Lately it seems that photographers are getting creative with posing techniques with their couples. While some can bring a great new perspective, others may not translate as well as we had thought behind the lens. It’s difficult to say what makes a pose perfect and what doesn’t, taking into consideration the range of creativity. Sometimes we can find ourselves looking back at an image because something looks “off” or our couple looks “uncomfortable.” Simple tips of posing can change a photo from being modern to traditional but it is important is to take the time to properly pose your couple, so the end result will be flawless.
As a former stylist for a magazine, my role was to look out for the wrinkling and placement of clothes, hair flyaways and leave it to the professional model to do proper posing. Now as photographer, I don’t always work with professional models but it’s still my job to look at everything and try the best I can to post my clients. The challenge with shooting a couple is that you now have two subjects to instruct on proper posing, the men can be nervous, and you need to make it fun for both.
[SLR Lounge Rewind: Learn Natural Light Couples Photography]
General posing rules – as with everything, style can change the rules
- Notice the small stuff. Typically this doesn’t need to be overanalyzed and considered common sense, but sometimes the couple can be nervous and touch each other awkwardly. Just make sure she hooks her arm through his because he leads her and when they are holding hands, his hand should be in front of hers. Look for awkward joints or positioning of embrace, sometimes it’s best if he put his arm around her or you go over and losen them up.
- Their bodies should always touch, it doesn’t have to be with lips. Unless the shot is intentional to have them separated of course, some poses can almost look incomplete. What could it be? The lack of touch. If they are under an umbrella far apart kissing, don’t just let them share holding the umbrella and leave their hands at their side, let them hold hands with the other, bringing them together. She can lean into his chest, touch shoulders, or he can grab her waist, if you want them to look more like a complete unit, just have them touch in some way.
- Watch for hands. Try for the no lose appendages look. Men look great in a stance with a hand in their pocket, or thumb hooked in.
- Avoid highlighting differences. What happens when you compare things by putting them side by side? Well, if anything seems out of the ordinary, it only highlights it. If she is of almost equal height to him or body weight, or significantly shorter, suggest that they sit.
- Know how to make her appear shorter. To make her shorten herself which can sometimes be necessary if she’s wearing high heels, have her bend the knee closest to you and shift her weight from her hips on the straight leg, curving her back. Her posture should still be good from your angle if you’re photographing profiles. This makes her shorter by almost two inches. You can also have them sit to strategically trick the camera that she is dainty by putting him closer to you and her slightly behind. Remember, use your angles wisely and creatively.
- Don’t forget full length shots. Women spend a lot of time getting their entire outfit together, including their shoes. Oh, the shoes! So even though face portraits are important, don’t forget the big picture – everything.
- Have them move. Movement is always a fun addition to traditional poses. Some ideas include have them walk towards you, and one with the guy leading the girl with her looking back at you. Have them touch foreheads. Have her run to him and he lifts her up or she jumps on his back.
- Avoid the unnatural. I was guilty of this, trying to be so different that your images just look stranger than they do creative. Embraces should look natural, not awkward, glances should be genuine and not forced. Eye contract is most definitely a winner.
- Don’t squish noses. If they are touching foreheads, just make sure they’re not touching noses too hard or else it flattens and widens noses.
- Don’t shoot the top of his head. If you want him to kiss her or nuzzle, show his profile, not directly the top of his noggin’.
- The way they look at each other. Often called the “between moments” it’s really fun when you catch it weather purposefully or accidentally.
- Money shot. Don’t forget the traditional shot that your couple may frame the most in their home. It might seem unoriginal, but it is a classic.
- Take an extra shot a little differently posed. Whether he puts his hand in his pockets or they touch differently, change it up slightly just to see if that worked better.
- Make jokes. When they kiss, I like to joke and say, “you’re welcome Brad!” as a way to soften the awkwardness. Often the guy will respond, “Oh boy! I like this.” I once had a groom who wasn’t a fan of photos and by the end, he had all sorts of ideas!
- Assist with wardrobe. Wardrobe can make or break your session, especially if you are looking for a particular style of client you want to continually attract. I suggest being involved with your clients with wardrobe. Give them ideas and direction on what to bring and maybe even help them select the outfits when they arrive.
Sitting diminishes any height differences.
Just a moment shared is so sweet.
This nuzzle pose works well because I can still see part of his face.
Have them do something fun together doing a shoot.
Personally, I love having my couples with eyes down or closed, it changes the mood a little.