Shooting male models

Shooting a male model is considered a challenge for many photographers. Male models like female counterparts are photographed for their own portfolio, for the photographer's portfolio, for advertising, stock, etc.

A friend of mine is in the advertising business. He has already appeared in 3 TV ads and wanted to improve his portfolio. I have decided to help him out assisted by my son Jad Awad. 

Finding a model

Finding a model for your photo shoot is easier than you might think. You can hire one, obviously. But, when you’re just starting out, you may not have a lot of resources to hire a model. Look for models that are just starting out. For them, there is something that they need more than money: Photos.

Finding a location

For this photo shoot we wanted something outdoor with a nice but simple background. Who said your portfolio should all be shot in studios? We went to the renovated city area of Saifi Village where the architecture and the building colors are of utmost beauty. On location, there were several places where you can shoot. However, to my surprise this area used to be for pedestrians only and now every couple of minutes you see cars passing by. To add to my disappointment, the location is now a target set for wedding photographers and couple of cafes had made it crowded with tourists and locals. I guess the lesson learned here is: scout the location beforehand and at the same week day and time you are planning to shoot. othing wastes time than wondering around a location trying to find a good place to shoot. You probably won’t be able to plan for this until the day of the shoot. For that, have your location in mind, get there 30 minutes early so you can look around and get some more ideas of the shots you can take.

The setup

It was 4:00 pm and the sun was diffused already behind clouds. A perfect recipes for soft shadows in the outdoors. However, I like to use my speedlite even in outdoor photo shoots. It gives the photos dimensions and flattering lighting. I chose covered areas of shades for my setup and used one flash mounted on a light stand and diffused with a shoot-through umbrella. Jad (my young assistant) help the 5-in-1 reflector which assisted in filling in those shadows under the eyes and nose of my model.

Tips for posing men 

Shooting a person that you don't know is a bit awkward, especially if that person is having his first experience in posing. I guarantee you that he will be stiff as a rock. Not knowing what to do and not feeling at ease in his flesh. You, as a photographer, are responsible for directing him and getting the best out of him.  

Although I sent my model some poses 3 days before the shoot and I told him to rehearse those in front of a mirror, he came to the shoot standing tall not knowing what to do and this is normal. In front of a camera and behind it, both the model and the photographer forget the details about poses. Humans only remember 3 things as a general rule. So I recommend not memorizing poses but rather practice those general rules when posing men:

  • A man thinks about the best version of himself when he appears strong, fit, cool, confident and in self-control. Your challenge as a photographer is to show this in the photos. 
  • When posing women we usually think curves. But when posing men the opposite is true. A man’s body is not about curves, it is about that V shape, the jaw line, angles and power.
  • Shoulders should look as broad as possible. Waist should look slimmer by not exactly square the camera. However, make sure your subject is standing tall, with shoulders up but relaxed.
  • Men don't do very well with the hands. You need to keep their hands busy.Try the hand in pocket - thumb out technique, crossed arms, holding a prop like a newspaper, holding the jacket with one hand, fixing his cuff links, etc. 

The shoot and the outcome

On this particular shoot, I shot around 150 photos in a 2 hours. I narrowed them down to what I felt were the top 20 shots. I made sure there was a variety of photos that both the model and I could use in our portfolios. I used Lightroom and Photoshop to retouch and deliver.

One of the greatest rewards was seeing his new Facebook profile picture (selected from the shoot - receiving more than 300 likes. It’s a good feeling when you deliver the processed photos, knowing that the model was satisfied with your work. It builds your confidence as a photographer.

Thank you for reading this post, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below.