It is one of the biggest mysteries for photographers both new and old. It can be a source of incredible frustration and will sap any level of creativity you have that day. You get to the wedding, you shoot them getting ready, you shoot through the ceremony and through them entering the reception and you look outside and see that beautiful moment when the sun hits the horizon. It’s time!! So you rush them outside and talk to them about how incredible the sunset is and how incredible these photos are going to be. And then it hits you. You have no freaking idea what to do! How are you going to pose these two? “They are staring at you dummy! Just pretend like you are metering or fixing a camera setting or something so they don’t think you’re a total ass” you think to yourself.
It happens to the best of us. We either don’t know what to do or we draw a blank on what to do. Fear not. I am going to give you three quick things you can do NOW to fix that for your very next shoot!
You’re in Charge
This one is sort of a no brainer but one I think is the most often overlooked. I can’t think of how many photographers I have talked to in the past who are scared out of their mind about shooting weddings. And more specifically, are spiraling downward into a panic as they get closer to the moment where they have to shoot portraits. One of the first things I tell them is to "remember who they hired… YOU” You were the one they chose. You are the one they connected with. YOU are the one they want to share this super intimate day with and have memorialize it forever! Does that add any more undue stress? Sorry about that… my point though is this; Even if you have to fake it in that moment (which I have) you are the one in charge. Just say this to yourself next time you feel that panic set in, “They picked me!” and take up confidence in knowing that they trust you 100%.
Take it Personally
When we do our workshops one of the excersizes I run through with our attendees is running them through shooting the bride and groom. We get live models, we go outside and I will pose them, shoot, and repeat in different locations. I will then tell the attendees it’s their turn. One of the things I look for is how they handle the models in that moment and inevitably one of the things I see more than anything is how stand-off-ish (and obtuse) the photographer can be.
I like to get in close and create a personal space. I put my hand on the shoulder of the groom and try to relax him while maybe joking with him about how awkward this is and how dumb it can feel. When posing them I give them physical cues up close. Instead of standing 10 feet back and shouting at them to drop their hand or fix their posture, I frame the shot, then walk up to them and gently do it for them. I think this helps build a comfortable space for them to relax but also gives you exactly what you need in that moment.
Reframe the shot
King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” And when you shoot 150+ weddings a year like we do, and pose 150+ couples a year, that couldn’t be any more true for us. You’re not alone in thinking “I’ve done this pose before…” I deal with that every weekend. However there are things you can do to make it seem different both to you and to your clients.
1. Get in tight - Pose them and shoot wide, then it shoot tight. Use your rule of thirds and frame them left and frame them right. Change your focal lengths, and focal points. Mix. it. up. That was easy right ?
2. Change your background - Use the relationship between your client and their surroundings to get a different look. It’s that simple. Use the space around you to spur creative change. I have shot West Manor 100 times. But I still get there and fall in love with that place because of the space they have there to create incredible portraits.
That’s it! 3 things you can change today to break the cycle of concerning yourself with posing and get back to creating!