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Posing 101

Lesson 10 of 35

Male Posing Guidelines

Lindsay Adler

Posing 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

10. Male Posing Guidelines
Lindsay gives you essential guidelines for how to pose for male photos to make men look their best and compensate for their flaws.

Lesson Info

Male Posing Guidelines

I'm sure no one can possibly guess what your flaw is? No, not at all. I'm sure they have no idea. Nobody. (laughs) So, we're going to just real quick talk about how to photograph somebody who has a large forehead, which he doesn't, or a continued forehead and baldness. (everyone laughs) I love you. I love you, too, Lindsay. Okay, good. I wasn't sure if you were going to say that this time. Okay, awesome. So, a couple things. I will tell you, lighting makes a difference and lighting makes a difference with glasses. Like, that's a totally different class so I will tell you: lower is better, kay? Gets rid of shine and attention up here. Lower is better. So, that being said, I'll just lower it just a little tiny bit. Okay, so, what you wanna do is try changing your angle so you do want to shoot at a slightly lower angle versus a high angle. You do want to shoot a slightly longer lens as opposed to a shorter lens or wider focal length. And then also, you wanna make sure that the...

y don't do chin out and down but, instead, just chin out if they're gonna do that. So, let's just take a look at a couple changes there. All right, so, here is a regular shot from standing and can you do your chin out and down for me? Okay. (everyone laughs) I don't understand why you're laughing. (camera clicks) All right, let's see how that worked. That was a very creepy... This is why I don't model, people. (everyone laughs) Oh, is our tether working okay? (audience laughs) So, notice when he does chin out and down, down draws attention more to the top of his head. So, the only thing I'm gonna change is just not down, so just put your chin out. (camera clicks) (audience laughs) And I'm actually a little bit further back but it will make a little bit of a difference. Kay, did you see that? His head actually looks rounder when he had his chin out and down, it looked a little bit rounder. Versus when he just had his chin out instead of down, okay? So, that makes a pretty big difference. And then me getting my camera angle lower. So, will you do just your chin out again? Perfect. (camera clicks) And chin out and down just a tiny bit. (camera clicks) And one more. So, this is when I get to a lower angle. So, a combination between these things is now you're not looking at the top of his head, I would lower my light a little bit, have him put his chin out and then only down as far as I needed to hide if he had a double chin or something, which he doesn't, but if he did. Plus, you don't want to be looking underneath someone's chin. So, something like that would be perfect. He looks lovely and, of course, the most important part of that photograph is his expression. (everyone laughs) It's lovely. Thanks, Lindsay. So, I meant it totally. Can I use you for one more thing? Absolutely. I was just gonna do the... I had two other things I wanted to demo. I wanted to demo what I wrote down as 'weird eyeballs'. (everyone laughs) He doesn't have weird eyeballs. I'm gonna show you the whites of the eyes thing. I'm actually going to... Can you grab that long lens for me? Tether people, I need to switch my lens for this, please. I don't know if I... Thank you. And I will switch back to that momentarily, I just wanted to be able to zoom in. Okay, so, I'm gonna have you just turn to your side and will you take off your glasses so people can see this clearly? Okay, so, I'm just gonna have you look... Keep your head exactly where it is and look at the television screen. With your eyes, perfect. Okay. (camera clicks) I know this goes without saying but watch how creepy. (everyone laughs) (everyone laughs) No, but I'm joking but I'm really serious. A lot of times, you'll see somebody pose... Well, let's do it slightly more serious. Can you do a manly side pose lean? Okay, so, this is being more serious but let's say you were doing a pose like this and you were trying to do serious sideways, there's way too much white in this next shot. So, gonna have you do that one more time and now look your eyes here. Good. (camera clicks) Okay. So, a little too much white in his eyes and so I just brought his eyes back to the corner of the light here so you can actually see. It doesn't look like he's looking back at you, it's not awkward 'cause it's not like he's trying to look off at naught but you actually see the pupil of his eyes versus that's too much and then the first one is an extreme example but I have seen it. So, just watch for that, definitely pose the eyes. And then I wanted to show you lastly but not least, would be what I'm talking about with the chin crossing the nose line thing. Okay, so, it's going to be minute movements. All right, so, I'm gonna first have you face me straight on. Perfect. (camera clicks) Okay, now turn to the side with your head to the right. Keep going a little bit more, a little bit more, right there Okay, and chin out and down a little. Good, so, this is good. (camera clicks) Now, turn your head more to the right, I'll tell you when. Right there. (camera clicks) And I think that'll be able to demo it. Okay, so that's good. See how his nose is within his cheek? Like, it's lined up there? In this next shot, it crosses over. He doesn't have a large nose, at all, so it's not a problem. As soon as somebody has a large nose, when the nose crosses over that cheek line, like when it's more in profile, you can actually... You actually see the outline of the nose is the point. You can actually see it against the white or the background. That's what draws attention in posing to a large or longer nose. So, that's what you wanna watch out for. But you have such a cute nose that it looks cute anyway. Aww, thanks, Lindsay. (everyone laughs) Okay, you were a wonderful model. Thank you very much. Pleasure to photograph you. I appreciate it. (audience claps) Can I have that? All right, awesome. So, tether people, we're switching lenses and may I have the keynote, please, for a moment? Okay, so what I'm going to talk about now is some more posing essentials for men and women, which will set us up to posing lots of men and women tomorrow. (laughs) I was gonna say, all posing is generally made up of men and women so we're working on those foundations here. (everyone laughs) Okay, so for these posing essentials here, I'm going to talk about a couple essentials for men and then I have a lovely male... Can I borrow you? (laughs) I'm gonna borrow you but I'm gonna talk a couple demo things first so I'm gonna borrow him to demo. So, here's what you need to know for the essentials of photographing men. So, if you wanna know how to photograph men, this would be the start of your segment. It's a little bit longer than most segments because it's really important. So, photographing men essentials. All right. Number one, remember when photographing men that their shoulders define broadness. If you want them to look broader, face them more straight on towards the camera. If you want them to look narrower or skinnier, turn them to the side. Shoulders are how you control how their body looks. Okay, the next one is to avoid head tilt toward the camera. So, may I have... This camera for example. For girls, it's okay to do a head tilt towards the camera. For guys, it comes across as feminine. So, you want their heads to be neutral or slightly back, which comes off as a little bit standoffish or a little bit confident. But not towards the camera, so it's something you want to watch out for. So two major male posing guidelines. Number three major male posing guideline is give their hands something to do. Direct their hands, whether it's in a pocket, whether it's posing on their face, whether it's fixing a jacket, whatever it is, make sure that you've actually directed their hands. Anything that you can think of so that they are not fiddling, nervous, or don't know what to do. Okay, number four. Chin out and down is good for men because it defines their jawline. They want a nice, crisp jawline. So, whatever pose they're doing, chin out and down is going to be stronger. And then finally. Keep guys comfortable but watch their slouch. I find that guys tend to slouch more than girls in posing. They're a little less aware of it. So, they don't have to be standing up straight but if they slouch, you don't want them to have a curve in their spine. So, just still have them pull up through their spine. These are the very basics of photographing men. So, let's take a look at a couple of these examples. We're gonna look at the turn and tilt example for guys. So, notice the example. (audience laughs) But really, he's not doing... And you clearly know it's not right. But you will see a lot of times in portraits where they don't quite know the head and it tilts a little bit towards the camera. So, just neutral or away. See how away is still okay as well? A little bit away comes off as standoffish. You don't see the jawline as much when it's away but it still works so depends on what you're trying to communicate. Has more of a confidence to it. Hands and face. All right, for photographing men, let's take a look at their arms first of all. All right, so what you don't want to do is not tell them what to do. Generally, there's two things guys will do by default and they're totally fine and completely acceptable. They'll put their hand in their pocket or they'll cross their arms. Both of them are fine. With the crossing of the arms, what I would warn you is if they have a dress shirt on, or any type of more crisp shirt, crossing the arms wrinkles and all you see is wrinkles and folds of that clothing. So, that's generally if they're wearing... A guy's posing in a nice, white suit shirt. Avoid the arm cross, maybe an arm up for a pose but you're probably better off with a hand in the pocket or something that doesn't involve crunching the arms up. Usually photographs better. What you want to do is one of these, kay? All of these would be acceptable. So, the picture on the left is more thoughtful. The second one in, it doesn't necessarily work in this photo but a lot of times, guys will hook their belt buckle or their belt loops. That's okay. I personally think it draws a little bit too much attention and you don't need him to do it with both hands, you could just do it with one and kinda to loop there. You could have one hand in his pocket. My favorite would be just the good old last one. But what you're watching for is that he still has negative space, his hand is not tight up against his body, he's not flailing his elbow out, it's still kinda loose, and it's just calm and confident. So, that's usually what you're trying to achieve with guys. Guys care more about the cool factor than the pretty factor. So, they want to feel cool and comfortable versus girls wanna make sure they look pretty. So, that's what I'm focusing on when photographing men. We mentioned this before but wedding caution: I tell people... I used to photograph weddings. The first thing I would say to guys is, "No matter when I'm photographing you, don't do this." (laughs) "Don't be standing there with your hands "cupped together in the front 'cause it looks awkward." I always make a joke of it and then I'm like, "That's not what you want to see in a wedding album," (laughs) and then they wouldn't do it. But I would tell them that even when they were standing at the altar, the groomsmen, so that I didn't have to have photos like that. I just tell them to be comfortable, hands at the side. Loose hands. So, definitely watch out with that. All right, next. Some tips for sitting. Guys like to sit and lean a lot of the times. That's part of the cool factor. 'Cause if you have a guy standing, there are definitely some poses you can do. Arms crossed, hand in pocket, again, the uneven weight on the feet that we talked about before. You don't want a guy, usually, standing flat footed if you can just even do. For a girl, it's a tilt out or a tilt in. Guys, it's just a little bit of weight off. Kind of like he's stepping towards you. That's probably my favorite go-to, doesn't need to be complicated men's pose is one hand in the pocket and look like they're walking towards you. (laughs) Just nice and simple. But, guys also love sitting and leaning poses because when they're posing, you're not holding on to anything, it feels awkward. As soon as they're leaning, you know guys. Lean up against the wall, they take a seat, they look so much more comfortable. So, I would recommend allowing them to sit or lean and get comfortable in their element if you can. Of course, if it's a more formal headshot, one of the solutions I have is I would have them put their arms on a chair or something. Sit in a chair and cross their feet, put their hand on their leg, something so it's as if they're really sitting or how they would really behave. So, I've a couple tips here for sitting poses with men. All right, so just general tips, and some of this is what we talked about already, sit forward and negative space Meaning if they're sitting in a chair, don't just have them with their hands rested on their lap. Find ways to make shapes. So, instead of sitting in that chair, arms rested on their lap, maybe it's to the side with an arm up, or a hand up, or something so that it's not just bunched up. Something to give you negative space. Depending on the guy, my next tip is avoid weight on their arms. Meaning if they're on the ground and they're posing really uncomfortably and they're trying to balance themselves, you can see it. The tension goes right up their arm and all the way to their neck. So, it does matter for them to look a little more comfortable and less strained. And then the last one is if you're posing them in a chair, or sitting, don't have their body towards the camera. Turn the chair towards the side so that they can put their arm up and look back towards the camera or if it's a chair towards the camera, they're over it or if they're sitting on the ground, their body is to the side instead of at the camera. It has to do with foreshortening and negative space and showing their form. So, watch those things for sitting. So, this is a sitting example. And this would be the poses that I have on the right are, personally, two of my favorite go-to men's poses. That's just me, personally. There's nothing magical about them but they're sitting, they look cool and confident. And there's something a little more than just arms crossed, leaning towards camera, or hand in pocket. And they're pretty easy to do and so I have a stool here. And so, notice the reason that it's more dynamic is because his feet are on different levels. And in the picture on the right, his hands are on different levels so you get more dynamic. One of the points we made before is when feet are on the same level, it's a little more stable but it's not as interesting, it's not as dynamic. There aren't as many triangles when that happens. When I popped his leg up, now we have triangles and negative space underneath his arm and triangles and negative space created with his hand. So, this would be a go-to sitting pose. So, if you just have a regular stool, pretty simple, most guys can do that. Next one, do's and don'ts for sitting. On the left, see how he's all balled up? It's kind of blob-like versus if you looked on the right, it has a little more shape, you could put his knee out more. I mean, that's not, don't do just that pose but avoid bunched up. Another one that I see in general is guys try to be cool and they do the straight on towards camera, legs apart, leaning. Even with guys, no crotch poses. (laughs) So, that's why when you're looking at that picture on the left, quite honestly, if you're a girl, your eyes go there eventually. (everyone laughs) Okay? So, watch out for that. Your eyes definitely eventually go there. So, notice on the pose on the right, that's not where your attention is drawn. It's drawn much more there on the pose on the left so just watch out for that. So, then here, here's another posing... This was my example often when I told guys to pose like if you were at home, lying on the floor, watching TV, or playing video games, or something. Just be comfortable, pose on the floor. And I could tweak it to be something like this. And then they felt kind of like it was their pose or their idea or it's something that they would already do. So, it didn't feel like, "Oh, she's posing me," it's, "Okay, I'm comfortable," let me tweak that pose a little bit.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.


  • Use camera angle, lens choice, and cropping to improve your poses

  • Hide unflattering problem areas

  • Address different body types through posing and wardrobe

  • Go for simple poses rather than extravagant ones

  • Pose couples, individuals, and groups to ensure everyone looks good

  • Understand the differences between posing women and men


Posing is one of the fundamentals of great photography. It’s also the thing that photographers have the least control over. We can choose our lenses, set up, lighting, and retouch with Adobe® Photoshop®. But when it comes to photography poses, we need to pay attention and work closely with our subjects to find the perfect pose and best way to capture the most flattering image.

Fashion and portrait photographer Lindsay Adler will break down the fundamentals of perfect posing, giving you the basic rules you should follow to make your subjects and your photos look their best. Through live photo shoots and slides, Lindsay demonstrates the do’s and don’ts for every category of subject, including men, women, older people, couples, brides and grooms, groups, and more.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Connect with your subjects through sincere compliments, repeating their name and discovering their passions.

  • Avoid using negative terms that will make subjects feel ill at ease.

  • Master the rules of posing, then know when to break them.

  • Be confident when posing couples at a wedding whether it's a bride and groom, mature couple or same sex couple.

This course is perfect for novice photographers just getting their feet wet in the world of portrait photography, but it also offers useful advice and techniques for even the most skilled professionals. By the end, you’ll be able to discover the beauty in every one of your subjects, and bring it out for the world to see.


  • All levels of photographers who want to set themselves apart and up their posing game.

  • Professional photographers who want to learn new ways of posing women, men, children, couples, and groups so they can impress current  clients and attract new ones.

  • Hobbyist photographers who want to learn to pose their family and friends.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1

Keynote 2

Keynote 3



Bridal Couples

Bridal Parties




Couples - Different Height.




Female Seniors

Folding - HowTo


Male Seniors



Mature Couples

Mature Men

Mature Women


Parents Children

Plus Size

Same Sex-Female

Same Sex-Male

Women Posing

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I would highly recommend this class! I have been shooting for some time now and I've been pretty satisfied with my pictures from each session. A few weeks ago, I happened upon this class and thought it would be nice to get some new ideas. I then took the ideas from this class and applied them to a maternity shoot. I must say it took my pictures from good to amazing!!!! My clients bought them all😊 Thank you Creative Live for offering such amazing classes to help any level of photographer learn and grow!

Ruth Ganev

Lindsay is such a great teacher. She doesn't overcomplicate things - so that you can really learn. She also reviews things again and again - only in different contexts - that make total sense. I have learned so much from watching this course of lessons. I went to a natural lighting portrait workshop a couple of weekends ago - and was able to put into action what I have learned. The models loved my photos, too. She keeps things moving, is clear and to the point. I highly recommend this class to anyone wanting to become better at posing. It is so rewarding to look back at my previous photos and understand what doesn't work and why, and also to see things improving. She is a natural teacher - the course is not boring - you will learn tons!

Maya Tleubergen

I really love it! Thank you, thank you, Lindsay! Beautiful girl with a huge talent to teach! I absolutely love it! Worth every penny!