I’ll be the first to admit that when I was new to photography, posing did not come naturally to me! (Does it come naturally to anyone?!) I would show up to a shoot SO nervous about this one particular aspect of my job. Sure, I was a little anxious about the light, finding the right spots, locating natural reflectors… but posing is what really made me get butterflies in my stomach!! What if I put them in an awkward pose and it’s obvious I’m messing up?! What if I run out of poses within the first 5 minutes?! What if they can tell I don’t know what I’m doing?!
All of these thoughts would repeat themselves in my head over and over as I drove to my first dozen or so shoots… probably even more than that if I’m being honest. But with each session, I would learn more about what works, what doesn’t, what poses are flattering for everyone, which ones are a little more “advanced,” and which ones are just always a little tougher to make look natural! Posing is definitely one of the most complex parts of photography, but if there is ONE tip I could give that makes every pose a little more successful, it’s this: Get CLOSE!!!
Yes, it’s that simple! And it sounds extremely elementary, but think of it this way. You want to put together an intimate pose of your couple looking into each other’s eyes that looks natural. So you tell your couple to face each other… that’s a great start! But what’s likely to happen is that they’ll turn and face each other… and that’s it. You know where you want them to end, but you’re struggling with how to guide them there quickly, efficiently, and in a way that’s encouraging and continuing to build their confidence, which is key. If you’re anything like me, getting tongue-tied is a very likely possibility when posing because we’re talking so fast and trying to be quick, efficient, uplifting, and energetic! So when I’m starting a pose, I keep this one objective in my head that guides me to the end result I’m seeking to get from that pose… I have to get them close to each other!
So the “facing each other” pose goes something like this: “Now I’m going to have you two face each other… toes facing each other’s toes, holding hands at the bottom. Now step in really close! Bring your hips together…yep! Now Mike, put your hands around Halie’s waist and pull her in even closer!! There you go! Halie, place your hands on Mike’s face and pull him in slowly like you’re about to give him a kiss. Now bring your foreheads together… it’ll look like you have one eye but nobody has to know that’s what you were seeing! Haha!!” (As I’m talking through all of this, I’m shooting the entire time!)
Now that very basic “face each other” pose has turned into 10 poses in one because I was 1) shooting the entire time and 2) guiding them into a variety of poses that all had the same general idea… to bring them closer together. If you’re ever stuck, just think of what body part you can use to get them closer… chest, foreheads, nose, cheeks (facing the camera), hips, arms, hands… etc.! With every pose I am guiding my couple through, I am thinking, “how can I get them closer to each other?” because closeness more often than not visibly translates into romantic, intimate, and natural images. If I had to choose one factor that creates a successful pose, it’s how close the couple is to each other.
Here are a few examples of poses that were founded in the belief that the closer your subjects are, the more natural and intimate the image will feel. The next time you are posing a couple, challenge yourself to think of how you can get them closer! The only “rule” to keep in mind with this is that we never want to feel or look like we are squishing any body parts. Feel free to use words like “just barely touch your noses together” when dealing with more delicate body parts like facial features and hands!!
Left image: Hips, chests, hands (loosely intertwined), and noses (barely touching) are being used to create a sense of intimacy and closeness! Right image: Cheeks/temples, arms, and hands (notice that the bride’s hand is very loosely resting on the groom’s arm)!
Note that even though this is a walking pose, it still feels natural and intimate because I made sure the couple stayed close together even as they were walking. They are physically connected only by their hands, but the groom’s gaze connects him to the bride (and guides your eye to her as well!) and because I told them “walk very close together, almost bumping shoulders!” it kept them close enough for this pose to work!
Now for this one see if you can answer the question: What do you think is creating a sense of intimacy and evoking a feeling of connection and closeness in this image?!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below!!