5 Tips for Posing Couples Naturally
Genuine connection captured in your subjects is what makes the difference between a couple’s portrait that looks natural and one that doesn’t. Whether you’re shooting an engagement session, wedding, or just mom and dad during a family event, here are some tips to guide your subjects to pose in ways that look and feel natural, and highlight the beauty of their relationship.
1. Give instructions that will create real moments.
This is the big one.
Quite commonly when my wedding couples talk about the kinds of images they want from their weddings or engagement sessions they start by saying, “We really love candid images, we don’t want many posed pictures” and yet when they point out the images in my photo editing portfolio that has made them want to hire me, 4 out of 5 times the portraits they love are NOT candid images.
I do something when I’m posing couples that I like to call “Semi-Candid Portraiture” where I create an artistic portrait that still has personality and authentic connection and feeling behind it. It works like this; I pick the best spot for the background and light, I set any additional lighting and arrange the couple (sometimes HIGHLY posing them), fix stray hairs and dust off shirts, and make the image perfect… and then give I they prompt that allows them to relax and feel like themselves.
This does two things; makes them feel comfortable and confident that this is going to be a good image because I have put the work into the details, and allowed them to be comfortable.
If I say, “Just go stand over there and put your arms around each other and laugh naturally” 99% of the time this is what I’m going to get is something like the image on the left.
Which is fine. They do look lovely together don’t they? Lovely, but not natural and it’s not candid. Instead, if I say, “Go right over there, okay move this way, great. Now give her a HUGE bear hug.” I end up with the result on the right.
Suddenly the difference in connection is significant, it turns a stagnant moment into something with joy and personality. AND they both look fabulous. Even less spontaneous poses that I very carefully set up need elements of realness in them. I tell jokes and make fun of myself, ask one of them to give the other a compliment, have him try out the dumbest joke he can think of, suggest they take a breath and relax into each other at the same time, and put their faces so close together that they can’t help but giggle(I call it “creepy close”), and so on. What the prompt doesn’t matter as long as I make sure there’s some real expression at the moment.
2. Decide who the “rock” of each image is.
When posing couples or multiple subjects it works really well to start with one person first, placing them in the space you want in the way you want them. After that, I find I rarely need to actually pose the second person at all, as when I add them to the scene they take their cue from their partner’s position to settle themselves in nature, and then the first person will relax a bit as well. I do this a lot when I seat couples on the ground, having one person get themselves situated comfortably and then have the other person join in. I make sure to tell them to snuggle when the second person sits down, otherwise, they might try to over-think it, “snuggle” is a universal term for “get comfortable”.
3. Give them something to do.
This goes hand in hand with creating real moments. I recommend to my engagement couples that we do something during their session. Brunch? Sounds lovely! Taking the dog for a stroll? Wonderful! But it doesn’t even have to be an “event”, simply directing a couple to go further down the path and then walk back to me while looking at each other works beautifully. You could also ask them to hold hands, take in the view, kiss, and see what shapes they can find in the clouds, the sky is literally the limit. When there is something that the couple can focus on, any nerves they may have in front of the camera disappear and they will be themselves, together.
4. Consider the environment.
People are most likely to be more relaxed in front of the camera when they are in a space that makes them feel comfortable. For this reason, I LOVE photographing couples in their homes and favorite places. For many couples, there is nothing more natural than hanging out on the couch or having a walk through a favorite park.
5. Encourage the couple to flirt.
It can be a little tricky to get the hang of this without making it feel awkward, flirting is a hard thing to do when put on the spot, but if things are getting “stale” during the session I find it best to just go for it with enthusiasm and my subjects usually respond really well to a bit of a prompt. An easy way to initiate this is to have one half of my couple move to a new location and direct them into a pose, and then before I add the second person to the scene I’ll say “Go give him your best pick-up line” usually it results in a funny response and natural smiles and body language follow, and once the awkward cheesiness is out of the way a couple will usually be warmed up to follow more intimate prompts like “pull him closer with his jacket” or “whisper in her ear”.
Author: - Manoj Babal
BIO: Manoj Babal is a Photo Editing Expert at Image Titan Clipping Path Services Company, using his vast business and personal experiences to help digital entrepreneurs build bulletproof businesses and reach the freedom they desire.