Body Language in Portrait Photos

The body speaks, communicates, expresses, and much more than we think. Surely you have heard many times about body language. Well, today I am going to talk to you about this tool that you can use in your portraits to print the emotion, feeling or state that you want to convey.

It is true that there are many studies on this subject, that each gesture can mean something specific and that this can also vary depending on the culture or the situation. But it is also true that there are certain gestures, postures or body expressions that transmit sensations to us without being an expert in the matter.

Surely you have ever known that someone close to you was not in the mood no matter how much they told you otherwise, and surely it was without the need to analyze if they had their arms in a certain position or put their hands in a certain area of ​​the face, it was something more intuitive. Imagine now that you also know certain gestures and postures that you can easily use in your portraits, do you want to take advantage of that opportunity? Then read on, I’ll show you some examples.

Body language based on profiles

I am going to start with the types of portraits, because depending on the type of profile we use, the image will tell us different things:

  • Front profile: it is the profile in which the shoulders are aligned perpendicular to the photographer and the model’s gaze is directed elsewhere. With it, evasion, peace, tranquility are transmitted…
A look directed to infinity that transmits peace, evasion.
  • Front three quarters: with the gaze fixed on the photographer and the shoulders not aligned, but one directed at the camera, a point of aggressiveness is expressed. The model can appear more sensual, mischievous or direct.
Front three quarters.
  • Frontal: with the shoulders aligned and the head in front, it is a simple portrait that does not add anything special unless you accompany it with a gesture, look or position of the hands. Look at these two images, doesn’t the second tell you much more than the first? The challenging gaze and the setting give the portrait a more direct and aggressive attitude.
Be careful with the front profile if you want to tell something.

Gesture based body language

In a photograph we cannot capture the tone of the voice but if we can convey that tone with one or several gestures, we are going to see what some of them mean or convey to us.

The smile

The first thing we can think of is that a smile will always transmit joy, but this is not always the case. A slight, forced smile will indicate more insecurity than anything else, lack of confidence or even shyness.

It can also indicate that you are hiding something that you do not want to share with others. A wider and more natural smile will show joy and pleasure. Oh, and be careful with crooked smiles, they serve to show sarcasm… πŸ˜‰ Look at the following two images, what do they convey to you?

What does this smile tell you?
And this other?


Because laughter is not the same as smile, right? Laughter can indicate much more than joy, it can also tell us about fun and greater happiness. It is the one that almost certainly infects the viewer and also ends up smiling.

Smiling is not the same as laughing.

Hands on the waist or “on hips”

They indicate security, confidence and willingness to achieve what you want.

arms on the waist


A yawn, the face resting on the hands and the lost look are unmistakable signs that the person in the image is bored.

Which of the two is more boring? πŸ˜‰


Hiding behind an object, covering your face with your hands or not looking directly at the camera show shyness, insecurity.

A very shy look.

Crossed arms and downcast eyes

you can achieve a defensive attitude with his arms crossed and looking down.

Defensive attitude.


If you want to show aggressivenessask your model to frown, bare their teeth, tense their body, and/or clench their fists. Any of these gestures indicate aggressiveness.

Aggressive gesture.

other gestures

  • Sensuality: a fixed look, biting the lower lip, touching the hair, lips or some part of the body, are some of the gestures that your model can make to appear sensual without having to stay in underwear.
  • Nervousness: you can represent it with the model biting her nails or with her fingers in her mouth and looking away from the camera.
  • Domain and security: legs apart and a straight body, hands in pockets but with thumbs out or hands clasped behind the back and looking straight ahead, are gestures that convey dominance and even superiority.
Which of the two do you think feels safer?
  • Concentration: With one hand on his chin and his eyes focused on a specific point, the model will seem very focused, even more so if he frowns a little.
  • Self-confidence and superiority: if this is what you want your model to convey, ask her to sit with her arms raised and her hands behind her head. And if you put your feet up on the table, the feeling is multiplied by 10!!

Example of body language in photos

In the street you can do observation exercises, observe the postures and gestures of passers-by, the position and attitude of a person with respect to those around him. Let’s see two examples:

1. What do you think of this photo? At least it gives me the feeling that the two gentlemen on the right are seriously questioning what the one on the left is telling them. Does it give you the same feeling?

Will it convince them?

2. And what about these two young men? It is evident that they are two strangers, but it is more evident that they do not want to have the slightest visual or verbal contact…

Two very distant strangers

Now a small gallery of portraits for you to reflect on what they convey to you:

On other occasions we have talked on the blog about how to transmit sensations or feelings with your photographs, today we have presented you with another tool so that your photographs are even more loaded with symbolism, because as you well know, in a photograph not everything is about quality, The story behind each capture or the protagonist is what motivates many photography lovers to keep pressing the shutter.

Has this article been useful for you? So before I ask you to take your camera and start practicing, I’m going to ask you to share it on social networks, I’ll be very grateful… πŸ˜‰ Until next time!