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For men, knowing how to pose is one of the most awkward parts of having their picture taken. That’s why a good portrait photographer should be able to direct their male model into a flattering pose that conveys the look they are trying to achieve.
This is especially important when your male subject is not a professional model.
Of course, learning to pose a man is one of the more challenging parts of being a portrait photographer, with many different poses than you would use when photographing a woman. So, whether you’re in front of the camera or behind it, this list should help.
As a professional photographer, it’s your job to help your subject feel comfortable in front of the camera.
You must give clear and straightforward instructions about what you want them to do. A great way to direct the model is with visual aids, either by demonstrating the pose yourself or showing them a picture of the pose (this is a great guide to use for that purpose, as we have included a photo of each pose that you can share with them.
Remember that while some basic poses will work well for any photo shoot, others only work well in specific contexts. Just make sure to consider these questions before choosing the best poses for your photoshoot.
For example, it’s a very different situation to photograph a teen for a senior photo shoot than it is to photograph an executive for a corporate portrait. So, always keep in mind what the end use of the photos will be.
Here are 15 of the most popular poses for men. These poses will fit a variety of situations, but it’s up to you to choose which ones will work best for YOUR photo shoot.
Most importantly, make sure your subject is COMFORTABLE with the poses you are asking them to do.
Standing with Hands in Front is an excellent pose for professional men.
Ask your model to put his hands in front of the abdomen. His hands should be extended with fingertips touching. This hand position is part of a specific body language often seen by a person giving a presentation. As such, we tend to associate it with someone knowledgeable, confident, and open.
For a more casual look, ask your subject to have one hand resting on top of the other with the arms a bit more relaxed.
Standing with Arms Crossed Facing Forward pose is one of the most classic looks for men and another great one for corporate or professional portraits. It’s a strong pose that communicates stability.
Pay close attention to his facial expression, though. If the man looks TOO SERIOUS, it can come off as too authoritative and off-putting.
A softer, more approachable alternative is to take the same photo with him standing at a 45-degree angle to the camera. Make sure you choose the subject’s best side, or shoot both sides and select the best option later on.
I love the Standing with Hands in Pockets pose because it’s both friendly AND flattering. It’s also perfect for male subjects who get nervous in front of the camera because they won’t have to worry about what to do with their hands.
When the model puts his hands in his pockets, his elbows will naturally bend a bit. The separation between the body and arms created with this position provides a nice visual break that is more interesting to look at.
The best part about the Hand on Chin pose is that it can be done sitting down or standing up. And it's flattering both ways! The goal of this pose is typically to direct the viewer’s attention toward the model’s face.
To pose your model, ask him to put one hand under his chin. It can be a closed fist with his chin resting on top or an open hand with his chin resting between the index finger and thumb.
The other arm can be crossed against his chest to support the elbow of the bent arm.
If your model is sitting, ask him to lean forward. Then, he can rest the bent arm on his leg or a desk in front of him.
When the haircut allows it, take photos of your model while they pass their fingers through their hair. This is a casual and playful look.
Visually, it has the same effect as the previous pose - directing the viewer’s attention to the face and creating angles.
You can also ask him to put his hand on the back of his neck for a few shots if he doesn't have long hair.
Ask your model to throw a jacket over his shoulder for a more stylish portrait. He can put the other hand in his pocket or leave it hanging on his side.
There are two ways to do the Reclining on a Wall pose, depending on how relaxed or dynamic you want your image to be.
For a more relaxed look, have the subject relax his body and recline towards the wall. This can be a frontal photo with the man reclining with his back towards the wall or reclining from their side if you want to add more depth (thanks to the wall being shot from a different perspective).
A more styled version of this pose is the man bending one arm and leaning against the wall with that elbow and forearm instead of his body. The other arm can be bent slightly, with that hand on the waist. Since his body only rests against the wall at a single point of contact with this variation, the image will be more dynamic. The flexed arm also adds diagonal lines to the composition.
Whenever you do a full-body portrait of a man, you will also need to pose his legs.
An excellent way to do it is by asking him to place one leg in front of the other. By switching his body’s weight to one leg, the rest of his body will counterbalance and create a more flattering pose. Additionally, the leg in front will look a bit flexed yet still relaxed, making the overall look more dynamic.
As far as sitting poses go, Sitting with a Crossed Leg is one of the most popular because it’s both comfortable AND flattering.
The model can be sitting on a couch, bench, or chair. Then, have him cross his leg, so the ankle rests on his opposite knee.
When you are posing a man sitting down, ask him to lean forward and rest his elbows on the knees.
The perspective created by this pose will make the shoulders look broader than the waist, creating a flattering look. His face will also be in the foreground now, making it the central focus of the picture.
Fixing His Jacket is a very popular and trendy pose for men. And there are a few variations to choose from.
One option is to have him fix the collar of the jacket, maybe pulling it up or forward, depending on the type of jacket.
Another option, if you prefer to have the arms away from his face, is to have him fix the buttons on his jacket.
The Squatting pose is mainly suited for younger models. Of course, older models can also use it too, if the portrait is more casual.
By having your subject squat, you’re reducing the space you need to fit his entire body. So, this is an excellent pose to use when trying to fill the frame in both portrait and landscape orientations.
To make the image more visually attractive, have your subject extend one of his legs. This way, the foot will be in the foreground. It's a great way to add more depth and play with depth of field, making the image more interesting to the viewer.
Unlike squatting, the Sitting with Legs Flexed pose is suitable for models of all ages.
Ask your subject to sit on the floor. Have him bend one of his legs parallel to the floor with the other one flexed vertically.
For stability, he can have one arm extended towards the back and the other on top of his flexed knee.
This pose is both comfortable and relaxed - perfect for a casual portrait. Yet, it still maintains good visual interest due to all the diagonal lines.
In the One Leg Up pose, the man stands next to a chair or bench with one of his legs raised up onto it. Once he is in position, have him lean forward and rest his arm on the bent knee.
You can also do this pose with the model sitting on a bench or a couch. The important thing is the ability to maintain the position and be comfortable long enough for you to take photos.
For the Sitting on a Chair Backward pose, start with a chair facing backward and ask your subject to sit down facing the camera. He should have one leg on each side of the chair.
He can then place his hands on the chair’s back and rest his chin on them. Or, he can rest his elbows on the chair's back with extended forearms (he will need to keep a straight posture for this variation).
Armed with all these posing options, you can be confident that your next male photoshoot will be a success. Feel free to make slight variations to each pose to find the perfect angle.
Do you have any questions or comments about Posing for Men? Which of the poses have you found most helpful? Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!
Ana Mireles is a Mexican photographer and researcher with a passion for writing and teaching. She’s collaborated in artistic and cultural projects in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands.