We’ve compiled our favorite posing ideas for senior guys—even the ones who aren’t that into being photographed.
Easy senior photo poses for guys
Shy guys, sweet guys, smart guys, silly guys, and tough guys: with so many great dudes in the world, you’d think their senior portrait photography would be a breeze! Yet professional photographers regularly struggle to find senior boy poses that please both the high schooler and his parents.
For your average, awkward/awesome high school senior guy, you might need a bit of help. So we’ve curated some of our favoring senior picture posing ideas for your great guy clients…
#1: Something to lean on
Basically nobody likes to stand in front of a camera with no clue what to do with their hands, feet, or face. Everyone and their mama knows how to lean, though. Give your client something to lean on, and you’ll quickly get a sense of how their body naturally settles.
Full-length leaning shots can show off a great outfit or fantastic background. But don’t forget to move in for a few closer-up photos, too! Instead of asking your client to lean flat against the wall, for example, find an angle that allows for a more layered final image.
Shaw Photography Co.’s affirmations
“I use encouraging words and affirmations throughout the senior session, telling them, Wow, you are so natural at this! or Ahh, this last one was really good!—and I never show the back of the camera.
They should leave the session feeling like everything went well. Even if there were a few poses that didn’t work, I never let on. There will still be plenty of photos to choose from!”
#ShootProof PRO Tip
Everything in a photo should reflect your client’s story, from the scenery to the props to the wardrobe. If your senior guy is a theater fanatic who bikes to school, photographing him leaning against his car won’t be meaningful. Likewise, if you’re photographing a rough-and-tumble country guy, don’t use the big city skyline as his senior picture backdrop.
#2: Add movement to his senior year pictures
The further away you are from your high school years, the more likely you’ll be to forget how much energy those young whippersnappers have. Don’t overlook opportunities to get some motion out of each senior picture session!
Bump up your shutter speed
From riding a four-wheeler to kicking a soccer ball, any sort of physical sport can make for great images that highlight a teen’s passion. Just remember: big motion requires a fast shutter if you don’t want a blurry mess.
A shutter speed of 1/250″ or faster will work in most daylight conditions. If you’re using a flash, you will be able to slow your shutter speed down some and rely on the strobe light to “freeze” the photo.
Shaw Photography Co.’s senior picture ideas
“I encourage a lot of movement, from walking to and from me, to moving quickly from location to location. If I stay in one pose or location too long, the senior starts to feel tense; they think they aren’t doing something ‘right.’ By moving them around, I keep the session flowing.”
#3: Test new ideas with eager seniors
Even the simple act of moving from sitting to standing can make for a moody moment. Senior picture sessions are often a teen’s first experience with professional photography. This makes senior girls and guys the perfect test subjects for creative posing ideas and lighting setups.
#4: Sit, squat, kneel, chill
Preston Luke’s seated posing tips
“To get your senior guy to relax, ALWAYS START YOUR SESSION SITTING! Whether they are on stairs, against a wall, or on a car, let them get comfortable with you and the camera.
When they are sitting, they are in their own space and feeling comfortable, not wondering how to let their arms hang or how to stand. As you are starting the session and testing your lighting, make conversation and try to relate to your senior. Make them feel valued as a friend—NOT just another client.”
One knee up
It’s next-to-impossible to sit suavely with both knees clutched to your chest. Let your client relax by telling him to relax one leg out in front of him or curled under his other leg. When photographing guys, posing that feels natural will always photograph better than a stiff stance.
Source some super-cool seating
You don’t need to drag an armchair all over town to get seated images (but 10 points to you if you do!) Look for stairs, ledges, curbs, tree stumps… Wherever your client sits, make sure the area is sturdy and safe—especially with outdoor senior pictures where you don’t have total control over the environment.
Take a knee
Kneeling is a great solution when sitting looks too slouchy. Take care to avoid “crotch shots” by shooting slightly to the side of your client. This pose is a favorite for fellas who like to show off their shoes!
#5: Eye contact is overrated
Some of your clients may find eye contact difficult due to their sensory processing style. Others may simply feel nervous gazing directly into your lens. The good news? Senior picture sessions no longer demand big cheesy grins directed toward the camera.
How to pose senior guys who are shy and serious
Capture pensive glances or natural smiles by encouraging your guy clients to look away. If they’ve told you they have a “good side,” this is a great way to capture their preferred angle, even if their body is positioned in the other direction.
Instead of telling your client to “gaze into the distance” (which sounds entirely too emo), direct them to look at something specific—like the truck that’s about to run you over as you shoot from the middle of the road. (This is why we all need insurance.)
#6: “But what do I do with my hands?!”
Hands can be nearly as expressive as faces. We clench them when we’re nervous, rub them together when we’re thinking, and tuck them into pockets when we’re feeling shy—or exceptionally relaxed. Give hands a role in your senior photo sessions with posing ideas even uncoordinated teens can master.
Preston Luke answer the age-old “hands” question
“When all else fails and everything is looking the same, tell your senior to plant their feet on the ground, stand tall and bold, then pull their hands up to mid stomach and hold them upright.
Have them rub their hands together like they are lathering hand-washing soap, then have the senior look down, left, right—anywhere! Play with your angles, and you are guaranteed to get a pretty sick shot that totally boosts their confidence level.”
Loose and limber
If your client is a fist-clencher, ask them to relax their hands so their fingers fall naturally. Watch out for hands that land in awkward places, though.
Pockets are there for a reason
“Tuck your thumbs in your pockets.” That’s the simplest way to get your clients hands relaxed at hip-height. If your client tucks their whole hand into a pocket, make sure their thumb and a bit of their hand is exposed so they don’t appear one-handed when they’re not.
#7: Sometimes a simple stance is best
Once your client is comfortable with you, you can usually get them to relax into a simple standing pose. If your senior still seems stiff, encourage them to widen their stance a little, and rock forward on the balls of their feet. The subtle lean will help highlight the face.
#8: Elbows to knees
Everyone on the planet knows how to lean forward and rest their elbows on their knees. It’s simple, comfortable, and does a great job of minimizing the waistline while accentuating the face.
Ask your client to combine elbow-to-knee with hand-to-knee. This posing idea gives guys some seated swagger, and shows off their manly-mister-man-sir-tough-guy shoulders.
Control the perspective
If your senior guy is seated on the ground with their elbow wrapped around one knee, open up your aperture for a shallower depth of field. The bokeh that envelopes that elbow will keep it from looking overly large compared to the rest of the senior’s frame.
#9: Get a “Grandma Photo”
The park bench, elbow-to-knees look is the easiest way to get a great Grandma Photo. What’s a Grandma Photo? It’s a photo a teen’s grandma will love because their sweet angel looks engaged, friendly, and natural—all in one great frame.
#10: Step into the studio
Whether you own your own studio or rent one from a fellow photographer, studio senior portrait sessions are perfect for clean, client-centric images. Bonus: you can take them rain or shine!
High key vs. low key
High key portraits have a white or bright background. Low key portraits have a black or dim background. Consider the mood your client brings into the studio, their clothing style, and their overall comfort level when selecting a light or dark backdrop.
Remember: light colors reflect light, while dark tones absorb light. Make sure your client’s dark hair or skin don’t disappear into an under-lit scene. Likewise, don’t blow out the highlights in a client’s light hair or skin!
No studio? No problem.
You don’t need a proper studio to create a dramatically-lit senior picture. You simply need flashes or strobes that are more powerful than the ambient light!
The perfect balance of created light with ambient light can create opportunities to make beautiful portraits rich with story.
#11: Seek out slices of life
You don’t always need to photograph a client’s full face to make a beautiful portrait. Close crops, silhouettes, and reflections all offer opportunities for a fresh perspective.
Get into their world
When you take the time to build a relationship with your clients, they’re more likely to open up to you and share what matters most to them. Instead of insisting on locations you’ve used over and over again, try to join your client’s world. You’ll be rewarded with fresh posing ideas galore!
Shaw Photography Co.’s communication tips:
“I work to make the atmosphere comfortable, fun, calm, and enjoyable for every senior!
From the time the senior arrives, I engage them in conversation, learning about what they like, their dreams, what they plan to do after high school… I keep the focus off the session and on their interests. This distracts seniors from feeling stressed or nervous about being photographed.”
#12: Design a photo-worthy wardrobe
Your client’s wardrobe has a major impact on the success of a shoot. Any brilliant posing ideas will go out the window if your client is uncomfortable in their senior picture outfit, or if their clothing choice doesn’t complement the location.
Preston Luke’s clothing advice:
“I tell my seniors to LEAVE THE BUTTON-UP AND TIE AT HOME! Help your senior dress in their own style. They want to look ‘cool’ while staying masculine.
Some go-to pieces I suggest are denim jackets, ripped jeans, solid black or white t-shirts, flannels (unbuttoned with a graphic tee underneath), or long-sleeved t-shirts worn under a graphic tee. The more you layer the more visual interest you have!”
Try these posing tips at your next senior session
You’ll have a blast creating these simple, impactive images—and your clients will be totally thrilled!
Written by ANNE SIMONE | Photographs by THE CARRS | JASMINE WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY | KENDRA LYNECE | LAVENDER BOUQUET PHOTOGRAPHY | LYNSEY LUE PHOTOGRAPHY | PRESTON LUKE | ROSS KYKER PHOTOGRAPHY | SHAW PHOTOGRAPHY CO.