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Shaun Lakha

Shooting Male Portraits

Male Portraits – Shaun Lakha

by | Nov 10, 2020 | Modern Portraiture, Personal Branding

Shooting male portraits requires a different approach to shooting women.  Shaun and I had a great time shooting this session in the studio resulting in some great images.

Although the lighting setups for men and women are almost identical, there are key posing rules that make male portraits visually pop and impress.  I detail a few of these male posing tips here in this post.  It isn’t an exhaustive list but these are some guidelines I find useful.

 Strength, Width and the Head Tilt



Firstly, men love that strong, masculine look in images.  Shoulders and elbows can really help in intimating strength, making subjects look broad.  You can shoot men straight on to the camera, which means their shoulders will look square and wide and this can portray confidence and athleticism. Of course, good posture is also key here, so having them pull their torso tight and shoulders back, helps.

Secondly, it’s generally ok to have the head and chin tilted up.  Now, when shooting women, (there may be a few fashion poses that are an exception) but, the “chin forward and down” instruction is often used.  The reason is this hides double chins, elongates the neck, and initiates engagement with a woman’s eyes.

With male portraits, however, this isn’t the case, mainly contributed to by the fact that the brow on men is different from the brow on women.  So eye engagement is not lost for men when the head tilts up.  In fact,  looking down at the camera feels right for many men, it denotes strength, respect, and emphasizes height.  In addition, tilting the head away from the camera can have a similar effect.

What to do with the Hands

Thirdly, there shouldn’t be any aimless touching of the hair or the body for men, even the face! A hand on the knee or thigh, that feeds into the elbow and shoulder accentuation, is fine.  This can lead to a pose looking edgy due to the angles.

Similarly, a hand around the chin or pushing back hair on the head, are actions that can be used effectively. But notice these are “actions” or “active movements”.  When posing women it is important to have soft relaxed, inactive hands.  For instance, “ballet hands”, is a term often used, no fists, or claws, hands and fingers should be relaxed.  There are numerous beauty shots showing women framing their faces with these relaxed hands.

For men however it’s important to have hands that are “active” and doing something.  If not, most men will feel uncomfortable and awkward and this will show in their facial and body language.

Dont Forget The Jaw And The V 

Finally, try to capture a strong jawline and create a V shape to the body if possible.   This may mean asking your client to push his chin out to create separation and define that jaw.  Or by having him lean towards the camera, so his upper body looks larger, his waist may then appear smaller, creating that V shape, making him look fitter and leaner.

There are of course more things that I could add.  However, these are a good start and the key pointers I try to hold to each time.  

The following images were shot using a XF35mm F1.4 R Fuji lens which is my go-to-lens for studio portraits.  However, I also use a XF16-55mm F2.8 Fuji lens for the wider studio shots.

Two stills from the the modern portrait shoot for Shaun with him looking to camera in one while seated and then another laughing to camera
Male portraits with RLP two images of Shaun against a white seamless with a stark shadow thrown up on the background in a fashion type setup
Feature image for male portraits, subject sits leaning on a box face to camera with another image of him sitting on a box to camera
Four images of Shaun in the male portraits series, Birmingham, crouching against a white backdrop looking in different directions
A still from the Raphael Lionel Photography shooting male portraits, an action shot of a male subject, leaning up against a wall, turning to the camera
Fresh portraits for the male portraits shoot,subject against a copper painted board back drop in bounced light
male subject sits with his body at a 45 degree to camera and his head turned to the lens, with sidelights and stylish posing
Seated male portraits of Shaun in a statement red chair power poses at Raphael Lionel Photogrpahy
Strong one light images of a male subject in the male portraits shoot, just stepping into the light, wearing a three piece suit in various poses
Male subject sits 45 degree to camera looking off to the right in a three piece suit, and sharp haircut
Final set of male portraits, three images of a three piece suit wearing male in a three light setup
Don looking to camera in a suit on a red statement chair, serious and solo
A Modern Portrait – The Don
Portrait shoot subject laughs she she strokes her canerows while facing to camera, as a fan blows her traditional dress around
Studio Portrait Shoot – Lufuidy Paxi
Headshot of Matt Stone leaning into the camera, face on in a jumper and shirt

Birmingham Headshot – Matt Stone

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