Alright superstar! You are a new photographer and you have asked two of your good friends if they would be willing to come out and let you take some pictures of them! You’re excited because this is one of your FIRST couple shoots. They arrive and after going through the common pleasantries, they look at you in expectation, waiting for your first command. And… you realize something. You have absolutely NO idea what to tell this couple to do! So you try different things. You ask them to perform a conglomeration of random activities ranging from jumping on each other’s backs to sitting on some cool logs that you think/hope might maybe possibly produce a good photo. You have them climb trees and hug each other and lay on the ground next to each other! After all this you look down and it’s only been thirty minutes and you have NO idea if any of your photos will even look good!
You get home and toss the photos onto your computer and you stare at them… wondering WHY none of them seem to be ANYTHING like the photos you see on Pinterest. Where did you go wrong? How do professional photographers seem to produce SO MANY GREAT photos and yet you struggle to produce five after two hours of photographing?
Well I am no expert on this subject by ANY MEANS but I do know a lot more now than when I first started this thing. And so, based on that, I feel confident in sharing with you some quick tips on how you can quickly start to incorporate some simple posing into your couple photography. I will be releasing a list of example poses in the next couple weeks but for now I just wanted to get some simple thoughts out for you to incorporate no matter what stage of posing you are at!
First and foremost, you want to make sure that when you are taking pictures of people, constantly remind them to hold a solid, NON-SLOUCHING position. When we slouch, it creates pounds that aren’t there, psychologically makes us less attractive, makes us shorter, and just downright looks awkward! Having people stand more erect will therefore increase our clients attractiveness, and thus will make our photos turn out better!
2. The Dangly Hands
I don’t know what it is but people never know what to do with their hands when taking photos. It’s actually kind of ironic, as people never seem to struggle with this concept when they relax around friends! Go watch the guys you hang with. If they are chillin’ with the dudes, they will either cross their arms, rests their hands on something, or stick those fingers in their pockets. Yet, when I go to photograph the same guy, his arms forget how to naturally relax and he simply lets his hands dangle by his side… looking silly…
So what does this mean practically? Most of the time I will tell couples to simply put their hands SOMEWHERE! Whether it’s in a pocket or holding on to their sigoth’s [SIGnificant OTHer] arm or even grabbing the other person’s shirt and pulling them close, you quite simply just don’t want your hands doing NOTHING. And as I’m about to talk about, you can mix this up! I refer to my photography style as rapid-fire posing, where my goal is to get AS MANY unique images per minute that I can. You’ll read more about this below but essentially I constantly just what the couple is doing, giving very clear directions the whole time, to continually create new images.
3. Mix It Up
The longer a couple stays in one position, the more awkward they have the potential to feel. I TRY MY HARDEST to NEVER let a couple feel awkward [disclaimer: I begin every session by telling the couple that the first 20 minutes are GOING to be awkward. But after I mention this, I NEVER tell the couple they look awkward even when they do.] One way I accomplish this is by constantly changing what a couple is doing. One moment the couple will have their feet pointed towards each other with her hand on his chest, the next I’ll have them look at each other, and then last I tell her to place her arms around his neck, get on her tip toes, and go in for a kiss. All of that can be accomplished in 30 seconds. Three different poses. The first shot I get from close up, framing above their heads but below her hand on his chest. For the second shot I step back and get a wider shot, maybe moving behind her to capture his expression. And then the third shot I would crouch, getting an upward angle to add intensity to the moment. Thirty seconds, three completely different images with the couple BARELY moving.
4. It’s all about the feet!
This is a concept I learned from Katelyn James. And since I paid for this information, I don’t feel comfortable sharing it totally with you. =P BUT, I will say that in my photos as part of my rapid posing, I will constantly change the way my couple’s feet are oriented with each other to allow for more moments.
5. A Rear View
It’s not generally flattering ot be photographed from behind. So, do yourself a favor in post processing and try your best not to get a ton of full body images from behind. There are ways to make this look good and I’ll probably actually release a blog post on this soon, but do it as your own risk.
6. The Scrunchy Noses
One of my favorite poses is the escamo kiss where the couple rubs their noses together. But during this I almost ALWAYS run into the same problem. Whenever you tell someone to put their nose on something, they get this urge to literally SMASH their faces into the thing… I don’t know what it is. It’s intrinsic. Some times this is okay though when they laugh really hard. But most of the time it just creates weird shaped noses that are incredibly unflattering. I tell my couples to “just barely brush the tips of your noises together.” This way they know EXACTLY what I’m looking for.
7. When All Else Fails…
Don’t be afraid to get a little goofy! At the beginning, I usually give very basic poses to the couples until they start to feel comfortable. After this though, GET NUTS! I LOVE telling my couples to jump on each other’s backs or throw pine cones at each other! And when you run out of ideas, couples usually really enjoy kissing each other!
And last, I’m right now working on creating a photographer’s cheat sheet to start giving out for free! When you first start out, it’s hard to know what to tell couples to do! This will hopefully help you get over that initial hump.