Get the best wedding photos on your big day! Posing you is your photographer’s job, but there are also many things you can do that will help us get the best possible photos.
Also, understanding a little about the principles behind what you’ll be asked to do for your wedding photography poses, can help demystify the process. In fact, so many of my clients feel that they are awkward in photos (so much so I wrote a separate article about getting the most natural-looking wedding photos)
If you’re the type that likes to know as much as you can beforehand – and believes you can benefit from understanding the big-picture ideas behind the photographer’s poses and prompts – then this blog post and video I made are for you!
Though everyone says that they are so awkward, I’ve yet to meet a couple (out of the hundreds I’ve photographed) that were truly awkward! I do find, however, that preparation is key. Knowing even a little about what’s going to happen in advance, can help you feel comfortable when it comes to your wedding portrait session.
This is less like homework and more like a little insight into what I’m going to take you through day-of. No, you will not have to think up your own poses or practice posing in advance. Posing you is 100% your photographer’s job!
Connection and intimacy
The guiding principle to bear in mind is that of creating connection and intimacy.
Much of the posing we’ll do will center around creating points of contact between you and your partner. And connection goes hand in hand with intimacy.
One way we create that feeling of romance, tenderness and connection between you and your partner is to create small points of physical connection.
I go over a tangible example in the video which may help to illustrate it visually, but to give you a brief example below.
You’re going in for a kiss. Rather than merely making connections at the lips or cheek, you can also put your legs together so they are touching, and bring your stomachs in so there is no gap between you. Additionally, the third point of contact is made when you put your arms around your partner, squeezing them close.
One thing to remember about kissing is rather than squashing your faces together, I like to capture the moment when your eyes are closed and you are closing the gap between your faces slowly, keeping your lips natural and not puckered.
Portraying connection and intimacy doesn’t mean simply ramming your bodies together as much as you possibly can – sometimes it’s more subtle. There can be small points of contact which look very meaningful and beautiful in the final images.
An example that I particularly like is when one partner nozzles or gently sniffs at their partner’s temple. Perhaps it’s not the most natural of poses, strictly speaking, but it is one that looks really good!
Another meaningful little gesture to create intimacy is varying where you hold your partner. That could be at the waist, arm, or caressing your partner’s face with just your fingertips.
- Points of connection engender feelings of love and intimacy in the photos
- Small points of physical touch can be very meaningful
- Go in for long, slow kisses with your lips unpuckered
My next point is to keep your limbs very loose. I give you a tangible example of this in the video above, using myself as an example – but here it is. I’m going to give it to you straight with no sugar coating. Stiff, straight limbs look super awkward on camera.
Always keep some looseness and a slight bend in your arms and legs.
Additionally, you can stagger your legs a little bit and make sure each leg is doing something slightly different. Perhaps one toe is pointing towards the ground, or one leg is pointing back and up.
One pet peeve of mine is dangling arm syndrome. To avoid this, you can put your arm on top of your partner’s, or place it gently on your own body, either inside the pant pocket, resting on your thigh, or on the thinnest part of your waist (thus accentuating your figure).
We don’t want to place the arm squished against the side of your body, because your arm would appear larger this way. Remember, whatever is closest to the camera will appear larger.
Loosen it up a little, keep that bend in the arm, and point the elbow back and away from the camera. Avoid a 90 degree angle on the arm.
Keep all of your weight on your back leg – the one that’s away from the camera. Most of the time you’ll be sideways on from the camera. This brings me neatly on to my next point!
- Keep a slight bend in arms and legs
- Avoid having your arms dangling down
- Rest your hand lightly on your/ your partner’s body
The default pose
Over time, I’ve developed a ‘default pose’ that works as a starting position when we are running through many different areas and locations. This means we are not starting from zero, and we have a beautiful, versatile pose to work with each time.
The easy default pose is: standing 90 degrees to the camera, fully facing your partner, and pressing your middles together.
From this one simple starting pose, you can look towards your partner, go for a kiss, and also look towards the camera for a more traditional shot. There are other poses too we do from our ‘default pose’, like placing your temples parallel to each other and resting your head on your partner.
- In profile from me, turn your body fully towards your partner and push your middles together
Movement is a really fun one to play with, and fortunately not as prescriptive as many of the other points I’ve mentioned here.
This is the simple principle that the more you move during the shoot time, the more, and better photos you’re going to end up with. For example, keeping your arms moving up and down your partner’s back, arm or chest. This means different variations in a simple pose, more photos of those moments, and likely elicits more candid fun and laughter.
I encourage all my couples to make each other laugh. If you happen to get caught up in a little private joke, then lean into that!
Other ways to incorporate movement include squeezing your partner, changing the positioning of your legs, backing out a little bit and coming together, and swaying a little from side to side.
The reality is that when you are engaged in an activity – even something as simple as just walking – you are being more yourself. You’ll feel more natural, less self-conscious.
It’s certainly less awkward for most people to move around, share the odd giggle and be engrossed in an activity. Compare that to standing completely stock still, staring at the camera for a long time!
We can keep things interesting, dynamic, and fun by swinging out and then bumping together when walking, which produces more genuine moments. I get to see spontaneous and real reactions – i.e you’re not overthinking it or subconsciously putting on your ‘photo face’.
- More movement = more photos!
- When you’re engrossed in an activity, you’ll feel less self-conscious
- Make each other laugh!
- Sway, move your legs, keep your arms moving up and down your partner’s body!
Take poses in your own direction
Many of the poses we do are more like ‘prompts’ that are deliberately open-ended to take in whatever direction you’d like. There’s no right and wrong way to interpret them. Every couple does something different!
A big part of the chemistry between two people is the private language that only you share. That language is verbal but mostly physical communication – and you probably don’t realize you’re doing it. But I see it, and I want you to coax that out of you!
Creating an environment where you feel super comfortable is going to lead to genuine smiles and funny moments – something I cannot really replicate by myself. I don’t have access to your private world. Feel free to have fun and express your love
It takes a great deal of vulnerability to get in front of a stranger’s camera, something I don’t take for granted. So, I appreciate it’s a big ask, but it’s one that will pay off with photos you’ll just adore. You’ve probably never seen yourself like this before!
If a pose or idea I suggest feels weird or ‘not us’ then we move on, no big deal at all. I attach zero importance to any specific pose and maximum importance to you getting a set of images that feel true to you.
It could be the poses are too traditional, too heteronormative, too hipsterish or maybe too goofy. That’s OK! Not all my poses are going to be 100% wonderful for everyone. Some will be a hit, others will miss the mark. The important thing is to communicate if anything makes you feel uncomfortable.
Share anything you’d like to with me about your relationship so that I can find the right poses for you!
Some couples have let me know that one person squeezes the other’s shoulder, or gently brushes the cheek with their nose, and that these simple gestures speak to what they share together. It’s part of their special language.
Lastly, but very importantly,
I want the people in front of my lenses to feel free to be themselves and express themselves authentically and uniquely. Being comfortable and relaxed is what leads to the best wedding photos.
- Feel free to interpret posing prompts in your own unique way
- Move on if a pose doesn’t feel quite right
- Make each other laugh and have courage to be vulnerable!
And that about wraps it up! This is the jumbo version of the tips I run through with my couples – expect to hear a condensed version of this if we have time on the wedding day!
Hopefully it’s helpful getting a bit of insight into the WHY behind the poses that your photographer might put you in. For instance, you’ll know why I’ll ask you to sniff your partner’s temple without worrying that it’s going to look weird!
Ultimately, you have nothing to worry about and no practicing to do! Your photographer poses you. And that’s that. This is merely aimed at giving a deeper dive for those nervous nellies / fellow Type A’s that are feeling a little daunted with it all – and keen to be fully prepared.
Check out more tips below for my gold-star clients out there!
Let me know in the comments if there’s anything you want me to expand on. See you on the wedding day! 👋🏾