Three Tips for Posing a Bride and Groom

Some days, I have such a short amount of time with the bride and groom alone that I have to decide if I should take the time to better that hand placement or get four more shots that will help fill a wedding album and tell a story. Even though the hand placement will bug me for months afterwards, I choose the story, every time.

One of the most fun conversations I have with other photographers is with portrait photographers. I love chatting with them about posing and techniques. Partly, it’s because I think they know so much more about it than I do, but also because we have very different work environments.

I have the metadata to prove that my wedding from three weeks ago gave me 1 minute and 48 seconds between first and last directed shot with my couple. A 108-second portrait session that yielded 17 final images from those few seconds between my second shooter and I. I consider that a huge win.

I’m a perfectionist at heart, so while I’d love to pose my brides and grooms intricately, I’m not given the luxury of time, choosing location, or having an input on wardrobe. Some days, I have such a short amount of time with the bride and groom alone that I have to decide if I should take the time to better that hand placement or get four more shots that will help fill a wedding album and tell a story.

Even though the hand placement will bug me for months afterwards, I choose the story, every time.

MGM Grand Las Vegas Wedding

You can see how I managed to get 15+ useable images from a 5-minute bride and groom session in Posing a Bride and Groom. My basic thought process through a typical wedding day session with a bride and groom goes something like this:

1. Know Your Obstacles

The first tip I have to give when posing a bride a groom on a wedding day is you have to know what you’re working with. Are you short on time? Is it raining, and are you only allowed to use one corner of the venue, because another bride is using the prettier side? Do you have a bride that only likes to be photographed on one side? Is your groom an impatient one?

There are so many complications that wedding photographers face, but they can all be overcome if you just take a second to evaluate them and come up with a plan from there. On the contrary, if you’re not aware that you only have five minutes with the bride and groom and decide to spend three of them fine-tuning a pose, you may end up with one amazing picture, but your couple may be left wanting.

2. Know Your Couple

I recently had a debate with another photographer about my attempting to make women look “skinny” while posing them. While I still hold my ground that my subjects do want to look as flattering as possible in slimming poses (not Photoshopped), it made me realize that there needs to be more communication with my clients. As photographers, we should have open dialogues with our clients before or while we’re photographing them. What are their favorite features? What parts of their body are they self-conscious about? In order to capture our subject’s best side, we need to first understand their self-image. When posing a bride and groom, take the time to understand them and how they view themselves.

MGM Vegas Wedding Pictures

3. Know Your Flow

This takes me back to the days when I was watching Doug Gordon talk about flow-posing on a tradeshow floor. While his style and mine are very different, the concept is still the same, and it is an invaluable one.

Part of the value of being a professional photographer a few years into the game is having a bag a tricks you can pull from, posing included. I have a few basic go-to poses that I pull from if I need to pose quickly or when I’m drawing a creative blank. They’re easy poses that I can adapt to fit most any couple and even alter them to have a fun and spunky or soft and romantic feel. Have a set of poses that you can quickly use in any situation.

Be sure to check out the video for some other helpful hints. Happy wedding season!

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3 Comments

Bruce Hildebrand's picture

Solid, sensible and practical advice. Thank you, Vanessa.

Vanessa Joy's picture

Glad to hear it! Thanks for reading. :-)

Thanks for doing this! Will have to try this out.

Quick question, why did you choose that exposure? Specifically 1/1000 at ISO 400. Why not 1/250 at ISO 100? (This is ultimately irrelevant with modern sensors, but just curious)
Also why f/2.5? Seems like a strange aperture to choose. I would think for DoF you'd either go to max aperture (1.4 or 1.8) or wide enough for both of them (3.5 of 4)