Want some male posing ideas to help your portraits consistently shine?
In this article, we share 21 male poses, ranging from simple, beginner-focused ideas to complex options for experienced photographers. We also include a mix of styles, including corporate, informal, fashion, and more – so no matter your preferred genre of photography, you’re bound to find a pose or two that works!
Let’s dive right in.
1. Upper body with crossed arms
Let’s start with a very simple male pose:
Ask your subject to stand up straight, cross their arms, turn one shoulder slightly away, bring their chin toward the camera, and smile.
Two things to watch: The shoulders should be pulled back a little, and the stomach muscles should be kept in check.
2. Full body with crossed arms
Crossed arms work in full height shots, as well.
So use the same posing guidelines as above, then ask your subject to cross one leg in front of the other. But make sure the body weight is not supported equally on both legs; that will look awkward!
This pose is especially nice for informal photoshoots, such as a family portrait session.
3. One hand on a hip
A recurring question from your subject might be, “Where should I put my hands?”
But while hands are often a point of confusion and awkwardness, the solution is actually quite simple. There are four places a subject can position their hands, and they can be mixed and matched in any combination:
- Loosely by the side
- On the hips
- In the pockets
- Crossed on the chest
Note that hands should always be relaxed, which means no muscle pressure (unless you’re photographing a bodybuilder!)
For this pose, the man should put one hand on his hip, stand square to the camera, and let the other hand dangle loosely – though feel free to experiment with different hand positions, too!
4. Full body with hands in the pockets
Here’s another casual pose for a man standing upright.
Ask your subject to square his body to the camera, with his weight equally distributed on both legs and his nose pointed at the lens. In general, I recommend that the hands go in the pockets, thumbs out; this is a surefire way to achieve a natural and relaxed pose.
5. Clothes over the shoulder
This pose is a bit edgier and fashion-conscious. It can work for corporate or fashion shots but should be avoided during family and senior portraits.
Ask your subject to cross one leg over the other, look at the camera, hook a thumb in their pocket, and throw an item of clothing – such as a suit jacket – over their shoulder. The more casual and relaxed they look, the better!
6. Sitting with one ankle on the knee
Sitting poses tend to be pretty casual, and this one is no exception. Provide your subject with a block or a chair, then ask them to cross their arms and lift one ankle over their knee.
For the best results, shoot slightly from above.
7. Leaning back against the wall
This is one of my favorite upright poses, simply because it’s ultra-easy and looks really great.
Just have your model put their back to a wall and casually recline. Their hands can go in their pockets, and – for a bit of additional flair – ask them to put one foot against the wall (while the other stays flat against the floor).
8. Leaning sideways against the wall
This is a variation on the above pose. Simply ask your model to turn so one shoulder presses against the wall, then encourage them to cross their legs.
While you can certainly use a hands-in-the-pockets look, try asking your subject to cross their arms instead. Crossed arms are more formal and work well for business portraits.
9. Upper body with an item in the hand
This one’s a very simple pose for a business portrait. Ask your subject to face the camera with one hand in their pocket and the other dangling freely, an item held in the hand (e.g., a laptop, a book, or even a tool).
(If possible, ensure that the items are clear indicators of the subject’s occupation.)
10. Sitting on a desk
Here, you’ll need a relatively sturdy desk. Ask your subject to sit firmly on the edge; you’ll get a very relaxed, yet professional, result. You can experiment with different hand positions, but hands in the pockets or resting on top of the legs works great.
11. Sitting at a desk
Here’s another simple male pose for a business portrait: A man sitting at a desk.
Ask your subject to sit forward slightly, with his chin resting on his hand. The other arm can sit on the desk surface.
To reveal the subject’s profession, place work-related items around his arms, such as books, charts, or tools.
12. Sitting at a desk, one arm up
This is another business-style portrait, but with a little extra flair. Ask your subject to sit at a desk and lean forward slightly – but one arm should come across the desk in a V-shape, while the other should fade back.
When done properly, your subject’s shoulder should tilt toward the camera, and their nose should follow.
13. Turned in a chair (away from a desk)
To show the work environment while removing the distance created by a foreground desk, flip the shot around. Ask your subject to sit in their desk chair, but spin around so that they face the camera.
One hand can go on the desk, while the other arm can dangle off the chair. The result?
Formal and inviting.
14. Arms crossed on a desk
Continuing with the desk theme, this composition puts the desk off to the side, with your subject leaning forward, arms crossed on the desk surface.
Ask your subject to tilt one shoulder toward the camera, while pointing their nose at the lens. Again, you could place work-related items on the desk to hint at the subject’s profession.
15. Standing next to a chair
Chairs are great props, and they can easily make a portrait both engaging and interesting. So ask your subject to stand upright with their legs crossed. Add in the chair, then encourage them to place one hand on its back, the other in their pocket.
Professional looking? Yes. But also fun, eye-catching, and a little bit suave.
16. Relaxed in a chair
If you’re taking corporate portraits and your subject is struggling to get comfortable in front of the lens, why not make them comfortable – literally?
Just ask them to sit in their chair, lean back, smile, and cross one leg. Later, you can move on to more complex poses, but you’re bound to get a good shot or two out of this simple idea!
17. Sitting on the ground
For business-style portraits, this type of pose is best avoided. But if you’re doing family photo sessions, senior portraits, or another type of informal shot, you’ll love the casual, relaxed images you can capture.
Simply ask your subject to sit on the ground, one arm holding them up from behind and the other dangling over the knee. You might also try a leg cross (as pictured below), as well as other shooting directions and angles.
18. Reclining on the ground
Here’s another variant of a man’s pose while sitting on the ground. Ask your subject to sit, then to lie back while supporting his weight with one arm.
Unlike the male pose displayed above, the subject’s second arm should dangle behind. And make sure the upper arm is completely hidden – otherwise, the shot may turn out a tad awkward.
19. Sitting on the ground with arms over knees
This one’s an easy and relaxed pose for a sitting man. It works well for family portraits, senior photoshoots, and other informal purposes, though it’s best avoided for serious corporate photos.
Ask your subject to sit on the ground with one leg out (knee bent!) and the other leg tucked slightly under the opposite calve. Have them bend forward and rest their forearms on their knees.
20. Reclining against a wall
Here’s one final informal male posing idea, and while it may feel overly relaxed for certain situations (even senior portraits), it’s a great fit for more carefree subjects.
Ask your subject to sit on the ground, supporting their back against a wall, a rock, or even a tree. Encourage them to lean back in a resting pose and bring one leg back while leaving the other straight. You can experiment with different hand positions, though I’d recommend using the illustration as a starting point:
21. Close-up headshot
This is a male pose that never fails, no matter your intent. Corporate, senior portrait, website shot – the close-up headshot won’t let you down.
Ask your subject to sit forward and rest their elbows on a solid surface such as a desk. The hands should overlap loosely and rest comfortably next to your subject’s chin. Test out different head positions, though begin with a look straight toward the camera.
Oh, and one last tip: Never be afraid to crop around your model’s face!
Male posing ideas: final words
Hopefully, you now have a starting point for your male poses! 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.
In reality, all you need for good people portraits is simplicity:
Simple backgrounds, simple clothing, simple poses, and natural expressions.
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.
Table of contents
- Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Men
- ADVANCED GUIDES
- CREATIVE TECHNIQUES