So you’ve just finished your first couples portrait session and once you’ve gotten home and started looking through the images, you realize that something just feels “off” with your shots. Often times it’s just little things we never really pay attention to, especially when we’re trying to catch the last bits of daylight, but they’re all easily avoidable. In this video, we’ll show you 5 reasons why your couples portraits might look awkward, and what you can do to avoid them.

You can watch the video below for the 5 reasons and tips below and to see the before and after results of our Visual Flow Retouching Kit:

[Related Reading: Create Amazing Composite Portraits in 7 Steps]

If you find this information helpful, I’d like to invite you to join me IN-PERSON during my photo walk at 2020 WPPI Conference and Show on February 25, 2020. I’ll include more information on my photo walk and my business and marketing platform class at the end of the article.

1. Isopraxism Or Mirroring

We do this when we get comfortable with another person, we tend to “mirror” or copy the other person’s body language. This leaves us duplicating the others positioning, and while it may feel natural, it can leave us looking awkward

[Related Reading: Turn Any Boring Background into a Creative Portrait Using a Gel and Two Flashes]

2. Hips Are Apart

Even though our couples are getting engaged and are clearly comfortable together, they may not yet be comfortable with a camera pointed at them ! While this definitely sounds odd, there’s still some getting to know each other happening. To fix this we simply need to tighten up the hips and move our subjects in closer together since we’re trying to make an intimate and natural portrait.

Awkward Couple Pose - Hips Far Apart
Awkward Couple Pose – Hips Far Apart

3. Awkward Hand Positions

Often times when doing couples shots, our instincts are to wrap our hands around each other. This can lead to some awkward poses (think the high school prom shot), and a jumbled up set of limbs! By repositioning your subjects you help eliminate this and also remove the previous issues from the equation by preventing them from mirroring each other also.

4. Tight Grips

Often when we’re uncomfortable on camera, especially with the guys, if we don’t know exactly what to do with our hands, we often ball them up into a tight fist! Or if we’re placed in a pose that feels a little strange, our hands/grip can look a little tense and claw like. All it takes is to just relax the hand and open our hands to get a completely different and more natural looking shot.

5. Splayed Fingers

Tied directly into number 4, splayed fingers that are open and all five digits are stretched out pointing off in different directions will make it very distracting. You’ll want to remind your subjects to relax their hands and keep them closer together, pointing in the same general direction to achieve a more natural looking pose.

Bonus Tip

As you saw throughout this video, the bonus tip is to give your subjects a directorial queue using a real world example. That’s how you can get an authentic image and help your couple get into the positions with a real feel that doesn’t look “posed” leaving you with a perfect shot!

Awkward Posing Before and After with VFLOW Retouch applied
The Awkward Pose Before and Fixed Pose After, with Visual FLow Retouch Applied

Posing is one of the most challenging subjects you will face as a portrait photographer. Memorization can only take you so far before you lose authenticity. A photographer might memorize poses, use example images or even posing cards to have the client repeat in front of the camera, but you still face the age old issue of poses looking too posed – that’s where we come in.

The Complete Posing Workshop course dives into posing unlike any other with live demonstrations of flattering posing techniques and coaching on how to be a director and not just a photographer.

Join Pye at WPPI 2020!

I’m excited to be presenting at WPPI this year and I hope to see you there! Here’s a quick overview of the photo walk and course I’ll be presenting.

Incredible Wedding Portraits in Average Locations | Finding & Creating Great Portraits Anywhere

As wedding and portrait photographers, we can’t always shoot during golden hour and in ideal locations. On this Photo Walk, our focus will be on creating incredible images while simply walking around the hotel. We are going to work on seeing and modifying light with flash (Profoto) and modifiers (MagMod). All the while we’ll be working on our ability to pose and direct our way into wonderful portraits anywhere.

When: February 25, 2020 at 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Where: Photo Walks | Wedding

Learn More

5 Actionable Steps to Being a Better Photographer and Business Person

Pye Jirsa will teach 5 steps and frameworks for photographers to implement in their businesses in 2020. Regardless of your portrait specialty, learn how to increase your marketing reach, book more clients, deliver a better final product that creates raving clients, and more. There is no reason why 2020 can’t be YOUR career-defining year.

When: February 26, 2020 at 6:00 – 7:30 PM

Where: Platform Classes | Business & Marketing

Learn More