Today’s post is part of blog series in which we get the privilege of answering some of the questions we have gotten about photography, marriage and life! We know there are so many other amazing photographers out there who would know the answers far better than we ever could. But it’s not about us. It’s not about how good or not good we might be in comparison to someone else. It’s about serving. And if this series helps one person, it was worth it! You can catch up on the series here:
#1 | Where Do I Start?
#2 | Needle In A Haystack
#3 | A Natural Feel
#4 | 4 Keys To A Consistent Style
#5 | 5 Questions To Answer Before Going Full-time
#6 | 3 Ways To Light Beautiful Reception Images
#7 | 1 Simple Trick To Improve Your Images Right Now
#8 | 3 Tips To Thrive On A Double-Header Weekend
Ryan & Alyssa,
I just have a simple question for you. I have been shooting weddings and families for several years. But one thing I have always struggled with is getting my couples and my families to look natural in photos. I feel like my posing is good, but it just seems like they so often don’t feel comfortable in front of my camera and I don’t know how to fix it. When I see the weddings and engagements on your blog, everyone just looks so natural. What can I do to create that feel in my images?
That is such a great question! We actually had to sit down and have a real conversation about how we get our couples to look natural. As it turns out, there are several things that we do intentionally and there are several things that we just do naturally. We will share both of those lists so that you can start doing some of them as well!
Getting your clients to look comfortable and natural in the final images is crucial! So many times we get comments when we meet with couples for the first time that they want the “candid look” that we have in our images. We then get to explain to them that, though they look candid, all of our images are actually posed by us! In other words, we don’t just expect our brides and grooms to know what to do without any help at all! How could they know?! So we guide them step by step in each pose so that ultimately it looks like a moment that just “happened.” So here are 3 basic tips we use to make sure our couples look natural!
Nine times out of ten, when we get our couples in front of our cameras it’s not the first time we have met them. If it’s their engagement session, we have met them at least at the initial consultation. Every once in a while there is an exception when someone lives out of town. But we have at LEAST met them through Skype. And obviously if it’s their wedding day, we have already done their engagement session.
So that’s a huge key! Don’t let your session be the first time you meet your client if you can help it!
There’s one other thing we do in advance of an engagement session. We send them this post we wrote called 5 Must-haves For Every Engagement Session. This is one of our most popular blog posts ever! Our couples love it because it gives them an idea of what their engagement session will be like. They come prepared. Thus, they feel more comfortable and it makes it soooo much easier for us to get them to look natural!
Most likely your couples (or clients if you shoot families or other sessions) are not naturally comfortable in front of the camera. No matter how much experience they have had in the past, everyone gets a little nervous when it comes to getting their picture taken! We are all our own worst critics and we all have little insecurities about ourselves! All of us!!! It’s important for your couples to know that you love them and care about them!
We build in extra time, usually at the beginning of a session just to talk and show that we are interested in our couples. We are genuinely interested in them so this is something that came naturally to us! But as we reflected on your question, this quickly became an important factor. You can’t just walk into a session and start snapping pictures right and left like a crazy photographer! You really have to go into the session and let them know that everything is going to be fun and that you are going to be with them, guiding them the entire time! We always tell our couples that all they have to do is listen to us and otherwise just have fun!
We also pay close attention to them during the session or wedding day. If there is any sense of stress (i.e. the bride is concerned about her hair or the groom’s smile is wearing out), we take a break and just talk to them for a few minutes. It gives everyone (including us) a chance to take a breather and forget about the cameras for a minute or two…or three!
Boy if we could only give you one of these tips, this would be the one! We know firsthand how encouraging it can be when the photographer is constantly encouraging you and telling you that you’re doing an amazing job! We make it our goal to never allow a silent moment, especially while our couple is holding a pose! It’s not easy but Ryan has a lot of jokes lined up for these moments as well as plenty of encouraging words from both of us! Encourage encourage encourage! We can’t say it enough!
Another thing that helps when it comes to encouraging our couples is demonstrating poses. We don’t expect them to know what to do right away. So we show them how to do it! We have the advantage of being a husband and wife team, so this works masterfully for us. The bride and groom can just mirror what we are doing and nail the pose so easily!
We do one last thing to build their confidence. We show them an image every now and then! Alyssa loves to do this while Ryan likes to keep his a surprise for later. But we look for the opportunity to give them a little sneak peek of what they look like, usually early on in the session. You guys would not believe the reactions we get! We wish it was because of our amazing photography, but we don’t think that’s what gets the reaction. We really just believe that they have never seen themselves the way they see themselves in that image. Our eyes are trained for the best light, composition and posing. We get their natural smiles by staying upbeat (and Ryan’s constant jokes). We have great equipment. Put all of that together and it creates an image unlike anything they have seen of themselves before! Imagine how much more confident they are once they see that image. It’s like a lightbulb turns on! Try it. You will be amazed what a confidence builder it can be!
*Bonus Tip: These aren’t really posing tips, but here’s a quick one that applies: get them moving! People tend to be most comfortable and natural when they are in motion. Many times we start with a walking pose (like you see at the top of this post). It gets everyone feeling like they have accomplished something (which they have!) just by walking!
Those are our 3 best tips to getting your clients to look natural in the final images! Get out there and try a few things in this list! Take your time. It takes time to master all of these in one session. But when you do, you will see a major difference!
If anyone has any other questions, no matter how small, please don’t hesitate to email us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org! We would be humbled to try and answer your question as best we can!