Four Simple Posing Mistakes to Avoid
(Plus How to Fix Them)

In: Photographers, Technique
Tags: Shooting, The Wedding Day

I get it – mastering the settings on your camera during a shoot is already enough to make a photographer go crazy.

But then add in the element of posing a couple, and keeping your head on straight can be downright HARD.

Jeff and I have taught a lot of shooting and posing workshops over the years, and we’ve discovered something really interesting:

There’s four super common (and super easy) mistakes that we see photographers make when it comes to posing.

Don’t worry friend, I used to make these mistakes all the time, because they’re not glaringly obvious.

But since Jeff could see me pose our couples during our shoots, he pointed these little things out to me and I’m super grateful he did! Once I stopped making these four mistakes, my posing became much smoother, I felt more confident, and our couples trusted me more.

So the great news is that fixing these four mistakes is incredibly simple!

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Mistake #1

DON’T: Use unsure filler words

This mistake is so easy to make that it’s really hard to catch yourself doing it.

When you’re posing a couple, it’s really easy to say filler phrases like, “I think”, “kind of”, “maybe”, or “sort of.”

These fillers may seem completely harmless, but to a couple on the other side of the lens, you actually come across as unsure.

So you end up sounding something like this:

“Maybe stand here and kind of put your arm by her side, I think, and then sort of look that way.”

If you’re the couple, this sounds really unclear and confusing, huh?

In fact, it makes you as the photographer sound unconfident in yourself, and unfortunately, the couple may wonder if you know what you’re doing. #wompwomp

Instead, pay attention to what you’re saying and try to cut out ALL of those unsure filler words. And I mean ALL OF THEM.

That may sound dramatic, but at first you have to really cut them out completely to get rid of your habit of using them.

Trust me – you’ll be amazed at how much more confident you’ll sound!

Listen to this instead:

“Stand here, put your arm by her side, and then look that way with a smile.”

Doesn’t that sound so much more CONFIDENT??

In fact, when Jeff and I are teaching shooting workshops, this is the first rule we tell our students – no unsure filler words!

It’s crazy how it instantly changes how our students sound – and how they act. They immediately sound sure of themselves, so then they start acting confident. I love it!

No, you will not always know exactly what you’re doing, but when you sound confident, your couple will respond by trusting you, and then you’ll actually feel confident, too!

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DO: Answer their questions before they ask

Instead of using unsure filler words, be clear and specific in your direction while you’re posing a couple.

Remember, your couple has probably only been in front a camera a handful of times. Maybe.

So you need to build trust with them from the very start of the shoot by helping them feel that you absolutely know what you’re doing.

They need to feel like you got their back. #Igotchuboo

The best way to build that trust immediately is to answer the questions they have in their head before they ask.

What are those questions?

Every couple wants to know:

  • What do I do with my hands?
  • Do I smile or not?
  • Where do I look?

Be sure to answer all three of those questions every time you pose your couple, especially at the beginning of a shoot.

When you do that, you will instantly put their mind at ease.

These may seem like super silly and unnecessary, but we’ve found this to be true with our couples over and over and over again:

The more direction we give at the beginning of a shoot and the more we answer their questions before they’re asked, the more trust we build and the more quickly our couples become comfortable.

As the shoot moves along, you’ll probably find at some point that your couple will ease into the flow of things and become much more natural along the way.

When you notice this happening, feel free to give less and less specific direction and allow them to move as themselves.

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Mistake #2

DON’T: Point at your couple and say, “You”

Another really common (and really simple) mistake that I see is to refer to your couple as “you” instead of using their name.

For example:

“You stand over here and you stand by his side.”

That sounds pretty impolite and awkward, doesn’t it?

 

DO: Use your couple’s first names

Instead, use your couple’s first name as much as possible. (And throw in some good ‘ol eye contact too!)

“Abby, let’s have you stand over here, and Alex, I want you to stand by her side.”

Isn’t it crazy what a difference that makes??

Again, this seems incredibly simple, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget to use their names when you’re in the midst of a shoot and trying to figure out posing, lighting, settings, and everything all at once!

I’ve been there! There’s a lot going on your head!

But be mindful – always remember to use your couple’s name.

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Mistake #3

DON’T: Say out loud that a pose isn’t working

Let’s be honest, not every pose is going to look great.

You may get your couple set up in a spot that you think will look amaze-balls, but then you realize that it jus’ ain’t workin’.

When a pose is flunking, DO NOT say that out loud.

Don’t ever say:

“This isn’t looking good… let’s move on…”

Even if you say it in an upbeat manner while you’re having a great time with your couple, this will immediately introduce doubt into your couple’s mind.

They’ll start to question if THEY’RE the ones not looking good or if there’s something wrong with THEM.

Trust me on this – I’ve been in front of photographers’ cameras who have said this, and it’s really really hard (especially for a female) not to start doubting if they look good enough.

I don’t care if ten poses in a row aren’t looking great, I will never ever say that to our couple.

(Also, use the hand trick here to tell them exactly where to stand so you can try to avoid the whole “move this way, no that way, no go back an inch…”)

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DO: Be positive at all times

Instead, during a shoot, everything is positive, positive, positive.

Being in front of a camera can be a very vulnerable place for a lot of people.

When one of my #TYcouples is in front of my camera, they are nothing but beautiful, wonderful, pretty, and handsome. ALWAYS.

My camera is a safe place where they will always look and feel like a million bucks, no matter what.

So if a pose isn’t working, simply say:

“Ok great! Let’s head over here!”

And then move on to the next pose without saying a single word of negativity.

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Mistake #4

DON’T: Tell your couple to “Just be cute”

As much as you might be tempted to tell your couple to walk off into the distance and just be cute together, don’t do it.

I get it.

I’ve wanted to do this many many times when I’ve been out of posing ideas and am lost for inspiration.

However, I know that if I tell my couple to just “be cute” or “be natural”, it will instead make them feel incredibly awkward.

No one – especially a couple that has never had their photo taken – knows how to be natural or cute on their own in front of camera.

They are looking to us as the photographer to tell them what to do, so we need to give them more direction than that.

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DO: Give them prompts

Develop a grab bag of prompts that give your couple enough direction, but also help to bring out your couple’s natural selves.

A few ideas:

The Movie Kiss. Ask them to hold hands, walk down a sidewalk, and reminisce about their first date. Then tell him to pull her in for a kiss like he’s in a movie.

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Tell Her She’s PURDY. Have your bride smile at the camera and then tell the groom to whisper in her ear that she’s super “puuuuurrrdy.” As in P-U-R-D-Y. Purdy. Cracks them both up every time!

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The “Close Walk.” They walk with their arms around each other so close they almost trip over each other. It’s so cute!

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Slow Dance Together. We wait until later in the shoot when they’re pretty comfortable, and then we ask them to slow dance. This is my favorite thing to do at sunset – it’s so peaceful and we get the best moments!

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All of these prompts leave room for your couple’s natural personalities to come out.

And when you see those really natural movements, looks, and laughs, always have your lens focused and ready!

You’ll be able to capture those in-between moments that your couples will treasure!

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IN CONCLUSION:

These four super simple mistakes have a BIG impact on your ability to pose your couple naturally. However, the good news is that they’re all so easy to fix!

DON’T: Use unsure filler words
DO: Give clear, specific direction
DON’T: Point at your couple and say, “You”
DO: Use your couple’s first names
DON’T: Say out loud that a pose isn’t working
DO: Be positive at all times!
DON’T: Tell your couple to “Just be cute”
DO: Give them prompts

Be mindful of these posing mistakes at your very next shoot and watch how your couples respond!

Did you try one of these tips and love it?

Share your photo and success story in our FREE photographer-only facebook group!

Hugs,
Erin

In: Photographers, Technique
Tags: Shooting, The Wedding Day