What To Do With Your Arms In Pictures (How To Pose For Natural Looking Pictures)

Whether you are having professional photos taken or posing for photographs with friends, it can be hard to choose the right pose that looks natural.

What To Do With Your Arms In Pictures (How To Pose For Natural Looking Pictures)

If your arms look too carefully positioned then you will appear stiff and awkward, but if you leave them dangling at your sides it looks even worse. 

Here are some top tips for how you should position your arms for natural poses in pictures. Following these tips will immediately make you more photogenic. 

Classic Arms Up Pose

This is a very popular pose used by portrait photographers because it is so flattering. Your arms help to frame your face and lifting them above your head will make you look slim and strong.

You can look directly at the camera, or look down and to the side for a more candid style. 

Lean On Your Knee

If you are sitting down, you can lean one of your arms on your knee and leave the other one relaxed on your lap. This creates a casual pose which is much better than sitting awkwardly with your arms at your sides.

Try and turn to the side a little if you can, as this makes the photo more dynamic and interesting. 

Clasp Your Hands

If you want to avoid looking too ‘posed’ then you can try this simple position. Gently clasp your hands together in the center of your body – this can be done standing up or sitting down.

Don’t interlock your fingers, and leave your hands slightly loose. This will put your arms in a good position for the photograph. 

Do Up Your Jacket

If you’re wearing a jacket, you can have a photograph which shows you doing it up.

This indicates movement and activity which immediately makes the photograph more dynamic and interesting. It keeps your arms below your chest and creates a focal point in the center of the photograph.

This is a great pose for wedding photographs

Hold Your Jacket Over Your Shoulder

This is another great pose to do with a jacket. It works well with a formal jacket or a casual one. Use one arm to sling your jacket over your shoulder, and with the other you can put your hand in your pocket or let it hang by your side.

You can look directly at the camera, or look away to the side. Try and angle your body sideways – the shoulder with the jacket on should be closest to the camera and bring the opposite hip towards the camera a little. 

Put One Hand In Your Pocket

If you are having casual photographs with friends, you can try this position where you put one hand in your pocket. It will make you look relaxed and at ease and draws attention to your outfit.

Try and angle your body to the side slightly for a more flattering picture. Don’t put both hands in your pockets, as this will make you look too informal, scruffy and even disinterested. 

Put One Hand In Your Back Pocket

If you want to go for a pose that is a little more ‘edgy’, you could try putting one hand in your back pocket instead. This works well side-on and in a forward facing photograph.

Your palm should be facing your body and you should keep your elbow tucked in rather than sticking out to the side. The other arm can either be loosely at your side, or you can bring it up and place your hand on the back of your neck. 

Adjust Your Sleeves or Cuffs

This is a very easy pose that looks natural in photographs. You can use this trick in a seated or a standing position, but you need to be wearing a long sleeved shirt or jumper.

Bring your arms in front of your abdomen or over your chest. Your arms should be bent at the elbow. Use one hand to gently tug on the cuff of the sleeve on the opposite arm, or the end of the sleeve if you are wearing a jumper. 

Fold Your Arms

This pose looks best when you are stood up, but it can also work sitting down if you are not behind a table. Fold your arms over your torso at a height that feels comfortable to you.

The pose should be relaxed and not too tight, with your fingers a little spread on the hand that is visible. If you have a watch on, this arm should be the one that is on the outside, closest to the camera, as the watch will make a nice feature of the photograph. 

Put Your Arms Behind Your Back

This is a great pose for group photos as well as individual portraits. The trick with this pose is to not be too rigid and formal. Fold your arms loosely behind your back and keep some movement in your body.

Keep your hips loose and perhaps lean forward a little, or angle your body towards the person standing next to you in the photograph. 

Bring One Hand To Your Face

If you need a quick and easy pose to make your photograph look more interesting, try bringing one hand up to your face. The arm should be positioned across your body at a diagonal angle.

The other arm can either be crossed in front of you, at your side, or even in your pocket. This pose works really well if you are looking directly at the camera. 

Lean Against Something

You can lean against an object, a piece of furniture, or even a wall to make your photographs more interesting. This gives you something to do with your arms.

You could lean with one arm and put the other arm in your pocket, or even use both arms to lean and balance your weight. 


These poses are perfect for creating interesting photos that look natural. Each one puts your arms in a different position, so you can achieve lots of different styles of pictures. 

Laura McNeill
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