Sittin’ Pretty: Aka. How to sit and still look pretty in pictures!

I’ve been on a quest since summer to figure out how to sit in pictures and not look, well, lumpy and stumpy! It’s nice to have a variety of poses to shake things up, and after standing and leaning, sitting seems like the obvious next choice.

When I talked to Jenny about photo tips, she mentioned making lots of angles with the body – and one picture of her sitting on a folding chair really caught my eye.

angles Collage

Photos belong to Cashmerette, of course!

See how elongated her limbs are, and show she still has definition around the waist? And because she’s at a bit of an angle, her legs aren’t totally foreshortened? (Foreshortening is when a something extended towards the camera ends up looks stubbier, like one leg/arm is shorter then the other.) This suddenly became my new goal.

The day I took my “motion” pictures, I also tried sitting pictures. (It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it!)

sequence 1-4 Collage

Voila: the 4 stages of sitting. 

Top left: Sitting with leg crossed towards the camera. The crossed leg is foreshortened and almost disappears. Not good.

Top right: Leg crossed away from camera. Looks longer. Better.

Bottom left: Arms propped on the back of the bench. Gives more space around my torso, and I think that’s good.

Bottom right: Arms extended. The best, I think? (If I was going to be insanely picky I’d say that the way the skirt drapes straight out from my waist to my knee isn’t ideal, but really, this is not Vogue, who cares?)

What do you think? 

Then I went a bit nuts and tried to sit in every different pose I could think of. I must have looked bizarre to people driving by!

try every pose Collage

From top left: Midget, proposal, this looks cooler when rugged guys do it in headshot photos, and Cleopatra.  

From my experiments, here are my “rules” for sitting pictures: 

  • Angle your legs away from the camera, don’t face it head on.
  • Keep arms away from the body, so your torso is more defined.
  • If you cross your legs, cross them away from the camera.
  • Stop slouching! (I’m slouching in every picture. Sorry.)

And yet… rules are made to be broken! Sometimes a picture doesn’t have to show off you and the garment perfectly. A picture might be there to add variety to a post, capture a mood, or because your face looks hella good in that shot!

Here are some sitting pictures I’ve taken in the last few months:

mixed sitting Collage

Now, all those squatting ones do little to show off the clothes – but I like them anyway! (I do notice that my legs are always turned away from the camera, which might be helping balance the scrunched up pose.) I can’t chose a favourite between the Jalie dress pictures, because they all have parts that work well. In the red coatigan, my legs are foreshortened in the lefthand picture, but I feel like it still works because the lighting and face are good.

In fact, pretty much every close-up picture of my face on the blog is when I’m squatting or bent over, like this:

squatting Collage

I take all my standing pics, then I get in close to the camera and take some  face shots. I don’t know if it’s the angle of the head, or just that I’m in a comfy, solid position, but I seem to get the most flattering pictures this way!

So – sitting! Do you sit in blog photos? Will you try it now? Am I insane for overthinking this so much? Tell me, dear readers, tell me!

PS. Lots of awesome Better Picture Project action going on – If I’ve missed anyone, tell me in the comments!

  • Michelle spins in the early morning light of the commuter lot,
  • Meg spins so much her skirt doesn’t fit on my balcony, 
  • Meris takes pics on the train platform,
  • The Penny Librarian dances around in her fab sailor trousers,
  • Life in a Mads House does an amazing post about her quest for better pictures, 
  • Birgitte takes the most gorgeously lit photos on her balcony, 
  • Tasha spins like a boss in the most elegant train station i’ve ever seen,
  • Becky moved over to WordPress recently, so make sure you check her out there while you see her experiments with portrait mode, 
  • and Heather, who started my quest to take pics out and about, is experimenting with new locations herself! 

45 thoughts on “Sittin’ Pretty: Aka. How to sit and still look pretty in pictures!

  1. I am pretty sure sitting pics are my nemesis… but perhaps with these tips I can defeat them!

    (that one caption made me laugh out loud: midget, proposal, this looks cooler when rugged guys do it…)

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  2. I literally LOLed at your “proposal” and “rugged guy” photos/descriptions. Thank you, dear Gillian, for scientifically exploring all of this for us.

    A tip to stop slouching–before you take a picture, remind yourself to “open your chest”. A lot of us tend to kind of collapse the chest and roll the shoulders forward, and we often do so even when we sit up tall, so we can still look kind of slouchy, or we sit up way too tall/straight and look weird and stiff. Sit comfortably, and lift your chest slightly. You should feel a gentle lift out of your hip bones (and a tiny squeeze of the glutes and core), and you should also feel your upper back get slightly narrower as your chest lifts (and a tiny arch in the lower back, not a lot, just a small arch). This is why “hands-on-hips” poses often look good, because doing that action pretty much automatically does all of the above. (Somewhat embarrassed to admit I actually learning this from weightlifting form, but realized how it translated into pictures.)

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    1. Weightlifting sounds entirely badass and awesome. I’m going to work on this! (I had numb wrists and elbows for years, which turned out to be from slouching… bless the physiotherepist who figured that out, after doctors telling me I needed surgery! Guess I should get back on the excerises though and sit up straighter!)

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  3. As I mentioned on Twitter I generally think I’m terrible at sitting photos but glad to have inspired!

    I would echo Nicole – I think the key is to sit up really straight, shoulders back – and “perch” on the chair vs. actually sitting back on it (that’s what I’m doing on that chair photo – my bum is barely on it!). Then I try to push my arms out somewhere, because they pretty much never look good on my lap or resting on my body.

    Now you’re making me think I need to try more sitting🙂

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  4. You do have me thinking about photos! That’s a good thing. The photo that I like the best is the one of you sitting on the bench, legs crossed away from the camera, and arms spread.

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  5. I find sitting photos a challenge because sometimes you end up looking too formal, too posed, like high school graduation photos. My favorite is how you squat on the ground, knees bent… It’s fun and playful. I am loving these posts!!! Keep them coming!

    MaLora Ann

    >

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    1. Oh my gosh, my high school grad photos were hilarious! They made girls pose by a big box draped in white faux fur, and told us to stand in all kinds of ridiculous dreamy poses!😛

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  6. These sitting photos look very interesting – they give such a great variety of shapes! I am loving this whole series!

    I think it was last year in me made May I tried a “lollling on the sofa” pose, which was… um, relaxing! Again you need your legs angled away from the camera to avoid foreshortening and it probably isn’t the best for garment details but it does give some completely different angles!

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  7. Love these pics Gillian! so pretty. They make for a nice variety in a blog post. I have taken some bench sitting pics for MMM but I totally have to up my regular blog pic game! Thanks for the motivation…yet again!! You are awesome.

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  8. Rugged guy pose! Lol! Also, thanks for the shoutout–but I actually ended up changing names, so the link is now at sewadagio.wordpress.com. I just need to finish moving everything over there.🙂

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      1. Not yet. I’m trying to get a few more things done on it first, like my finished project page and coming up with a different picture for the top.

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  9. Oh, more fun! I have mediocre to terrible photos overall but when I had a bit more time I would often use seated or crouches poses to open a blog post—- pic that looked good but didn’t give too much of the garment away. Kind of a teaser or trailer to get people to read further…. Love your seated tips.🙂

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    1. Oh fascinating! I also have a “recipe” for first pic in a post, but mine is usually “in motion” – something, like you say, that will grab attention!

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  10. Wow, this is something I had never thought about, but your analysis is super helpful. Maybe one day I’ll break away from standing in front of my double doors and give it a try. BTW, I’m not sure if you’re taking requests for your Better Pictures Project (or if you have them all planned out), but I would love some tips on streamlining the upload/editing process. I find that part of blogging really tedious.

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  11. Loved your captions–hilarious! I seem to have a hard time remembering that being comfortably seated isn’t really the point of a “seated” photo, LOL! I must try to remember your pointers the next time I try that…

    (And thanks for the shout-out! <3)

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  12. regarding your face looking better when you’re leaning forward, somewhere I have a link to an article about taking better photos (not that I apply it to my blog. My photographer will take 1 quick photo of my creations, 2 if I bat my lashes and 3 if I beg, sadly!). One point in the article said to stick your head out in front of you like a tortoise, which is very bad posturally, but it does good things to show off your face, with no double chin or too much neck taking over the picture.

    Which is what you have done in these naturally🙂

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    1. OH MY GOSH< YES! You totally nailed why that pose works! I've heard the turtle advice and just always feel like such an idiot doing it… but when I crouch and learn forward, you are right, it happens naturally! Mystery solved.

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  13. Wooeee – I have always avoided like the plague sitting in photos for my blog. But am excited to try out some of your tips when photographing my next project.

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