"But what do I do with my hands?"

 I clearly know what to do with my arms...

I clearly know what to do with my arms...

It's the biggest mystery for anyone who steps in front of a camera...

Where. In the world. Do I put my hands? And my arms—wait, do I have extra elbows now? Why can't I stand normally?

I get it! I've been there. As a photographer, it's important for me to know exactly how YOU feel when you're in front of my lens. And you're feeling just like I did in this shoot: awkward, a little insecure, kind of goofy—and you definitely don't know what to do with your hands.

It's small things like these that are easy to forget about until you're sweating under the lights. You plan your outfit and get your hair done, but once the camera starts clicking—you go blank on what to do. But rest easy; it's my job to get the best look from you, and that includes un-posing.

I know what you want: Casual yet professional, fun and frisky photos that are dripping with personality. And definitely not—heck nah!—POSED. (Yuck, I know.) Laughter, light and happiness are must-haves in your photo shoot. Of course, you didn't expect that being a model is so intense. And you still don't know what to do with your arms.

No worries, babe. I gotcha. Here are my top 3 tips for getting that casual, oh-so-cool, yet still professional, look in your photos.

1. Loosen Up

Literally, jump up and down, do some chanting, sing at the top of your lungs, spin around like you're 4 years old again and there's a pile of leaves nearby. Do whatever you have to do to get out of your own head and into your body. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to feel grounded in the moment. Think about the art you're about to make with your rad photographer. And then... laugh! I like to be goofy to make my clients laugh—anything that gets a natural reaction out of them, and I don't care if it's because they're laughing with me or at me, as long as there's happiness. 

2. Beware of Sorority Girl Arms

Don't do it. I know it's your first instinct, and when I see you put your hand on your hip and stick your elbow way out, I cringe inside. There are other ways to slim those arms than posing like every sorority girl on a Friday night, taking photos and hiding your drinks from the house mom. (Yeah, I've been there. Guilty!).

Instead, drop your arms to your sides. Pretend there's a string tied to your elbow and it's slowly—oh so slowly—pulling your arm backward and wrapping around the back of your body. This will give you a slight, subtle cutout of the shape of your back

3. Rock-n-Roll Those Shoulders

There's nothing that will kill a pretty photo faster than bad posture. Take a cue from your youth and stand up straight. It does wonders for the shape of your body, but it's so easy to forget and fall into a hunched pose.

Putting it all together, here's what I want you to do: 

Shake out your upper body and roll your shoulders back. Point your hips at a 45-degree angle away from the camera and twist your upper body back toward the lens. Pop your weight to one hip to get the sexy, S-curve in photos and drop your arms against your body. Then, use the string trick to give a little shape to your torso and arms. And don't overthink it—you'll start to look stiff if you're conscious of every little movement. 

Most importantly—forget everything I've told you and have some fun. Start laughing and dancing and singing, and your beauty will shine bright like a diamond, Rihanna style. 

Courtney Ray

Courtney Paige Photography, 1320 S Cochran Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90019

Los Angeles Wedding + Lifestyle Portrait Photographer