I’ve been a wedding and engagement photographer now for over 8 years and the one question I get from many photographers is how do I pose my subjects? It’s simple, you don’t. Ok, well kind you kind of do. Let me explain.

I have a few “poses” I default to. Holding hands, getting comfortable in each others arms, looking back, walking, etc. I try not to get too hung up on the technical of posing. If your subjects are uncomfortable, it’s going show. So what’s the key to getting those natural candid/relaxed looking photos?

If you follow these 5 steps, you will be on your way to delivering comfortable natural poses and photographs for your clients.

Step 1. Exposure

Believe it or not, the first and most important step to getting couples and families comfortable in front of your camera is knowing how to operate a Dslr timely. Know it like the back of your hand. Exposures, ISO, Fstops, shutter speeds, shooting fully manual or shooting aperture priority. Know what you’re doing! Clients always feel confident when you’re confident behind a camera. You need to get to the point where it’s not a challenge to operate your camera. This gives your attention to the clients and makes them feel they are with a pro!

Step 2. Before you even shoot

Getting comfortable and acquainted with your client before you even pull the shutter. Be outgoing, genuine and interested in their lives. Ask where they are from, what brings them to wherever you’re shooting. Connect with them. I always try to connect with sports. You’d be surprised how many women love it when their husband/fiancé is involved in the shoot because to be honest, usually the wife has to drag the whole family to get their photos taken. When they see their husbands at easy (probably easier for me cause I’m a guy) it makes them think “cool, we’re all having a good time.”

If you’re not a guy, or can’t connect with the husband, try connecting with the kiddos or the wife/bride. Get personal without prying of course and let them get their minds off of the photo session for a bit. It’s always intimidating having a lens stare you down!

Step 3. Get them Comfortable

Have 3-5 poses you know down pat, but don’t let the pose rule over comfort.

For different scenes and settings I have a few different poses I default to, but my aim is getting couples comfortable in front of the camera. When couples or families are comfortable, it always provides better photos. I already know my cameras settings, so that doesn’t get in the way of anything. I’m having fun, cracking jokes, shooting and working fast! It’s a rush and I love it. I’m in the drivers seat and my client trusts me. They already feel good and know their images are turning out great. The laughs and smiles are real and genuine, not forced or unnatural.

Step 4. The experience

People will always forget what you said but will remember how you made them feel. This is probably more important than the photos themselves. I’ve never been one to get so technical I lose the subjects. Keeping the flow of the shoot is key. I hate downtime. If I have to figure out a shot, look for a location, guessing, or not sure. This always gets in the way of delivering a positive experience.

I have a few jokes on hand if I need folks to crack a smile. Most of all have fun and include the client. They love that!

Step 5. Find your groove

Posing like a lot of things is preference. Hands are something that can really bother me. If the hands look claw-like or stiff it throws the whole photo off (for me). That’s my pet peeve. For someone it might be posture or something else.

My rule of thumb (pun intended) is if the hands and fingers (and thumbs, kidding) look good, and we’re having fun we’re good to go!

Find your grove, practice, practice, practice then practice some more! The key is to avoid those awkward moments “what now” kind of feelings in a shoot!


- Written by Brent S. (Pacific Dream Photography at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel)