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How To Make A Modeling Portfolio
How To Make A Modeling Portfolio: Everything You Need To Know
This in-depth article covers everything you need to know on How To Make A Modeling Portfolio. Written by one of the top modeling photographers in Los Angeles who has worked with the most respected modeling agencies from New York City, Chicago, Miami and LA.
If you’re a parent, male or female and looking for a model photoshoot near me or more info on what type of pictures should be in a modeling portfolio and need professional model photography – this article is for you!
Professional Modeling Photographers Near Me in Los Angeles (& Beyond)
Build A Professional Modeling Portfolio
How To Make A Modeling Portfolio tends to be a confusing question for males and females. We break it down – in specific details – for you in this article.
In order to make a professional modeling portfolio for men or women, you need to follow key steps. These “tips” range from what to wear, what your grooming should be, how much (or little) make up you should apply, and what are the exact looks you need in your portfolio.
Fashion Model Pictures Are Precise
One of the biggest challenges new models face is learning how to pose – modeling images are not the same as senior graduation photos. So you will also need to master this in order to gain confidence in front of the camera.
For instance, when a professional model is on set there can easily be over 15 crew members there as well. The last thing you want is to freeze in front of the camera when you realize there are 30 pairs of eyeballs on you. Worst case scenario is not getting hired by the client again.
We Know How To Build A Modeling Portfolio
Sergio Garcia is one of the top LA photographersand has worked with top modeling agencies helping them capture modeling photos for their male and female models.
Additionally, Sergio has over 14 years working on fashion campaigns, magazine editorials and advertising images for clients. As a trusted photographer for models, SG knows how to create the perfect modeling portfolio models need to get signed or start booking jobs.
He is a leading modeling photography studio in Los Angeles.
Top Photographer For Model Agency
Common questions we receive from beginner models are:
- What does it take to become a model?
- Which pictures should I take for a modeling portfolio? Models headshots pictures are a great way to start your modeling portfolio.
- Can we see modeling headshot examples?
- Is there a difference with a teen model portfolio?
After you finish reading this article you will know everything about creating a modeling portfolio for adult men, women and teenagers.
How To Pose Like A Model
At the start of a modeling career you’ll have no idea what to do with your hands, feet, or where to look. You’ll probably make a fool out of yourself and feel insecure – it happens.
It’s part of the learning process.
The best way to learn how to pose like a model is to stand in front of a mirror and (you guessed it) practice. Tilt your head one way, put your hands in your pocket and lean your body weight to one side. Now reverse it. As you do this with different variations you’ll start to see what looks good, and what doesn’t.
Find A Model Portfolio Photographer
How do you start a modeling portfolio?
Find a model photographer in your area and get in front of their camera; this is crucial.
Unless you’re modeling in NYC or an aspiring model in Los Angeles, there may not be many good model photographers. In this case, find another type of photographer (like a senior portrait or engagement photographer) who may be able to help you.
It’s important to know that not all photographers are created equal. For example, a wedding photographer can technically take a photo of you. However they may not have the creative eye to take modeling photos of you.
There is a difference. Make sure to look for a photographer that has modeling portfolio book examples on their website.
Model Photoshoot Near Me for Portfolio
So the point here is to just get you in front of a camera. This will give you experience on what being in front of a camera feels like and what it’s like being directed by a photographer. Don’t forget this is where you will try out those poses you have been working on.
You may be surprised that what you thought looked bad in front of the mirror turns out looking pretty good on camera.
How To Get A Free Modeling Portfolio
How do you find a free modeling portfolio photographer?
Start your search searching online. For example, you can Google professional photographer for model portfolio to see who pops up on the results. If you find a professional modeling portfolio photographers like Sergio Garcia, they don’t shoot for free so make sure to respect their time and work by asking about their rates.
Alternatively, see if you can “spot” a new photographer. One can tell a photographer is new because they will not have many photos on their website. Or all the photos in their portfolio are of the same 3 people. Likewise you can Google modeling portfolio photographers near me and see who pops up.
In this case, reach out to them and say something along these lines.
“Hello, my name is XX. Do you have any photo concepts you have been wanting to try with someone? Or maybe you have new lighting equipment you need a test model for? I am an aspiring model and would love to work with you. Perhaps we can both benefit and gain new images for our portfolios by working together”.
Start With A Local Model Portfolio
If you approach a modeling portfolio photographer like this you’ll score brownie points as you’ll come off more professional and may end up getting a free shoot for your models first headshots.
It’s not recommended that you email a modeling portfolio photographer and blatantly say you want free photos. This should never be a one sided request. Both parties should be interested and benefit from this transaction.
TIP: Make sure your emails are well written and have good grammar. You are not texting your bff here.
START YOUR MODELING CAREER
Have You Thought About Becoming A Model?
Book Your Modeling Photoshoot With SGP
Start Your Modeling Career With Great Photos!
Fashion Model Photoshoot Studio
If you’re ready to book Sergio Garcia for your model profile shot and capture a great modeling portfolio in Los Angeles, contact him using the contact form below.
Sergio captures both female and male model headshot photos that fit exactly what a modeling agency is looking for. No more guessing on what you think you need in a modeling portfolio. All the professional model portfolio examples you see on this article were captured by S.G. for modeling agencies.
Email Sergio Garcia below to get started on your modeling portfolio or continue reading for the entire article.
What Is A Modeling Portfolio: Explained By A Model Portfolio Photographer
What Is A Portfolio For Modeling?
Modeling portfolios are used by aspiring models to potentially get signed by a modeling agency. They are also used to market the model to clients by the models agent. A top modeling portfolio will consist of images that show the range and personality of the model.
When searching how to create a good modeling portfolio it is important to remember that a modeling portfolio is not only about having the “prettiest” modeling pictures.
Modeling agencies and clients want to see variety in a modeling portfolio. A model portfolio photographer will provide you with the best diversity of modeling photos that meet the industry standards.
Building A Strong Modeling Portfolio
What photos should be in a model portfolio?
A female modeling portfolio should show that you can model swimwear on-location on the beach and also a wedding dress in a photo studio. Likewise a male model portfolio should show that you can make both a suit look dapper and a pair of swim trunks.
Professional modeling portfolios need to show that you …
- 1) have experience in different settings and
- 2) are comfortable in different garments and can make them look sellable.
Always keep in mind that a models job is to sell the lifestyle and clothes.
Furthermore your modeling portfolio should show a wide range of expressions and emotions.
You do not want to have the same blank stare in every photo. To further illustrate, when you see bridal campaign the models are usually happy and cheery (remember you are selling that lifestyle). On the other hand, for men’s briefs the emotion tend to be a bit more sexy and mysterious.
So in a way, you’ll also have to become an actor and adapt to every photoshoot.
What Is In A Modeling Portfolio?
Whether you need a female or guy model portfolio, you need to capture 3 types of “looks”. The work “looks” just means outfit changes. So you’ll need 3 different (but specific) types of looks in your modeling portfolio.
Tip: The majority of these rules apply to a teen model portfolio.
Below are the foundational 3 looks that are needed in a good modeling portfolio. We will go into full detail further below.
- A Lifestyle Look
- Your Editorial Fashion Look
- Model Headshots and Body Shots
Essentially this is what a modeling portfolio looks like. Regardless where you live, the model photo portfolio requirements won’t vary much.
For reference, the word “look” is also sometimes known as: “outfits”, “outfit changes”, or “wardrobe options”. They will mean the same thing when we are talking about a modeling portfolio.
What Are Model Headshots?
How To Take Headshots for Modeling
Portfolio pictures for models will also include tight shots of ones face, whether male or female. Depending who you talk to, they may be referenced as fashion headshots, model head shots, beauty shots, face shots, portrait shot or a close up. At the end of the day, they all mean the same thing. A photo that is focused on your face.
These professional model headshots typically end up being towards the front of your portfolio and are used as the cover of your model comp card. The purpose is so that clients get a clear view of your features. The types of clients can range, but you’ll see that beauty or skincare clients will always request a beauty shot from you or your agency.
How To Capture Female Model Headshots
It’s important that your female model headshots are captured correctly, as this can make or break your portfolio. These types of model headshots should be very, very clean and minimal when it comes to your hair, make up and the lighting used by the model photographer. When you are first building your modeling portfolio, you never want your model head shots to be too elaborate or “fashion”. By this we mean no crazy hair or make up. You are just starting your modeling career so you want everything to be clean and simple. At the end of the day, the photos should highlight YOU.
Many female models make the mistake of going to off-the-wall with your model headshots and don’t realize the negative affect this will have on their model portfolio.
Mastering Male Model Headshots
The same holds true for male model pics. While men don’t necessarily have to worry about over-doing it with hair and make up, you still want to follow a few guidelines.
Male model headshots should also be fairly clean when it comes to what you are wearing and the lighting used by the photographer. Don’t forget it’s about your face.
The focus in a male model portfolio should not be the cool jacket or watch. Clients book models based off their appearance and how the client sees themselves molding you. So don’t get carried away with thinking you need the latest fashion or over the top pieces for your portfolio shoot men.
Need Photographer For Modeling? You’re At The Right Place
When wondering what to wear for headshots in modeling, stick to simple solid articles of clothing. Stay away from logos, patterns or anything with too much texture as it can take away from your face. Ideally for women a clean tube top and for men a simple v neck work completely fine.
The headshot model poses for both men and women don’t require any crazy expression or dramatic pose. You can have a slight tilt to the head or show a bit of one side instead of the other; just make sure you don’t give the camera a complete profile of your face. You still want the client to be able to see 90% of your face.
What About Fashion Model Headshots?
When you are thinking about modeling headshot examples, fashion headshots may be what you’re thinking. These are the high-end fashion photos you see for major beauty brands and the like. However, these are not ideal for beginner male and female models because you’re not to that level yet. You want to start sell yourself as a clean plate and let the client picture you in certain products or settings.
However, if you want to shoot fashion model headshots just for the hell of it, then go for it. These do tend to be a bit more creative. The lighting can be more interesting or edgy and you are more than free to play with your make up, hair or wardrobe. Just remember that these typically don’t do much for your modeling portfolio or for clients who may want to book you.
It’s true that the boring and clean model headshots are always the best. No matter what market you are in.
Modeling Headshots Near Me
As a premier model photographer, Sergio Garcia Photography knows what the best photos are for model headshots. So whether you are a male or female model, we are more than capable of helping you build your modeling portfolio.
It’s also important to remember that model headshots are only one small part of your entire modeling portfolio. Model headshots aren’t the “one and only”. Yes, they are important, but a professional modeling portfolio has more looks, which we will touch on below.
So when you need a photographer for modeling, make sure you do your research and contact one of the best.
Lifestyle Photos For Modeling Portfolio
What Are Lifestyle Photos For Modeling
Lifestyle images are a key component to your modeling portfolio. They are not meant to be “fashion” or “avant-garde”. You want them to be relaxed, easy, and approachable. It’s about selling a lifestyle.
Out of the 3 looks you need in a modeling portfolio, lifestyle photos are some of the best pictures for a modeling portfolio because they are the ones that will get you the most work.
Why is that? Commercial and lifestyle clients tend to shoot frequently due to the volume of clothing they produce with each season, etc. Since these clients shoot regularly, that means they are repeatedly booking models for their photoshoots (which in turn means consistent income for the model).
When shopping for clothes online, the models you see modeling the clothes are doing “commercial modeling” (also known as “catalog models” or “e-commerce models (e-com for short)).
Notable commercial clients can range from Target, J.Crew, or Nordstrom. However there are also commercial clients that you may not be familiar with due to the fact that they specialize to a certain niche market. For example these can include scrub brands, cheerleading uniform brands, or military exchange clients.
Modeling Headshot Photographers Near Me
People think they only need modeling headshot photographers, but in reality, you need more than a headshot for modeling.
So what exactly are headshots for modeling? Typically this entails capturing a clean portrait of your face. Both men and women need this as it is the main photo that ends up on the front of your comp card. The reason you need a modeling headshot is so that clients can see what your facial features and skin looks like up close.
Your modeling headshot is typically shot during the lifestyle part of your modeling portfolio because the skin and hair are usually the cleanest here.
Casual Outfits For Women’s Modeling
Keep it simple and clean. Think about summer days going to the beach, the park for a picnic or casually hanging out with friends. You want to look fresh and comfortable.
Denim shorts paired with a vintage t-shirt and converse. Other pieces that work great for lifestyle photos are jumpsuits, sweater dresses or a pair of denim pant with wedges and a tank top.
Use colors that compliment your skin and eye color and stay away from distracting logos or patterns.
Casual Hair And Make-Up for Women
Follow the same relaxed guidelines stated above. So no dark eye shadow. No long sexy lashes. No bold lipstick. No stiff helmet hair – loose beach hair always works.
Ideally the only make up you have on is a bit of concealer under the eyes and some chapstick or lipstick that matches your natural lip color. You still want to see your natural skin, freckles etc through whatever make up you are wearing.
TIP: Don’t over do it with the hair and especially make up. Agents will not be able to use those images if so and may require you to re-shoot this look all together.
Casual Outfits For Men’s Modeling
Slim fitted chinos with a simple striped polo and clean white converse work great. You can also opt for medium length linen shorts that are rolled up, paired with a simple t-shirt and sneakers. Keep it cool.
Stay away from clothes that feature any type of characters, recognizable faces or figures. Solid colors that enhance your eyes and skin work best.
Casual Grooming for Men
Always moisturize your face – you do not want dry skin. Secondly make sure to carry chapstick with you to take care of any cracked lips.
If you’re working with a make up artist, they may decide to apply some concealer to cover dark circles.
You want to be well groomed, so this includes taking care of any untamed nose, ear and eyebrow hairs.
Your facial hair should be tidy and trimmed or opt to go clean shaven. These tips are a must for professional pictures for modeling.
How to Capture The Best Fashion Photos For A Modeling Portfolio
What Is Editorial Fashion When Modeling?
A fashion photo is used to showcase the new “it” brand, the latest fashion trend or product through an editorial image featuring a model. They tend to be used on billboards and in magazine spreads.
When you think about modeling portfolio ideas, you are probably thinking about the fashion and editorial side of it.
In fashion photos you want to show range when posing and give the image a certain mood. Sometimes fashion-forward clothing won’t be the most comfortable or practical to wear. But you’ll still have to make it look wearable and sellable.
Otherwise who would want to buy it?
Having strong fashion photos in your modeling portfolio can increase your chances of potentially catching the eye of a client looking for the next model to use in their fashion campaign. Or of a fashion photographer looking for models to star in their next magazine fashion editorial.
What Is A Fashion Campaign?
The purpose of a fashion campaign is to sell a brand or product. The images are presented in a manner that appeals to that specific audience. They usually have higher budgets, tend to be shot by famed photographers in exotic sets/locations and are published in major media outlets. They are also the most difficult to get. Fashion campaigns are the high-profile jobs that models dream of.
Fashion campaigns are usually only shot once a year, making them less frequent than e-com jobs. So when fashion campaigns do come around the client and creative team have to be much more picky on the one model they choose to “star” in the fashion campaign.
Numerous factors come into play here. For example the model needs to have a strong “book” (modeling portfolio) and they need to have the right overall look that fits the campaign.
As before, there are smaller brands who need models for their campaigns, too. These brands can be local or regional. So as you develop your modeling career, you may get booked by these clients if you fit their bill.
They may not be the latest international mega brands, but it will provide you with good images for your modeling portfolio and even better experience.
Fashion Outfit Ideas For Women
Your fashion photos should have an edge to them. So look for clothing that has interesting cuts, shapes, patterns or prints. Make sure you do not go overboard with the prints. They may come off as too strong. A good option would be to layer a solid colored jacket or coat – if appropriate – to break it up.
Experiment with mix and matching different pieces; even if it’s something you normally wouldn’t put together. You may be surprised when something you thought paired bad together, actually looks great!
Examples of fashion wardrobe ideas can be seen here and here.
Fashion Hair And Make-Up For Women
Hair can be distressed or stylized depending on the look. Keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to create cool hair for a fashion photo. For example, sometimes all it takes is a little tousled hair and throwing it over on one side.
For make up you can add subtle smokey eye or a bolder lip may get the job done.
Don’t combine all 3 of these elements together. I recommend you pick one or two. Also don’t go too cliché with what you think a fashion photo should look like. Meaning don’t go sticking bird feathers or a birds nest in your hair.
Fashion Outfit Ideas For Men
You’ll never go wrong with a cool leather jacket, dark jeans and a pair of military boots. Think of yourself as the “bad boy” type.
Maybe you opt for a simple black t-shirt. In that case, roll up the sleeves. This gives you an instant cool factor. Alternatively throw atrench coat over the t-shirt and it will add drama.
A turtle neck looks great with a blazer, fitted jeans and lace-up boots. Or maybe go with one main overall color and break it up with one contrasting color – that one contrasting color can be your top or pant.
Fashion Grooming for Men
Do you have facial hair? This is a great time to show it off as long as you keep it nice and tidy. If you don’t grow a full beard, go clean shaven. Patchy facial hair usually doesn’t translate good in photos.
Are you working with a HMU (hair and make-up) artist? They may choose to add texturing product to your hair. This will cause your hair to break up into smaller pieces, making you look a bit more disheveled.
There have been times when the make up artist may add a bit of eye shadow to the male models. This will give you a punk-rock type feel which could help the overall fashion look come together.
Hiring A Professional Fashion Stylist
One of the best ways to capture fashion photos is to work with a talented wardrobe stylist. A wardrobe stylist that has a sharp eye for fashion can take almost anything and make it fashion-forward.
If you live somewhere where you can’t hire or find a professional wardrobe stylist, the second best thing for you to do is to go through pages of current fashion magazines and get a overall feel on what is currently “in”. Then go thrift shopping and see if you can pull together something along the same lines.
Remember it is not necessarily about wearing a big brand, but about how the entire look falls together.
Body Photos For A Modeling Portfolio: Explained By Model Photographer
How to Create a Jaw-Dropping Male Model Portfolio
Your portfolio can’t exist without photos. Whether they are printed out or online, make sure that the images are high-quality, that you’ve used photo editing programs to enhance your features, that the shots make your personality show.
Quality over quantity
A few stunning shots will make a more significant impact than a significant amount of average ones. High quality includes great lightning, no digital noise, no distracting background. If finances allow, working with a professional photographer is going to give you much better results because they will know how to present your best features and demonstrate your potential to future employers.
If you have a particular winning style, showcase it. Urban, aggressive, casual, smart, formal – male models are needed for all types of products. Also, there is nothing wrong in black and white photos, or with some non-standard images that show your personality.
Photos need to be edited, and everyone can learn this skill. This does not mean distorting your features in any way, but enhancing them with brightness, contrast, smart technologies that make your shots pleasing and attractive. Whether you are the model or the photographer, Luminar is the enhance photo editor for you, with an easy interface and professional features that anyone can learn and apply.
What kind of poses is a must? Of course, they have nothing similar with female poses. It is up to the model to choose, but here is what we recommend.
The basic shot that captures the model from head to toe. A slightly lower angle will make the shoulders and chest seem bigger, adding to the attractiveness. Choose your clothes carefully: men in suits and ties are attractive and formal, but you can also opt for casual jeans, knitwear, a basic shirt. This depends on how you want to be perceived. Get inspiration from famous male models.
A photo from the mid-thigh up focuses on your upper body features and arms. If you are not sure where to put the hands, there are a lot of hand poses to try.
Female trade show models often include swimsuit shots in their portfolio. This is done primarily to show their body types and measurements, and how comfortable they are taking such photos. The same is applied to male models. However, if you are against photos in swimming trunks, you can just wear tight-fitting jeans and t-shirt that serve the same purpose: showing your real body measurements.
Your face is just as important. Add a few close-ups — one with a smile that shows your teeth, another in a profile that showcases your jaw, a serious one that shows your features as they are. It is essential for the modeling agency to see your full range of capabilities. Make sure that you are clean-shaven, or your beard is neatly trimmed.
A few photos that show you casually are great because they make you stand out among the rest. You can lean against a wall, walk down the street or even play with a puppy. These shots will show your flexibility, inclinations, what kind of jobs you are willing to take and how good you look in commercial photos.
Even though you might think that the photos talk for themselves, writing down some information about you is crucial too.
Write your measurements for agencies and bookers. Height and weight are the necessary measurements, but also it is preferable to specify the waist, chest, shoulders size and length of the sleeve. Even shoe size matters since the agents need to provide you with fitting clothes for the photoshoots.
There is no need to write a full biography, but mention places you have worked at, awards you have won and your best features. Don’t omit the things you would like to do, as well as your flexibility in location and time.
Make sure you’re reachable. The more ways to contact you and see more of your work the better: a link to your website, social media profiles, e-mail, phone, and Skype are all necessary so that agencies can contact you.
Filed Under: ModelsSours: https://www.thefashionisto.com/how-to-create-a-jaw-dropping-male-model-portfolio/
For a lot of people, the results of this social experiment, nobly undertaken by a bodybuilding enthusiast who calls himself Germanlifter, will be surprising. Others though will simply shrug their shoulders and wonder what the big deal is.
“I Made a fake tinder profile just to see how well a male model compares to the rest of us,” he wrote. “The results are unbelievable. Every single girl I swipe yes to has been an instant match. There hasn’t been a SINGLE time where I have swiped yes, and there was no match.”
Shock! Women like hot guys. Isn’t this just human nature? Particularly on an online dating site like Tinder, which is known for its hookup culture. People are there to judge each other on their physical appearance first and foremost, so this really shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise, should it?
What the ‘experiment’ does do, however, is highlight the sheer power of good looks when it comes to the dating game. Being strongly attracted to someone physically is perfectly normal, but it probably shouldn’t come at the expense of common courtesy and respect. Germanlifter was surprised with the kind of filth he could introduce himself with, which many women seemed to be willing to overlook. “I can literally say ANYTHING and still get their number,” he said. “The girls often initiate first and respond immediately when I send a message. Admittedly I did get turned down a few times only because I opened with stuff like let’s f**k.”
It would have been interesting to see the occasions when he was rejected, and find out exactly how often it occurred, to get a more balanced picture. For now, though, you can scroll down below to check out how Germanlifter undertook his tinder profile ‘experiment,’ and let us know what you think in the comments!
Bodybuilding enthusiast Germanlifter created a Tinder profile using the photos of this guy
Who is in fact a male model
The idea was to see how women would react to creepy messages…
If they were sent by an attractive guy like that
Model picture male profile
While photos of male models were once limited to underwear ads with six-pack abs, the field is changing—for the better. With major brands turning to street-casting and alternative modeling agencies, photographers now have more freedom to experiment with how they portray male individuality and masculinity.
Masculinity is complex and multi-faceted; it means something different for everyone. These days, there’s more to photographing men than the muscle-flexing cliché, and men don’t have to fit a certain mold to steal the spotlight.
Below, we’ll look at just twenty-one versatile male poses to get started with when photographing men. These are all foundational poses, with several possible variations. They come from photo history and the worlds of fashion and portraiture, but they’re also modern and fresh.
Add variety by shooting these poses in vertical and horizontal formats; get close for detail shots, and then move away for full-body shots. Have your model move his head toward and away from the camera to see what works; even slight shifts can have a significant effect.
It’s also important to note that these poses are by no means reserved for men only. They’ll work with women, non-binary, genderqueer, two-spirited individuals, and more. We chose these poses because they can be vehicles for expressing masculinity in many different forms. They are meant to broaden your horizons—not limit them.
One of the first questions new models ask is, “What should I do with my hands?” The classic hands-in-pockets pose is one way to solve this problem. You can have one hand or both hands in the pockets, depending on the look you want, but make sure the thumb is hooked outside the pocket. That way, the hands won’t look like they’re disappearing or cropped. Of course, this pose can also be combined with other poses on this list for tons of variety.
The arm cross
You know this one; it’s the pose you’ll find on professional directories and profile pages the world over. It’s also easy and simple, especially for men who might not be used to posing professionally. Depending on the facial expression, this pose can evoke all sorts of moods, from businesslike to edgy and non-conforming. Like the hands-in-pockets pose, this one can be combined with several others, so feel free to try it out in different situations.
The wardrobe adjustment
We’re not talking about a literal wardrobe adjustment here but something more subtle. To give your model something to do with his hands, have him roll up his sleeves, adjust his cufflinks, fix his tie, pop his collar, or touch his watch or cap. Another popular one? Holding the labels of his suit with his hands. For fashion photographers, this pose serves two purposes; first, it helps create a relaxed, casual atmosphere, and second, it draws attention to the details of the outfit.
For a relaxed, expressive portrait, have your model lean against a wall. You can have him lean to the side or straight back. You can also ask him to lift one leg and push it against the wall for a casual vibe. Feel free to experiment with angles here, as walls give you lots of options for bent limbs and sculptural compositions.
This one isn’t a single pose but several! Try out different perspectives, and invite your model to look at the camera, and away from it, for some variety.
This technique was also a favorite of the legendary fashion photographer and portraitist Irving Penn, who sometimes used moving walls while posing his subjects. In the case of Truman Capote and Marcel Duchamp, he included walls on either side of the body, so feel free to get creative.
If your model’s having trouble loosening up in front of the camera, have them walk towards you from a distance. That sense of movement will make for dynamic images and get rid of any stiffness your subject might need to shake off before getting into other poses.
The jacket toss
You’ll find this pose in fashion magazines and editorials, and it works with a model who’s standing still or moving. For a “nonchalant,” casual-cool vibe, have your subject use one hand to drape his jacket or sweater over his shoulder; if he’s walking, you can get some nice flowing or billowing clothing at the same time.
Have your model run his fingers through his hair for a relaxed, spontaneous feeling. You can also ask him to move his arm down and place his hand on the back of his neck for a similar yet distinct pose. These are two favorites among fashion photographers, and you’ll find them across ads and editorials worldwide.
This versatile pose can be used to express introspection and vulnerability, self-confidence and poise, and everything in between. Simply ask your model to place one hand on the opposite shoulder or chest. This easy movement will create interesting lines and angles—plus an added layer of depth. You can also have him hold onto something, like an article of clothing.
Meaning “counterpose” in Italian, this is a pose that borrows heavily from art history, with one of the most famous examples being Michelangelo’s David. To achieve this pose, ask your model to lean his body weight on one straightened leg, bending the other leg and letting his upper body twist slightly off-axis from the hips for an asymmetrical but balanced look. Unlike standing straight, the contrapposto pose conveys dynamism and liveliness; recent studies even suggest that it could make us look more attractive.
The hand-on-hip pose is usually associated with women, but like any pose, gender stereotypes need not apply, and it can work just as well for men.
Just think of Yousuf Karsh’s indelible photo of Winston Churchill, where the Prime Minister stands with one hand on his hip and the other on the back of a chair. It’s the portrait of a lifetime, and it’s not just that incredible facial expression that made it unforgettable—though that certainly helped.
To get the look, make sure you’re positioned slightly below your subject’s eye level. Another hint for an authoritative expression? Follow Karsh’s lead and go for a furrowed brow and narrow eyes, rather than wide-open ones.
Props can work wonders, but they have to make sense within the context of your photoshoot. That is to say, they should help tell the story of the person you’re photographing, rather than distract attention away from him. It can help to ask your model to bring an object of personal significance on set; not only will this prop help make him feel more comfortable, but it’ll also help prompt new pose ideas.
Historically, portraits of men have trended towards hard lighting and contrast, which is great if you want to accentuate the jawline. In this case, remember to ask your model to jut his chin forward and down, as this position will result in that nice strong shadow on the neck.
That’s not to say that you can’t use softer light; there are no rules here. Traditionally used for portraits of women, soft light can produce beautifully dreamy, ethereal pictures of men as well; it just won’t accentuate that jawline in the same way.
Not to be confused with “the lean,” this pose occurs when the model is sitting, with his arms on his knees. If you want to make it a classic “power shot,” position your camera just slightly below the subject’s eye level.
We borrowed the name of this pose from the famous sculpture by Auguste Rodin, but it can also be traced throughout photo history; one photographer, Alvin Langdon Coburn, even modeled a portrait of George Bernard Shaw after the sculpture itself. In this pose, the model is seated, with his chin on his hand and elbow on his knee. It’s a pose associated with thoughtfulness and heroism, so it works well for serious portraits.
Crossing your model’s legs can add dynamics and a sense of movement to almost any photo, no matter the pose. Still, one of the most common leg-cross poses you’ll find includes a seated model with the ankle of one foot resting on the knee of the other. This pose can be done on a chair, bench, or sofa for a natural, candid feel.
The backward chair
This classic pose can be found everywhere from senior portraits to album covers (think: Lionel Richie in Can’t Slow Down or Johnny Mathis in Feelings). It works well because it conveys the same sense of self-assurance as the “lean-in” while also giving you some added versatility. Have your subject lean onto the back of the chair or rest his hands there for a cool, casual sensibility.
Use the position of your model’s hands to direct the eye, and play with hiding and revealing different portions of the face. A touch can be used to demonstrate strength, vulnerability, or both.
A hand to the chin, as in Albert Watson’s iconic photo of Steve Jobs, will tell a different story than a gentle hand on the cheek, so check in to see what your model likes and go from there. Asking your subject to touch his face can also result in candid, natural facial expressions that are difficult to “fake.”
This pose, usually executed when the model is sitting, can exude humbleness and approachability. As with the “lean-in,” you’ll have your model place his elbows on his knees—only this time, you’ll ask him to join his hands. You can also do it standing up, if your subject is leaning on something like a railing.
You can also use this time to get some close-ups of the hands, which can often help tell someone’s story even better than the face. Your model can also draw attention to any rings or tattoos he might have.
Stairs are perfect for portrait and fashion shoots because they allow for different levels and perspectives. Have your model sit on one step and place his feet on two different steps; having those layers will give your photo more depth and interest.
There are tons of “leaning-back” poses to try, but for now, we’ll keep it simple. Have your model lean back, with at least one of his arms behind him, propping him up. He can also place his elbows on the floor, rather than his palms, but it works both ways.
Like many of the poses on this list, this one comes off as relaxed and comfortable, giving your photos an authentic and spontaneous vibe. He can lean back on both hands or leave one free and move it around. He can cross his legs for an added point of interest, or he can bend one leg and extend the other—your call.
This isn’t a pose per se, but it’s just as important as any conventional pose. The “in-between” refers to the natural poses your model makes when he’s in between formal poses; it could be as simple as turning over his shoulder to look at you or dancing to the music when he thinks you aren’t shooting.
The breaks between traditional “poses” are all opportunities to grab some candid, off-the-cuff poses and gestures that are unique to your model. These are the poses that can’t be planned or choreographed, so take advantage of these moments.
These poses are just a starting point, and we recommend staying open to improvisation on set. There are hundreds if not thousands of other poses to explore, so we’ve barely scratched the surface here. Your approach will also vary based on the person you’re photographing—what works for one face and personality might not work for another.
Take the time to get to know your model and understand what he wants from the session, and remember to provide encouragement and feedback throughout the shoot. Posing and direction should always be positive and fun.
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