- Portrait Problems: 3 Mistakes You're Making When Posing Subjects for a Portrait
- How to Take Better Portraits in Five Steps
I'm a man, and though I don't speak for all men, I can tell you that most of us are not comfortable in front of the camera.
That uncomfortable feeling shows in our portraits, where we look awkward, have a strained smile on our face, and generally feel like a noob.
But, as with everything in photography, there are plenty of solutions to your man-posing problems.
Mango Street offers up some killer male portrait photography tips in the video above.
Be sure to watch the video in full to see each tip in action, and read about each tip in the summary below.
Try Emphasizing His Jawline
When posing a man, you might consider ways to make the image a little more masculine, and a great way to do that is to highlight his jawline.
The jawline is nice and angular and is a harsher feature that lends to the masculinity of the shot.
To emphasize the jawline, have the model turn to his left or right, so you have a better view of the jawline, as seen above.
To enhance the view even further, find bright, direct natural light or use artificial lighting to cast a shadow of his jawline onto his neck.
Again, doing so enhances the angularity of his jaw and results in a portrait that's pleasing to view and masculine at the same time.
Give Him Something to Do With His Hands
This is a great tip for any portrait subject, not just for men!
The most awkward thing about portraits is when people don't know what to do with their hands. Usually, that means the go-to is for the hands and arms to dangle next to our bodies.
For an improved look, have your male model do something with his hands.
He can clasp them together as seen above, cross his chest and place his hand on the opposite shoulder, brush his hair out of his face, or frame his face by stroking his beard.
Note how these aren't vigorous or intense actions, either.
Simply instructing him to put his hands somewhere can immediately minimize the awkwardness of the shot, resulting in a far more visually appealing portrait.
Keep the Posture Relaxed
I realize that those stiff-as-a-board formal types of portraits are a necessity sometimes, but if you want to get a high-quality portrait of a man, opting for something that's relaxed will get you much better results.
Whether it's leaning forward on a railing, leaning back on a wall, sitting down or even laying down, having your male subject in a comfortable posture will make him more likely to be relaxed in the portrait.
When sitting down, have him lean forward, perhaps even putting his elbows on his knees. When standing, have him cross one foot in front of the other, or even one arm across his body to his opposite shoulder to keep things nice and loose.
Another interesting tip is to have him pretend that one arm is heavier than the other and that it's dragging his body down on one side.
As you can see in the image above, by having him emphasize the weight of his left shoulder, it has the look that he's in motion, in the middle of shifting his positioning. That results in a nicely relaxed posture, don't you think?
Bonus Tip: Use the Surroundings and Props to Your Advantage
Obviously, the location you choose to shoot a portrait of a man will have a significant impact on the overall visual appeal of the image.
Like was pointed out in the first tip, finding ways to add strong angles adds a masculine touch to the shot.
Looking at the image above, note how the two staircases create interesting lines that help direct our eye to the subject.
Also notice how the grittiness of the background helps in creating a more edgy shot that matches this model's look.
The peeling paint and the texture of the iron rails is a nice addition to create a portrait that's relaxed and masculine, but eye-catching and visually appealing at the same time.
What's more, you can also use props to help your male subject get away from having awkward arms and hands.
But the key is to use props in a way that they blend in with the shot.
In the image above, the skateboard is the perfect prop as it fits in with the environment in which the image was taken.
What's more, the skateboard looks like a natural fit for this particular man, giving the image a laid-back vibe.
The point here is that getting a great portrait of a man is possible, it might just require a little extra work.
And though many of us are bad at asking for directions, if you provide your male subjects with clear, straightforward directions for what you want them to do, you'll probably find that you have some pretty compelling shots as a result!