April 24, 2019
“How do you capture natural moments?”
“How do you pose couples to get candid reactions?”
“My couples always look like Barbie dolls trying to hug. What am I doing wrong?!?!”
That’s just a small sample of the questions we get asked nearly every single day about posing. Achieving candid and natural posing is one of the biggest struggles we see photographers deal with daily. So do you struggle with how to direct and pose YOUR clients in a way that facilitates natural, beautiful, unposed interactions? If so, we’re here to give you our top five tips for posing couples to get those natural, relaxed, real moments.
Let’s dive on in!
One of the biggest mistakes we see photographers making is assuming it’s all in the “posing” on the actual shoot. FALSE. About 80% of the work we do to make our couples comfortable and relaxed happens long before we ever even meet our clients! Say what??? It’s true! We both think that only about 20% of the work actually happens on the shoot. The other 80% happens in our client communication leading up to the session! This includes your website, social media, and especially your email communication! Your clients have a lot of nerves, questions, and fears leading up to a session. They’re unsure of what to expect, so here are the two biggest things we focus on:
Tell your clients exactly who you are, what the shoot with you will look like, how they can prepare… and get to know them! Screw professionalism- Be yourself! Build a relationship with them long before you ever meet them in person. This will set you up for SO much success before the shoot even starts!
A huge tip for easing any last-minute nerves and making the session EVEN BETTER is to meet your clients for drinks, coffee, or food before the session! This is a game changer. Giving you and your clients time to connect, build trust, ease nerves, and get excited together is SO important. It’ll take maybe 30 more minutes of your time, but that’s priceless when it comes to how your clients feel about the experience and how the photos turn out. If you can’t meet for drinks or something beforehand, try to meet somewhere and carpool the rest of the way or something similar. Make sure you have time to connect before the actual shoot!
Second, once you’ve arrived at your location, don’t pull out your camera and start posing right away! Tell them to explore the space while you’re getting your gear together. Ask them more questions about themselves, and tell them more about you. If you expect them to be vulnerable with you, you should also do the exact same thing in return!! Don’t just shove a camera in their face right away! Give them time to ease into the location and the adventure you’re all about to have.
Don’t let your mind get trapped in a static frame. Stop thinking about posing your couples. As photographers, it’s super easy to get stuck thinking in single frames, but don’t let that happen. Instead, be constantly thinking like a director or a videographer rather than a photographer. Give them lots of movement based poses – things to do rather than positions or poses to hold. This will be a massive game changer.
It’s the little in-between moments that are often the most precious and real. So constantly have them move and shift around. Give them things to say to each other to spark reactions or cultivate interactions with each other. Get Instagram out of your head, and stop thinking about that ONE SHOT. Instead, think about the whole “movie” of their relationship that you’re capturing.
Friend, get out of your own head. Your clients will pick up on the vibe you’re laying down. So if you’re constantly worrying about how you look (“Do I look like a pro?” “Can they tell I’m struggling?” “Do they think they wasted their money???” etc) they will pick up on that! You set the tone for the session, so if you’re nervous or tense, they’ll feel nervous or tense. Worried about how you look? YEP, they’ll be worried about how they look too. If you just don’t give a dang, and you’re willing to look like a total fool when you demonstrate prompts for your clients…. They’re gonna reflect that too.
So go ham! Lose all dignity. Act out the prompts without any hesitations or fear of “looking stupid.” If you’re naturally more reserved or quiet, that’s totally fine! You don’t have to be basket-cases like us. But whether you’re extroverted/crazy or not, the same principle still applies: stop worrying about yourself. Don’t try to look professional. Be yourself. Focus on putting your couples at ease, whatever that looks like for you!
Stop thinking about “that epic insta shoot” you saw last week. Stop trying to make your clients into people they aren’t. Read them. Get to know them and their relationship. Find their spark that makes them completely unique, and then feed that fire. If they’re more reserved, cater your directions to more tender, quiet, cozy prompts. If they’re silly + playful, cater your directions to that. Don’t ever put your couples in a box. Each and every person, relationship, and therefore shoot, is unique. That should actually give you fresh inspiration for every shoot. So embrace that fact and cater the shoot to them!
A bonus tip that goes with this is to make sure to take breaks! Contrary to what your brain may be screaming at you, it’s not bad to take some breaks. This can actually help your clients breathe. So don’t just go-go-go the entire shoot! Give them breathers. Put your camera down by your hip and ask them a follow-up question about their story.
If we’re using the example of a flame… imagine trying to start a fire. That tiny little spark is just starting to turn into a flame, and then WHOOSH. You turn a leaf blower on it. What happens? Yeah, that spark goes out. You have to learn how to pace yourself (and your clients) in a way that allows that flame to be stirred up into a roaring fire. Breaks allow them room to breathe. So read your couples and be smart about when they might need to breathe.
Posing is so much more than cute positions. It’s the entire mood you set during your shoots. Just remember that it starts long before you ever meet them in person. You should be setting expectations and soothing nerves the minute they step a cyber foot on your website and send you an email. And once you have squeezed the stuffing out of them in person, that camera should stay in the bag for a little while longer. Continue to reassure those nerves. Open yourself up, ask them questions, and build that trust.
Once that camera’s out? Yeah. Give them the stuff to do. We both tell our clients up-front, “We might ask you to do some ridiculous things, but just trust us. We’re not looking for the perfectly posed photo. We’re looking for some real-life fun. Don’t worry at all about perfectly performing the actions. We look much more for the reactions. So just relax and enjoy each other.”
This will change the GAME. Also another thing you can do… stop trying to be a perfectly polished pro. Your clients will match that mood. Just relax, screw professionalism, and be yourself. Set them at ease with your words and actions. And finally, this is about your clients, not you. Read them, take breaks, show them you care, and then put your ALL into serving them, not yourself.
Hopefully that helped spark some ideas in your head when it comes to approaching your sessions and interacting with your clients! Was this helpful?! We’d love to hear your thoughts below!!
And if you’re in the mood for some more candid imagery inspiration for your next shoot, head on over to our Instagram right HERE to see more photos from both of us!
Now get out there and kick some serious BUTT!
Evie + Lindsey
WASSUP FRIENDS. We’re Evie + Lindsey, co-founders of this wild partayyy called The Heart University. Our goal is to empower entrepreneurs to kick freaking BUTT in their businesses, dive down into the heart of their why and how, and serve you with all possible tools you’ll need to up-level your business game and CRUSH those goals of yours.
Whether you’re coming to an in-person workshop, joining our online course, or soaking up all the strategies via this blog or our podcast, we’re STOKED you’re here + can’t wait to see you out there kicking butt.
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