Lets face it, professional models can take a lot of the burden off us as photographers by bringing their posing expertise to the table. But unfortunately we don't always have the benefit of shooting with a professional model. As a high caliber photographer it is important to have the ability to pose normal people with little to no experience in front of the camera. Below I have put together a list of 27 posing ideas for men who are not models along with photos for reference. Every photo below was taken by me.
While certain genres of photography get to work with models, most genres involve shooting normal people who will have varying degrees of comfort in front of the camera and natural posing ability. Posing was the hardest thing to learn for me personally and it is something I still work on every day. While I am jealous of photographers who have a natural ability to pose people on the fly, I unfortunately have found that I work best by having a list of go-to poses that I know work well for me and can fall back on if I need to. Until now I have kept that list to myself. If you are a model or photographer who struggles with posing I hope this list helps. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can bring it up at any shoot and go down the list and nail every pose. You do that and you will be guaranteed to leave the shoot with tons of variety. Connect with me on Instagram HERE and let me know if this article helped in the comments below.
1. Both hands in pockets
This pose works just as well with both hands in your subjects pants pockets but if they are wearing a jacket have them place both hands in their jacket pockets. Try full hands in or just thumbs showing.
2. The profile Pose/Side View
Have your subject stand to the side so you can only see one side of their face. Ask your subject if they have a favorite side. Most people do. Make sure to try different angles and perspectives.
3. Side Lean While Looking Away
Have your subject lean against a wall with one shoulder against the wall. Have them look at the camera, up at the sky, turn their head and look down or off into the distance. Make sure they have good posture. Stand tall and straight. Add a prop like coffee for more of a lifestyle feel.
4. The Laugh
Any time you can get your subject to genuinely smile or laugh take the shot. These candid moments are gold. Something I like to do for a laugh is ask my subject their favorite comedian and play that comedian on Spotify for a few minutes until they laugh. Or dad jokes, Really bad dad jokes often do the trick.
5. Hand on Wrist
This one only works if your subject is wearing a watch or bracelet. I usually tell my male subjects to wear a watch before hand. This gives them just one more thing to do with their hands. They will appreciate it.
6. Hand to Face
Have your subject turn to the side, slightly turn their torso/head and rest their head into their hand. Loose fingers and not to much bend in the neck.
7. The Scowl
If your subject hasn't done a photo shoot before they most likely assume they should be smiling for every photo. But depending on how they plan on using the photos and what mood and message they are trying to achieve smiling may not be the right choice. Try a slight scowl to change things up.
8. Over the Shoulder
Have your subject stand or sit to the side and look over their shoulder either at the camera or slightly looking back over their shoulder. A more serious look works best for this pose.
9. The Sleeve Pull
This pose works great if your subject has on a long sleeve shirt or button up. Have them play with their sleeve by pulling it up.
10. The Inside Pocket
If your subject is wearing a blazer or jacket with an inside pocket have them go through the act of putting something in the inside pocket.
11. Play with Buttons
If your subject is wearing a button up have then go through the act of buttoning and unbuttoning their shirt. Have them place one hand over the other as if they are about to unbutton their shirt.
12. Fist in Hand
This is a great pose for a more muscular subject who wants to show off those arms. Have them face the camera, stand tall and place a fist in one hand and flex.
13. Hand to Chest Side View
This is another great one for a subject who wants to show those arms. Have your subject stand tall, to the side, slightly turning their torso to the camera with one hand up by their chest, flexing the bicep, and looking into the camera or into the distance.
14. Jacket Over One Shoulder
If your subject has a jacket or blazer have them throw it over one shoulder.
15. Hands on Waist
Have your subject stand tall and place both hands on their hips or waist and flex those arms. Shoot from slightly below at an upward angle for a stronger look.
16. Sit and Lean
Have your subject sit and lean placing an elbow on the knee and hand to face.
17. Hand to Neck
Have your subject bring a hand to their neck just below the chin. Keep the hand loose. They aren't choking themselves.
18. One Hand in Pocket
Have your subject place just one hand in a pant pocket.
Depending on the mood and message your subject wants to convey a book is an easy prop to bring with you that can be used in multiple ways shown below. Again your subject will appreciate you giving them something to do with their hands.
20. Back to the Wall
Have your subject put his back to the wall looking into the camera or off into the distance. Try different perspectives.
21. Hand behind the Head
Have your subject place one hand behind his head. Not too much bend in the neck.
22. Cover half the Face
Have your model cover half his face with one or both hands. This brings all the focus to one eye.
23. Sit one leg Under
Have your subject sit on the ground with one leg under the other. Resting one elbow on the knee and the forearm on the thigh.
24. Hands Behind the Back
Have your subject place both hands behind their back, hands in butt pockets.
25. Sitting Pose
When having your subject sit on steps try different perspectives and have one foot higher than the other rather than both feet on the same step.
26. Candid Walking Pose
Have your subject walk a straight line down the side walk. Make sure he is walking casually, naturally and not looking into the camera. Try shooting from the side and slightly up from a lower angle.
27. One hand on Shoulder.
Have your subject look into the camera while placing one hand on his shoulder.
Lets face it, professional models can take a lot of the burden off us as photographers by bringing their posing expertise to the table. But unfortunately we don't always have the benefit of shooting with a professional model. As a high caliber photographer it is important to have the ability to pose normal people with little to no experience in front of the camera. Below I have put together a list of 27 posing ideas for women who are not models along with photos for reference. Every photo below was taken by me.
While certain genres of photography get to work with models, most genres involve shooting normal people who will have varying degrees of comfort in front of the camera and natural posing ability. Posing was the hardest thing to learn for me personally and it is something I still work on every day. While I am jealous of photographers who have a natural ability to pose people on the fly, I unfortunately have found that I work best by having a list of go-to poses that I know work well for me and can fall back on if I need to. Until now I have kept that list to myself. If you are a model or photographer who struggles with posing I hope this list helps. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can bring it up at any shoot and go down the list and nail every pose. You do that and you will be guaranteed to leave the shoot with tons of variety. Connect with me on Instagram HERE
1. The Profile Pose/Side View
If your model isn't blessed with perfect bone structure try different lighting, angles, chin movements, and hair placement to hide a double chin. Models: Don't worry, we all have one.
2. Movement Pose/Action Pose
Have the model do some kind of movement or action. This could be walking, running, jumping, or spinning. For action shots make sure your shutter speed is 1/250 and up so it's not blurry.
3. Seated Pose
Seated poses are great just keep an eye on posture and the tummy. Last thing you want is the tummy getting squished. If it's not flattering your model wont like it. Make sure your model engages her core at all times.
4. Chin in hand pose
If your model is seated this is a great go to. Try a variety of hand placements on the chin. Have your model look into the camera and off into the distance.
5. Look to the sky pose
Here's a tip to make your models eyes pop and lose those shadows when you're using natural light only. Have her look up. The light from the sky will make those babies pop and eliminate any unflattering shadows! This is very useful when shooting in a dark forest and your models face is super shaded.
6. Over the shoulder pose
To change things up try an over the shoulder pose where your model plays with her hair with the hand furthest from the camera. Have her open up and get some space between the elbow and her body making a triangle.
7. Hands on hips pose.
Play around with hands on both hips or just one hand on one hip. Try having your model slighting turn her body and popping that hip to show some side booty.
8. Lean on wall pose
Try photographing at different angles and have your model lean with her side to the wall and her back to the wall for variety.
9. Play with hair pose
This is what I meant above when I said have your model play with her hair with the hand furthest from the camera. Have her open up and get some space between the elbow and her body making a triangle. Models will always ask what to do with their hands so letting them play with their hair is natural, fun, and gives them something to do with their hands.
10. Legs crossed pose
Crossing the legs can give great shape to the body.
11. Surprised Expression
I call this the Macaulay Culkin pose. I find adding the hands is just a bit over the top but a surprised expression really open up the eyes and makes for a fun photo every time.
12. Hand in pocket pose
Try both hands or try just one. The choice is yours. Live a little. Also try a thumb in the belt loop instead of pocket or a thumb in the waist band.
13. Look into the distance
I call this the day dreaming pose. Have you model look into the distance like she's day dreaming about something she loves or like she's longing for something.
14. Funny Faces
Funny faces although not the most flattering are always the most popular in any photo set I post where there is a funny face. Catch those silly moments that happen between shots because people love seeing personality and it shows your model is more than just a pretty face. Have every model you work with give you at least one good ridiculous face.
Much like the photo above you should be having fun during a photo shoot so catch those candid moments. Everyone loves a genuine smile and the best smiles happen right before or right after a laugh.
16. Pouting Expression
Posing goes beyond just changing up body movements. Make sure to get a variety of expressions from your model as well. A good pout is a great start and almost always leads to a genuine smile.
17. Sitting laid back pose
Let your model lay back and relax. She's been working hard she deserves it.
18. Laying on the ground
Change up perspective. Have your model lay on the ground and shoot from above. Just make sure she leans her head back so we don't get double chins.
19. One leg down one knee up pose
If you want the booty poppin a great way to achieve this is keeping one leg down and bring a knee up on something like steps or a bench. Have your model pop the booty with the foot that's on the ground.
20. Arms crossed pose
This can be a great power pose or vulnerable pose depending on expression and posture. Have your model just slightly turn her torso away from the camera.
21. Back bend Pose
This is more of a high fashion type pose and not the easiest to do so leave this for your experienced models.
22. Seated one leg under one leg over pose
I just love this pose. Feels elegant but sexy to me. This is a great pose for any model with really nice legs. Try pointing the toes and lifting the heel off the ground of the front foot for a good flex.
23. The hair flip
Have your model stand still and move her head side to side getting some movement in just the hair. Turn your camera to rapid fire hope you get lucky. haha I have done this plenty of times where nothing turned out but when it does it's so fun!
24. The looking down pose
Remember the model does not have to be looking into the camera for every shot. Too often I'll look at a photographers portfolio and see nothing but photos of the model looking straight into camera. Change it up for a different mood.
25. Half profile pose
So this one isn't a full on profile/side view because you still see both eyes but I absolutely love this pose. Do not forget to get close up shots and shots from far away. Change up perspective.
26. Hand on elbow hand on shoulder pose
This is a great high fashion pose. Again make sure to have the model turn her body just slightly so you aren't photographing straight on.
27. Revealing eyes pose
You will see this one a lot in ads. Have your model reveal her eyes behind a nice pair of sunglasses. Pro tip: This is a great opportunity to tag the brand of sunglasses on Instagram and even send them the photo. They just might share it and you'll get free exposure.