Portrait photographers have all been in this situation: we meticulously set up our shot, discovered the perfect location, backdrop, ambiance etc, found some delicious light, set up our off camera light, positioned ourselves just so, posed our subject in a great, flattering pose, they’re smiling and pretty, then we step back and…something isn’t quite right. We snap a few photos, but the image just seems off somehow. What went wrong?

In two words: body language.


We non-verbally communicate in so many ways throughout the day, through the casual shrug, the subtle crossing of our arms. These small movements can translate into our images in a big way, making them just not quite right.  In the following video, Jeff Rojas, shares with us 5 common poses we should avoid. They may not necessarily be intentional, such as men putting their hands in their pockets, which shows uncertainty or crossed arms that may be communicating defensiveness or awkwardness. As the video points out, it’s easy to fake a smile, but body language is a different matter.


In his CreativeLive class on Men’s Portrait Photography, Rojas shows you how to work with men so that they look “natural, masculine, and confident.” These video clip gives you 5 quick tips to do so just by adjusting their body language:

  • Shoulders back communicates confidence
  • Hands in pockets communicates uncertainty
  • Crossed arms communicates defensiveness or self-soothing
  • Holding hands below waist
  • Clenched fists make you appear angry or nervous

Watch 5 Common Poses to Avoid


Posing can be one of those tough photography techniques to learn and master. For me, I used to struggle with posing men and making them look “manly” since I had more experience with female models and clients. One thing I did which really helped me, was studying fashion magazines and mimicking poses until I grasped some of the basics, then I was able to branch off. Understanding body language was also monumental in how I approached posing – for men and women.

Posing couples tends to be tough for some photographers as well. If you want to learn some basic posing techniques, these articles on Foundation Posing are a great place for you to start.

[Via CreativeLive Youtube]