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12 Posing Cues from 12 Incredible Photographers

By Pye Jirsa on May 6th 2015


As I dive deeper and deeper into the world of professional photography, I find that my educational needs frequently change. Every one of us should always strive to continually learn, regardless of where we are at in our careers. But, early on in one’s career, the focus tends to be more on the technical side as one strives to understand the camera, lighting and post production. Later in one’s career that focus may shift more to communication, business and marketing as it becomes necessary to grow a thriving business.

I think many people can relate to this process. But, there is one area that I have always found fascinating and very insightful, posing cues and communication. Regardless of where I am or have been in my career, I have always found it incredibly insightful to see how other professional photographers communicate and pose their clients.

In a recent group discussion on Facebook, my peers were sharing their ideas and cues on posing and instruction. Seeing such great insight, I felt like it deserved an article on SLR Lounge. So, here is a group of 12 of my peers. Each of them are incredible photographers, each with different niches and skills, each that you should follow and learn from!

Posing Cue 1 | Melissa Kilner of Melissa Kilner Photography

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Melissa Kilner

“Instead of having clients walk towards you side by side. Have one person walk slightly in front of the other and drag the other along. They can take turns looking at each other and looking at the camera. It’s a small change from a well-used pose, but it keeps it fresh and fun, and a lot of times they naturally laugh in the process. This works great while they are walking toward you, or if you have them walk perpendicular to where you are standing.” – Melissa Kilner


Posing Cue 2 | Kara Miller of Kara Miller Photography

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Kara Miller

“I tell the guy to nuzzle her cheek… Like a cat. The cat part usually makes them laugh!” – Kara Miller


Posing Cue 3 | Jo and Jason Marino of Imagine Photography

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Jo and Jason Marino

“We really try to shoot in a cinematic way, and since our brains are wired like that we tend to act almost as film directors when we pose clients. We spend a moment or two discussing the scene (shot), the frame of mind they should be in to convey the emotion, the expressions on their face, the way their body should speak to the camera; all of this to really get genuine emotion from them.

Often times we will have our clients vocally involved as well, like in this image from a recent Asian pre wedding session. We we asked the girl to scream “GO!” when she dropped the handkerchief flag. You can see her face has so much expression and life to it, and the image really looks like a frame from an action movie because of the mixture of emotion, color, camera angle and lighting.” – Jo and Jason Marino


Posing Cue 4 | Jerrit Pruyn of Jerrit Pruyn Photography

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Jerrit Pruyn

“I make sure to sound as manly as possible when I say this. ‘Give him a kiss and pop up your heel like a Disney princess.'” – Jerrit Pruyn


Posing Cue 5 | Shannon Cronin of Shannon Cronin Photography

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Shannon Cronin

Shannon Cronin

“I ask the couple to dance and usually specifically ask them to practice their first dance. Most couples will do the clutch and sway kind of dance but I’ll photograph it from far away so they can really get into it. It will either produce a really sweet moment or they’ll burst out laughing – either way, it’s a great shot.” – Shannon Cronin


Posing Cue 6 | Jamie Ivins of Jamie Ivins Photography

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Jamie Ivins

Jamie Ivins

“In the beginning of the day I like to pull the best man aside and ask him to think of a funny story or two of the groom. I make sure to give him plenty of time to think it over so he doesn’t feel on the spot. Later when I take the groomsmen out for portraits, at some point I will ask the best man to bust out the funny story. Most of the time the groom is caught off guard and I’m able to get real, candid moments of the guys laughing. If the story is really good, sometimes the other groomsmen will start trying to one up the other and more stories come out. Works like a charm every time!” – Jamie Ivins


Posing Cue 7 | Christina Zen of Christina Zen Photography

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Christina Zen

Christina Zen

“I always tell my couples to snuggle up close but give them different instructions in secret. I tell the bride to grab her man and try to make him give her a long, slow kiss. But I tell the groom to kiss her anywhere BUT her lips. To tease her a bit with an “almost kiss”. It can get very romantic, but usually ends in a perfect laughing moment.” – Christina Zen


Posing Cue 8 | Stephen Govel of Stephen Govel Photography

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Stephen Govel

Stephen Govel

“I usually have everyone crowd together super close, like uncomfortably close, and have them make a few crazy faces.” – Stephen Govel


Posing Cue 9 | Chad Diblasio of Diblasio Photo + Design

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Chad Diblasio

Chad Diblasio

“So, this is one of my favs to get great reactions and also closeness. I have her hug him around the neck and then tell her to “zerbert” the side of his neck. It’s always a super sweet reaction and, depending on where you place yourself, you can see both them in genuine reactions :) I use it with families and kids a lot too. Always good for a real laugh!” – Chad Diblasio


Posing Cue 10 | Trevor Dayley of Trevor Dayley Photography

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Trevor Dayley

“When posing groomsmen one of my go-to poses is I will say, “Alright guys we are going to take a scene out of one of the greatest movies of all time……. Mighty Ducks! Let’s get in a Flying V” They always talk about the movie and have a few laughs about it. Once two of the groomsmen in the wedding were actually actors in the movie. They were the twins on the team so they especially got a kick out of it.

After getting that shot I will then say alright now we are going to change movies and imagine for a minute we are in the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs walking out of the bar.” – Trevor Dayley


Posing Cue 11 | Jenn Bischof of Jenn Bischof Photography

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Jenn Bischof

Jenn Bischof

“When it comes to underwater photography what I really try to have my clients master is the perfect amount of tension. In this weightless environment, too little can look like you’ve drowned, on the other hand, too much: you’re still in the act of drowning. Extension, pointed toes, soft hands, and good timing help balance out this effect.” – Jenn Bischof


Posing Cue 12 | Crystal Stokes of Crystal Stokes Photography

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Crystal Stokes

Crystal Stokes

“My couples know that I’m not afraid to get SUPER up close and personal with them. In this instance, I stepped in VERY close and asked them to move into each others personal space, the closer, the better. I directed them to touch foreheads together, gently.

This isn’t always enough, it is important that there is something more than touching skin so I asked them to breathe each other in… created this beautiful feeling of connectedness that I live for when I photograph people.” – Crystal Stokes

Posing Cue 13 | Pye Jirsa of Lin and Jirsa Photography

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Pye Jirsa

Pye Jirsa

I always feel like it’s weird to write an article, and put myself into the list of 12 incredible photographers. So I am excluding myself from that list, and will go as lucky number 13 with a final posing tip/cue. I love getting goofy with clients in setting up a super romantic mood or vibe, then just totally throwing it to the wind like a big joke. Always can get some very good romantic shots, then great reaction shots right after. Here’s an example with my “Deep Impact” cue:

“You know that scene in Deep Impact where the couple is on the beach holding each other waiting for the gigantic thousand foot tidal wave to take them? I want you to hug her like you are in that last moment.” I’ll pop a few shots as they are all somber, romantic and serious (which are great by themselves), then I say. “No no really? Your supposed to go AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, You’re about to die standing in front of a tidal wave, what the hell is wrong with you guys?”

Love goofy stuff like this, they start cracking up laughing, and we get great reaction shots like the one below:


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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Hannah Chester

    These are great tips. I’d love to see some from family/child photographers! :)

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  2. Abby Grace

    This is such a good article!! I loved Jamie & Christina’s tips especially- totally putting those into practice for tomorrow’s wedding :).

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  3. Christian Boecker

    This is gold! Thank you for the research, these are very inspiring ideas!

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  4. Andy Lim

    Love idea no.7 from Christina, will try that out!

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  5. Jason Montalvo

    I use the Mighty Ducks flying V all the time!! Usually causes the groomsmen to break out in a quack quack quack chant.

    Super Helpful Article.

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  6. Thomas Horton

    As long as the clients are happy with the final product, that’s all that matters.

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  7. Mark C

    Thanks for the tips! The heel pop makes me cringe every time I see it though :p

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    • Pye

      I actually love the heel pop =)

      But, I know what you mean. Often times, I have to remind myself that while I might be tired of a certain pose/scene/look/etc, the client isn’t going to feel the same way since it isn’t something that they are seeing all the time.

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    • Thomas Horton

      We may have seen a million heel pops, but this may be the very first heel pop photograph of her.. and that is what will make it special for her.

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  8. Jamie Ivins

    Thanks for sharing Pye. It’s great to see what others are doing to keep things fresh and fun!

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  9. Hillary Rees

    This is a great collection of tips! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Justin Lin

    These are great tips! I’d love to hear more tips here in the comments from our awesome community

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  11. Brandon Dewey

    Great tips! I’m always looking for new posing ideas

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  12. Trevor Dayley

    Thanks for sharing this Pye. The key to great photos seems to be getting beyond the staged traditional shots and these prompts will encourage all of us to get more creative in how we direct clients and capture what makes up the soul of a picture.

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