How to Pose Couples For Engagement Portraits

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Dear Christa -I am looking for some tips on taking engagement photos. I absolutely love your work and any advice you have would be greatly appreciated! -Nervous Poser
That all-too-familiar moment of terror when the couple is looking at you with that “I feel awkward” expression on their faces. Panic is clawing at your gutt as thousands of thoughts rush through your brain, clouding your vision and making you sweat like a pig about to be baconized.

No. bueno.

How to avoid Getting Stuck

Whether engagement, wedding or even family portraits posing your couple is intimidating. That’s why I’ve come up with a strategy for planning out my shoots prior so I never feel “stuck”.

1) Create a Posing Manual 

The best advice I can give is start tearing sheets out of magazines. Pick up a few magazines, paw through and snap a pic on your phone or slip them into a binder to tote along.

I have a posing manual with dividers for couples, women fashion, women boudoir, seniors, families etc. I also sketch out (yay for stick-figures!) my poses on one simple sheet so I can have an “at a glance” reboot of the poses I want to cover.

Find Creative Poses That Match your Brand

Have you ever thought about how certain poses represent your brand better than others? I didn’t until I realized that my particular clients (those that are attracted to my style) don’t gravitate towards super playful flirty poses. What do you feel like you default towards? Those are the types of photos and poses you should be looking for and compiling into your binder.

 2.) Practice on you and your man

Get in front of a mirror and work out the poses ahead of time so you know how to communicate the position to your couple.

3.) Create a Flow 

I create categories in my head that I want to capture every time I shoot.

  • standing poses
  • sitting poses
  • poses from above shooting down
  • wide angle poses
  • tight intimate head shot poses
  • walking or action poses (piggy back, picking up and swinging around, running up from behind with a huge hug)

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50mm f2.0 1/640 ISO400 Same pose, three different moods.

I then create a “map” in my head, depending on the location, for what poses I want to start with. Walking or action poses are the best to start with as they warm the couple up and make them feel comfortable, relaxing the muscle tension in their faces etc. You can then move to other poses, saving the most intimate or complicated poses for last when the couple is really warmed up.

Do: shoot the same pose from 180 degree angle. You get a completely different shot from the same position.

Do: Work the distance. I’m always telling myself- “get them separated, work the distance shots”

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50mm f2.2 1/320 ISO 400  This was the first pose at this shoot- started with the distance and moved him in from there. I instructed him to stand tall behind her, pressing into her back and kissing her shoulder or neck.

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50mm f2.2 1/320 ISO 400

Do: Pay attention to the details, their fingers and hands.

Don’t: Shoot the same pose multiple times, just get it once and change something- expression, hand positions etc.

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Same pose, he is looking down, then at camera.  50mm f2.8 1/640 ISO 400

Uncategorized
November 13, 2013
  1. Sara says:

    These are super helpful tips. I’ve started ripping out pages from magazine and storyboarding helps me so much. 🙂
    These photos are so posh; I love them.

  2. christa says:

    Huge thank you to Erika and Evan for working on this shoot with the Champagne coordination team!

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