Are you wondering what actual steps you can take to look GOOD in your wedding photos? I mean natural, looking like you really feel – happy and in love and enjoying the best day of your life.
Good as in not cheesy, not awkward, just totally happy, relaxed and IN LOVE. Well, friends, there is a bit of an art to looking really good in your wedding photos. You may be surprised to learn that a little preparation for those ‘candid’ moments goes a really long way!
So, just know that there’s nothing normal or natural about having a giant camera in front of you. On top of that, you know that ‘this is it! Pictures we’ll be looking at for the rest of our lives!’
If you’re anything like me, you freeze and slightly freak out internally when a camera is pointing anywhere in your general vicinity.
It’s entirely possible you’re approaching the subject of your wedding photos with a touch of (very understandable) anxiety.
Welcome, friend! You’re in the right place 😉
The type of photography my team and I specialize in is the photojournalistic style of wedding photography. As there can be confusion about what that means, I’ve written an extensive guide to what that means for you and to me at the link below:
It may surprise you to learn that 95% of the couples I speak to tell me they are nervous about their wedding photos.
I hear variations on the themes below, more often than I care to mention. 😳
- ‘We are so awkward in front of the camera. You won’t be able to take good photos of us’.
- ‘We’re really not photo-people!’
- ‘We don’t know how to pose’.
- ‘It’s our first time doing this and we’re worried we’ll mess it up’.
- ‘We’re very shy and it’s impossible to get pictures of us looking natural and normal’.
- ‘When we are nervous, we pull goofy faces but we don’t want all our wedding pictures to be silly!’
Yes, it’s fun getting your wedding and engagement pictures done, but it also can be daunting!
After all, you’re paying a lot of money for pictures you’ll want to cherish forever. You want to be sure you’ve made the right choice of wedding photographer and you get the most out of the experience!
Or maybe you’re still considering whom to pick as your wedding photographer.
Well, I got you!
The good news is, the pressure’s off. It’s the photographer’s job to get those great photos!
It’s not on you to perform or be anything but yourselves for the camera – and more importantly, for your wedding day. You don’t need to ‘know poses’ or how to stand or act.
That said, there are things that both you the couple and I as the photographer, can do to ensure the absolute best outcome. Want more tips on how to get the best out of your wedding day – no stress, no drama and awesome, effortless photos? Check out my guide linked below.
And when you choose me as your photographer, I’ll do everything I can to eliminate awkwardness and elicit natural smiles and a whole heap of genuine fun.
Disclaimer: it actually is awkward for the first two minutes. Expect that, and roll with it! It’ll dissolve in just a few moments, I promise you!
Hungry for more wedding planning resources? I’ve compiled all my VERY best blog posts together in one post so you can work your way through absolutely everything when it comes to planning your big day.
What I do as your photographer to help you relax and get those natural-looking wedding photos
1. I get to know you first
Getting great wedding photos doesn’t begin on the wedding day. It actually begins right when we first connect. You see, photography is relational.
We do everything we can to check in with you, meet you in person, talk on the phone and create situations in which our relationship can flourish.
Your wedding photos are 100% about you, make no mistake. When you look back on the photos in the years to come, you won’t remember me or what I said.
But the work I make reflects the relationship I’ve built with you. There is an intimacy to the portraits that can’t be manufactured.
2. I observe the ways you naturally interact with each other, and bring out more of that
I’ll have you repeat a small gesture I see you doing. It might be the way one partner gently brushes their partner’s hair from their face.
Or a particular way of pulling your partner close. Or snuggling your nose into their neck, giving them a bear hug, or nibbling their ear lobe. You get the picture.
Taking my cues from what you are already comfortable with is a good way of ensuring natural portraits – because it is totally authentic!
I have a full, detailed guide to some of the guiding principles behind wedding photography as we practise it, which can be helpful if you want to feel prepared and to understand why you may be asked to get into certain poses.
3. I keep things moving, not allowing poses to get too weird!
Sometimes during client consultations at my studio, I run through a quick series of poses so the couple in front of me can get a feel for what it’s like! The most common response I get is ‘wow, I had no idea it was so fast-moving’!
The days of static poses and standing there awkwardly while the photographer ‘gets the shot’ are over! Cameras are capable of freezing movement, providing there is sufficient light.
This has led to a whole new approach to ‘posing’ in which it’s more about capturing dynamism over perfectly still moments.
Though I’ll capture some still moments too, of course, and I take care to make sure there’ll be one perfect shot for your grandma’s mantle.
4. I (try to) make you laugh and smile naturally
I’m no comedian, and please don’t ever ask me to tell an actual joke. But during the process of your wedding or engagement shoot, I’ll interact with you to bring out your best.
Again, the better I know you and what makes you tick, the easier it will be to get those smiles and laughs. Some couples take longer to warm up, and that’s totally fine. Feel no pressure or like you’re ‘doing it wrong’.
Just relax and if it’s awkward, lean into it and it’ll soon lift, I promise. Better to call it out and laugh about it than let the pressure build.
The best thing is when I can figure out how one partner makes the other laugh – and encourage more of it!
5. I keep posing natural, working through similar poses in different environments.
Once you’ve got the hang of a few of the poses, it’ll pretty much be variations on a theme.
My poses are not complex or elaborate. I stick to uncomplicated, natural poses. I want you to have fun and still feel like yourselves!
Some typical poses I do (and you’ll hear me say these words time and time again) are:
- Turn and look at each other and pull your partner close
- Go in for a kiss slowly, keeping your lips unpuckered
- Get behind your partner and give them a squeeze from behind
- Stand 3 feet apart, holding hands, looking to camera
- Now walk towards me, looking at each other
What you can do as the couple to help get those relaxed, non-awkward wedding photos
1. Have an engagement shoot
Your engagement shoot will likely be your first experience of being photographed professionally as a couple (maybe ever).
This is your chance to get those nerves out of your system!
You can see in a very relaxed way what it’s really like to be photographed. The pressure will be off come wedding day. You’ll be prepared and know that you got this.
Not only that, but you can let me know what you liked based on how the photos turned out. If you’re surprised about any aspect, you can ask me how to address that.
2. Let me know anything you’re self-conscious about
Let me know if there are things you’re self-conscious about with your appearance, posture, facial expressions, anything like that. If you have a better side, that’s so important to know.
Otherwise, I’ll be positioning you based on a boutonniere or hair parting.
It is far better to be open about any insecurities around your appearance, even if it can feel awkward or vain to bring them up.
We want the pictures to be epic, so any pointers you can give me to achieve this goal are a massive win.
I always try to minimize the appearance of anything you’re insecure about in-camera. It cannot usually be corrected or ‘Photoshopped’ later.
However, I would never presume that you don’t like something about your appearance unless you tell me!
3. Throw the dangling hand around your partner and create points of contact
If you have a hand dangling at your side, always throw it around your partner. You might place it on their arm, waist, back, hips, shoulder, caressing their cheek or neck – anywhere it naturally lands.
If I ever quickly say ‘move your hand to…’ know that it’ll be the one that’s facing the camera. Don’t worry about a hand that’s not facing the camera – it won’t be visible.
The side that’s facing the camera is the hand/ arm that we want to be non-dangling and firmly planted on your partner.
Guys, you can throw your hand in your pocket for a few, but around your partner is where it belongs. Speaking of which…
Try to create as many points of contact as possible between you and your partner. Usually, we’ll have one point of contact at the least, which could be as simple as joining hands.
The more points of contact, the more connected and in love you’ll look!
4. Ignore the camera
One of the best things you can do is ignore the camera completely, especially for the documentary-style photography that I love most (and assume you do, too!)
It is very different from when someone pulls out their iPhone for a photo. What’s the first thing everyone does? Stop when they’re doing, look straight at the lens and put on a (let’s face it) fake smile.
I know it’s tough to ignore someone obviously photographing you with a giant camera. Add to the mix you’ll be doing vulnerable things like showing affection, expressing emotion, and kissing!
Just stay focused on your partner and the moment you’re creating with them. Also, make sure guests with cameras are not nearby, sniping pictures.
After a bit of warming up, you’ll be able to ignore the camera’s presence. I never get too close, staying at least 6 feet away. I don’t like it when photographers get close. It’s an invasion of personal space and makes for unflattering photos.
5. Have a good time, move around, keep interacting and moving!
Posing is honestly just the starting point. It’s nothing but a shortcut to get real, genuine interactions between the two of you.
What I’m trying to bring out more than anything else is this: photos that truly feel like you.
I take my cues very much from the uniqueness of you as a couple. Don’t worry about following my ‘instructions’ to the letter. The poses are not the important part.
If you feel good expressing yourselves it will lead to natural photos and more of them. Rather than getting deeper into my repertoire of poses, I want to figure out what makes you tick as a couple.
During your wedding photoshoot there’s no need to remain perfectly still. Try loosening up a bit. Keep moving. You don’t need to avoid talking to your partner for fear of open-mouthed shots. Far from it – keep chatting and interacting.
Relax, have fun, truly connect with each other almost forgetting I’m there, and that ironically enough is how you’ll get the most amazing wedding photos!
I have more tips on how to *actually* let go on your wedding day. Check out my full blog post linked below:
Contrary to popular belief, and some of the garbage perpetuated by the wedding industry, we are not trying to make you look like supermodels.
My goal is for you to look and feel like yourselves.
So relax and let you your photographer take care of you and guide you through the process of getting non-awkward, non-cheesy wedding photos. With LOADS of natural smiles.
And not a single pose to practice at home.
Bonus tip: make sure you wear attire you feel comfortable in. I’ve seen couples who look great but felt uncomfortable in their outfits, or were constantly tugging at them! Plan your attire shopping early on, because the first choice may not be the best choice. If you want to go the affordable route and like the boho dress style, I have some of my top boho bridal gown picks from Amazon here, all under $200, too!
Thank you so much for reading my guide! I love to help my couples through every step of the process! From choosing your photographer…
…To what happens after you get your wedding pictures.
If you’re interested in my photography services, click the relevant link below. I shoot weddings in the SF Bay Area and I travel anywhere in the world to photograph love stories. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Bay Area Engagement | Bay Area Wedding | San Francisco City Hall
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