The art of posing is developed through trial and error, repetition, and dedicated study. Photographers are all handed a similar tool and asked to create their own unique representation of how they see the world. What characterizes a photographer’s work and what sets it apart is their imagination and execution, creating an inspired idea from an expansive library of knowledge, and years of diligent practice.
We recently launched our latest workshop, Photographing the Groom, in which we teach our approach to capturing incredible images of the groom and his groomsmen. While the 9-hour course is comprehensive, it’s important to remember that there are many ways to achieve great results.
So we’ve asked award-winning wedding photographers, each with their different niches & skills, to help provide some insight when it comes to eliciting dynamic, hilarious, and editorial poses from your groom & groomsmen.
1. Click, Strike a Pose
Southern California based photographer and cinematographer, Ning Wong, tells the guys, “Each time I yell ‘CLICK!’ they have to change their pose. Think of it like you’re in a photo booth. I let them know that they should never pose the same as the person next to you, and the more ridiculous looking, the better. Usually the poses are pretty tame at first, but then they get a crazier over time.”
2. Back-Lighting for Dramatic Effect
“Maybe it’s because I also like edgy photos with a little more contrast where a lot of times brides will want the more softer look, so I just find the best light, use flash, or just have the guys be guys, and the fun photos should come naturally” says Nathan Nowack. Back lighting is the perfect technique for those moody cigar shots, giving the subjects just enough separation while illuminating the smoke.
3. Watch the Hands and Feet!
“A lot of groomsmen will just leave their hands hanging at their sides which looks posed and just awkward. I have 4 basic hand positions I use. Hands in the pockets, one hand in a pocket, arms crossed, and hands on the lapel which I use for the groom a lot. Guys also tend to stand very flat footed and stiff. So I will always have them put all their weight onto one foot. It naturally relaxes their shoulders and gives them a more relaxed look.”
JD Land (Website/Instagram)
4. Channel your inner ________
Sometimes it just takes a little persuasion for grooms to step outside their comfort zone. Ask them to channel their inner gangster, superhero, GQ model, whatever else inspires them to get camera ready.
Dramatic lighting can help set the scene, like this shot from Dan Dalstra:
5. “Butts to nuts”
Directions like “go nuts to butts” or Mike Allebach’s choice of “balltap the guy next to you” might help elicit a genuine laugh out of the guys and will most likely break the ice between the photographer and subject. Getting group portraits of candid laughter is always a crowd-pleaser so always be sure to have a couple of phrases like this that might do the trick.
6. Harass/embarrass the groom
Remember that the friends and family the groom has chosen to surround him on his wedding day know him better than most. Ashley Fisher suggests to simply say, “You have thirty seconds to physically and verbally harass the groom,” and watch as a rowdy group of men tickle and fondle their groom.
7. Reservoir Dogs
Mike Allebach has his group walk as if they were straight out of have Quentin Tarantino’s film Reservoir Dogs, one of the easiest poses to execute.
8. Tell a funny Story
Chad DiBlasio asks, “Who’s known the groom the longest?” and then asks them to tell a story, preferably embarrassing, about the groom. This is an easy way to involve everyone and increase interaction, and Jeremy Ellsworth suggests having the guys call out the token funny guy to get them all laughing. “That either causes an awkward silence followed by laughter or and insult towards the funny guy, followed by laughter.”
9. Single out the groom
It is, after all, the groom’s big day, so singling him out amongst his groomsmen and giving him a little solo love with a dramatic lighting setup is one of Pye Jirsa’s favorite techniques.
Shannon Cronin separates the groom from the rest of the guys just for one shot and “usually has the bride or someone off to the side to make him laugh.”
10. Use architecture as a prop
One of the perks of being a wedding photographer is the variety of venues we have at our disposal. Utilize architectural elements of buildings, bars, and rooms to mold and shape your photograph into something unique.
“I try to pose them on stairs or something with layers. Then I tell them to talk to each other and tell stories about the groom and relax a bit. I pretend to load film so they start to feel comfortable. Then it always seems to just click and that’s when I shoot. It creates a nice, fun, relaxed image” says Christina Blanarovich:
11. Pinterest Posers
Since you are spending a majority of your time getting to know the guys throughout the wedding day, gauge their personalities and then decide whether or not to try certain looks on them. If there’s time, Ning Wong gives the bouquets to the boys and tells them to do their best bridesmaid impression. This is a great way to get them to goof around and loosen up.
12. Arm Wrestle
Put a bunch of men in a room together and give them something to compete over, and you are sure to get some awesome action shots.
13. Play Poker
Although this shot takes a bit of planning, if your groom is a huge poker fan this could be a home-run image. The key to this shot, similar to the tip above, is to have the men interact with one another and really get caught up in the competition.
14. “Look Pissed”
Bridal party photos are always a great place for your couples’ personality to shine on their wedding day. One of the best ways to please your clients is to really help capture the fun they have with some of the people they love the most. Groomsmen typically like the take their pictures a little above and beyond the regular “get together and smile” formation. So, here are a few poses that we love having our groomsmen do so that every one of them is having fun and at the same time, giving you exciting moments to capture.
Important Note: These are simply some fun overviews of our favorite poses. Our actual, complete guide to wedding photography will be much more comprehensive and detailed. To understand our wedding photography framework, be sure to pre-register to receive an announcement when we launch our new Wedding Workshop!
15. The Explosion Pose
- Instruct the guys to jump after you count to 3
- Make sure no faces are covered
- Make sure no odd shadows are created
16. The Pick Up Pose
- Place the strongest groomsmen in the middle
- Have the guys pick up the groom
- Have the guys toss him around to get fun reactions
- Ensure no backs are turned towards the camera
17. The Selfie Pose
- Have the groomsmen take out their phones
- Have them all take selfies
- Consider fun poses to spice it up
- Be sure you can see all faces
18. The Ring Pose
- Have the groom hold out his ring hand
- Instruct everyone to look at the ring with exaggerating excitement
- Watch For silly moments before and after the actual pose
19. The Force Pose
- Have the groom hold out his hand
- Have the groomsmen jump in unison
- Consider the “Hadouken” pose or other similar concepts
20. FBI Pose
- Have the groomsmen make fake guns with their hands
- Have them point in different directions
- Have them wear sunglasses if available
21. The Caress Pose
- Instruct the groomsmen to “squeeze the groom on 3”
- Be ready for crazy reactions
Watch The Video
To learn more about our Wedding Workshop, click here!