the right models with the right poses and compose your images perfectly. However, if you don’t have the right lens, all of your hard work could be in vain. 

It is common for photographers to think that a wide-angle lens is best for portrait photography. This is because you can fit more into the frame with the short focal length.

However, wide-angle lenses can distort the body, particularly if it is positioned close to the camera. You can avoid this issue by ensuring the subject isn’t close to the edges. This is often used in lifestyle photography.

The best lens for full-body portraits is a short telephoto lens. Although it doesn’t capture quite as much as a wide-angle lens, it can easily capture a full body.

You should stick to a 50mm focal length lens to avoid distortion. This is because it is the closest lens to our eyes.

Telephoto lenses can also be used for full-body photography, although you need more space between you and the subject. This can be difficult to achieve when shooting in a studio setting. 

Final Thoughts

Being able to shoot beautiful full-body portraits is a great way to bulk out your photography resume. There are so many aspects of photography that call for this type of shoot. Practicing these tips will help you to start shooting beautiful portraits. 

Laura McNeill
Scroll to Top