Spoiler alert: Jeff and I love to throw parties. Which isn’t much of a shocker with how much we love food, wine, and general merriment. In fact, crafting the perfect party has become an art form for us with years of trial and error on party greats and party fouls under our belt. What we’ve discovered with this hobby-of-sorts is that the best parties are the ones where guests feel comfortable and connected. Physically, they need to feel as if their needs are met – that they’re comfortable. Emotionally, they need to feel important and known – connected to the people around them.
It’s the same with our shoots. Think about it – isn’t it when we’re able to fulfill our couples basic physical and emotional needs (whether we realize it or not) that we have the most fun in our shoots? That our couples really loosen up in front of our cameras? When we’re able to capture the best stuff?
In other words, it’s only when we’re a great host that the party really starts.
Being a great host to your couples by creating that comfort and connection is much easier than you think. In fact, the best place to start addressing these two needs is right in the middle of your basic posing technique, and we have four easy tips that pack a powerful punch in the comfort and connection zones.
Tip #1: Steer Clear of Negative Language
When a nervous couple arrives at a session – hair done, makeup perfect, outfits pressed – the world in front of your camera should be nothing but positive. Nothing helps people feel more at ease than a kind upbeat spirit, so let them know that they look perfect, the light is great, and their outfits are fabulous. Keep up the encouragement throughout the session, and always remember to give constant positive affirmations, particularly while you’re posing.
You don’t need to be a bubbly personality beaming with a sunshine smile in order to make people comfortable. But you definitely need to spin your demeanor and language to the positive side of things.
For example, when posing someone, avoid saying things like “don’t hang your arms by your side” or “don’t face that direction.” Even if it’s said with smile, words like ‘don’t’ undermine a individual’s security with themselves and your camera. Instead, spin things around and say with a smile, “put your hand on your waist” or “turn towards the window.” And always follow up your directions with a kind affirmation like “that looks great” or “you guys are doing perfect.”
Along those same lines, if you set your clients in a pose or location that just isn’t looking fab on camera, shoot a few frames and then move on with a quick, “Perfect guys, follow me over here.” The worst thing you could do in those moments would be to acknowledge that the setup isn’t working. Even if you tell your couple that it’s the light or the background that doesn’t look good, it can still allow a hint of negative insecurity to creep into the session. No bueno.
Tip #2: Anticipate Their Questions
In the hours upon hours that we’ve spent shooting and posing couples, there have been three questions we’ve discovered that every subject wants answered immediately.
(1) Where do I put my hands? (2) Where do I look? and (3) Do I smile or not?
If you’re able to answer those three basic questions while posing your clients BEFORE they ask, then you’ve done 80% of the legwork in helping them feel comfortable. So incorporate those three items into your posing dialogue and you’ll find that your clients will not only loosen up, but they’ll trust you to make them look gooooooood.
Tip #3: Avoid the ‘Maybe’s’
Use confident language when you’re shooting and posing and avoid using non-specific unsure words such as ‘maybe’, ‘kinda’, ‘I think’, etc. This can be a lot harder than it looks – if you really stop and listen to yourself posing, these words come out A LOT. But the less you use them, the more you come across as confident and in control – even when you may be nervous or unsure.
By this I don’t mean that you should bark orders at your couple in order to come across as strong – there’s a big different between being in control of the shoot and being controlling. What I do mean is that you should pay attention to your posing language and start filtering unsure filler words that undermine your confidence.
Tip #4: Use Their Names
The last crazy simple tip for better posing is to simply use their names. When we’re in the heat of a shoot with a million thoughts racing through our head – the light, the couple, the pose, the settings – we can lose track of the connection we’re working to build with our subject. This is when we might start to point and say, “you stand here, and you lean on his shoulder.” Even if we’re sweet and positive, we can seriously up the connection points when we remember to simply use their names.
“Eric stand here, and Amy lean on his shoulder.”
Doesn’t that sound – and feel – so much better?
Start incorporating these crazy simple tips into your posing and watch your couples flourish in front of your camera. Remember that it’s your party, so be the amazing host that you are with some kick butt comfort and connection. I’m sure we’re not the only ones that have figured out ways to do this, though. What are some other crazy simple tips for better posing that you guys can share? How are you a great host with your brides and grooms?
Erin is a Celebrity Photographer on Chic Critique!
Increase your confidence and improve your images by signing up
for her 4-week VIDEO critique in April.