Photography A Photographers Guide to the Best Male Poses

Most posing tutorials focus on the female form, and there isn’t that much information available on how to properly pose men in a photo.

And even when you do find a guide, it is more about listing some poses for male subjects. You rarely find any article explaining why to use certain male poses in photography.

Why is it that we need to pose a man in a different way in photos?

Talking about why and laying out some ground rules will help photographers understand classic male posing better. These also serve as a guide in creating their poses and variations.

Before we even get started, it is essential first to identify the goals of posing a man vs posing a woman.

A man wants to be strong, fit and tall while oozing coolness, confidence, and self-control.

While posing women, we usually try to accentuate curves, when posing men, the opposite holds.

A man’s body is not about curves; it is about angles and power. It’s about the V and the jawline.

General Tips for Posing

General facts that will help you better pose a person and understand why some poses work:

  1. Things that are closer to the camera look bigger.
  2. Things that are further from the camera look smaller.
  3. A longer lens flattens depth (for example, a big nose looks smaller at 120mm than it seems at 50mm).
  4. A short lens makes the face rounder and “puffier.”
  5. Things pointed directly at the camera look shorter (foreshortening).

The following suggestions are for impressive male poses.

But it doesn’t mean that you can only apply them for a male model. Female and gender-neutral models look great in these poses to. You just have to know that these postures create a masculine appearance.

Highlight the Jawline to Emphasize Masculinity

A strong jawline is a measurement of perceived masculinity. You as a photographer is to make sure the jawline is well defined and as angular and sharp as possible.

Ask the subject to push their chin out and a little bit down. This will give the neck a gentle stretch. Meanwhile, part of the neck is hiding from the camera.

You can further refine the jawline by clever use of shadow. Make sure that the jawline doesn’t blend into the neck.

And never, and I mean NEVER, let your subject pull his chin back. This will not only accentuate any existing double chin but also create one where there wasn’t any in reality.

Make Him ‘Squinch’ to Flatter the Eyes

Big round puppy eyes do not look good on men. They evoke fear and confusion. Ask your subject to do what Peter Hurley calls a “squinch”.

It is a half squint, where the lower eyelids raise a bit to narrow the eyes. The upper eyelids don’t move much or at all.

This will make your subject look like “he is up to something”. It is adding a bit of mischievousness, playfulness, and character to the image.

Check a few photos in which a male model poses. Their eyes are often squinching, making them look more attractive. This technique works even better in the case of male portraits.

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