15 Best Male Poses For Fashion Models In Photography

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Fashion photography poses for male models are as varied as those for females. Getting the composition right is key as seen in this image with the model off to one side

Photographing males for fashion photography is often believed to be difficult. How to pose as a model? The poses are different than for women, but many photographers wrongly believe the posing options are fewer than for women.

There are, actually, a plethora of posing options available for male models. And, just to prove that we’re right, we’ve put together a list of the 15 best fashion photography poses for male models. With these poses, you’ll get stunning results!

1. Contrapposto or Counterpose

Number one on the list is the counterpose. It’s one of the first mannerisms that male models learn, and so, they tend to be very comfortable with this pose. It’s a relaxed pose, the most important part of which is its natural essence. The model should appear calm and relaxed, not stiff.

This pose will appear different with each model, because of his individual body shape and way of moving. That’s a plus because it’s always unique. 

A great male fashion photography pose is the counterpose. As seen with this model, it's a relaxed pose.

2. Strolling

One of the more common male fashion photography poses is of the model strolling, often in a business suit. The sense of the image is that he is cool, calm, and in control. Strolling is not the same as walking. Walking has a relaxed sense to it, while strolling has a showy sense. It is an action where the models tend to strut a bit, and that’s the beauty of it because it brings out that feeling of self-assurance.

Strolling is another common fashion photography pose for males, and as seen here, it involves a bit of a strut.

3. Arching Arm

This is probably just as common a pose for male models as the strolling pose is. This is where the model will have one or both arms bent. It gives a kind of James Bond appearance with the model leaning slightly, and perhaps, with one hand in a pocket. It’s a way to convey a sense of power, and it is usually done with a somewhat fierce expression on the model’s face. The bent arms mean he takes up more space, and that conveys power and control.

Arching arms is a common fashion pose for male models, because, as seen in this image, it shows his ability to control more space

4. One Leg Up

This is a very common pose for male models. It can be performed while sitting or standing, and it’s perfect if the model is leaning against a wall. It conveys a somewhat aloof sense that is somehow both relaxed and vulnerable.

One leg up is a male model pose that, as seen, here can convey both relaxation and vulnerability.

5. Hands and Face Pose

This is a pose where the model’s hands are at least partially covering his face. The hands can be used as a prop to help create a unique, interesting image. You can try different poses covering more or less of the face. You can create fun, almost silly, poses or more thoughtful, serious poses. There are a number of options with this one, so play around and give the model some freedom to try different versions.

Hands and face is one of the fashion photography poses that has many variations. Poses can be silly or thoughtful as seen in this image.

6. Leaning Poses

This is a good one for conveying a relaxed, self-assured appearance. It can also go with the leading lines in an image or help create a contrast with non-parallel lines. This is another one of the poses where it is good to try a couple of different varieties and see what works best. The model can be leaning with his back against the wall or his shoulder. And, his facial expressions can convey different moods. 

7. Hands in Pockets

There are a couple of options here as well. You can have the model have his hands all the way in the pockets, just one hand in a pocket, or the hands can only be partially in the pocket–perhaps the thumbs are hooked inside the pocket while the remainder of the hand is out. This conveys different looks depending on the mood you’re trying to create. 

8. Detail Shots

There are a number of fashion photography poses that will allow you to take some great detail shots. You can, for example, take a detailed image of something like the model tying his shoe or his tie. Or, a common one is detailed photos of watches. The watch may even be what is being modeled, and an attractive wrist with a watch looks stylish and conveys a sense of power.

It's important with fashion photography shots to get the details, like this shot of a man's hand while he straightens his tie.

9. Cropped Images

You can really get some fantastic images when you crop them to focus in on one feature of the model, like his eyes, for example.

Cropped images can result in stunning male model images, like this closeup of the model's eyes.

You need to be sure, though, that you’re cropping the photo in a way that enhances the features you are focusing on. For example, if you crop a photo mid-thigh, it creates an odd appearing composition for the rest of the body. So, in that case, it would be better to crop up higher or down lower on the legs.

10. Tattoos

Tattoos are all the rage now, and many male models are proud of their ink. It can make for powerful, masculine images as well. As long as the tattoo is appropriate for the use of the image, it can enhance its masculine appeal.

Male models often pose to show off their ink, as seen here in this image of model with tattoos.

11. Hands

Male hands are typically strong, so this is a great detail type of photo to take. A good pose for the hands is if they’re doing something. For example, you can ask the model to play with his cufflink or roll up his sleeves. These make for great male hand shots. 

12. Face Shots

Most of the time, men tend to put serious expressions on their faces when it comes time to take pictures. A great way to get the model to give you other types of expressions is to ask him to move through a series of expressions while you take photographs.

Face poses include full frontal face images, like that seen here, and angled face shots.

Facing forward:

Start with an angry face, then a poker face, then a slight smile, and finally, a big smile. You can get several images that way, and you’ll be able to choose which expression works best with the model’s face.

And, here are some tips that work for different facial features: 

  1. If he has a large or unusual nose, shooting his face straight on will diminish the appearance of that; 
  2. Asking him to push his chin forward will elongate his neck; 
  3. If your model is heavier, have him look up at the photo and that will shed those unwanted pounds; 
  4. If you’re looking for mystery in the image, use more neutral expressions; 
  5. Don’t have him use exaggerated head tilts; 
  6. Ask the model to look down, and then quickly up when called–this is a trick that often produces the perfect expression.

Angled face shots:

With an angled face shot, you can use different lighting options to make the image more artistic. Lighting him from the side, for example, can create a more dramatic mood. Setting your aperture at f/2.8 allows you to play a little more with the depth of field to get those more interesting images.

Angled face poses are good ones for creating dramatic effects with the lighting, as can be seen in this image.

13. Headshots

Headshots are very common photographs for both male models and male businessmen. When taking these, you want to make sure you understand the mood that either you or the model want to create. Should the model look serious and businesslike, friendly, or sexy? If it’s for a businessman, is it in line with his company’s brand? 

If the headshot is taken with the model standing, it can help to give him something to lean on, like the back of the chair that has an adjustable height. To get him to give you a good expression, you might coax the model by presenting him with a scenario–for example, pretending he has just walked into a business meeting and he’s really interested in what is being said. The expressions that the scenario creates often make for a compelling headshot.

14. Standing Poses

There are a few options for standing poses. You can have the model standing, but facing sideways, you can take a photo of the model’s back, but with him facing sideways so you can only see part of his face, and of course, he can be standing and facing you.

Standing poses for male models include those with his back towards the photographer, such as that seen in this image.

15. Sitting Poses

As with standing poses, there are various options. You can have him facing you or sitting at an angle. And, you can use props or not depending on your preference for the shot. It depends on the mood you’re trying to create. Is he conducting business in a serious manner, is he lost in thought, or is he playing? Deciding what mood you want will help you choose the right pose.

Male models sitting and facing the camera can result in dramatic images as seen in this fashion photograph.

These 15 fashion photography poses for male models will help you capture the mood you’re looking to create. There are also many variations on these themes, so you’ll never run out of ideas for your male models. Just remember to consider the mood you want to create, give your model some inspiration to work with, and take plenty of photographs! You’re sure to capture some memorable shots!

Frequently Asked Questions about Posing Male Models:

Here are some common questions regarding how to pose models:

What are the top 5 poses for male models?

The most frequently used poses are arching arms, strolling, the contrapposto or counterpose, the leaning pose, and headshots with narrow eyes. These types of poses tend to convey self-assurance and masculinity. 

What are the main differences between male and female fashion photography poses?

One of the main differences is in facial expression. Female models tend to pose with eyes wide open whereas male models tend to narrow their eyes. There’s also more of a tendency for male models to have one leg up or open whereas female models typically strike a more closed pose. 

What are the best lenses for fashion photography?

One of the most versatile lenses out there is the 50mm lens. They call it the ‘nifty fifty’, and it helps you get the most bang for your buck. This lens sees what your eyes see, so you can capture images without distortion. It’s also very useful for different angles and lighting conditions. 

Which DSLR camera is best for fashion photography?

Well, if the price isn’t a factor, the Canon EOS-5D Mark III is one of the best out there. The images are crisp with very low noise levels, and it’s especially great for intricate clothing. The images also stay clear even when blown up. It’s also lightweight and focuses great in low-light conditions. If price is of concern, the Nikon D7100 is another excellent option.

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Catherine Gaither is a professional photographer and bioarchaeologist. She has traveled the world photographing archaeological sites and artifacts, and studying human physical remains. She has written numerous professional publications. She continues to work as a forensic consultant and author.
Catherine Gaither is a professional photographer and bioarchaeologist. She has traveled the world photographing archaeological sites and artifacts, and studying human physical remains. She has written numerous professional publications. She continues to work as a forensic consultant and author.

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