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Outdoor Standing Photo Poses for Guys 

Certainly standing photo poses for guys is going to be one of your easiest options in the realm of high school senior portraits. “Stand over there and lean against that building,” is pretty simple stuff. That said, you’ll want to develop a repertoire of standing pose variations that you can easily get your subject in to.
Understand that people – especially senior guys – can become incredibly self-conscious when a perfect stranger is pointing a camera at them. The adolescent male of the species, typically all too-cool-for-school swagger, becomes unsure of himself and he worries his uncertainty will translate into the dreaded dorkiness. To retain control of his herd the male high school senior must avoid the appearance of dorkiness at all costs.
Standing photo poses are good for guys because they’re simple – the pose not the guys. By having a series of easy pose variations at hand you’ll be able to build the confidence of your senior subject and that confidence – instead of the dreaded dorkiness – will show through in his portraits.

In the Background or Away From the Background

A standing pose works equally well with your subject involved with the background or separated from it. Let me explain. The pose above, a senior guy leaning against a stone wall is what I would classify as being in the background. You’re going to find lots of options for this type of pose in almost any location. 
Leaning against a tree, a fence or a building, as in the images below. 
Leaning on something looks perfectly natural for just about any guy. Many standing leaning images are going to lend themselves to full length to three-quarter length cropping. But using a horizontal prop – like the fence in the center image below – lets you naturally crop the image half-length.

Pulling them away from the background lets you isolate your subject and draw all of the viewer’s attention to the subject’s face. In the three images below, the subject is some distance from the background. Positioning them this way in the frame, and using a wider aperture to blow the background out of focus, centers your eye’s attention on the subject.

Crossed Arm Poses

Having your senior guy cross his arms is another easy and natural looking pose. But it is not for everyone. I’ve had guys and girls – with shorter arms – and this crossed arm pose just doesn’t look right. Their shoulders tend to get hunched up when they cross their arms. 
You also need to watch the details on the crossed arms pose. The image above, in the center, is pretty good – he looks natural and the crossed arms expands his chest which is always good for a guy.
The image on the left shows his bunched fist in the crook of his left arm; random disconnected clumps of flesh like that distract your eye. Avoid them if possible. (In other words, do as I say not as I do.)
And watch the weiners. The image on the right the fingertips hanging below his right bicep, as well as the fingers on his left bicep, are both distracting. “Dude, curl your fingers on your left hand and drop your right-hand fingers down inside your arm.” One quick tweak and you’ve improved this image immensely.

Not Every Pose Suits Every Guy

As I mentioned the challenge with short arms on the crossed arms pose. Keep in mind this senior guy is probably nervous and he does not want to look like a dork. If it doesn’t look right, or you can tell he feels uncomfortable being posed as you have him, don’t do it. But be careful how you say it.

Don’t insinuate that he’s somehow doing something wrong. That male ego is fragile. If I have someone in a pose that doesn’t look right I’ll often just say, “Nah, let’s try somethin’ else.” Very off-hand comment – never alluding that he doesn’t look good.

You may think I take too much time explaining the psychology behind posing but in my opinion, it is one of the most important facets of good portraiture. Help your subject feel great about themselves and they will feel great about their images.


Were you just raising your hand? Did you have a question? Please, by all means, ask away – that’s what I’m here for. CLICK HERE to send me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Go take great pictures.

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