“What do you envision for your photography on wedding day? Is there a particular style that comes to mind?” This is a question asked in every single wedding photography consultation with every couple interested in our wedding photography services. I’m never surprised by the answer as it is the same nearly 90% of the time. “I love candids!”
I may cringe a little inside because while clearly my job as a wedding photographer is partially photojournalism, the other (LARGE) part of what I personally love to do is portraiture. The kind where I’m basically in control of everything, including but not limited to actual posing. Candid photography has it’s place, don’t get me wrong. I just know after years of studying subjects bodies, faces and movement, that unless they happen to be a model there is a high likelihood that the average person doesn’t know what they look like while they’re doing things.
The “Candid Look”
It’s important to take the time to clarify what a bride or groom means when they give that answer. I’ve come to realize that “candid” may be a bit of a misnomer for the style they truly desire. While “candid” is the only word they may be able to find to describe “honest”, “emotional”, “not stiff”, what they really mean is that they want to feel that the photographs are genuine and a true representation of them as individuals and as a couple and of their emotions throughout the moments of the day.
There may be no more important work of a wedding day than posing the bride! She’s the star of the show. Every bride works tirelessly to make sure that they look flawless on wedding day down to every detail. Creating photographs that echo that effort and energy is what every bride is looking for in a photographer, I promise.
Here are some ideas that will leave them breathless when the images are reviewed.
Do the Engagement Session
The engagement session is something many couples ask for but about 30% of our clients come in with engagement sessions as a potential leave behind. This session for our studio is extremely important! This is our chance to really get to know our couples outside of the the rush and emotion of wedding day. It’s important to pick up on key things like what makes them laugh & what makes them uncomfortable. It’s much easier to be photographed by someone you at least know a little than by a complete stranger.
Remember, most couples have never been professionally photographed together and the majority of people do not love being photographed. With that in mind, the engagement session is a no-pressure opportunity to establish connection and rapport with your couple.
We also treasure the engagement session as a time to go through poses that will work on wedding day and establishing best angles for our brides and grooms. As with most things, we usually get more comfortable the second time we do something.
For even more, be sure to check out this posing guide from Tracie Maglosky.
Go in With a Plan
We have clients ranging from super-model body types, to couples where the bride is taller than the groom or vice versa, to fuller-figured couples, to mixed ethnicity couples to same sex couples. Not every pose will work for every body type. So have a sequence of poses ready that work for standing, sitting, leaning, lifting and walking. Use the good practice of ensuring that chins are extended to avoid double chins, arms are not laying flat against bodies, and deal with height differences by having the taller subject separate their feet as much as necessary to bring the couple’s heads to a more desirable level.
Where it might be easy for a thin, athletic couple to put their arms fully around one another, we may struggle with two fuller subjects. While arms up around the grooms neck for a bride with trim arms maybe flattering, that same pose may make someone with less trim arms feel uncomfortable or self-conscious.
Be the Pose
Perhaps the most effective way to get someone into pose is by showing them on your own body. Don’t be afraid to use yourself as a mannequin of sorts to show the couple exactly what you mean. This will also help your subjects to feel less uncomfortable about what you’re asking them to do because you’re fully engaged in it with them.
We have clients ranging from super-model body types, to couples where the bride is taller than the groom or vice versa, to fuller-figured couples, to mixed ethnicity couples to same sex couples.
Quick Pro Tips for Posing Grooms:
- Guys arms looking bigger is perceived as muscle, there is no harm is leaving them exposed. It’s ok if he looks big and strong.
- Hands in pockets fully can look odd and too “full”, place only the forefingers and no thumb or thumb and no fingers into the pocket.
- The grooms jacket makes a great prop! Take it off, throw it over a shoulder and get some shots of the groom walking or leaning on a wall.
Quick Pro Tips for Posing Brides:
- Use the grooms arms to keep the bride’s arms looking amazing! When they put their arms around each other, make sure hers are on the inside and his are on the outside.
Moving the gown can be an undertaking, use your locations and poses to their fullest without moving the bride. Change her hand placement, move her head, bring others to her without having to reset the gown every single shot.
- Brides literally plan every single detail with such care and intention, this means every single moment from putting on the shoes, earrings, gown, veil, and makeup become wonderful opportunities to create very emotional imagery. Take a few moments to make sure you get her looking amazing doing ordinary things by making sure her chin is extended, she’s not slouching and she stays present in the moment.
Get your safe shots first and then get fancy. We all want the super creative, mind-blowing shots and poses—myself included! However, making sure that you have deliverables for such important moments is crucial. Definitely, make yourself so great at getting the safe shots first that you have plenty of time to get creative and try new things. Doing this in reverse can leave you feeling extremely stressed out when time starts running low.
If you’re looking for an exceptional line-up of poses that you can incorporate into your engagement shoots or wedding portraits, check out this posing guide that shows exactly how to pose and create 50 images in sequence making your couples portrait sessions a breeze.