Posing used to be my BIGGEST fear going into an engagement session- I’d panic, then freeze, and then try to covertly check my phone for that Pinterest board I’d created as a guide. And the more nervous I became, the less trust I was instilling in my brides and grooms. Trust is SO big when it comes to something as intimate as photographing two people in love- if your clients can’t trust you to make them look their best, they’ll begin to second guess other areas of your professionalism as well. And no one wants that, right? Right! So posing has actually become one of my biggest strengths because of how much trust I earn during an engagement session! And that engagement session trust then leads to more comfortable and natural wedding day portraits. Win for everyone!
Because of how crucial posing your clients is for that whole “amazing wedding photography experience” notion, I thought I’d share some of my top tips for rocking out an engagement session! Here we go:
1) Kiss… then smile! I think I learned this one from Katelyn- after every kiss, ask your couple to smile! It’s a natural reaction anyways, we’re just helping our couples remember what natural feels like. They’re going to be at least a little bit nervous, conscious of the fact that someone is watching their every move- that can often result in people forgetting what they do when the camera ISN’T there. So the kiss-and-smile (sort of like the bend and snap!) is just meant to elicit what’s already there, peeling back the mask of nerves that could otherwise prevent authentic interaction.
2) Fingers gently closed. When I ask a bride to place her hand on the back of her groom’s tricep, sometimes she’ll do so with her fingers spread apart. For some reason, no matter how tiny she may be, if her fingers are spread they end up coming across on camera as though her little digits are swollen. To avoid the catcher’s-mitt look, I ask my clients to gently close their fingers.
3) Walking- lots of walking! I sometimes worry that I overuse the “talk a walk while holding hands” pose, but there’s so much variety within that one little command! You can ask your couple to loop their arms around one another, to look at each other, to look at you, to walk away from you, to walk PAST you, etc. And by switching lenses and varying where you’re standing, you can introduce even more variety! Plus, come wedding day, there’s even MORE you can do when you have a big tulle skirt and a bouquet. Little adjustments, lots of portrait possibilities! See?
4) For the bride: Ankles together, or one ankle hooked back behind the other. I do this allllll the time with my brides, especially if she’s in a dress! There’s something just a little bit more flirty with one foot tucked behind the other.
5) For the groom: “relax your stance, weight on your back leg.” Maybe it’s because whenever I see Matt standing like that, I’m like “OH HEY, HOT STUFF.” But it’s also a pose you’ll everywhere from JCrew catalogues to an ad in Cigar Aficionado. It’s just a comfortable, natural way for guys to stand that also happens to look great! (see above)
6) Want them to laugh? Laugh with them! It’s the concept of emotional contagion (the unconscious tendency to feel and express emotions similar to and influenced by those of others [thank you Dictionary.com]). If you want your couple more quiet and subdued, your tone of voice needs to indicate that sort of feel. If you want them excited and giddy, you need to help them get there! When I want my couples to laugh, I physically laugh from behind my camera.
Was this helpful? Want to learn more? There are still a few spots open for the August date of A Practical Wedding Workshop- we’ll be going over bride & groom portraits in way more depth where I’ll share all my posing secrets, tricks and tips! And you’ll have a full styled shoot to demonstrate and practice what you’ve learned! Find more info here.