Posing Ideas

These are starting points for connection. You are in the position of guiding a couple to connect with each other. Use these pose ideas as a springboard, but don’t get stuck on them. Many times, a couple brings their own energy to an idea to make something entirely new.

I like to try at least one new idea at each shoot. I don’t try and re-invent the wheel by having ALL new poses for each session. It’s good to have your go-to’s! Couples look good in them for a reason (i.e. “The Look Back). However, don’t stop there, try something different with each couple.

My secret: I use a 5×7 Index Card and draw stick figures of 4-5 different posing ideas I want to try at any shoot. This is discreet and helps jog my memory without pulling out a big sheet of paper or my phone for ideas.

Read a couple’s energy.

If they are playful and silly: steer away from the romantic poses and focus on moving, walking, running, twirling, and being funny together.

If they are passionate and like PDA: go for sensual, romantic and fun.

If they are introverted and quiet: let them walk quietly, sit together, encourage them to cuddle. This will make them feel safe and happy.

Looking for wedding specific poses? Here are some cards from Design Aglow: (Some are a little dated, but you’ll find some you connect with)

Pre-Shoot Convo

Before you begin shooting, it’s important to set their expectations and calm any nerves. Begin with sharing things like this:

  • I’ll guide you, but I want you to be you!
  • Don’t panic if I’m not guiding you
  • Don’t do something that doesn’t feel natural
  • It’s normal to feel nervous. Most couples need 10 minutes to warm up!
  • Have fun!

Mid-Shoot Convo

  • Ask lots of questions (Find out everything you can about their lives, to get them talking and relaxed)
  • Compliment like crazy
  • Show them how (demonstrate what you mean by a direction/pose by physically doing it in front of them)
  • Keep it simple at the start (wait for the more involved/emotional/physical poses until they’ve warmed up)
  • Don’t force anything
  • Don’t over direct
  • Do tell them when hair is out of place or if hands need to be on each other!
  • Tell them specifically WHAT and WHY you like something (“I love how you just touched her face!)
  • Use positive language like “That was great, let’s do it again!” (Instead of “Let’s try that again”)

Sweet and Simple: For any couple

From the introverted/uncertain couple to the craziest crew, you’ll be safe with these go-to’s.

Posing Ideas
Cozy picnic: She rests her head on his chest – ring out on display! Ensure he doesn’t look too disconnected by trying to get them to semi-smile
Posing Ideas
Playing with negative space. Get lower and use the sky (IMPORTANT: Back up and shoot half body! Shooting at a lower angle is not flattering close up, especially not full body)
Posing Ideas
Ring shot! Including her face makes the image feel more connected than hiding her head behind his.
Posing Ideas
Staggered Steps. One sits a step above, while the other leans into their knee/lap
Posing Ideas
Motion blur on a busy street: choose the background first, let the cars come through (Shutter 1/30-1/60 sec, shoot multiple frames)
Posing Ideas
Chatty picnic: weave their arms together while they lay on their bellies towards you
Posing Ideas
Looking opposite ways (use an interesting background)
Posing Ideas
The “T” Pose: One is horiztonally facing you, the other leaning in at a perpendicular angle

Posing Ideas
Slow dance, hands down low!
Posing Ideas
One leads another: an easy go-to

Blanket cuddles

Posing Ideas
Direct overhead. Key to this photo: Tell them to align their ears. It’s the easiest way to ensure their faces are close enough to each other. They’ll giggle and kiss and feel silly laying down but you’ll capture some sweet moments here.
Posing Ideas
Side straddle, in any environment (picnic or leaning against any wall)

Playful and Silly

Posing Ideas
Posing Ideas
Props in front of their noses and mouths (don’t cover their eyes!) They can kiss behind one too!

Posing Ideas
Posing Ideas
Lift and spin! (Only for energetic, nimble couples.)

When it comes to physical poses like running and twirling, never put pressure on a couple to feel like they need to do this. Instead of asking, “How about you pick her up and twirl?” (Which could leave one or both of them feeling quietly unsure but not knowing how to say it) I offer TWO choices: “How about you either: 1) Pick her up and twirl or 2) Take a walk away from me?” This gives them the choice which allows you to read their energy level right away. Based upon their answer you’ll know what other poses they may or may not be game for later.

Posing Ideas
Back up and include the setting they are in for a dramatic wide

Romantic and Sensual

This is only for couples who enjoy PDA. Don’t force a timid couple to get steamy!

Posing Ideas
The dip: up close (not full body). The aim is for the hair to fly back and up as they dip, try three or four times!

Houston, We Have a Problem

What do you do when things are NOT going well?

PROBLEM: They arrive very late and are very stressed

SOLUTION: Assure them you’ll have plenty of beautiful imagery regardless. You do not need to shoot overtime (though you can if you choose to, it’s not expected). Bring the positive energy to calm them down!

PROBLEM: They arrive on time but clearly in a fight (OR: One of them clearly does not want to be there)

SOLUTION: Have all your posing ideas READY TO GO. You cannot rely on their connection if they are in this negative place. So, you will carry the weight of directing everything. Give them a lot of ideas, reinforce what they are doing well. Try to win over the party pooper by becoming interested in their world (ask them questions personally).

PROBLEM: Someone is extremely self-conscious and vocalizes it

SOLUTION: Affirm their concern. Then, after you let them know you understand it, enthusiastically share how you have many ways to shoot around it to make them look great. For heavier couples: Don’t make them run or jump – that is not going to be flattering. Shoot down from an upward angle. Capture more half body angles than full body angles.

PROBLEM: An outfit malfunction

SOLUTION: Depending upon the problem, try to find another outfit if possible. If not, then adjust your angles and poses to hide the issue as much as possible. Note: We do offer retouching services but it’s not free, so don’t ever guarantee that we’ll be able to Photoshop something before talking with me.

PROBLEM: They need to pay me for my parking. I feel awkward asking

SOLUTION: We already prepped them for this, they know they need to pay you. All you need to say is, “Ok! I’m heading out! Would you like to handle the parking/permit reimbursement now, or have Sara bill you for it?”

This language gives them the reminder but also isn’t pushy or demanding.

How To End a Photo Session

Sometimes it can feel awkward to say “we’re done!”

When you’re getting closer to the end, I always give the clients a heads up around 10-15 minutes beforehand.

“Wow! We are having so much fun! We’ve got about 15 minutes left, I have a few ideas but I wanted to see if you had any last piece you wanted to make sure to include before we’re done?”

This helps remind a couple in case they had a prop they forgot about. Or a pose they had in mind. Then from there, you guide them to the finish line.

Once you’re complete, be sure to affirm how great they did. For an engagement session: let them know we’ll be in touch with the edited images.

FYI: Some couples request an early edit for their Save the Date. Others forget to. If they mention wanting a photo early, simply direct them back to us and we’ll handle it. Never make promises for anything! (Sometimes we can’t accommodate everyone’s requests)

The Most Important Piece

A photo session is less about the photos (while they are very important!) but MORE about the connection. Connect with your couple. Learn them. Share who you are with them. Relate. Become friends!