It’s one of the questions that I get asked about most often: “Will you take lots of spur-of-the-moment photos because we don’t like the posed photos – I don’t look right when I pose for a picture.” My answer is always the same – “Absolutely, we’ll take lots of reportage, candid, documentary style pictures throughout the day. But we’ll also do some posed shots, because I can’t guarantee to take a picture like this (below) without some prep first!”
So yes, although some of my favourite images have been captured on the fly, without any guidance from me involved, there will still be an element of posing involved on the day.
Having said that, I don’t direct my clients in an especially detailed way. I want the photos to reflect them and their personalities, so I wouldn’t want to pose them in a way that they weren’t comfortable. I just use five simple posing tips to make sure that they look amazing in their photos.
1. Keep your back straight
This is fairly crucial. You remember how your mum, dad or grandparents used to tell you not to slouch because you looked scruffy? Turns out they were right! Try to keep your back next and straight and stand tall. Watch your shoulders too – don’t let them hunch forward. This really is my number one tip and it makes a huge difference to your photos. Elongating your spine makes you look slimmer and taller, and this goes for all your photos throughout your day, not just the posed ones. Good posture is important.
It can get tricky at times, such as when the bride or groom is much shorter than the love of their life; there can then be a tendency for the other party to lean down to kiss them etc. My advice here is to try to make sure that any downward movement of the head is done as far as possible as a pivot from the shoulders. Keep the back straight and tilt the head. It’s not always practical, but wherever possible this should be your golden rule!
2. The Devil Makes Work For Idle Thumbs
So give them something to do! I hate seeing pictures where people’s hands are just hanging by their sides. It makes the image look staged, still and flat. It isn’t realistic. I always try to find something for my clients to be doing with their hands, whether it’s playing with their buttons or their veil, leaning against a wall, holding on to a prop or just putting their hand on their hip or in their pocket.
Not only does this make the image more realistic and dynamic, it also gives your body a more natural shape. Which leads me on to…
3. Girls, (and sometimes boys) avoid right angles
Bridal portraits and wedding photos in general are usually trying to convey feelings of love, gentleness and romance. A 90 degree angle though is more often associated with strong lines and emotions, and I try to avoid creating them when photographing a wedding. It’s easy to do. For example, when resting your hand on your hip, just drop it a little further down and perhaps raise your shoulder a little – this is a very feminine look and often looks beautiful on a bridal portrait.
4. Shift your weight away from the camera
Simple – don’t shift your weight onto your right leg if your right hip is pointing at the camera. All that this will achieve will be to move your hip closer to the camera than the rest of you is, making your hips appear larger than they really are. And no-one wants that! Conversely, shifting your weight onto the other leg will have the opposite effect – win!
5. Laugh – Lots!
You look at your most relaxed and natural when you’re enjoying yourself, and when you’re laughing with each other that emotion comes through in your photographs. I’m constantly (trying) to tell my couples jokes, or make them pull funny faces at each other, whisper some secret between themselves that I can’t hear, or do something silly – like a dance off! Whatever it takes to get that genuine expression of fun to appear, that’s what we’ll do!
I think that this is the thing that couples need to remember more than anything – yes, there will be times when I tell you how and where to stand. I need to do this to make the most of the available light, or the scenery around you. But it’s the moments that happen after that direction that make the photo, and those are the moments that I’m looking for.
A good wedding photographer will have to give some sort of direction to their clients at some point – there’s always going to be an element of posing required. But that’s never where the photo ends – the true craft of the photographer is spotting the exact millisecond to press the shutter in order to capture the emotion between a couple.
That’s why it’s really important to choose the right photographer for you, and then get to know them! Pre-wedding or engagement shoots are the ideal opportunity for this, and so I include them in every wedding package I offer.