When it comes to posing for engagement photos, my style of photography is half documentary, half editorial. I want your photos to look natural – not stiff, awkward, or posed. I want you to look at my photos and see moments that were going to happen even if I wasn’t there to capture them. My job is to prompt and nudge you in the right direction to bring out those candid, in-between moments.
Some of my favorite photos – whether they are my photos or someone else’s – are not perfectly posed. There is usually some sort of emotion or energy conveyed. This could be happiness, sadness – something is powering through all of the other visuals in the photo. My main goal when shooting with my couples is to bring those emotions out.
I try not to have any preconceived notions about what vibe I’m going for when heading into a session. My goal for each session or wedding is to have you feel like yourself and recognize the people you see in the photos. For that reason, I go into each session with an open mind and I get to know who you are and how you interact with each other in order to know which direction to take the session, rather than having the same 20 poses that I must get through for each couple.
With that being said, here are some of the things I like to talk about with my couples about posing for engagement photos:
The more you move, the better. Standing still and holding certain poses usually tends to make you look awkward. Mannequins hold poses, and we all know how weird mannequins look. When I say “add some movement” I don’t mean to flail about uncontrollably. I just want you to move in ways that feel natural to you. Such as, swaying back and forth, playing with your hands, pushing your hair around, kissing all over, pushing and pulling each other in and out, swishing your dress. These small things go so far in making each photo feel unique and authentic
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, just act natural. (Oh, it’s that simple? Lol) I know your mom has trained you for your entire life to just smile and look at the camera but I need you to forget all of that. That’s not my style and I want you to do almost the exact opposite. The more true to yourself you’re being, the better the photos will turn out. If you feel stiff and awkward, ding ding ding, you’ll look stiff and awkward. Posing for engagement photos shouldn’t be hard.
Don’t overthink it! If I tell you to wrap up in each other’s arms, do it how you would normally do it on a cold night trying to stay warm. Don’t try to place your head perfectly on their chest while you also worry about how you should place your hand. Just be normal. You’ve been together for so long that I don’t need to tell you how to hold each other or where to put your hands. Don’t worry, though – If something looks weird, I’ll be sure to let you know and we’ll adjust. I want to make you look like you, not Barbie and Ken.
With all of that said, I do have some go-to prompts that I use as starting points to build off of. I tend to use them in the majority of my sessions so odds are that you will hear these if you work with me:
“Do a little swing dance. But really exaggerate it – fling each other around!”
“Wrap her up from behind – now whisper something dirty into her ear..”
“I want you to run towards me, but right before you get to me, just grab her and wrap her up really tightly and spin around!”
“For this one I’ll have you face each other, wrap up super close and go in for a kiss…but pause right before you kiss with your lips centimeters apart..”
While I know that you were expecting a more detail oriented posing guide, I hope that you can understand why I wrote about what I did. I’m more interested with the moments that happen in between the prompts and poses that I give you than the actual poses.
None of the people in my portfolio are models and almost all of my photos come from sessions where at least one of the subjects was either not into it or super uncomfortable with the thought of posing for engagement photos. I start slow and we build up to good shots. I treat sessions like a marathon, not a sprint. And just like that, everyone is having a great time by the second half and feeling really good about being in front of the camera.