When working with men, it’s especially important to have a pose in mind that works well for most. This classic male pose–one foot on the back wall–is one of them. Lindsey Adler illustrates this pose in her book, The Photographer’s Guide to Posing–https://learn.lindsayadlerphotography.com/photographers-guide-to-posing-book/. Once I started using it with clients, I saw its potential. So, in this post I’ll share my tips about using the pose–for both the photographer and for the client.
Tip #1: Find a wall with plenty of room on either side of it as well as in front of it. Imagine an invisible semi-circle around your model. You’ll be cropping in and stepping further back working your way around that half circle. Make sure there’s enough space so that you can get his whole body in the frame no matter where you’re standing.
Tip #2: With this pose, have your client either barely smile or try the model look, often called–the “GQ” smile. The GQ smile is one where the model looks serious, but not angry, and sexy, but not brooding.
Tip #3: While you’ve got the client in the pose, try different options with his hands. Hands in the pockets should be used no matter what position your male model is in, but it works especially well for this one. Crossed arms are great to use with the foot on the back wall pose too. But, from my experience, having your model place one hand in his pocket and the other on the thigh of the bent leg looks the best. And, the best angle for you to take the shot is with the bent leg furthest away from the camera as in the picture above.
Tip #4: For an alternative look, have your male client turn away from the camera. Cue him to look to the right and keep that model or GQ face, then suggest a smile, and even a laugh as he’s looking away. Try the same thing with his head turned to the left. And, of course, change your position to get more or less of his face during this variation.
Tip #5: If your male subject is extremely tall, crop in to mid-thigh and above. Extra long legs just look massively out of proportion with this one. So, avoid the full body shot.
Tip # 1: Remember that putting one foot on the back wall is not meant to be a stretch or an attempt to get you into a yoga pose. There’s no need to bring your foot up extra high. One–it looks weird, and two–it’s probably gonna be uncomfortable for you. Aim for your foot to be up as high as the calf of your standing leg. Let your photographer tell you if you need to go higher or lower from there.
Tip #2: Lean forward slightly. Even though the wall is behind you, avoid trying to press your back firmly against it. You’ll look stiff and uncomfortable and that’s what’ll come across in your photos. The point isn’t to keep you upright and stiff, but to keep you relaxed and natural.
Tip #3: Follow the photographer with your head, moving your chin slightly and slowly around as she moves around you, but hold the body position.
Tip #4: Think about the mood of this pose and settle into it. When someone sees this picture of you, she’s supposed to think that the shot was purely accidental. You were nonchalantly standing there and resting against a brick wall with one foot propped up behind you. You know–because you’re the epitome of cool. So, reflect on that–you’re so slick that someone (no matter that that person is a professional photographer) happened upon you just hanging out and being you.
Tip #5: Lightly rest your booty on the wall and hinge forward from the waist. Doing this will round your shoulders slightly, but contributes to you looking completely casual. And, you’ll feel stabilized in the position for a while while your photographer works her magic from all angles.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a pose that works for most men. However, it cries out to be used if your subject is wearing certain clothes. Attire that’s rugged helps to highlight it. Think utility and puffy jackets, jeans and vests, athletic wear, and 000o–definitely the cowboy look. But–it’s also great for a man outfitted in a suit or in a tuxedo. It doesn’t work well for a business casual look, unless you’re using it for a store catalog. That’s likely not your situation, so, just try something else. Also, setting up the body this way isn’t flattering for really tall (mentioned that earlier) or really large bodied men. For them–seated poses work well–especially on stairs (stay tuned for that blog post still to come).
Whether you’re the photographer cueing the position or you’re the model being cued, remember this classic male pose. And, no matter which side of the lens you’re on, keep my tips in mind. You’ll come away with photos you love.