You guys, I’m going to spill some of my secrets because I love you. This is a great little guide on posing that both photographers and couples can learn from. If you are reading this and you have shot with me before, then you already know what this is all about. My goal with posing, and photographing my couples in general, is to have a good time, and to capture epic, organic, and emotional photos!
Embrace the awkward
I’m pretty sure every photo shoot starts with the couple explaining how awkward they are in front of a camera. I get it! I feel awkward on the other side of the lens too! But good news! Sometimes awkward looks really good on camera. So I say embrace it, get comfortable with it, and don’t be afraid to feel a little awkward. But most importantly, just have fun! I honestly don’t think it’s possible for a couple having fun with each other to take a bad picture.
On the flip side, it is important for photographers to understand that there are a few things that actually do look awkward on camera. Locked joints being one of them. I try to always have a bend in one of the knees and make sure elbows aren’t locked. Another is mismatched facial expressions. If one person is serious and the other is laughing, the photo can look awkward. So I try to be cognizant of these things and direct my couples as much as possible in order to avoid this awkwardness.
Dude, don’t look at me
Guys have it pretty easy when it comes to posing. I basically just give them one job, and that is to admire their beautiful bride. Except for a few key poses, I’ll tell the groom to just ignore more, don’t even look at me. Just keep on looking at that gorgeous girl of yours.
Nose to temple
This is one of my favorite posing tips. Now that I’ve told you about this gem, you’ll probably recognize it in all my photos, but this is my favorite way to get couples’ heads close together. I’ll just tell the guy to get his nose close to her temple, almost touching but not quite. This is a perfect example when something feels awkward but looks good on camera. I’ll also tell couples to put their foreheads close together, or their noses close together, but nose to temple is my favorite.
Always be moving
I like to keep my couples moving all the time, even in poses where they are standing in one place. I think movement helps make the moment look more organic. I shoot on top of cold, windy mountains a lot, so I’ll tell couples to rub each other’s arms, give each other a big bear hug, rub each other’s backs, sway back and forth, slow dance, etc. My favorite prompt lately is to tell couples to just keep moving their arms all over the place!
Some other great ideas for movement are twirling, running, and skipping. Movement can also involve hair, or swishing a wedding dress back and forth. Movement is key!
When in doubt, walk it out
I could literally shoot an entire session with just walking poses, I love them so much! It’s a great way to loosen couples up, to move from one location to the next while still getting shots, and to get a variety of organic poses. It’s not uncommon for photographers to get a brain fart and not know what pose to do next. Walking can help in those moments! You can walk towards the camera, away from the camera, across with the guy leading, across with the girl leading. You can have them hold hands, or wrap their arms around each other. There’s so many variations! You can even walk in place if you’re shooting in a spot where there isn’t a lot of room.
What do I do with my hands?
One of my biggest pet peeves is a limp hand that’s not doing anything. It doesn’t totally ruin a picture, but I think the more jobs you give hands, the better the photos. Hands can go in pockets, hold a bouquet, hold a dress, or hold each other. If a couple is kissing, then it is especially important to have their hands touching each other and not just loosely hanging at their sides.
This one always reminds me of Alec Baldwin’s character on 30 rock, when he’s shooting a commercial and doesn’t know what to do with his arms. Anyone else? Just me? Well here’s the youtube video if you haven’t seen it. I think it’s hilarious!
Don’t forget the grandma pose
I call it the grandma pose because this is always the photo that grandma will want printed. It’s just the bride and groom standing side by side, smiling at the camera. It’s simple, it’s easy, there’s really no creativity involved. But do not forget this important photo! I try to make sure to get it in multiple locations.
We all have the same insecurities, and that’s ok
I was hesitant to even mention this here, but I think it’s important for photographers to be aware of these things. I will never ask my couples what they are insecure about, because we are all basically insecure about the same things. Both men and women are frequently worried about how their jawline, arms, and waist will look in photos. Since these are basically universal concerns, I try to always keep this in mind while I’m posing. There are way too many tips and tricks to go into too much detail here, but I will say, it helps to be six feet tall when getting the good angles. Having said all this, please know that you are all beautiful! I have a chin and a belly, I know how it goes. I hate my arms right now, but we are who we are. We gotta embrace it! But please know that while I keep all these things in mind while shooting photos, I’m most likely really thinking about how adorable you guys are, how beautiful you are, and how amazing our sessions is going.
Comparison is the thief of joy
I go into every engagement session and wedding with a plan, but it’s not necessarily a list of poses that I saw on Pinterest. I have a general idea of what I’ll be doing, but I’m also very much inspired by the couple, the vibe, and the light, and I end up going with the flow. Because of this, no two sessions will ever be alike, even if they are shot at the exact same location and time of day. I don’t ever try to duplicate a session or a wedding because that doesn’t take into account the unique dynamic of the couple I am shooting. Some couples are more serious, some are more goofy. And that’s awesome! So this goes to both photographers and couples, don’t compare your photos to anyone else’s. Don’t try to duplicate photos from Pinterest. Love your photos for how uniquely you they are.
In conclusion, don’t forget that you are amazing and unique! Have fun. Embrace the awkward. Don’t look at me, dude. Nose to temple. Nose to temple! Always be moving. When in doubt, walk it out. Give those hands a job. And don’t forget the grandma pose!