To state the obvious, quite often males aren’t the most comfortable in front of the camera, and that applies especially in the case of teen guys. So when it comes to poses for guys, it makes a huge difference to simply direct them, because on the whole they just want you to tell them what to do!
So together with CLG grad and family photographer Kellee Kromarek Hann, we’ve come up with 9 poses for guys and some handy prompts to make it easier for you, and those poor suffering guys!
This is top of my list of poses for guys because he needs something to do with his hands. If they’re just dangling at his side, he’ll feel awkward and it will show in his body language.
So ask him to put one or both hands in his pockets and he’ll look more relaxed and natural immediately.
Don’t forget the back pockets too, for a different look.
Vary your frames from close up to wide, landscape to portrait for some variety from the same pose.
When they’re not leaning or holding onto something (as you’ll see in some of the poses to come), ask them to shift their weight onto one side for a more relaxed look. This will also add some more interesting lines to their form than straight up and down.
This is another one of the classic poses for guys because having something to lean on is an easy way to help him relax in terms of his body language. People feel much more comfortable when they have something to do with their body other than just standing there.
Ask them to tilt their head ever so slightly toward your camera and the overall look will be more engaged and relaxed.
Prop him in a corner, arm up, hand in pocket, leaning in.
This time he’s just leaning with his back instead of the side, which is a really easy way to get variation. Importantly, keep your eye on his posture and ensure he’s pushing his bottom into the wall and not leaning with just his upper back.
Once again, this gives him something natural to do with his body which will help him relax.
Have him place his elbows on his thighs and put his weight on them, which will naturally encourage him to lean forward toward your lens.
Having him leaning against something when he’s seated is particularly comfortable and will help create really relaxed shots.
Make the most of it and get variation by shooting close and wide, portrait and landscape, down the side and straight on. You could also try getting down low and shooting at eye level, then stand up and shoot down, asking him to look up at you.
Don’t forget to give him something to do with his hands. One wrist on his raised knee, the other on his thigh with hand dangling on the inside of his leg.
Sit him on the ground and ask him to put his elbows on his knees and either clasp his hands, or let them dangle casually in between.
This time sitting on something, whilst leaning against a wall, ask him to raise just one knee. Super casual and comfortable, this one looks great.
Use side light for some beautifully directional shadows to add depth and elevate your photos to something special.
Related: Directional Light Portraits
On stairs, one knee raised up and elbow resting on his thigh.
I see lots of poses for guys that involve crossed arms, and sometimes it can look defensive. By shooting him side on and leaning, in this instance it works.
Shoot down the wall, using a very wide aperture to blur it out. It will isolate him well and ensure the wall doesn’t form a distraction.
This is a great variation from the usual standing or leaning, and hands in pockets.
Get him to rest on the balls of one of his feet for balance, elbows on his knees, and lean his weight slightly to one side. This will give a more natural, relaxed look. That said, most people will naturally fall into that pose when kneeling as they work to maintain balance.
When posing guys in this way, it’s more flattering shot side on.
Mix it up with by adding some walking shots to your must get list of poses for guys. Place yourself in front of them and move as they move.
If moving toward you, use the continuous focus mode on your camera to ensure your auto focus recomposes on his face as he moves. Also be sure to use a shutter speed of at least 1/320 to freeze any motion.
Related: How to Focus on a Moving Subject
Stairs add interest, frame your subject, gives a sense of movement, and gives your guy something to do with his body that makes sense.
Try capturing them posed on the stairs, sitting, and moving up or down the stairs toward you.
Try some golden hour shooting for a warm, dreamy feel.
Related: Dramatic Light Portrait Techniques
Bring a dynamic feel to your images by looking for some interesting locations, then use the same poses.
Encourage him to look around, look at the ground, look over his shoulder, tilt his chin down and look up at your lens with his eyes only, etc. Whatever you can do to keep him moving will go a long way to keeping his expressions natural, and give you more variety in your shots from the same pose.
Think about your angles and perspective. This was shot from down low which was the best way to show off that urban backdrop, and the angle created some interesting diagonal lines.
Doorways are a fantastic way to frame your subject.
Always use negative space purposefully. In this shot it was included to show off those fantastic hard light shadows created by the window light. Additionally Kellee’s subject is framed nicely by the wall in soft, flattering light.
The narrow laneways between buildings offer awesome opportunity for beautiful, rich natural light, and the surrounding darkness will frame your subject beautifully.
This guide would be incomplete without some handy prompts to help your guy relax!
On the whole, most subjects want you to tell them what to do. But rather than saying “do this and smile”… you’ll help your subject relax, and get much more natural photos if you give them prompts that draw out some natural smiles and laughter. It will also go a long way to helping them relax their body too.
Try to make a connection first before you even start taking photos. Kellee says she will warm them up by asking them about their future plans, and what their interests and hobbies are. She says she will also joke around and act silly as much as possible to set the tone for a relaxed vibe right from the get go.
Start by getting them into any of the above poses and tell them what to do with their hands. Then try these prompts:
Big MWAHH to Kellee for her images, if you want to check out more of her work, you can find her at Soul Tree Photography Studio.
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