Best portrait poses for men

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by David Em
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Photographing men requires a different perspective than photographing women. Learn how to pose men to look their best in portraits.

Person wearing a suit and walking towards the camera.

Difference between posing men and women

When you’re posing men for a portrait, you must look at it differently than posing a woman.

Related: 5 posing tips for authentic photos

Although some of the best practices still apply, it requires a different perspective. Especially since men are generally less comfortable in front of the camera.

So, focus on using the right angles to make a man’s shoulders look broad and make sure he has good posture.

It’s important to get to know your subject and how they want to be portrayed.

Related: How to shoot full-body portraits

By doing so, you can ensure that your photos are an accurate representation of your subject. It’ll also help you tailor the type of poses and angles that you choose.

Best men’s portrait poses

The following are the best ways to pose a man for a portrait. Use the poses as a starting point, and get creative with lighting and composition.

1. Classic headshot

Headshot of a person wearing a suit without a tie.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

The best way to get started is with a classic headshot. When you’re photographing headshots, it’s important to focus on simplicity and facial expressions.

Make sure you keep the background simple. Avoid using a background that has distracting elements. If you’re shooting outdoors, use a large aperture to blur out the background.

For facial expressions, start with a smile. Then, you can use prompts to capture other emotions.

To ensure the headshot doesn’t look dull, make sure there’s sufficient light in your subject’s eyes and capture a catchlight.

You can also tell your subject to slightly squint to create a realistic and genuine expression.

2. Arms crossed

Person leaning against a glass window with their arms crossed.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.

The arms crossed pose is one of the easiest, and most men are comfortable doing it.

When you tell your subject to cross his arms, make sure his shoulders are pulled back, the chin is pointed out, the stomach is pulled in, and that he has good posture.

With the arms crossed pose, you can take full-body length photos or just the upper body.

Aside from the straight-on photo, tell him to turn his body slightly and turn his head towards you.

Related: Understanding balance in photography

3. Leaning

What’s great about the leaning pose is that there are many ways to do it. Your subject can lean on his back, shoulder, or arm.

You can use walls, tables, chairs, and anything else for him to lean on.

When you’re shooting the leaning pose, try different angles and use different apertures to change the depth of field.

4. Walking

Walking shots can look amazing. However, it can also look awkward. That’s why it’s important for you to give good directions.

With the walking pose, capture photos from the side, diagonally, and straight-on.

The key to capturing great walking photos is to tell your subject to walk quickly. You can also tell him to take a few steps forward and a few steps back.

Both methods will help you capture walking photos that look natural.

You must also make sure that you’re using a fast shutter speed. This will ensure that the photo is in sharp focus without any motion blur.

5. Sitting

Person sitting on a bench outdoors.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Whether it’s on the ground, a flight of stairs, a bench, or on a chair, the sitting pose creates a relaxed and casual photo.

When your subject is sitting, ask him to lean forward, rest his elbow on his knee, lean back, cross one leg over the other, or sit on the floor with one leg pulled in.

Incorporating sitting poses into your portrait photoshoots will give a variety of photos and ways to get creative.

6. Cross the ankles

When your subject is standing, tell him to take one foot and place it across the other.

Crossing the ankles is one of the best ways to take an unnatural pose and immediately make it look natural.

You can also implement this pose with leaning or seated poses.

7. Look to the side

Person sitting on stairs and looking to the side.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Not all of the photos need to show direct eye contact. Instead, have your subject look to the side and capture their side profile.

You can also tell your subject to look slightly to the side of you, so it looks like they’re looking out into the distance.

This pose is also a great way to make your subject feel more comfortable because staring at a camera lens can make them feel awkward.

8. Buttoning their jacket

Most people won’t know what to do with their hands, and it can be tough to pose. That’s why you need to give them something to do.

One of the easiest things to do is to grab the sides of their jacket and begin to button it.

If they don’t have buttons, tell them to pull it in as if they were closing it.

It’s a great pose to use because the photos will look candid.

9. Touching glasses

Another way to implement actions and giving the hands something to do is tell your subject to touch the side of their glasses.

Whether it’s sunglasses or prescription glasses, make it look like they’re adjusting their glasses.

Conclusion

When you’re posing men for portraits, focus on actions and capture their eyes in sharp focus. In most cases, you can make them look taller and their shoulders wider by shooting from a lower angle.

More resources:

Featured image courtesy of Pexels.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

About Portraits Refined

Portraits Refined (PR) is a media company that publishes the latest expert-backed portrait photography tips, in-depth camera gear reviews, and helpful advice to grow your photography business.

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