Have you ever left a wedding or a portrait session feeling like you didn’t get the poses you wanted or the variety you were hoping for?
Or maybe you find yourself thinking so much about the timeline of the day or the shot list that it’s hard to remind yourself to change up the poses or your lens to get a different image. Trust me, I’ve been there!
I have discovered a few simple tricks that help me to get better poses even without much time (or a second shooter or assistant!)
Recently, I shared a gallery of some of the images that I shot from a micro wedding I photographed this fall. I was working alone and did not have a lot of time to get portraits. I got a instagram DM asking how to get a better variety of images and poses in the final gallery. “Good poses, even without a lot of time!” she added.
I love this question because I think it’s something that we all struggle with when we’re trying to think about poses. We’re trying to make sure we’re maintaining a good connection with our couples, but also thinking about the timeline, the lighting, our camera settings, and keeping ourselves from getting lost in the day. By the time portraits are over we can sometimes be kicking ourselves because we forgot to try this one pose, or we forgot to have them turn and actually look at us for some pictures.
I am going to walk you through my approach to posing. I will share how I get better variety and what I am thinking about while I’m posing, directing, and choosing my compositions. This is important especially when you can’t rely on getting a second photographer’s perspective and only have a short amount of time. This will be short, but I think it’s going to be helpful to some of you who might be trying to shake things up when it comes to variation within your galleries.
1. Use Two Camera Bodies
The first thing is that I shoot on two camera bodies. I do this to get more variety and focal length options. If I shoot on one camera body I am going to have to switch lenses more often, which takes time. That also increases the risk of dust or debris entering into my camera body or getting on the contacts of the lens. I don’t want to be changing my lenses dozens of times throughout the day. Because of that I started shooting on two camera bodies pretty early in my career.
Two camera bodies adds a lot of variety to my final galleries because I can quickly flip back and forth between these cameras getting different perspectives, compositions, and focal lengths. They’re different lenses and can get very heavy. If you only have one camera body or don’t want to wear all of the gear, I would recommend that you carry a lens or two that you can switch to quickly. For that reason, I like the Shootsac camera bag. That’s what I used when I only shot on one camera body so that I could switch out quickly.
If you’re shooting with two camera bodies, you have to be thinking critically about what lenses you’re choosing to put on those camera bodies. I would recommend that the lenses are different enough to produce a nice variety. For example, I’m not going to put a 60MM and a 50MM on because those focal lengths are similar. Just like a 35MM and a 28MM would be. I like to have an 85MM 1.4 and a 35 MM 1.4 because they produce different results.
Regardless of whether you’re shooting on two camera bodies or one, make sure that as you’re switching out your lenses frequently. If I have the 35MM and the 85MM and I’m shooting a couple on a wedding day, I probably won’t need to switch that lens ever because I can get different results from those two lenses. Think critically about what lenses you’re choosing so you can get the most variety. Check out my blog on what gear I bring to Micro Weddings!
2. Start with Something Easy – Classic Poses
Next, I will start out posing my couples with a classic pose. With that, I’m not going to shoot super wide or super tight. I will start with a full-length shot of my couple. For example, I start out with them facing one another to get that full-length shot. The next thing that I want to do is shoot wide and then tight. This is best explained in my video tutorial where I can show you example images too.
Surprisingly, I’m not constantly changing my couple’s pose. That’s something I think sometimes photographers think: that in order to get a huge amount of variety and keep the gallery fresh and amazing, they have to constantly be thinking of new poses and changing them up when really you can get a tremendous amount of variety without them changing their pose.
I think staying fresh on your posing and trying new things is wonderful, but what can really help to freshen your work can be you moving instead of the couple moving.
3. Micro Pose Changes
Next, I will have my couple make micro pose changes. You can get so much variety just by having them move in small ways. For example, if I’m posing a couple and they’re nose-to-nose or forehead-to-forehead, instead of having them move to a whole new location or try to completely reposition them, I will let them know, “Hey, I love everything about this… without changing your bodies, can you guys turn and look at me?”
If I like the position of a hand, but I want to change the pose a little bit, I’ll have the bride move her head or I’ll have the groom reach up and hold the bride’s face.Micro changes can be so powerful because just a hand position, a head position can completely change a photograph.
Between these 3 tips you can see how you can get more variation and shake up your posing in major ways without having to reinvent the wheel and learn five new poses.