It can be hard to direct a male model when first starting in portrait or fashion photography. That’s because we may deal with more images of women in fashion and social media.
Not to worry! Today, we will guide you through 25 male model poses to get you started. It’s a range of different male poses depending on your style of photoshoot and the feel you want to convey.
General Tips When Posing a Male Model
When it comes to posing for pictures, men and women may not be so different. There are many conventional ideas of male poses here. But we encourage you not to constrain yourself. Use this list as a jumping-off point to push the boundaries. Plus, posing is very much a collaboration, learning how to bring out the best poses from your model.
Determine the Tone You Want to Convey
Before deciding how to pose your male model, determine the tone and “feel” you want to get across in your photos. Dictate this with clothing styles and your location.
Relaxed, casual clothing will benefit laid-back, candid photos. In contrast, a high-fashion or smart, dressier look is better for formal poses.
Strategically Choose a Location
When it comes to a location, you want to match the formality of your clothes as a rule of thumb. But, you may want to play with your concept. Put your male model in places that amplify or contradict their pose and features. It all depends on the atmosphere you are trying to create.
Maybe you want to photograph a man in a suit? It would make sense if it were a studio shoot or a high-end establishment. But, the message and feel of the shoot would be completely different on the beach or in an alleyway!
Test Out Different Male Model Poses
If you’re starting in portrait photography or working with inexperienced models, play with poses as much as you can. Ask your model to try a bunch of poses in a range of different outfits.
Then familiarize yourself with how people react to your instructions…. every person is different. And change your directions and shooting method based on those experiences.
A great way to direct the model is through small instructions. Even better, provide visual material of what you want. You can even bookmark this page and show your male model when shooting.
25 Best Male Poses
We will now guide you through 25 male poses you can try yourself or with a friend. Mix and match these male photography poses and create other poses!
25. Placing Hands in Pockets
Let’s start with a classic pose. Have your model place their hands in pockets.
This male pose brings a casual vibe to your image. It conveys an air of confidence and comfort when done right.
When done wrong, this pose can come off awkward and rigid. You and your model may need to play around with it.
Often, the awkwardness of this pose comes from the cut or tightness of the trousers. Your model may need a wardrobe change.
24. Leaning on a Wall
Having your model lean on a building or room wall is a pretty conventional pose. This pose can produce an air of aloofness while remaining casual and playful.
It’s one of the many male model poses that allow you to photograph from different perspectives. If you’re leaning on the same wall as your model, have them look over their shoulder towards you for a dramatic look.
23. Crossing Arms
If you want a photograph with a powerful male pose, have your model pose with their arms crossed. It’s a great power pose to shoot straight on with them looking directly at the camera.
You want to photograph from a lower point of view to amplify this powerful pose. Ask your model to even their chin to ensure no double chin features if they look down.
You can also make this a more casual pose if you position the model to lean on a wall. Have the model relax with casually crossed arms and look away from the camera. Shoot this pose at an angle or further away if you want a more subdued vibe.
22. Adjusting an Outfit
When it comes to the best stylish photo poses for men, ask your model to button their jacket, adjust their cufflinks, or roll up their sleeves. It is a great pose if you want a candid, behind-the-scenes vibe.
The male model pose works incredibly well in a suit. When it comes to cool photo poses for guys, you can’t go wrong with this smart-looking combination.
You can simultaneously simulate a catwalk and a candid shot by having your model walk around. There are multiple ways to approach this shot. Have the model walk towards the camera or position them at an angle and follow them with your camera.
You could even walk down the street with them while photographing. Just be sure you don’t walk into anything!
20. Placing a Jacket Over the Shoulder
Another distinct pose that male models love is throwing their jackets over their shoulders. It’s a pose you see countless times in fashion magazines because it creates interesting lines.
Photographers typically shoot this pose straight on. Or the model can stand at an angle with their face toward the camera.
It’s a flexible pose where you can have the model lean casually against a wall, sit, stand, or walk. And ask the model to use the opposite shoulder for different results.
19. Playing With Hair
The hair swipe is often associated with dreamy, casual body language. It’s a good pose because a hair swipe forces the model to move its head to a unique angle.
This pose looks excellent with a long lens focusing on their face. Have your model look directly into the lens for a dramatic connection with the viewer when performing this action. Or play with more abstract poses.
18. Placing a Hand on the Chest
Have your model place their hand lightly on their chest. You can naturally create interesting lines across the model’s body this way.
You can use this pose to change the dynamic of a static shoot. Or take attention away from the model’s clothes.
Sometimes, this can come across as awkward. If you’re working with new models, it might be worth staying away from this pose. When done well, you will get an interesting body form that you can shoot in many different ways.
17. Using the Contrapposto Pose
The contrapposto stance is what you typically think about with Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David. It’s one of the most natural poses highlighted by the ancient Greeks.
A person puts weight on one straightened leg, allowing the other leg to bend at the knee. This pose allows the upper body to sway while still keeping a straight line from the shoulder to the leg.
It’s a classic pose you still see in fashion magazines.
16. Placing Hands on Hips
A similar yet distinct pose to having your models’ hands in pockets is to have them place their hands on their hips. Again, this is a mix of formal and casual. There is a playful yet serious feel to the pose.
It can be hard to photograph. It depends on how comfortable and causal your model can make it look.
You may even want to crop out the elbows to avoid the solid outer shapes caused by the arms. Or make these shapes work for you.
15. Posing With a Prop
Introducing a prop into your shoot is always a great way to transform it. It can also make a scene seem more natural.
You ease their nerves by giving your male model something to hold or play with. They have something to focus on rather than the pose or your camera.
Props can be anything from something small like sunglasses to something bigger like a bicycle or car. Remember, the prop should match or add to the mood you are trying to create in your photographs.
14. Accentuating the Jawline
Think about emphasizing the models’ facial expressions if you want a power shot. I don’t mean instructing them to play with their emotions here but to play with how they position their face.
You produce a conventionally attractive pose for males by showing off the jawline.
Ask your model to push their chin forward and to the side. You may want to get up close and try different angles, so this comes across naturally.
13. Sitting and Leaning In
For this pose, your model can sit with his body leaning forward towards the camera. You may want to position them with their arm on one leg or one knee. Or, you may wish them to have their hands clasped while leaning on one of their legs.
You want to position yourself lower than them, so you may have to get down on one knee. This ensures that the model looks down on you, conveying a more powerful pose.
12. The Thinking Pose
This is another sculptural pose that comes from Rodin’s The Thinker. It’s where you have the model sit and lean forward with their hand on their chin to look like they are deep in thought.
It is worth telling your model to play with their facial expressions here. You want to capture the true essence of them deep in thought. It can be quite an interesting pose to work with, and you can shoot this from multiple angles.
11. Crossing Legs
Here we have another conventional pose for male models. This can be a great pose as it is casual. Yet it can convey relaxed confidence.
Have your model place one leg over the other and then recline into a comfortable position. With this position, you can allow the model to play around with what to do with their arms.
I find it’s a great way to make the model feel more comfortable. You’re directing their lower half but allowing them to choose what they want to do with their upper half.
10. Sitting in a Backward Chair
We are familiar with this pose from all the boybands in the mid-2000s. It can be a forward and suggestive pose. So make sure your model’s facial expression matches the shot’s intensity.
Use some of the other male poses along with this. For instance, the hair flick or “the thinking pose” can work great with this.
9. Covering or Touching the Face
You can also ask your male subjects to touch or cover up their face. This pose will add some mystery and intrigue to your photograph.
You will have an exciting tension between the model trying to conceal themselves and being the center of attention.
Another pose works best by getting up close and personal to your model. The effect is lost when you try to get full-body shots—but not always. Be sure to play around with this technique.
8. Sitting on Stairs
If you want your model to be sitting, why not have them sit on a stairwell? I like this pose because a long staircase can frame the subject with a neutral background.
The model can also play with their body language quite a bit here. Either position them reclining backward or using the leaning forward method.
There are also a few good locations in each city with very photographic stair sets. You can find these locations outdoors or inside. So take advantage of that!
7. Leaning On an Arm Rest
A tremendous male pose that fashion photographers love is to have the model lean on something with one arm. You see this pose often done with celebrities to look casual and easygoing.
Again, this is one of the poses you will want to photograph from a bit lower down. It is also one of the poses where you can photograph the model close up or in a full-body composition.
6. Performing an Activity or Moving Fast
A great way to achieve dynamic images is to allow your model to perform an activity for the camera. It can be anything from jogging to playing with a small toy. Or, you can even put the model in extreme situations!
Moving poses work well with a nervous model. It takes their attention off the camera.
It may be an excellent pose to start with. You can then go into other poses with your model in a relaxed state.
The squat pose is excellent for young photographers or models looking to produce edgy fashion images. You may want to photograph at night with a strong flash to amplify this.
Have your model squat down and place their arms on their knees or hold their hands together. This photograph works well for urban scenes or looks.
This is also a pose that works well when holding your camera at different angles.
4. Sitting With a Knee Up
If you’re looking for a casual shot, have them sit reclined with their knee up. This pose is great as it’s easy to have the model sit in all sorts of spaces, such as window sills or on the ground with a lovely backdrop.
Facial expressions are critical, of course. Your male model can be laughing or more serious.
You can shoot this pose in many ways. I prefer shooting it from below with the model looking up into the air. This composition gives the illusion that you are watching in deep contemplation.
3. Clasping Hands Together
You may want to ask your model to clasp their hands together. It’s not only a powerful pose. It can also eliminate any awkwardness if the model does not know what to do with their hands.
You can position the hands in many different ways while clasped. I suggest shooting this close-up. The model’s body posture may be a bit too closed-up with their hands together.
2. Laying Down
Have your model lie down on a comfortable surface to achieve a relaxed mood in your photograph. It can be inside on a bed or outside in a field.
Wherever you choose, make sure you pay attention to the model’s facial expressions. Their facial expression will set the tone of the image.
This image works best when shot from above looking down. Be careful not to get your shadow in the way if you shoot outside in the summer.
1. Posing For a Candid Shot
For me, the candid shot always works the best. This is where you can leave your model to be with friends or perform an activity while you shoot from the sidelines.
I like this because you can shoot from many different angles. The candid shot comes across as entirely natural, but you can stage everything.
You can even get them to repeat the same conversations or activities after changing your settings or camera gear.
Here are a few general technical tips for capturing the best male poses.
Camera Settings to Use
Ensure you are getting the sharpest image possible when shooting portraits. You want to shoot on as low of an ISO as you can. It depends on the light in your location, of course. But the lower the ISO, the sharper the image.
Portraits also benefit from a shallow depth of field, usually with a long lens. But you can take fabulous male portraits with lenses 50mm or longer.
You also want to ensure you shoot with a reasonably fast shutter speed of at least 1/125 s. The faster you go, the better any movement in the model’s pose or clothes freeze in time. That means you won’t lose any details with a blurry photograph.
Lighting is one aspect worth thinking about before the shoot has taken place when choosing your location. Fashion photographers commonly use both natural lighting and flash photography to enhance a model’s emotion or pose.
You want to be careful not to mix different lighting colors, as this can ruin a photo session. You will find that some street or indoor lights will give strange tones or color tints.
If you photograph with a color card, you can avoid this. But, if you are mixing different light sources, this will be a lot trickier and may ruin your shoot.
Photo Equipment and Props to Use
Whether shooting on location or in a studio, a reflector is always a great idea to have nearby. The right angle with the right background often requires a little extra light, so the male model’s face doesn’t disappear.
A reflector takes care of this problem quickly and naturally. An assistant is helpful as it may be hard to find a place to put the reflector when shooting.
You may also want to use flags to block light from portrait areas when shooting in a studio. The more you control lighting, the more specific you can achieve the look you want.
It’s best to shoot off a tripod in the studio and on location. It allows you to change angles and perspectives more precisely. It may also help to keep the shoot momentum up.
As mentioned, other non-photographic props can help. Maybe a personal object or a prop indicating their profession or interest. Or, perhaps music can help the male model feel more comfortable and help set the right mood.
With this extensive posing guide, you now have plenty of new ideas to try out at your next photoshoot. Use the environment to dictate the models’ next pose once you start shooting.
After more experience posing people, you will know what poses work well in different situations. So get out shooting and return to this list of male poses if you need a refresher!