Posing Guide: Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Men

Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Men

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

Previously we’ve created posing guides with suggested sample poses to help you get started posing women, (also see part 2 for posing women), posing children, posing couples, posing groups and posing weddings so today let’s look at some sample starting poses with men photography.

Men are usually less comfortable in process of being photographed, so it’s important to get him to be at ease with the process poses he makes in order to get good results.

It is always a good idea to prepare before the photo shoot. Just one more peace of advice – involve your subject in the process!

He will feel more confident knowing the plan, what he has to “do” and what kind of outcome is expected. Showing this kind of posing cheat sheet to your model is indeed a very good way to prepare your subject for a photo shoot and make him feel more relaxed and confident at the same time.

So, let’s look at some sample poses for men

1. Very simple pose for a man’s portrait: An upper body shot with crossed arms. Two things to take care of: Shoulders should be pulled back a little, stomach muscles kept in check.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

2. Crossed arms works very well in full height shots as well. In addition, ask him to cross one leg in front of the other. But make sure the body weight is not supported equal on both legs, otherwise that would look just awkward!

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

3. A recurring question from your subject might be “Where shall I put my hands?” The solutions is actually quite simple. There are four places to keep in mind (mixed in any combination utilizing both hands). #1. Loosely by the side. #2. On the hips. #3. In the pockets. #4. Both hands crossed on the chest. And in addition – hands should always be relaxed, which means no muscle pressure, except you are photographing a bodybuilder 🙂

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

4. A casual pose for an uprightly standing man. Men indeed have a problem with placing their hands, by keeping them fully or partly in the side pockets, you have a sure way to achieve natural and relaxed pose.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

5. Just a slight variation to the previous pose. Some piece of clothing over the shoulder, merely a thumb in the pocket, and legs crossed work very well.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

6. For a sitting pose, putting the ankle of one leg onto the knee of the other looks relaxed and natural. Shoot slightly from above.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

7. Leaning against a wall is just another variant for upright posing.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

8. The sideways way of leaning against the same wall. Works very well for both casual and formal shots.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

9. Very simple pose for a formal portrait. Items held in the hand (e.g. a laptop, books, or even tools) can work as insignia that point at the subject’s occupation.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

10. Against common belief, it is absolutely fine to make shots of a man sitting partly on a desk. For formal portraits such a pose might counteract rigidness.


11. Very simple pose for a portrait with a man sitting at a desk. To reveal the subject’s profession place work related items on the desk that can function as insignia.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

12. A slight variation of the previous pose. Very appropriate for formal portraits.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

13. To show the work environment while removing the distance created by a foreground object like a desk, take your shot from the back side. The result will be formal but inviting at the same time.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

14. A man supporting himself on a desk with arms crossed. Again you could place work related items on the desk to point to the subject’s profession.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

15. Using a chair as a prop can make a portrait more engaging and interesting. Very suitable when introducing creative people in their work environment.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

16. Sitting comfortably in a chair usually works for a corporate and formal portraits.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

17. Easy and natural pose with a man sitting on the ground. Try different shooting directions and angles.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

18. Another variant of a man’s pose while sitting on the ground. Suitable for outdoor locations.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

19. An easy and relaxed looking pose for a sitting man.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

20. Informal pose. The man is sitting on the ground resting his back against the wall or some object.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

21. Finally, let your subject be the protagonist of your picture. Never be afraid to crop tightly around the model’s face.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

That should be at least something to use as a starting point. Again, remember that there are no absolutes, each sample pose might and should be adjusted depending on your shooting environment and scenario. There is no need to overdo anything. Actually, all you need for good people portraits is simplicity. Simple backgrounds, simple clothing, simple poses and natural expressions.

Check out our other Posing Guides:

Grab Our Guide to Portrait Posing

Kaspars Grinvalds is a photographer working and living in Riga, Latvia. He is the author of Posing App where more poses and tips about people photography are available.

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Some Older Comments

  • J June 24, 2013 03:23 pm

    lol get back in the kitchen, Glenna. You too Doris.

  • Bruce June 21, 2013 05:11 pm

    The task gets really hard when you try to picture yourself and constantly run to the camera and back in position, but I'll definetely try some of the poses shown here. Thanks

  • Matthias February 28, 2013 06:54 pm

    Awesome collection! Thank you so much

  • Chris January 21, 2013 01:45 pm

    Thanks for posting! I'm having my first real shoot for a guy coming up and this was really helpful!

  • Melissa January 12, 2013 03:09 am

    Wow people, it's a GUIDE! Not the set in stone holy grail of poses! And I'm gonna take a second and defend pose #2.
    My cousin is a male model and I did a shoot for him and his family. I am by no means a professional, just an amateur who is still learning. His wife wanted family pics, so we went out. I NEVER posed him. I said "do what you do." I learned sooo much that day. And pose #2, he did it. It was an awesome pic. It was shot further away, not a close up. It looked natural and relaxed.
    So yes, zooming in on this pose alone can look stand off ish, but placed in the right spot it's dead on!

  • Doris October 1, 2012 12:40 pm

    Thanks to Glenna and Skeee for their comments. I normally don't comment on things I read on the web, but I really have to here. I have looked at the women's poses and the men's poses. Both come from an old-skool 50's and 60's type sexist mind-set. Appropriate poses for men are job / office related, with suggested props like laptops or tools, whereas women's poses emphasize for instance the delicacy of their nude bodies. Suggestions for props for women are a piece of clothing to hold in false modesty or a wall (!) (men get a desk) or high heels. What the f....??? Is there nothing more respectful or creative? All the poses for both men and women are not only sexist, but boring. Sorry to say this because I have found a lot of useful information on DPS, but this is not only useless, but also insulting to men as well as women (especially women). I thought that since we are now well established in the 21st century, we would not have to be subjected to this kind of nonsense anymore. Please redo these articles with something more appropriate. thanks!

  • Bhanwar September 29, 2012 03:59 am

    Simple and awesome

  • Bill Hill September 7, 2012 03:26 am

    Several years ago I took several semesters re photography froma pro who had sent seven kids and supported a motel with photography. In discussion poses of males it was pointed that masculine posed had the nose no wider than a tie. I have noticed this no longer seems to be the case.

  • Photogreapher Eden Prairie September 2, 2012 02:25 pm

    Nice guide to add to my posing knowledge. Would like to see more poses with hands as they can be difficult

  • Amazing Photoshoot August 21, 2012 02:19 am

    Thank you for sharing....


  • Aaron Cranford May 10, 2012 08:14 am

    I was wondering if you could do one on couples? I have been having a bunch of couples coming to me recently asking for photos and I am mainly used to shooting singles.

  • Glenna May 8, 2012 12:48 am

    I find some of the differences between these and the Posing for Women guidelines to be extremely problematic. Why is it that men get to hold things in their hands and we assume they have a desk or items from their profession, but women are assumed to be lying in the grass, flaunting their hips and "upper body physique" in an attractive way? Obviously not all of the suggestions here are specific to these kinds of suggestions, but I find it very troubling that the "person at work" is intended here as male, and "attractive physique" shots are intended as female shots. Perhaps a bit of thought here would be useful.

  • BWooten May 3, 2012 04:12 am

    Fortunately for me, none of my clients are "body language experts". They enjoy their photos for what they are, not for what they might suggest in someone else's profession.

  • Kumar Varun May 2, 2012 09:28 pm

    Thanks .. also installed the app.

  • PaulB April 27, 2012 12:16 am

    Thanks for this, obviously part of a series. The line drawings work well.

  • F.Zaman April 23, 2012 05:03 am

    its nice to show this article in a very simple and elegant way,thanks.

  • ccting April 19, 2012 09:43 am

    Please make the application available for Windows Smartphone ...ty

  • ccting April 19, 2012 09:31 am

    Oh gosh, an extreme excellent article.. WOW... it just too perfect .. is the article that I am waiting for.

    Next article I am waiting is poses for wedding couple ;D

  • Skreee April 17, 2012 08:02 pm

    Where are the sexy poses for men? Where are the professional poses for women?

  • Andre April 16, 2012 06:37 pm

    Come on HOOP you are a real party POOP. This is not a course in body language, it is suggested photographic poses.

  • Colin Burt April 16, 2012 01:14 pm

    This thread has wandered a fair way from photography in my opinion. Into the popular psychology non-science . Maybe it's time to move on ?

  • Egle April 16, 2012 06:32 am

    Love this series, it helps so much, hope there will be another one, maybe kids?

  • Jean April 15, 2012 07:29 pm

    Body language experts and people intuitively (ie most people except those with just enough knowledge to make them dangerous) know that you read the whole picture, rather than just a single clue.
    Taking that in account, crossed arms is also related to being cold or a slightly cocky relaxed attitude.
    Taking single clues only, the pose with hands in pockets says the subject is sexually agressive, drawing attention to his genitals. Similarly a hand in front of the face suggests dishonesty and hands behind the back a militaristic, patriarchal attitude, none of which are necessarily applicable.
    Suggesting that a guy wit a casual pose and big smile is 'cut off and not willibg to listen to anybody else' because his arms are crossed amounts to a rather shallow reading.

  • Jean April 15, 2012 06:57 pm

    Thanks for contributing and sharing! It's often hard enough to put ideas out there, even without people having a little tiff if you do not include poses to cover their particular gender and other ideological preferences. Fortunately I suppose Latvians know North America is not the centre of the universe.
    If people only put out complete, universal ideas, innovation would stop. What we have will also be exceedingly long and boring. Being obsessively politically correct would also be exceedingly bland.
    I am rather looking forward to seeing what the 'Complete and utterly gender equal professional women's posing guide' that we can hopefully soon expect from the critics will look like.

  • Tanya April 15, 2012 06:42 am

    Thanks so much for this posing guide.

  • Adrian April 14, 2012 04:07 pm

    It's a very interesting article. Thank you, Kaspars. I find it very useful as basics to have on mind when taking photos of men. I am thinking especially of events, like fairs, like official meetings, like photos not in studios, so when you don't have more than a few seconds to shoot...
    I know that crossing arms is supposed to mean "not open"...but look at the poses in the article, do they transmit this feeling ?? No, in my opinion...and depends on culture differences, also....
    We would like some professional poses for women as an extra, but this does not mean any criticism is understandable....So far, so good! Thank you, again, Kaspars. I will print these , to keep at hand and show them to my subject...when I shoot!

  • jules halbrooks April 13, 2012 11:58 pm

    Just in time for my senior shoot this afternoon. Thank you.

  • Sameer Avhad April 13, 2012 10:57 pm

    Thank you very much. I was always used get confuse before my taking photos of my male friends. It makes my life easy

  • GeoffK April 13, 2012 10:49 pm

    Thank you very much for these. For someone like myself that does this for kicks and to help out I appreciate it.

  • Mathew April 13, 2012 10:30 pm

    Very nice tips. Thanks.

  • Lauren Kim Photography April 13, 2012 09:59 pm

    Thank you - very useful

  • Naa Oyoo April 13, 2012 07:16 pm

    I just downloaded your Posing App. It's great n looking forward to more poses

  • Pearson April 13, 2012 05:19 pm

    Awesome caption. Am not a pro but hobbyist photographer and this article is going to be a good reference. Can you do another post on women poses?

  • Pete Wendt April 13, 2012 03:48 pm

    those will be great references!

  • Babor April 13, 2012 02:30 pm

    Nice Post Got Some Ideas With The Wall But Most Of Them Are Formal. I'm Looking For Some Informal Shoots .

  • Colin Burt April 13, 2012 01:16 pm

    Oops ! Forgot the link.


  • Colin Burt April 13, 2012 01:15 pm

    I'm with Steve - although a formal portrait may justify posing a model the 'caught on the fly' candid from a distance with a long lens conveys more real interest. This one was of a chain saw sculptor knocking off for a smoke, and it is just him !

  • Alec April 13, 2012 10:40 am

    I look forward to 21 poses using groups of 2 or more people.

  • Ragupathy April 13, 2012 10:21 am

    Very Good reference.....i will make this backup

  • Marnie April 13, 2012 09:57 am

    It is a shame some people are so negative. These are great starting points for those of us who are floundering in the dark and I, for one, am very grateful that people take the time to help us. The poses are the thing that counts, not the shape, size or clothes of the model. In my mind, the female and male poses are interchangeable. It is the position of the body that counts and that is explained in the description with a visual impression that helps those of us who need to see it.
    One has to assume that those making the negative remarks and denigrating comments are capable of so much better than the instructor so one has to wonder why they have come back to school to learn the basics from them. Hmmmm?

  • Jody April 13, 2012 09:17 am

    I'll have to admit that I was also a little disappointed that there weren't more professional poses for women last week so I can understand the comments in this regard. But I certainly appreciate the wonderful work that you've done in providing these references, and I don't see any reason why women can't be posed in most of these "male" poses when a more professional option is desired. I frankly intend to do just that. Thanks again for sharing your ideas.

  • Kenny April 13, 2012 07:23 am

    What if my model has two separate eye brows? Does that change anything?

  • HOOP April 13, 2012 03:51 am

    Well, here we go again. The moderator of this newsletter (that would be you Darren Rowse) needs to get a much better handle on the articles that are being put up here as ways to photograph any one, man or woman. Tracy is right on the money with her comment: where were these poses in the "Women's Issue" last week? Men are being portrayed as "Professional, well dressed, stand up kinds of 'guys'" while women are shown as "cleavage creatures, not dressed, lay down kind of 'gals'". Really the worst of the worst!
    And Salomanuel has it dead nuts, right on: crossed arms, legs in the world of communication says "CLOSED, leave me alone, I'm not open to anything you have to say". Poses #1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 are all shut down types of shots.
    And @Kaspars: it's a good thing you live/work in Latvia because you'd never make it in North America, but I must say that you're really making a living off your APPS if nothing else. The nieve will buy anything.

  • dina April 13, 2012 02:46 am

    Thank you so much for this article, it's very helpful. Giving me extra ideas for my next photo session... Love it!

  • Rick April 13, 2012 01:08 am

    Great work Kaspars and thank you! Any chance these posing apps get to Android phones for download?? ;)

  • Laura April 13, 2012 01:07 am

    Thank you so much for these samples! I have printed these and the previous female ones. I would love to see some for kids, too! Awesome!

  • Michael RIvers April 13, 2012 01:02 am

    Fantastic. I'm printing all these. Such great references. Even when I'm in front of the camera, I do not know what to do with my hands. Hanging at my sides is so boring. And looks posed. These poses actually look more natural. Thanks!

  • kris April 12, 2012 02:40 am

    @tracy n - no! it's annoying the crap out of me!!

  • Don Stemple April 11, 2012 03:17 am

    I wish you had an app for my MacBook.

  • S RoyC April 11, 2012 12:45 am

    Thank you so much...these really come in handy

  • Steve April 10, 2012 06:37 pm

    Although sometimes in street photography you can get men to pose I like to catch them when they are in a natural pose:


  • Tracy N April 10, 2012 05:39 pm

    Am I the only one who noticed that the male poses included a handful of corporate poses and the female ones posted last week did not include a single one? (but lots of seductive 'glamour' poses in lieu).

  • Kim April 10, 2012 02:28 pm

    Loving these posing guides! Any chance you will be developing it for Windows mobile? :)

  • raghavendra April 10, 2012 12:49 pm

    This is a nice article
    with abundant examples.

    Long back i read that
    when portraits it is not necessary that we should take the picture of face

  • D April 10, 2012 11:55 am

    This is amazing, and a perfect reference to get back to from time to time.. awsome job, thanks so much

  • Jai Catalano April 10, 2012 11:38 am

    If I see some guy do pose number 2 I am going to say go to number 3 and fast.

  • wedding photographer Toronto April 10, 2012 11:03 am

    Thanks for the poses - its really helpful. I will try some of them at my next portrait session.

  • DrZaius April 10, 2012 07:45 am

    Nice. Thank you very much. Looking forward to and Android app

  • Salomanuel April 10, 2012 07:42 am

    everyone who knows just a little bit about body language will tell you that there are a few positions to AVOID at all!
    the more you cross, the more you look closed to the others

    that can be fine in some contests, but in the vast majority of the situations it's just bad

  • David Meyer April 10, 2012 07:28 am

    Thank you so much, Kaspars. This is a great follow up to your article on posing women. I would love to purchase your app, but I don't have a smart phone that can use it. Is there any hope in the future that you might publish the same material in an E-book that I could purchase for download? Your line drawings illustrate the poses so well without any clutter. Thanks for putting some of your work out there for free to benefit the photography community, but I would certainly be willing to pay for more of it.

  • John April 10, 2012 05:51 am

    Love this series. I am more geared toward photographing the female subject at the moment, but can't really turn down the opportunity to learn a bit about this side as well.. after all you never know right?


  • Alexx April 10, 2012 03:05 am

    Excellent post. Thank you.


  • Lindsay Lack April 10, 2012 02:47 am

    These are going to be a great reference. I think I'll be adding them to my iphone for future reference!