Photographing Men - Goodlight Magazine Article Issue 22

I'm excited to share my first article for an international photography magazine. It's all about my workflow for shooting men.

Goodlight Magazine is a great reference if you're looking into improving your technique on photography or just starting off. It's available on Apple App store or Andriod Playstore. You can also go to their website -

Read on and if you have any questions I would love to connect and answer some of your questions.


Most articles that come out in websites and magazines usually feature a lot of tips for photographing women. How about tips for photographing men? I think most of us would agree it iseasier to photograph women, as they can convey emotions and candid poses easier than men. So how do you get a male client to pose in a way that isn’t awkward and at the same time comes out natural? Here is my recipe when I photograph men whether professional or not.

Model: Griffin Herbst


The first thing I do is to get to know my male client. I always ask what he does for work, his hobbies, or what he enjoys during his free time. Getting to know your client will give you a better chance of putting him at ease with you. Ask them questions to establish how they want their photographs to come out. Do they want it in black and white with dramatic lighting or natural clean light? By asking some of these questions it will help you determine your settings for your camera, the kind of modifiers you will use for your strobes, or even the best use of natural light. In addition to their input, you can also share your

ideas and show thethem how you want everything to go so you could effectively plan the shoot.


Not all clients will have the luxury of hiring a stylist and make-up artist, especially when it comes to taking photographs of men. Unless you are doing a fashion shoot or a specific concept or theme, make-up should be kept at a minimum for men. Nonetheless, they should still look presentable and clean in front of the camera. I always find it handy to bring some wax, hair gel, lip-gloss and face powder should your male client need or forget to bring some. It’s a small effort, but being ready for your client’s needs will impress them because you’re going beyond your contracted service.

Now let’s talk about clothes. Mostly your client will choose casual clothes.Please be specific on what casual is. It’s always nice to have your client in collared shirts and pants or jeans, then matching shoes, but if it’s not in their personality, they can opt to do a clean shirt, jeans and a jacket. You may also add on a blazer or a jacket or any props that adds character to the photograph.

Lastly, if you can provide a small water bottle for your client, it will go a long way to show them that you care and appreciate their time as well.

Model: Sebastian Greaves


At this point you should have already made plans on how the shoot will go, what kind of lighting you would use, natural or strobes, and which places to shoot, studio or a set on location. Plus, you’ll need to factor in the flow of the clothing changes and your settings in the camera. It helps me to envision the whole thing and practice everything in my mind before I start shooting. I locate specific places in the venue that would be great for the client’s photographs.

As for the lighting, diffuse lighting from a window is, of course, the best lighting, but what if it’s not available? It’s best to make sure you have your strobes ready. A soft box modifier or a beauty dish is ideal for portraits. It gives you a diffused lighting and a creamy transition from your highlight to shadows. You can also use your reflectors to even out shadows.

To make it easier for you to measure the power of the strobes, you can use a light meter instead of your on camera meter. Measure it beside the face of the client to increase accuracy. If natural light is available, you can shoot in the shade so there are no harsh highlights or strong shadows (unless you planned a dramatic photograph).

Model: Kelso Lenz

Camera setting - This is very important because if you set your camera up correctly, there are fewer things to worry about during the post process. There’s no right or wrong setting for taking portraits. It solely depends on, lighting, aperture and shutter speed. Remember, if it’s sunny, you can

try out the Sunny 16 rule. If it’s a bit cloudy, then go down a bit and open your aperture. If you want to separate the client from the background, then go for the shallow depth of field. Once you mastered the technical part of the exposure, you can focus more on the creative part, which is the composition.

(Editor’s Note: You can try out the Sunny 16 rule as explained in Issue 02 of Good Light! Magazine.)

Composition – it’s how you plan the whole photo before you click. Remember the rules, like the rule of thirds, meeting lines, ant’s view, bird’s eye view, framing, etc. You can apply them here in your portrait sessions. example, the rule of thirds and meeting lines can help the focus toward your client. Shooting a bit lower, but not as low as an ant view, can make your male client even taller. It’s up to you to test and experiment to see the results in your photography in order to become a better photographer.


Model: Reuben Pepin

After everything has been set, from lights to your client, you are now ready to ask your male client to pose. Remember one of the first things I mentioned? Rapport. If you established a good rapport with

your client, then communicating while you shoot will be easier. Not everybody has the knowledge to pose in a way that compliments their face shape and body type. As a photographer, it is your job to know how to make your client’s face and body flattering at all times. Communication is very important in directing your male clients to pose. Brief them on how you want to shoot them. Make sure you

consider their personalities. It gives more character and depth when you use their personalities to enhance the photograph.

Be specific on your directions, like “chin up,” “face on the right about 45 degrees, eyes towards me.” As you give them specific directions, your client will appreciate it and pose how you want. If they aren’t getting it, either show them by doing the pose yourself or better yet bring a tear sheet

(a photograph of the pose).

Model: Sebastian Greaves

These small things will help you to become more effective in communicating with your client. Start them standing, then leaning toward the wall, sitting down, playing with their jacket, and walking. There are lots of poses. Facial expression is important as well. It gives your client depth, interest and a story. You can ask them to smile, to be serious or just play with it. It will depend on what your clients want and what you want to achieve with the photograph.

One more tip, since the photo is ready to be shown after we click, we tend to check every photograph after it was taken (I’m guilty of this as well!). Check the photo every 5-7 clicks. Why? It distracts your client and youlose that connection and momentum you build up as you shoot. Show them the photograph after 5-7 clicks and tellthem what to change with the pose. Always give compliments because it boosts their confidence.


When you get your shots, and the whole photo shoot is finished, always remember to thank your client for their time. Tell them when and how exactly the photographs will be delivered. It’s always good to ask permission if you intend to post some of the photographs online on your blog or social media channels.

Model: Scott Itterman


Sebastian Greaves & Kelso Lenz of Royals Management, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Griffin Herbst

Reuben Pepin

Scott Itterman

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