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Photography cheat sheet: Full-length male model portrait poses

Full-length male model poses

Posing male models for natural-looking full-length shots can be challenging. We already have a cheat sheet for posing female models (opens in new tab), but photographing male subjects will usually need a different approach.

Here are nine posing ideas, courtesy of our sister magazine, PhotoPlus (opens in new tab), that'll give you some instant inspiration when posing your model for photoshoots. The suggested poses will give you some ideas for photographing classic male portraits, but also ways to inject a little humor or action into your shots to bring out your subject's personality - and for giving a less formal portrait.

Click on the top-right-hand corner for your cheat sheet
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All you need is space to set up a temporary studio, a full length photographic background and some lighting. LED panels will be fine for static shots, but for more dynamic 'action' poses you will probably need the movement freezing effect of studio flash set-up.

You might find regular portrait lenses a little too long for full length portraits, especially if working indoors or in a confined space. Try a 50mm or a 35mm equivalent lens instead, but be wary of the perspective distortion of extra high or extra low viewpoints if you are using a wide-angle lens.

Our nine suggestions are:
1: Side on:  with your subject standing side on to give a slimming view and to give shape to the shoulders
2: Casual dress: standing with the weight on the back foot, and with one hand in the trouser pocket
3: Walking tall: Shoot from low down, and ask the model to walk slowly towards you with dropped shoulders
4: Collar up: keep hands looking busy by getting the model to play with their shirt collar or shirt cuffs
5:  Back to front: using a chair as a posing prop
6: Take a pew: leaning forward towards the camera while sitting down
7: On the move: walking across the frame
8: Leap of faith: don't say cheese, jump!
9: Karate kick: best foot forward for an all-action pose

Click on the top-right-hand corner of the posing guide above to see this guide to posing in high resolution. You can use it for your own reference, but also show it to your model to give them an idea of what you want them to do and how they will look. Be sure to check back regularly for more great photography cheat sheets (opens in new tab)

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The lead technique writer on Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab) and N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab), James is a fantastic general practice photographer with an enviable array of skills across every genre of photography. 


Whether it's flash photography techniques like stroboscopic portraits, astrophotography projects like photographing the Northern Lights, or turning sound into art by making paint dance on a set of speakers, James' tutorials and projects are as creative as they are enjoyable. 


As the editor of Practical Photoshop magazine, he's also a wizard at the dark arts of Photoshop, Lightroom and Affinity, and is capable of some genuine black magic in the digital darkroom, making him one of the leading authorities on photo editing software and techniques.