10 Unique And Effective Tips For Male Portrait Photography

August 11, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Ebooks

Male portrait photography comes with its own set of challenges, as men think and work differently from women. Unless they are professional models, most men are typically uncomfortable with being photographed. They become awkward and uncomfortable facing the camera and taking directions from a photographer.

The best trick for male portraiture is to make the process enjoyable and to help the subject relax so as to capture the most realistic shots. But then again, not every photographer is able to do this. To ensure your male model is comfortable, it’s best to keep a friendly atmosphere.

Don’t make it seem like a job, even though it is, try and ensure your model is comfortable with the manner in which you’re giving directions. Screaming at them may not be the best idea since portraits are intended to capture the emotion of the model and a frightened emotion isn’t the way to go.


The key to mastering portrait photography men is to understand the differences in techniques when working with male and female subjects. When working with women, photographers accentuate the curves, making them look seductive, alluring and glamorous. With men, it is all about ruggedness and power. Adjectives like “cute”, “adorable” or “pretty” don’t work for male portrait photography.

A man wants to be seen as strong, powerful, confident, charming and suave. This is often true in cases when men are advertising or modeling for a product that is rather feminine. An example of this is when men have to model for fairness creams and in some cases even perfumes or shower gels and other similar products.

When doing so there is a balance that has to be maintained. Where you want to portray your man as a strong and rugged one, you have to ensure they aren’t perceived as flimsy or ladylike.

These are the elements photographers need to emphasize on when shooting male subjects. Achieving these results calls for an innovative strategy and a flexible skill set. This is the only way in which a strong and meaningful male portrait can be achieved.

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The market for male portrait photography

The world is changing. Attitudes are changing, and so are the people themselves. Just a few years back, the market for male portrait photography was largely untapped. Men shied away from being photographed, and portraiture was largely a woman’s arena.

That is no longer the case today, with men now spending just as much as women on their lifestyles and personal grooming. “Looking good” is no longer reserved exclusively for women. Social media shows that men are just as concerned with snapping the perfect selfies as women. Gyms are booked to the brim, and many males religiously adhere to “eating healthy” to build their bodies and amp up their social image.

Men are now openly obsessive about their health, fitness, and nutrition. They want to look good on public forums and want to be perceived as “cool” and “fit” in their social circles. Where women focus on looking chic and high-fashion, males are obsessed with their physiques and their abs. A chiseled frame and sharp cheekbones that can be flaunted to their best angles have become important elements of male portrait photography.


With all these new trends here to stay, the portraiture market has now handed gilded invites to men and welcomed them with open arms. Recently, here has emerged any number of senior portrait poses for guys that men have adapted to and mastered with astonishing aplomb. With a helping hand from a bevy of skilled photographers, male models are fast giving their female counterparts a run for their money.

Creating a proactive environment for male portrait photography

As a photographer, you might just end up working with models from all circles. For instance, if you are shooting portraits for a bridal campaign remember that men find it hard to touch each other naturally unless they are close friends or family. So the key is to give them space as they get into their element.

Male models do not work well with photographers if the expert does not understand their insecurities. For example, if a model is balding the trick is to shoot them from the front to get a clear image of the head. Similarly, if someone has a slight potbelly, do not shoot from the sides rather from straight ahead. If it is a profile shot, you can always crop them from the waist up.


Portraits come off as very awkward if the subject is simply made to stand like a mindless statue doing nothing. It is okay to listen to what they have in mind but remember you are the expert and only you can anticipate the final shot. For instance, if you are shooting a groom or a best man, take a shot of him adjusting his tie or cuffing his sleeve.

To ensure the photo depicts exactly what the subject is looking for, ask them beforehand what they want and use your professional skills and experience to work towards the best result. You can always show them your own portfolio and get a rough idea of what their intention is from the portrait. This makes the process easier and smoother for both the subject and you, the photographer.


As an expert, it is your job to guide the subject through all the stages of capturing a great shot. Remember the subject does not have the experience you do and might be awkward or uncomfortable posing for the camera without proper instructions. Ensure your client is relaxed as it is not about the posing but rather a fun experience that they would like to repeat.

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Working with male models

Here are some great tips to capturing a killer shot while working with a male mode for your male portrait photography:

  1. One of the key elements of male portraiture is the jawline

A man’s jawline is a measure of his manliness; the more defined his jawline, the more masculinity he exudes.

The jawline should look as angular and sharp as possible. Some male models genetically have sharp jaws but others may be lacking in this essential feature. There may be other tips that can be used to accentuate their jaw lines. You can always experiment with lights and the angle from which you’re capturing the picture.

Sometimes, even makeup does the trick for a more definitive look.

  1. Big, rounded eyes are a big no!

They reflect a feeling of discomfort, confusion or anxiety. The eyes should be narrowed and half-closed to give off a confident, laidback and nonchalant look.

Male models are supposed to make their female fan base go weak at the knees. The more mysterious the man, the more appealing he comes across as.

This desirable aspect in a male portrait photography can be achieved through camera tricks; however, for a more natural result, let your model adapt a more squint-eyed look.

Have him gaze at a far-off object and you might just add an effortless element of playfulness and mischief.

  1. Issues with hungover male models

Though this is true with models in general, male models are particularly perceived as party animals. As a photographer, you might just be paying $50,000 an hour for a studio shoot, which means you cannot afford to have a hungover model or, at least, one who looks hungover.

So the trick to sap a killer shot in such a scenario lies all in the camera. Many photographers shoot from a higher angle, which automatically requires the model to glance up into the lens.

Not only does this give them a more active look, it diminishes the puffiness around the eyes. To top it all off, you’re sure to capture a unique picture.

  1. Prematurely balding

Though this is not a problem in general, it can be a challenge to capture a good shot with balding male models. To overcome this issue, the trick is to shoot from a lower angle so that the bald patch is not accentuated.

Capturing a picture from this angle is a trick in itself, so be sure you’re aware of the product your advertising and the fact that your model has a lot to offer despite his premature hair loss.

  1. Comfortable environment

Several celebrity portrait photographers suggest that candid and natural poses make for great shots. They allow a more casual and relaxed environment allowing the model to just be themselves.

However, they suggest that the models should also have their hands in their pockets to add an element of formality and professionalism.

Some of the best male portraits are of models with a soft smile, eyes crinkled in amusement in good posture and a comfortable background.

  1. Perfect balance between casual and formal posing

Many times, a male model is required to sit on set. Though this sounds deceptively easy, such a portrait can turn out awkward and uncomfortable. It does not give the desired impact.

As a photographer, it is your job to ensure that if a model is posing for an executive campaign he should squat slightly and lean forward as opposed a stiff and rigid backed posture.

The more formal and stiff you look in your pictures, the less confident and self-assured you come across as. Then again, the focus of such a picture should be focused on the placement of arms and angle of the legs.

Strike a perfect balance between casual and formal and you’ll have a winning picture.

  1. Focusing into camera

One of the worst problems photographers talk about is when their model has difficulty focusing directly towards the camera. This can be problematic as just when you think you’ve captured a killer portrait, you notice the subject’s eyes are closed.

This can be a big bummer especially after hours of coaching and prep. But don’t worry, there’s a very simple solution to this problem. In order to attain the perfect senior portrait poses for guys, experts suggest telling the model to close their eyes tight for a few seconds. Count to three and then open them instantly.

This should give you enough time to capture a few perfect shots with some of the strongest eye expressions.

  1. Perfect face position including mouth

A big difference between male and female portraiture is the mouth. With female models, a slightly open mouth done right gives a more “come hither” look and looks appealing and alluring.

Not so with male models. When shooting with a male subject, an open mouth can be highly off-putting. It makes them look goofy and makes it hard for the viewer to take them seriously.

A better approach would be a closed mouth, lips curved into a suggestive smirk or a soft smile for a more appealing look.

  1. Masculine appearance

Broad shoulders give men an effortlessly charming and confident look. This is why photographers prefer working with naturally buff models. However, with a few camera tricks you can skinnier models the same masculine appearance.

The trick is to have the subject square their shoulders as much as aesthetically possible while focusing towards the camera. And perhaps even lean towards the lens to create an impression of broad shoulders.

  1. The dilemma of the double chin

Take the case of a model with a prominent double chin. The easiest trick to hide it would be to have them extend their chin out while tilting their head down.

However, if the chin is still prominent after this trick, fear not. There is another very useful hack. Make the subject place their hand just below their lower jaw in such a way that it hides the double chin naturally and aesthetically.

With these tips, you can make sure that you capture winning shots with models of all sizes and features. Not only that, these tips enables you to highlight their best features. It also hides their imperfections to deliver a masterpiece.

Remember, the ultimate trick to get a good shot is to make sure your subject enjoys the posing. The key to that is to create a relaxed environment where they can pen up and have a good time.

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