6 SMALL POSING TIPS THAT MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
One of the things I struggled with the most as a beginning photographer was posing. I could not for the life of me figure out how to get people into positions that would translate well in a still image. I seemed to always end up with people looking stiff and awkward (and feeling that way!). It took so many years of working on this and seeing slow improvement in my images but I’m finally to a place that I can go into a shoot and know that I’m going to get killer images instead of just hoping that some will turn out well!
The biggest difference for my posing game was learning from other photographers. There are so many awesome people out there who have learned the hard way and are teachers at heart who love to share their knowledge and I’m so so so thankful for them! One of the best investments into my photography education I ever made was Ben Sasso’s Posing and Directing class - if you’re struggling with posing I can’t recommend his online class enough! In the spirit of a sort of “pay-it-forwardness,” I thought I would share some super easy and small changes to make in your posing that will make a big difference in the images you get! Y’all ready? Let’s dig in!
SET THEM UP FOR SUCCESS
One of the best things I’ve ever done to up-level my shoots was to start them off by prepping my clients and setting them up for success. Before they book I make sure they know that my style of shooting is to give them small prompts and directions to get them into natural “poses.” I make sure they know that while I will definitely get some photos of them both looking at the camera and smiling, the photos I prioritize are the ones that show them interacting with each other and just being together. When the day of the shoot comes I start off by saying something similar to this:
“I’m so excited to get to work with you both today! Before we get started I want to let you both know how I approach posing! I like to start off a little farther away from you so that you can get used to the camera clicking and I want you to just be with each other. Don’t worry about being in a certain pose unless I tell you to be and even when I do tell you, feel free to move around! You can’t mess it up! I love movement and seeing how you two naturally interact together so don’t be afraid to get comfortable! There will probably be poses we do several times to get as much variation as possible and sometimes I’ll put you in a pose and then have you step out of it and then go back into it how you naturally would. Don’t worry about what to do with your hands - I’ll tell you!”
That’s pretty much how I start every session! Then as I go there are little tips + tricks I use to get the best pictures possible, here are some of them:
GET THEM CLOSER TOGETHER
This is something I am CONSTANTLY saying to my couples! People don’t generally sit or stand in public places completely wrapped up into each other so the couples you work with probably won’t naturally be super close together unless you tell them to be. Closeness is such an easy way to convey intimacy, love and trust so tell them to “get a little closer” until they are where you want them to be! Sometimes you only have to say it once and sometimes you’ll have to say it a lot - just help them out!
^ The difference in these two images is mainly how close together they were. The photo on the left is how they naturally sat down together and the one on the right was after me prompting them a couple of times to “get a little closer… a little more… a little more.”
ELEMINATE HANGING LIMBS
Unless you’re working with pro models, your couples aren’t going to know what to do with their hands, arms, legs, feet, etc. unless you tell them! Hanging, “dead",” or out of place limbs can instantly ruin the mood of an image so be on the lookout and give your couples small prompts to fix the problem!
^ The photo on the right shows him looking a little uncomfortable and unnatural - he’s almost completely disconnected from her and the photo feels forced. To get to the photo on the right I told him to put his right arm around her, put his left hand in his pocket (thumb out - always!), and pull his left leg up (*I will note here that I should have had him drop his foot lower on the wall). Instantly he looks comfortable and way more natural! Another difference in these two images is that I told her to pull her left leg closer to her right one so that it didn’t hide her right foot.
HAVE THEM TURN THEIR BODY SLIGHTLY
People don’t tend to look great facing a camera straight on - which is something most people already know about themselves from taking pictures with friends. If you notice that someone is facing you directly, have them turn their body slightly toward the other person. If you’re taking a photo of just one person, it doesn’t matter with direction they turn! Bodies turned in toward each other convey connection and it’s such a small change and easy change to make!
^ All I did was tell him to turn slightly toward her and take a deep breath in and out to relax his shoulders. INSTA CHANGE! **Note that her she has both of her hands and arms “engaged” and his free hand is in his pocket! This was done intentionally to eliminate the hanging limbs!
WALK AROUND THEM
This one isn’t really a posing tip but it will help you get variation in your shots! I posed them into the first image on the left and then I moved in closer and started to walk around them until I was almost right in front of them and then I had them both look at me!
GET THEM TO KISS
I usually get couples to kiss by just continuing to tell them to get closer together until they go in for a kiss on their own - it works 99% of the time! Something I learned a long time ago was to pay attention to the moments right before and right after the couple kisses. These moments are often so sweet and full of emotion so be prepared to capture them!