In this tutorial we go over our system of Foundation posing, and why it’s important on every engagement shoot. Posing is one of the areas you’ll spend the most time studying in your photography career, quality poses are essential for quality photos. In the years that we’ve been doing engagement sessions we found that the majority of poses for couples photography are based off of 4 basic feet and shoulder configurations, and we call these 4 configurations “Foundation Poses.”

What is Foundation Posing?

After studying thousands of images and analyzing the poses, we found that approximately 97% of the poses stemmed from five basic positions of the feet and body. From these foundation poses, you can make micro adjustments to create a wide variety of looks and establish different levels of intimacy. One of the biggest benefits of using the foundation posing system with your couples is how easy it makes communicating with the couple to get into and cycle through poses.

The Foundation (feet):

  • V-up (hinge)
  • Closed
  • Open
  • Stacked
  • Reversed

Why Use Foundation Poses?

We created this Foundation Posing methodology for 4 very important reasons: simplicity, framework, client comfort and consistency. If you’re new to posing and couples photography you’ll want to develop a good system of Foundation Poses so you can avoid making your couples look uncomfortable or unnatural in front of the camera.

1. Simplicity
For Photographers that aren’t experienced in directing and posing couples, these Foundation Poses will help you achieve different looks quickly. This way you’ll have a system and a go-to arsenal of poses that you can refer to whenever you’re out shooting.


2. Framework
These foundation poses build a framework for posing to prevent photographers from making common mistakes. For instance, you’ll know exactly where their hands should be placed, or how and when to look at each other. Having this framework also prevents photographers from running out of posing ideas during a shoot.


3. Client Comfort
Very few people get their photos taken for a living, so for most people posing in front of a camera can be an uncomfortable situation. Foundation posing breaks down the posing process into simple chunks that are easy to remember and easy to communicate. We find that after a half hour of shooting, the clients are able to anticipate what how you want them to pose, and they’ll begin to do them naturally.


4. Consistency
Having a good knowledge of Foundation posing will give you a solid set of consistent poses that you can use on all your shoots. We always encourage photographers (especially the ones in our studio) to try new things and poses, but these Foundation poses build a consistent style that we can always fall back on.


FAQs on Foundation Posing

Do You have a plan for posing; a way to optimize how to pose the subjects?

Watch the Facebook Live video for the answer here:

In our studio, we have a team of about 40 shooters and so we have to have a system or framework to teach them how to pose our clients. Posing is an area that is one of the most challenging for photographers to master. There are times when you’re at a shoot and you feel like you’ve run out of posing ideas and struggling to get a certain look or feel, and this is why we’ve developed an entire framework for posing that we call the Foundation Posing Framework, which teaches you what you need to know.

We talk about the entire Foundation Posing Framework in the CreativeLive Incredible Engagement Photography workshop, as well as in our Natural Light Couples Photography course. In the video above, I wanted to give you a snippet of that as well as some tips with the basic framework for you to use.


The Foundation Posing Framework: Position of the Feet

Most poses are based on about five different positions of the feet.

V-Up: The subjects’ shoulders are hinged on the back and their bodies form the shape of a V; facing toward each other. You can simply cue your couple by telling them to pretend that the area where their shoulders are touching is like the hinge on a door. Then when you give your subjects directions like, “open up” or “close the door,” they can easily understand and follow what you want them to do.


Closed: Couple is facing in; feet are pointed in at each other


The couple is open to the camera.


Stacked: One person is standing in front of the other; he is behind her, while her feet are stacked against his.


Reversed: One person is facing one direction away from the camera, while the other person is facing into the camera


The basic positioning of the feet are all we use to get people into different poses. Then from there we simply make small adjustments to different touch points on their body.

Their Body Language: Touch points


If you want a more romantic image, the more touch points you have along the body or along the limbs will create a feeling of romance. The less touch points you have, the feeling of the image will be more whimsical, candid and playful. Of course, you will also give them guidance on other areas, such as the eyes, where they are facing and what they are doing with their hands, etc.

Just understanding the five different feet positions, the effect of contact points in the couple’s bodies, and then making those small, simple adjustments can yield countless poses.

See more examples of the poses in the video above from minute 3:40 on., and refer to the following courses for even more ideas and guidance on angling the head, specific guidance for him and for her, body language and intimacy, the 3-point-check, and a lot more.


 We found that photographers, in general, those that are coming in the studio as new photographers that are training and even ourselves found the most anxiety around a shoot, the most stressful part of a shoot, came from posing and from not truly understanding and having an idea of all the different poses and things that we could be doing. We kind of looked back and we created a framework for posing that we could basically use to not only help us in getting to any pose that we wanted to, but it helped us to get there effectively. We could create natural looking poses and it would help us to communicate our ideas and our visions with the client.