Posing For Couples
Does your monthly shoot schedule include more engagement and wedding sessions than anything else? Are your adorable friends always asking you to document their fairytale romances? If so, this article is for you. Posing couples can be tricky, especially if neither of them have much experience in front of the camera. Fortunately, though, there are quite a few poses and techniques that you can use to ensure they both look natural, comfortable, and believably in love.
Posing couples is all about connection, interaction, and capturing candid togetherness. A perk for you, photographer…couples photography is often the most fun! When two people genuinely love each other, that love will always shine through in your final photo set. You’re the aesthetics master, not the relationship coach. Phew.
Don’t Forget to Relax!
Lucky for you, it’s a bit easier to help couples relax during a shoot, versus individual men or women. They know and are comfortable with each other (one would hope, anyway), which takes the pressure off of you to provide a perfectly comfortable environment.
Still, though, it’s important to realize that your subjects are likely not experienced models, and you can’t expect them to know exactly what to do once you start snapping. As I brought up in our previous articles on Posing for Men and Posing for Women, you can take steps as the photographer to help your subjects feel as relaxed as possible during your shoot, which ultimately benefits you both.
- Create an environment that inspires comfort. Posing can be awkward, even for an experienced model. Encourage the models to push through the discomfort, and not to worry if it feels a little weird at first.
- Don’t put too much pressure on the posing. Poses should feel natural, and flow through the model’s body like a dance. Rigidity is never a good look! Encourage your models to relax, move around, and go with the flow, and don’t get too hung up on the position of the pinky fingers.
- Sit down with your models beforehand and ask them if they know of any poses that work for them. If they do, try those first. If you don’t already have a specific pose in mind, going with what they’re comfortable with is always a great place to start.
Common Poses That Work for Couples
Arm on His ChestThink of this one like a slow dance position. If they’re getting married or already married, maybe even mention their first dance, and watch their faces light up with love and nostalgia. Have your models stand with their bodies facing each other and their faces toward the camera. Direct the woman to rest her arm closest to the camera on her partner’s chest. Their heads should be tilted slightly toward each other for a more intimate look. His arms can be around her waist if it’s a full body shot, and she can place her other arm either on his waist or his opposite shoulder.
Intimate Close-UpOne of the most romantic poses there is! If you’re using a portrait lens like a 50mm or 85mm, it’s especially lovely, because of all the crisp details you’re able to capture in their facial expressions. Direct the couple to get up close and personal, almost as if they were about to share a kiss. Encourage them to giggle and chat while there–it lends to those perfect candid laughing shots we all love. Variations of this pose include one partner gently cradling the other’s face, but let them know to be careful not to block the other’s face from the camera. Photographers: don’t be afraid to really crop in tight here! The closer you get, it communicates more intimacy.
The Piggyback RideWhen done right, the piggyback ride pose can easily turn out as your favorite photo of the shoot. The primary concern here is hand placement, so make sure she’s not accidentally choking him or gripping onto his shoulders for dear life. Your subjects will probably giggle naturally here, which is great, so consider instructing him to tilt his head back slightly to look at her. Or, you can direct them to both look at the camera, or out into the distance (past the camera) in the same direction. This pose is great for waist-up shots.
Holding Her From BehindSubtle and sweet, this pose is great for waist-up and full body shots. Direct him to stand behind her with his arms hugging her midsection. She should gently rest her hands on top of his. The couple can either look directly into the camera for a formal, smiling pose, or kiss for a more romantic, emotional shot.
Walking Toward the CameraThis one is as simple as it sounds. Photographers: Stand far back from your subjects for this one. Note that this shot will be most effective if you’re outside with a fairly simple, open background, such as on a beach, in a field, etc. Direct your subjects to walk toward you from reasonably far away. This gives you time to capture a variety of shots. There are infinite variations here, so encourage the couple to play around and interact candidly as they walk. They can try holding hands, looking straight ahead, looking away from each other, putting their arms around each other's shoulders or waists, etc.
Holding Hands with Heads TouchingThis pose is unfailingly romantic. Instruct your subjects to turn their backs to you, holding hands. Then, with their torsos facing away from the camera, have them turn their upper bodies 45 degrees toward each other, with their foreheads gently touching. This is a perfect pose for full body silhouettes against a sunset, for example. If you want to play around with this one, direct one or both of them to close their eyes. Sigh. The romance!
Wardrobe!With couples shoots, it’s especially important to account for colors, congruency, and clashing. Not every couple will be excited about wearing matching all-white outfits with their partner for a photoshoot, so encourage them to wear what makes them feel comfortable. However, it may help to provide a few wardrobe options and suggestions beforehand, as to prevent them showing up in accidental Christmas colors, or an equally disastrous color calamity.
Provide inspiration!These days, you can probably assume that any couple you’re working with has done extensive Pinterest and Instagram photo research prior to their own shoot, but it can be inspiring and encouraging if you take the initiative to show them some of your past couples work before you begin the shoot. This way, they can point out poses they like and don’t like, backgrounds that catch their eyes, and other details that can help you, as the photographer, to make sure they get exactly what they want out of their shoot.
Create an open dialogue.As always, I’ll emphasize how important it is to communicate with your subjects. If something isn’t working for them physically or intuitively, it’ll save you time and effort in the long run if you encourage them to speak up about any issues they’re having before or during the shoot, so you can nip it in the bud before it becomes a bigger problem. I love to say that portrait photography is a two-way conversation. In this case, it’s a three-way conversation, but you get where I’m going with this.
If you’re ready to take your posing to the next level, check out my FREE training where I give you my 3 Secrets on how to pose with confidence! People who take my free training walk away a more confident camera user and better photographer. JOIN ME HERE!