Try These Male Poses For Portraits for Better Photographs

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Male poses for portraits might seem like something more confusing than female poses, but in reality, it’s not like that. Poses for men are just a little bit different from female poses because you need to emphasize different physical and personality traits. In this posing guide, we will cover many essential portrait poses for men, so stay tuned and take notes!

Just like femininity, masculinity is complex – it has many aspects and it means something different for everyone. Male models poses are very versatile and they don’t include only typical muscle-flexing positions. You should always aim for variety and shoot poses in vertical and horizontal formats, do close up shots and full-body shots, and show both the cheerful and dark side of your model.

Portrait photography poses, if they are meaningful, should be able to depict various facets of your model’s personality. Don’t fall into the trap of shooting only something that feels safe and acceptable – be edgy when needed! Photographing men is the perfect occasion for trying out something moody and dramatic in your portrait photography.

side pose
Photo by Fernando @cferdo

Male Poses Vs Female Poses

This posing guide will address male poses only and we will explain what’s the main difference between the two. However, some poses work great for both genders – it’s up to you to decide what poses are ideal for your model.

Typically, a man wants to appear strong, fit, and tall while radiating coolness, confidence, and self-control. A man’s body is about boldness and power. As a photographer, you should emphasize these traits through proper postures, styling, and colors.

Female portrait poses are typically more seductive and softer, but in case you want to depict a strong female character, you can definitely use some male poses – the results can be pretty cool!

Basic Tips For Photographing Men

Before we start with a posing guide, we’ll share a few general facts that will help you pose a person and understand why some poses work and some others don’t. These tips are valid for any kind of portrait, but we’ll focus on the facts related to male poses.

  • Things that are closer to the camera look bigger. If you want to emphasize something, make sure it’s close to the camera. For instance, if your model is having his arms crossed, they will certainly draw more attention than the rest of his body.
  • Things that are further from the camera look smaller. Use this trick to deal with certain body imperfections, such as a not-so-perfect stomach.
  • A longer lens flattens depth. This is good to know since focal length affects facial features a lot. For instance, a big nose will look smaller at 85mm compared with 35mm.
  • Things pointed directly at the camera look shorter. This will affect the look of arms and legs. Be careful and understand what exactly you want to achieve.
male post bw
Photo by Daniel van den Berg

Emphasize The Face 

Face is usually the most important part of the portrait. Make sure that your male model looks sharp, masculine and confident.

The Importance Of Jawline 

It’s no secret that women go crazy for strong jawlines – they are basically a sign of perceived masculinity. Male faces with impressive jawlines are universally attractive and you should make sure the jawline of your male model is well-defined. It should look as angular and sharp as possible.

How To Make The Jawline More Prominent?

If your model already has a great jawline, you’re in luck. But if not, ask your model to push the chin out and a little bit down. This simple movement can do wonders and save you some time in post-processing. Another great strategy is to enhance the jawline by the proper use of shadows. It’s important that the jawline doesn’t simply blend into the neck – you need to create a sense of separation.

No Puppy Eyes

Big round eyes are super cute, but they usually don’t look good on a grown-up man. If you want to make sure that your male model doesn’t look all cute and cuddly, ask him to slightly narrow the eyes. This shouldn’t look unnatural – it has to be extremely subtle. Only the lower eyelids should raise a bit to narrow the eyes.

This look, if done right, can easily make your subject appear playful, mischievous, and sexy. Try this out and compare it with images where your model has his eyes wide open. You will certainly notice the difference in attitude. 

Tilting The Head

It’s really important how your male model tilts his head. 

For instance, a man should not tilt his head towards the camera because this can look rather submissive. Ask him to keep the head neutral or tilt it slightly away from the camera. Tilting the head away from the camera can look playful but don’t overdo it because it can make your model appear arrogant and unapproachable. 

man
Photo by Shrawan Kalyan

Posing The Body In Male Portraits

As we have already mentioned, male poses should suggest strength and posing the body properly is the key when it comes to creating an effective portrayal of masculinity.

The perfect male body has a so-called V shape. This means that  shoulders should be broad and waist should be thin. Follow these tips to achieve the V shape in your male poses!

Making The Shoulders Broad 

The easiest way to achieve this is to ask the model to lean towards the camera. If the upper body is closer to the camera than the rest of the model’s body, it will look more prominent.

Making The Waist Slim

There are a few super simple tricks that will make your model’s waist slim and hence attractive.

For instance, you can ask the model to tilt his hips back a little bit or stand at an angle and put one leg in front of the other. You can also ask the model to bend his limbs or hold something in his hands. 

These poses will emphasize the V shape which is sought after a lot.

Confident Posture

This should be the number one rule in any posing guide for male portraits.

The proper posture of the model affects the overall atmosphere in the portrait. Your subject should stand tall, with shoulders pulled back and his core tight. This is the best way to suggest confidence and masculinity.

Hands Matter

Keeping your subject’s hands busy will make the portrait more natural and more spontaneous. 

A man can keep his hands in pockets, either thumb in or palm in and thumb out. Both options work great!

You can also ask the model to hold a newspaper, a drink, or his jacket. More specific props such as a football or a guitar are perfect in case your model is an athlete or a musician.

pose
Photo by Danil Moiseev

Clever Poses For Your Model’s Legs

Legs aren’t as important as the upper body in male portraits, but you should know at least a few tricks when it comes to standing and sitting poses for male models. 

Standing Male Poses

Ask your model to cross his legs at the shin level. This position looks relaxed and spontaneous because that’s something we often do when we lean against the wall and talk with someone. It’s a cozy position, perfect for informal urban portraits of a young man.

There’s one more position which is great for outdoor portraits in the city – ask your model to bend his knee and comfortably lean against the wall. This is a very chilled out pose and it works perfectly for young men and women.

Another very useful and effective pose is when the legs are shoulder-width apart. One leg should be a bit closer to the camera – this will make the waist appear leaner! 

Sitting Male Poses 

Don’t forget to shoot a couple of sitting poses.

Your model can sit on a chair, bench or desk. To make the portrait even more effective, choose the color of the chair carefully. Ideally, it should complement your model’s clothes.

While your model is sitting, ask him to put the ankle of one leg onto the knee of the other. This position looks natural and relaxed. It can be adequate for a business portrait but it would work in a more informal setting too.

If you’re shooting outdoors, find interesting stairs and ask your model to sit on the stairs, with his arms crossed on the chest. This position is great for street artists and musicians. Any young man can look fantastic in this position, especially in a vibrant urban environment. 

outdoor pose
Photo by Jordan Koons

Posing Guide

Check out the following 17 simple yet really effective portrait photography poses! You can use them in any type of male portrait. 

Male Models Poses: List

Hands In Pockets

This is a universally attractive pose for men.

Models, especially inexperienced ones, usually don’t know what to do with their hands, and holding them in pockets is a great solution. The classic hands in pockets pose is suitable in many scenarios. You can ask the model to have one hand or both hands in pockets, depending on the look you want to achieve. The thumb should be outside the pocket because the pose looks more relaxed in this way.

hands in pockets pose
Photo by Bewakoof

Crossed Arms

This is another simple but very appealing pose.

Crossed arms is a versatile pose because it can evoke different moods, depending on the model’s facial expression. It can suggest anything from playfulness to strict professionalism. The choice of clothes will help to enhance a certain mood.

arms folded
Photo by Milan Csizmadia

Playing With Clothes

You have certainly seen this effortless, spontaneous-looking position in many magazines and in fashion ads and posters. To give your model something to do with his hands other than holding them in pockets, ask him to roll up his sleeves, fix his tie, pop his collar, or touch his watch. The resulting photo will look like a candid shot, which can be great if you’re looking to capture a couple of less intense shots. 

holding shirt
Photo by Muhammad Ali Abbas

Leaning Against The Wall

This position is ideal for a relaxed, natural, less formal portrait. It looks great both indoors and outdoors, but it might be more interesting to shoot it outdoors and find an interesting, colorful setting. Ask your model to lean against a wall – he can lean to the side or straight back. You should experiment with angles and compositions here, as walls give you many creative options.

man against wall
Photo by Chris Benson

Taking A Walk

This is a perfect warm-up pose that should be covered in every posing guide! It is one of the most spontaneous portrait photography poses, in general.

If your model is having trouble relaxing in front of the camera, ask him to walk towards you from a distance. He can look at the camera but he doesn’t have to. You can also photograph him from the back, walking away from you. The sense of movement is very refreshing in portraiture and it will certainly make your shots more dynamic.

man on road
Photo by Jeremy Bishop

Jacket Over The Shoulders

This is another common but cool pose from fashion magazines and blogs. Your model should walk or stand with the jacket over his shoulders. This will look great in an urban setting or actually anywhere outdoors. You can shoot it indoors too but it won’t have a nonchalant vibe if you’re using strobes and a backdrop – it will look more stylish!

man with jacket
Photo by Brock Wegner

Playing With Hair

If your model happens to have beautiful and longish hair, ask him to run his fingers through his hair. This can look quite seductive in closeups and if combined with dramatic lighting it can lead to a million-dollar shot. This gesture (playing with hair) is very popular in fashion photography and you’ll often see it in perfume commercials. 

pose for boy
Photo by Nathaniel Chang

Hand On The Shoulder

This position is not so common in male posing guides because it can suggest sensitivity and introspective character. However, sometimes you’ll want to show vulnerability instead of strength in male portraits too. 

Just ask your model to place one hand on the opposite shoulder and see what kind of impression this simple gesture creates. 

male pose
Photo by Mitchell Hollander

Hand On The Hip

You probably associate this position with women, but it can look pretty effective in male portraits too. The best way to photograph a model in this pose is to position yourself a bit below your subject’s eye level. If executed properly, the hand on the hip gesture can look authoritative in a good way.

male leaning
Photo by Prabash Livera

Using props

As you already know, props can do wonders in portraiture.

Always have a few options handy – balls, musical instruments, glasses, hats, chairs, stools, and so on. The prop will help your model feel more relaxed and more comfortable, as he will have something to do instead of just look at the camera.

male pose with guitar
Photo by Ali Kanibelli

Chin Stroking Gesture

This is a great way to accentuate the model’s jawline. This gesture works great in closeups and it can look pretty seductive on the right model with a well-pronounced jawline. This position results in a strong shadow on the neck, which looks bold and manly.

man holding face
Photo by Sinitta Leunen

Leaning In

This pose is very versatile and it can suggest both strength and submissiveness, depending on the look in the model’s eyes. 

For instance, your model can sit with his arms on his knees, and slightly lean in towards the camera. This will create a sense of intimacy.

male leaning
Photo by Wellington Hugo

Thinking Deep Thoughts

You have certainly seen this position in sculptures and paintings. It has a universal appeal and it is associated with pensiveness. In this pose, your model should be seated, with his chin on his hand and elbow on his knee. This is a wonderful pose for portraying writers and poets.

contemplative male
Photo by Ehsan Ahmadnejad

Legs Crossed

This is another versatile pose that works great for both male and female models.

Crossed legs suggest a sense of movement – this gesture can make portraits more dynamic and more playful. Typically, a seated model places the ankle of one foot on the knee of the other. 

man on couch
Photo by iSAW Company

Sitting In A Chair Backwards Or Sideways

This pose was considered somewhat rebellious a long time ago and many album covers feature musicians sitting in a chair backwards.

What’s great about this pose is that it looks relaxed and it suggests a casual atmosphere. It is ideal for a young man. The subject can lean onto the back of the chair or rest his hands there – there are many variations of this classic yet refreshing pose.

man on chair
Photo by Russell Ferrer

Touching The Face

Touching the face shouldn’t be reserved only for female models.

A hand on the cheek looks rather natural and candid – asking your subject to touch his face will most probably result in a natural, relaxed facial expression and posture. This pose is great for both younger and older models.

sunset male
Photo by David Herron

Clasping Hands

This position might not be among the most common male models poses because it suggests humbleness. On the other hand, it also suggests approachability, which is an important quality. 

Your model can join his hands while standing, sitting, or lying down. Clasping hands is more interesting in portraits of older men who look rather authoritative because it makes the overall impression softer and more generous. 

bw pose
Photo by Felipe Pelaquim

Conclusion

We hope you found our posing guide useful. Male models poses aren’t that tricky to master, but you need to memorize them before the photo shoot so that you don’t waste much time practicing awkward poses that just don’t work. 

Don’t forget to be flexible – if you work with experienced models, they might be able to suggest some really cool poses. Be open for suggestions anytime you work with people from the fashion industry – they have a very keen sense of style and beauty and they’ll be happy to help you if you run out of creative ideas.

Further Reading:

About Author

Jasenka is a photographer with a background in web design. You can find out more about her on her website, see some of her newest images at 500px or get to know her better here.

This is excellent for Senior boys. They seem to be the hardest to pose and have their personality shine through. Thank you for all the ideas!

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