Couples photography is all about capturing the love, fun and intimacy between two people. And what better way to convey that emotion than through a hug? Hugging poses can help you create photos that are not only visually stunning but also emotionally impactful. Whether you’re photographing an engagement session or a wedding, mastering different hugging poses can take your couples’ photography to the next level. In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide on hugging poses in couples photography. We’ll cover various poses, techniques, and tips to help you capture the perfect moment that will make your clients fall in love with your photos all over again.

In the foundation posing framework from our premium workshops, all variations of hugging poses would fall under two foundation poses, 1) the close up pose and 2) the stack-up pose.  From these two foundation poses, photographer can make micro adjustments to the hands, head, and expressions to create hundreds of different poses.  Let’s dive in deeper to each one.

Face-to-Face Hugging Poses  – The Close-Up Pose


The close-up pose (or closed-up pose) demonstrates emotion and intimacy in photographs because the couple is facing each other completely. This pose is the perfect way to get interactive photos of the couple, and a great way to get more candid and natural looking images.

Close Up Pose Basics

Setting up the Close Up pose is very simple, you have the couple face each other and “close” the gap in between them. From here you can have the couple looking at each other, looking at the camera, or any other combination of a face-to-face hugging pose you can think of.

the close up pose by Guest User

Versatility of the Close Up Hugging Pose

The Close Up is a great way to get intimate and candid shots of your couple. When you set up this pose you can have them hold hands in the front, or you can have them hug in completely. Because the couple is facing each other directly, this is the perfect pose to get a natural looking kissing shot of the couple.

closed pose

If you want to get more interaction from your couple and have them do a dip or a lift, this is the perfect hugging pose to start with. If you do a lift, be sure to have some play in the legs so that there’s more action in the photo.

Hugging pose with a lift

Things to Watch Out For

When posing your subjects, there are several things to watch for, things that can create an unnatural or unflattering look to the image. Here are just a few tips to help you out:

things to look out for

1) Shrimp Cocktail Fingers

When you have your couple hold hands, I prefer that they do not interlock their fingers as it sort of creates this busy “shrimp cocktail of fingers” look to the hands. I know, it sounds weird, but it just looks much more natural when the hands overlap rather than interlock.

2) Take Breaks

When your subjects smile too long the smile can look fatigued, or “fake” after a little while. So take frequent breaks, have fun, chat, and just relax a bit during the shoot. You will find that the expressions will come out far more natural if everyone is having fun and relaxed as opposed to stressing about getting the perfect smile.

3) Watch the Chins!

When your couple is looking at each other be mindful of their chins. In this photo Jackie is too extended and Ryan is too crunched which is creating a sort of double chin effect that we want to avoid. Image number 4 shows a better example of how the chins should be so we aren’t extending too far, or creating a double chin.

More Hugging Poses Examples in the Close Up Position


closed pose for regular couples engagement portraits
Hugging and Smiling 

hugging posesHugging Pose with Touching Foreheads

Hugging Poses From Behind – The Stack-Up Pose

The stack-up pose, i.e. a hugging pose from behind, is a traditional pose that has a lot of versatility. There are many variations of this pose, but it starts with the couple chest to back with their feet facing the same direction.

Stack Up Pose Basics

In this hugging pose, you can have either have the female in front or the male in front. An easy way to get more looks and versatility out of this pose is by alternating who’s in front.

Female Subject In Front Right | Male Subject in Front Left
Female Subject In Front Right | Male Subject in Front Left

Versatility of the Stack Up Pose

This hugging pose is great for traditional portraits of the couple looking into the camera, or if you want a more relaxed look you can have the couple leaning against an object together. The Stack-Up is also great for fun active poses, such as piggyback rides!



When using the Stack-Up be sure to try to include the piggyback because it’s fun, candid, and enjoyable. You can also alternate and have the male subject on the females back, just be sure that both subjects are comfortable doing it, and that you do it safely.


Watch Out for Hand Placement

When the female subject is in front the male subject can put his hands on her torso or above her bust. Be sure to give specific instructions to the male because his hands may look like they’re covering her inappropriately, even if it’s unintentional.

When his hands go below her bust this hugging pose will have that “prom photo” look, which we generally try to avoid.

Prom Pose Left | Modern Pose Right
Prom Pose Left | Modern Pose Right

A great way to avoid a “prom photo” pose is to have the male put his hand in his pocket and the female put her hand on her hip, this is more of a modern pose. Another way to avoid the “prom photo” is to have the male subject place his hands above the bust. This hand placement looks very endearing and gives the photo a more candid rather than a staged feel.


When the female subject is behind we want to make sure her hands are on his chest or neck level. If her hands are around his belly area that can look quite emasculating for the male, a look we also want to avoid.

Have the Couple Look at Each Other

The Stack-Up pose has a very powerful effect when the couple is looking at each other. They look at each other lovingly, and it looks like nothing else in the world matters. This is the easiest way to turn a traditional hugging pose with the couple looking at the camera into a completely different look and feel.


Hugging Pose While Looking Off

If you’re on an engagement shoot you probably travelled to somewhere very photogenic. Be sure to take advantage of it! The Stack-Up pose is a great pose to get wider shots that show off the location so it looks like the couple is enjoying each other’s company in the beautiful location they’re in.



Hugging poses are versatile options for wedding and portrait photographers.  They can convey intimacy or fun.  They can be candid or posed.  Changing small things like the angle of the head or hand placement can make all the difference!