oh, i have been meaning to make a lil pose reference guide in the pageant hall i will do that this weekend! we definitely should have thought about it with so many petz players joining us over the past couple of years.
super quick answer: mouth shape (one of the four standards) plus wide eyes determines a standard pose.. except for eye rolls which can have any mouth shape. a lot of people place babyz on their knees higher than babyz on bums, but both are fine. of the four photos you posted at the end, the second one is standard (kissyface). the first one is almost, she just needs wide eyes. but arms are not important! the relaxed ones just happen naturally in most standard photos.
there are some examples here of wide eyes and eyerolls: milkbc.proboards.com/post/919636 (sorry for the ugly link i am on mobile) which i will prob reuse to make a bigger post on poses.
ALL THAT SAID, you can definitely still enter 'almost' standard poses in standard pageants, they just won't place as high! but pretty much everyone tries to give everyone who entered a place, because we are all much more about everyone having a good time rather than ~perfect poses~. and literally nobody will think anything of it.
(but i understand wanting to see what they are so stay tuned for a thread this weekend!)
and as for getting the poses... i make sure babyz are full and not tired, stick them in the changing room, take their clothes off and on until they get on their knees and blow into the microphone. that will get you O faces and kissy faces without having to try tickling them too. i promise you will get it!
i also wonder if a video would be helpful? like i wouldn’t mind recording my photo taking process and posting it if it would be helpful. everyone’s process is a little different but maybe just seeing it would help? i think a lot of it has to do with timing as well when it comes to tickling them while on their knees etc.