500 Poses for Photographing Women: A Visual Sourcebook for Portrait Photographers

Edited by Michelle Perkins

Amherst Media, Inc. (128 p) $34.95

ISBN-10: 1584282495 / ISBN-13: 978-1584282495

Comprised almost entirely of images, this useful if sometimes cheesy book, aptly subtitled a 'visual sourcebook', provides hundreds of examples of female portraits. The images, taken by over a dozen contemporary working pros, cover multiple genres (e.g. glamour, fashion, high-school senior portraiture, commercial, and wedding).

Divided into head and shoulder, waist-up, three quarter, full-length reclining, sitting, and standing poses, the book provides dozens of examples for evoking moods and effects through posing. As a reference for a pro or an advanced amateur, this represents an easy way to scan a wide range of shots to get ideas when planning a shoot. Posing is a central and often overlooked area in mainstream photographic education. Many well-known pros persuasively argue that given the quality of today’s cameras, poor posing is a larger chronic problem than poor exposure to making shots appear 'unprofessional'.

Thus a book like this, to use as a quick guide for ideas, might easily transform the quality of a session. A few warnings to prospective buyers: The images comprised here are almost exclusively of conventionally attractive young models. Trial and error would be required to assess if some of the poses would still be flattering for women who exist outside the book’s narrow bandwidth of age and shape. And while Perkins does devote two brief pages to general posing vocabulary and technique at the end of the book, no text is devoted to strategies for talking with subjects, regardless of whether they are professional models, so that they might comfortably get into these positions.

Finally, many of the shots appear staged, dated, and artificial. Thankfully several others achieve a tasteful timelessness. And therein lies the book’s strength - by providing such a wide range of possibilities (including looks to avoid), the photographer - or their client - has many possibilities to consider and compare. As long as the reader knows that they are getting a 'sourcebook' (i.e. a compendium of images), rather than a manual for posing, this book can be a helpful tool.

Adam Koplan is head of the Performance Department at the Dreamyard Project which brings arts programs to NYC schools. He is also Artistic Director of The Flying Carpet Theatre Co.
Follow him on Twitter @FlyingCarpetNYC

Buy this book on Amazon.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.


Total comments: 39
By bjmercado (Jan 4, 2012)

Awesome book! I have scan it a while ago. Looks like FHM has another threat for the "portrait poses" .Very coo!l I've seen some of it here http://www.portraitposes.org/ for the tips that can help you improve the book more..

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
By NGGurton (Nov 15, 2011)

OK let me add a few actual titles, which you can add to your library to after purchasing this vastly superior read. "One Thosand New York Buildings" by Bill Harris. "Art of The Automobile: The 100 Greatest Cars", by Dennis Adler. "Master Shots: 100 Advanced Camera Techniques To Get An Expensive Look On Your Low Budget Movie", by Christopher Kenworthy. And finally, "1000 Places To See Before You Die", by Patricia Schultz. It's a numerologists dream collection.

Cultured Woman
By Cultured Woman (Oct 29, 2011)

Thanks all the comments and review.

I read and review a lot of books. Books on posing, how to and lists of poses are very important to me... Why?

Well, unless I have a huge print catalog of poses handy, it is difficult to sit with models or clients and decide how to select or direct a pose.

A photo of an existing pose, which might be modified somewhat, is a great starting point for me.

While I too have seen the various previews, the previews show mostly the bust up to head shot poses.... It's the full body poses which are most challenging to visualize and direct.

Anyone use this book? How was it in use?

If you are interested, one of my favorite how to books on posing is http://glamourphotography.co/?p=639

... which book ("Posing for the Camera") recommends collecting tear sheets of images with poses, to analyze and for pose demonstration purposes.

Seems like this book reviewed here might just be, as review states, poses of pretty people.

Sounds useful to me ... yes?

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
pro photo 2011
By pro photo 2011 (Oct 21, 2011)

After previewing some pages of the book through books.google.com, I must say any potential buyer should also take a look before buying it. IMO, the most attractive photo is the one on the cover. The ones inside the book are taken inside a studio. There are a lot of pictures but no textual info on camera, exposure setting, lighting, etc. It is really of limited use, other than an idea book.

pro photo 2011
By pro photo 2011 (Oct 21, 2011)

The review is too general, critical and negative. It is of no use to me.


"The images comprised here are almost exclusively of conventionally attractive young models. Trial and error would be required to assess if some of the poses would still be flattering for women who exist outside the book’s narrow bandwidth of age and shape".

Of course one would choose "conventionally attractive young models" to pose for a book like this. Would you just hire people off the street to do this?


"many of the shots appear staged, dated, and artificial".

Dated isn't necessarily a bad thing, and of course the shots are staged and artificial. Glamor and fashion photography are that way. The book is not titled "500 Candid Poses of Women".

By skysi (Oct 11, 2011)

Well, this book can give you some starting points for posing to think about. That's all.

By LeRentier (Oct 11, 2011)

The door on the presentation image seems to be tilted to the left.
Do the other models also have to look lop-sided ?

By jinnet (Oct 11, 2011)

Suitable for photographers or model?


1 upvote
Peter Hayward
By Peter Hayward (Oct 10, 2011)

Thanks for the review and follow up comments. A quick look on google books has revealed to me that the book is mainly a series of shots of women that could have been gained by simply studying any source of fashion, glamour shots etc i.e womens fashion mags etc.

By tonidiaz (Oct 9, 2011)

After seeing the book I consider that it is more helpful for stage or scene ideas than for the poses. There are a choice of many backgrounds on this book that can be achieved easily on the studio. The poses are ok but most of them are too simple, yearbook like. I am no pro, when I photograph is for fun and this book wasn't so funny.

By Raul (Oct 9, 2011)

Who on earth uses kindle.

By voz (Oct 9, 2011)

Try it. You might like it.

By intruder61 (Oct 9, 2011)

this book must be up there with the Kama Sutra...seriously, "500 poses"...is there any with their fingers up their nose?

Joe Mannex
By Joe Mannex (Oct 9, 2011)

the book looks more like a portfolio for the author to get some more work.

By peatantics (Oct 8, 2011)

How many are the attitudes as expressed via a "POSE"
Subject may stand, sit or lean or do a "TOYOTA LEAP"
However subject rests on a foundation at that instant.
In angle of view to camera compos-ed geometrically.

By CBAlexQ (Oct 8, 2011)

500? I only know a fraction of that. What hoopla! L-O-L!

Irakly Shanidze
By Irakly Shanidze (Oct 8, 2011)

I can't believe that I once contemplated publishing with Amherst Media...

By Marshal (Oct 8, 2011)

And this one. How to Photograph Men:


Jet Guy
By Jet Guy (Oct 9, 2011)

ROFL! That's too funny!! Thanks for the link.

1 upvote
By NGGurton (Nov 15, 2011)

As I'm watching the video, I keep thinking, 'Yolanda Dominguez's concept is absolutely brilliant! I wish I had thought of this'.

By Marshal (Oct 8, 2011)

I just read an article/saw a video at PetaPixel a little while ago and the moment I saw this book & review, just had to share. Pretty funny:


"Hey, are you okay? Do you want me to call an ambulance?"

"What's wrong with that woman? Is that Lady Gaga?"

By Hugo600si (Oct 8, 2011)

Brilliant, thanks for sharing!

By tlinn (Oct 7, 2011)

It's worth noting that there are versions for photographing men, couples, and brides as well.

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
By lensjunkie (Oct 7, 2011)

This review could be substituted for many, many Amherst Media, Inc. publications. As a whole they seem like the same reshuffled old material with a flashy new cover - I have bought many with high expectations that did not deliver.
What I think the community desires (well at least me) is an entire book devoted to how to communicate/entertain/deal with your subjects. Not everyone has people skills and putting your subject at ease is half the battle.
That and a flip book with just uncluttered wireframe/outline poses (I have seen an independently published book like this online but I forgot where it was and it was pricey, like $75) so you can just show the subject how to position themselves rather than describing it to them. Not something a pro would need but something a beginner would find very useful.

PBR Streetgang
By PBR Streetgang (Oct 7, 2011)

Unless Google is engaged in copyright infringement (I doubt it), this appears to be above board. In fact, a look at the Google Books website suggests that the author of the book permitted its partial posting as an effort to market the book.

Thus, for all involved, I would say T138 did make a great comment.

By T138 (Oct 7, 2011)

You can preview a large portion of the book for free on google books.

By merijn_s (Oct 7, 2011)

Great comment.... I'm sure the writer will be very happy with people who want to know the contents of the book but refuse to pay for it.It must really motivate him to maybe write another book.
same category aspeople who illegally download movies for free as wel...

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
By apiron (Oct 7, 2011)

You might want to calm down :

"Google Books is a book marketing program, not an online library, and as such, a full page of a book won't be viewable online unless expressly permitted by the copyright holder. Until then, people who find a copyrighted book will see, at most, basic bibliographic information about the book plus a few snippets — sentences of their search term in context. If the copyright holder has given us permission to show more, users can see a Limited Preview which allows them to browse a limited number of pages from the book. "

By feinschmecker (Oct 7, 2011)

Is this the conclusion: "Buy this book on Amazon.com"?!?

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
By increments (Oct 7, 2011)

This is actually the most balanced book review so far on this site IMO.

Seems to clearly explain the issues with it.

1 upvote
By emersonik (Oct 8, 2011)

A non-sponsored article, at last!
DPReview is becoming unrecognizable. Camera reviews are getting increasingly rare (not to mention lenses), and now they say that an iphone is all you need to take good pictures.

Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Oct 8, 2011)

emersonik, the articles have absolutely no bearing on the production of camera or lens reviews. Our reviews take time, which is why they are thorough, which is why you read them.
As for the iphone, our article obviously never said it is "all" you need to make a good picture. But I'm reminded of the old maxim, "A good photographer can make a great picture with a bad camera. A bad photographer can make a bad picture with a great camera."

By graybalanced (Oct 8, 2011)

Like they said to the other guy...calm down. Obviously the line you are concerned with is not the conclusion of the review. "Buy this book on Amazon" is simply a link in case you want to buy it. The line appears two sections after the end of the review, after some non-review book data. And the review was not terribly kind to the book.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 55 seconds after posting
By increments (Oct 8, 2011)

I should also add that I don't think the other book reviews are thinly disguised sales attempts for Amazon.

What seems more likely is the reviewers are sharing some of their favourite books. The difference with this review is that it mentions negatives in more detail.
This style is much more useful to people considering buying.

Bob Topp
By Bob Topp (Oct 11, 2011)

@ Mr. Diallo,

What happened to, "The customer is always right?" Yes, we understand that reviews take a long time to do thoroughly, but the fact is that the feature articles, in particular, have grown increasingly fluffy. The recent article on shooting at the beach was just such a fluff piece, and DPReview of ten years ago would not have published many, if any, of those shots unless to use them as examples of what not to do. I will always be an amateur, but I have grown from the comments of the many capable and generally competent participants on this site in the past. I would certainly like to see it remain top notch.


By fotografer (Oct 7, 2011)

More pictures please!

Richard Shih
By Richard Shih (Oct 7, 2011)

If you view this book on Amazon and click the cover image, you'll be able to view many more samples from the book.

By kalamchi (Oct 8, 2011)

I have seen the whole book, and I would not describe it as "Softcore book" as was described above. It is more of a catalogue for poses, with nothing to read at all except one chapter at the end that consists of two pages of brief tips.
Can be useful for those who look for ideas of poses, but for those who look for learning photography techniques, I hardly find it of any use.

Carl Sanders
By Carl Sanders (Oct 16, 2011)

Why purchase a book when you can do an internet search on fashion and beauty Photographers websites who are creating the best shots. From these, pick out the best poses that are liked and adopt them!

Total comments: 39