August 10, 2022
When I first started my photography business, I used to think if I told a couple to walk off in the distance and “act natural,” they would know exactly what to do. 🙈
Have you been there before? 🙋♀️🙋♂️
What I quickly discovered is that by asking someone to “act naturally,” the LAST thing they do is that request! People don’t know how to act naturally when someone is watching them – so I believe it’s our job to either create an environment or give specific instructions to get beautiful, natural-looking photos.
So how in the WORLD do you do that?
Read on for my best tips for posing clients to get stunning photos and rave reviews.
This first tip is simple, but I guarantee it works!
What do I mean? If you want a client to turn their head to the right, don’t just tell them what to do. Look at them and turn your head to the left so that you’re mirroring them.
Think about when you go to the gym and you do a dance workout. The instructor is going to tell you what to do by doing it, and you’re going to mirror their actions. It’s the same thing with posing… and I promise, it makes everything easier for both you AND your client!
For instance, if you want the bride to turn into the groom and have her head and eyes down, I’ll act it out as I explain the move. I do this even with the men so they can see exactly what they need to do.
Showing the poses makes your explanation so much easier and faster when your client can see exactly what they’re supposed to do.
This is especially helpful for large groups and family portraits. When you go to photograph in these situations, it will likely be loud and they won’t be able to hear your directions.
So, instead of trying to yell “Move over to the left!” over the noise, I’ll mouth the words “Move over to the left” as I point left in an exaggerated, obvious way, so everyone can see me. This works for moving your group anywhere.
You don’t even have to actually say anything – save your voice! 👉👈👆
Give your client very specific instructions as you pose them. If you want them to turn their head and bring their chin forward and down, then say all of that!
All of those little details make a difference. You want the client to know exactly what they need to do so they’re not looking at their photos later on and wishing they had been given more direction.
Don’t be afraid to speak up! There’s obviously a way to say something kindly while still being informative, so they get the best possible images that they can get. 🖼️🖼️
Keep in mind that your tone of voice can influence the final outcome of the photos. Crazy, right? 😬
If you want your clients to be very calm and have a soft expression, consider lowering your voice.
Whereas if you want them to look very joyful and energetic, reflect that kind of joy and energy in your voice! ☀️
You want your actual tone to be given to them in the way you want the image to feel and look – because believe it or not, your tone will be reflected in the images!
Trust me when I say the hands give away everything. 👐
When you’re looking at the client as they’re posing, pay very close attention to their hands. Hands can let you know if someone is nervous. For example, if the bride is touching his face, you’ll see tension in her hands very clearly – it’ll look like a claw! 😅
Try giving clear direction here. If I see tension in a client’s hands, I’ll say “soften your hands,” or “use ballet hands.”
When you pay attention to these tiny details, you’ll know that every aspect of the image looks very natural.
As you photograph your clients, you get the opportunity to get to know them and their personalities. So as you walk with them and have conversations, pay particular attention to their personality. Ask yourself if they are:
Once you know the answer to this, ask yourself: how can you reflect their personality in their images?
I have one couple I have photographed who together are cool, calm, and collected. I photographed them standing together, leaning on a wall, and just hanging out together.
Then, I have a second couple I’ve photographed where the man picked her up and did tricks over the swamp here in Louisiana! 🐊 There are literally photos of them walking on the rails over the swamp holding hands – because that’s who they are in real life.
I let my clients be who they are. The more you can reflect the couple’s true personality… and NOT try to fit them in a box… I guarantee you, the more they’re going to like those images.
They’ll feel like you got to know them and created a very custom, catered experience to reflect who they are as people. And who doesn’t love a service catered to them?! 💌
At the beginning of each session, I will ask the clients what they are insecure about.
You’re probably thinking, “Cat, that sounds a little personal,” – it is, but hang with me!
Sometimes a couple might want to express a pose they do or don’t like, or it could be something they don’t want to show, like a side of their face or something they’re self-conscious about. I think opening the floor for those conversations really gives you a better chance of making them happy because you know what to look for. For instance, you won’t pose a bride in lots of profile shots if you know she’s insecure about the side of her face.
You want to honor what their preferences are so they LOVE their pictures in the end.
Make sure their arms are not pressed up against their bodies, especially for your female clients.
I know it sounds simple, but the poses will look much better if everything is nice and relaxed. Ensure there are gaps between their arms and their body, whether it is from the front or from the side, and it will do wonders for the shot.
The last best tip I have for you is to use the names of your clients and everyone around them as much as possible.
The next time you’re photographing a wedding, I challenge you to remember – and I know it’s hard 🙈 – as many people in the wedding party and the family as you can!
Your ability to say “Ok, Mark, would you take one step closer to John?” sounds SO much better than, “Excuse me, you, Sir, next to the side of the groom… would you move one step closer to the groom?”
Do you see the difference?!
I guarantee, of ALL the weddings we’ve photographed (over 500 at this point!), one of the most received compliments is, “Thank you SO much for remembering our names.” It’s a very simple thing you can do to really level up your client experience, and it will really elevate your images in the end.
Now that you know HOW to pose your clients for beautiful and natural photos, you need a list of the best go-to poses!
Do you ever feel stuck or nervous trying to come up with poses on the spot? Or maybe you use the same poses over and over and need something new?
I’ve been there… and now I’m sharing what I’ve learned to help you! My Posing Guide below will allow you to:
Check out the Posing Guide below. ⤵️