Rather than focusing on the negative, I’ve outlined five ways that anyone can avoid these mistakes — whether you’re an aspiring male model or just looking to get some cool shots for your online personal albums. So get that memory card ready — here’s what you can do to look your best.
1. Act Natural. Even if you’ve never posed for a professional shot in your life (and never plan to), you can still practice posing in front of a mirror. But you don’t want to force yourself into a bizarre stance, weird facial expressions or styles that just feel wrong to you. I once shot a guy who was so eager to become the next top runway model, he rushed through a series of artificial-looking poses so quickly I couldn’t slow him down — he was thinking of runway speed and his idea of glamour, rather than being natural and “real” in front of the still and video cameras. He came off looking so false that even people I didn’t know commented that it looked phony and uncomfortable. If you feel awkward, try using props and settings that you’re familiar with. If you play football, hold a football. If you smoke, hold a cigarette — at least for a few of your first shots, to start. Be yourself and your natural talent will shine through.
2. Look Natural. The best photos make the model look natural, even if there’s nothing natural about it. In other words, if you’re going to alter how you look, don’t draw attention to it. Watch tan lines and avoid the sun, unless you’re able to get an even color everywhere it will show.
3. Think Hard About Body Hair. I’ve showed photos of some of the most gorgeous male models in my portfolio, and the first reaction from the audience is “Why does he shave off all his armpit hair?” Indeed, the idea of looking “natural” applies to body hair as much as it does to anything. Sure, bodybuilders and others may remove body hair to accentuate their physical assets. But you don’t want to do anything that distracts from your natural beauty. If you remove every single hair from your armpits (and, for nudes, every single hair from your pubic region), you’re not doing it so that muscles will show better. So what’s the point? Trim it. Keep it neat. But you’re an adult and should look like one. So keep that hair. The same goes for hair elsewhere on the body. If you have a real reason for getting rid of it, then fine. But remember, hair removal can create bumps and irritations. So get rid of it at least 24 hours before you plan to pose — that will help give your skin time to recover.
4. Got a Gut? Turn at the Waist. If you’re a guy, you probably prefer to emphasize your big shoulders, not your big gut. So try twisting that waist, whether you’re sitting or standing. This naturally makes your shoulders look wider, and your waist look smaller. You might also want to avoid soda and junk food completely on the day of your shoot. Appropriate poses can work wonders with other body parts as well (think your legs are too skinny? Try kneeling back on your feet. Think your hairline isn’t attractive? Take a few shots with hats, to draw more attention to your face). A good photographer should be able to suggest poses that will accentuate your strong points and minimize your weak ones, but you can also practice with your own cell phone photos in the mirror.
5. Avoid Brand Names. Sure, that new pair of jeans, hot-looking hoodie or sexy designer underwear may be your favorite thing in the world right now. But think about the long term. Think about how fashion changes. And think how long you want your portfolio (or your personal photos for hook-ups online) to look current. Ever notice how the brand or designer that’s in vogue today looks old and tired before you know it? That will also make your photos look out-of-date faster, too. Go for classic, and avoid showing brand names and giant designer logos. You’ll end up with photos with a much longer shelflife.
This model may be a professional bodybuilder, but he still benefits from a nice turn at the waist, which maximizes his shoulders and minimizes his waist.
Which of the above styles of underwear detracts less from the model? Do you want people reacting to you, or reacting to your clothes?