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3 Ways to Take Better Portraits of Men

by Hanna Brooks Olsen
photo & video

tips for photographing men

If you’ve ever had a hard time figuring out the best way to photograph a man, don’t despair.

“It’s really common,” explains portrait photographer and director Jeff Rojas, because “we don’t know what to do with them.” Posing, lighting, and even costuming men can present a lot of real challenges to photographers who haven’t really ever studied how to capture the male face and form. But, says Jeff, shooting male portraits is actually a lot easier than many photographers realize.

“The same thing we’re doing with women, we can replicate with men,” says Jeff. “The concepts and the techniques are still there.” Applying them to men, he explains, just takes a little bit of additional know-how.

Know what you can control. Research has shown that the number one thing that attracts women to men as potential partners is their overall sense of style — more than height, a handsome face, or anything else. Which means that, as a photographer, you’re at a pretty big advantage, because you can control that element of your subject’s appearance. Often, says Jeff, the men he shoots might be wearing ill-fitting clothes or have distracting elements to their outfits. It’s then your job, as the photographer, to instruct your subject and help them achieve a style that will look modern, attractive, and flattering.

“We’re so focused on the face,” says Jeff, “we forget about the styling, but that’s really what’s going to get noticed.”

how to photograph men

Know what to highlight. When shooting male faces, says Jeff, it’s important to know how to light and pose your subjects in a way that plays up their best features. So, he suggests, ask yourself what strikes you most about your subject. A good way to do this is to do some homework beforehand.

“If a client is asking you to work with them, just say, ‘hey, can you send me a couple of photos of you so I can see what I’m working with?'” Jeff suggests. This way, you can see what your client likes best about themselves, and decide what the best way to shoot them might be. This can impact your lighting, the styling of the shoot, the camera angles, and even the retouching.

how to photograph men

 

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Pay attention to shapes. “I use a lot of shapes in my photography,” Jeff says. Specifically, he says, he likes to look for angles or structures that might play well in the image. For example, here’s a model shot a few different ways. In order, these photographs play up the models jawline, neck, and cheekbones, using a variety of lighting and poses. Each one, though, uses the triangular shape to maintain structure give the eye what it wants.

If you want to learn more about how to photograph men, join Jeff for his CreativeLive class, Men’s Portrait Photography

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Hanna Brooks Olsen

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.