Many photographers find men photography to be challenging. Usually, men hate photo shooting or at least they say so. Also, at first glance, it seems that there are too few effective poses, especially when compared to numerous girl poses. But, neither of these claims are true. Men like to have some great photos, they just wouldn’t admit it. But, once you help them relax, they would cooperate and work with you to get the best possible results. As for poses, the secret of success lies in the fine detail. While men can’t or shouldn’t bend like women, there is still a vast number of posing ideas and variations.

How to Get Started

Before you start your shooting sessions you should make some preparations. Basically, some general rules apply to portrait photography regardless of gender and age of your model. Chances are you will shoot the guy next door more often than a professional model. Inexperienced models can get uncomfortable or shy in front of the camera. So, you should have a few tricks up your sleeve to create a trustful and cheerful atmosphere. It can include appropriate music, snacks, and drinks. Even though you may have your plan of shooting, engage your model and ask for his ideas. It is a great way to start communication and set the mood.

“Let men see, let them know, a real man, who lives as he was meant to live.” – Marcus Aurelius

Basic Guidelines

If you dislike rules, don’t worry. It probably means that you are creative. I always encourage aspiring photographers to challenge, bend and break the rules. However, the rules didn’t come out of the blue. Each rule was established as a result of decades-long successful practices.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” – Pablo Picasso

This can be applied to any art or artistic form of expression. So, let’s see the basic rules for male posing.

While with women poses you try to create curves and soft lines for men it is the opposite. You should try to get sharp angles. Try to create triangles and use leading lines. They will help you to convey an energetic and confident message. Whatever pose you choose a few tricks can be helpful. A jawline should be well defined, shoulders pulled back, body core tight, and neck extended. There is also a simple order that allows you to set things right. A good body posture is the pillar of good portrait photography. Positioning hands and legs comes next. Finally, a facial expression comes in the end. To highlight your model and the story, you can use composition rules such as the rule of thirds, patterns, leading lines, and negative space.

Use a wide aperture for shallow depth of field to accentuate your model and blur the background. Or not if the background is as important as your subject.

A longer lens will help you flatten the depth when you have unwanted prominent details.

Best Poses

When it comes to posing men models you can’t really reinvent the wheel. However, a combination of small adjustments will determine the outcome of your shooting session. So, I will show you several best poses. And don’t take them for granted. They are actually best poses to start from. And then you can go from there. Change the details, experiment until you capture the perfect moment.

Standing Poses

This starting pose actually gives you countless variations to get creative. Your model should pose square to the camera. This way shoulders will look broader. It conveys strength and confidence. If your model has a couple of extra pounds, then you should turn him sideways a little bit to get a slimmer look effect. Shoulders should be up and relaxed. Male models often have a problem what to do with their hands. Keep them occupied. Crossed arms will send a message of strength. Hands in pockets will bring out a casual and relaxed look. Holding a bag or a backpack is another option.

For the most relaxed and casual pose, your model can hold a jacket over the shoulder, with another hand in a pocket and legs crossed. If one leg is closer to the camera tell your model to put the weight on the back leg.

“Success isn’t everything but it makes a man stand straight.” – Lillian Hellman

Sitting Poses

A chair or anything else to sit on is a great prop to allow you to convey different stories and attitudes. Two basic varieties of this pose are leaning forward and leaning backward while sitting in a chair. Remember, things closer to the camera look bigger. So you don’t want to choose a leaning forward pose if your model has a prominent nose. In both cases try to accentuate your model’s jawline.

Hands must be natural and relaxed. Your model can keep his hands on his knees or elbow on the knee and other hand resting on the leg. Anyway, a facial expression is more noticeable in these poses. So, pay attention that face sends the same message as the posture, hands, and legs. Sitting on the ground can provide for more ways to play with hands and legs positions.

Leaning Against the Wall

This is one of the favorite poses for models as wall support allows them to be more relaxed. This pose conveys emotion right away. Your model can lean on the wall sideways or with one leg up. Once again, the facial expression must be in tune with the rest of the image. Your subject can look straight at the camera, or stare at the distance. If the model doesn’t look directly at the camera, make sure that eyes follow the direction of the nose. And the nose should not break the line of the face unless you are going for a profile shot.

male posing and leaning against a wall

Walking Pose

It is another pose that relaxes your subjects. Walking is always more natural than sitting or standing tight. Of course, your model should never be tight, but it is easier to loosen up while walking. Ask your model to walk towards the camera or slightly to the side. Keep his hands busy with a jacket or something. You should shoot in burst mode because you will get some awkward movement in the frame. Burst mode will allow you more shots to choose from.

Final Words on Male Posing

I hope that you see now that posing options are countless for men as well as for women. In the past, male photographs were all about masculinity and strength. Fortunately, it is no longer the case. Men can show their softer and tender side as well. And this gives a lot more freedom and possibilities to photographers when shooting male poses. 

When it comes to posing you have loads of options, but don’t overthink it. After all, it is just an instrument to convey the story. But, it is up to you and your model to tell that story.