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10 Fantastic Natural Wedding Posing Tips

It’s been a long time since the 80s and 90s formal wedding portraits in studios, that have given wedding photography a bad name in some circles. Nowadays there are really amazing wedding photographers creating images that look like art and capture true emotion, not staged photos. If you are thinking about getting into wedding photography or want an insiders look at how some of that beautiful, natural wedding posing is created, here are 10 tips to help keep it real.

1. Stay in Touch

There is something very intimate and powerful about seeing people touching. This might seem obvious to you, but I think a mistake can be made by leaving space between couples or groups. Tell your groups “Get real close- don’t be afraid of each other!” Or something silly like “Pretend you like each other!” with a big smile on your face. With the groomsmen, I love getting them in a line for something formal, and then telling everyone to “Harass the groom!”

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Standard photo of groomsmen.

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Look at the difference in a photo when you have people connecting physically. It doesn’t always have to be romantic to get a great photo.

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Telling the bridesmaids to get as close as possible, and then lean towards me, gets them connecting physically with each other and elicits natural smiles.

 

2. Walk Away and Come Back

This is my go to wedding posing instruction for most brides and grooms. I tell them to “Walk away, talk about what you’re going to do tomorrow.” Then after a few good shots I tell them to “Come back.” It’s the easiest thing for them to do, they aren’t thinking about themselves or me because I’m far enough away, and it looks natural because it is natural.

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3. Look at Your Shoes

This is a fun one that I’ve discovered makes for a very pretty glamour shot with the brides. Often I’ll see them look over their side at their shoes or the bottom of their dress, and the moment always seems fresh and natural and pretty, especially showcasing their profile. If they aren’t doing that naturally, you can always say “Look over your shoulder at your shoes.” Be ready to click in a moment!

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4. Button Up

There are some great natural wedding posing moments with the groom as he is getting ready. As the title suggests, tell the groom to unbutton and button his jacket up. Or put on his cufflinks. Or adjust his bowtie/tie. This gives him something to do, the moment looks natural and masculine, and if you are near some nice window light, you’ve got your money shot.

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5. Help the Groom Get Ready

This also involves the groom, but is a slight variant on the last tip. Have the groom’s father or best man (or anyone, really) help adjust something on the groom. Ideally his bowtie, tie, or boutonniere. If they aren’t doing it already, ask a groomsman if he can “make sure the groom’s tie is on right.” This creates a natural moment that looks great, and also involves tip #1, Stay in Touch.

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6. Spin

If the bride has got the dress, use it! With the right personality and dress combination, you can bring out your bride’s inner child with this fun wedding posing tip. Ask her to spin! Slow down your shutter speed for a fun movement photo.

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7. Something with Personality!

I like doing this during photos with the wedding party. I typically will take a photo with the groom and each of his groomsmen separately, and the bride and each of her bridesmaids separately. To make it fun for them (and if the group seems like the type to do it) after each standard photo I’ll tell them to give me “something with personality!” This is typically what comes out, completely on their own:

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There are always lots of laughs during this time, and everyone enjoys something that could potentially be a bit tedious.

8. Look Away, Look at Me

Good portrait photographers know there is a fleeting moment that occurs half a second before a person focuses their vision on something. It’s a completely natural moment that is entirely unselfconscious. The person is busy deciding where to look and in that moment they are truly themselves, unaware of the camera or how they look. Take advantage of that moment. You can create this moment by telling your bride or groom to “look away…now look at me”, then *snap* you’ve got it.

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Bonus – looking away is also a nice photo moment that is unselfconscious.

9. Compliment

Don’t be afraid to compliment your brides – or their mothers, sisters, grandmothers, etc. – this one is mainly for the ladies. I use this wedding posing tip at the beginning of the day, usually when makeup is being applied. Nothing brings out a natural smile like a genuine compliment. “You look amazing!” “So beautiful.” I’ve heard married guys say they have a hard time doing this, but it doesn’t have to be creepy and I’m never overstepping any boundaries when I tell someone I think they look fantastic. Doing this turns a bored getting-makeup-done look, into a lovely smile.

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10. The Almost Kiss

A little secret in the wedding photography industry is something called the “almost kiss.” This is used to create fantastic natural wedding posing. Kisses are fine but can sometimes be sloppy, maybe too intimate, and they give it all away. You can create palpable tension by telling a bride and groom to “get close for a kiss, but you are not allowed to kiss. Don’t do it!” This creates the best photo moments ever. In the end, give them what they want and let them kiss.
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Hopefully some of these tips have given you some inspiring ideas! Feel free to add your own awesome natural wedding posing tips in the comments below. I know there are many more great ways to make your wedding photos fantastic. Thanks for reading- Phil

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Phillip Van Nostrand

Phillip Van Nostrand built his photography business in Santa Barbara, CA and New York City, where he has shot over 140 weddings, countless head shots, and events for the past 9 years. Currently living in NY, he manages to travel abroad at least once a year and is up to 30 countries traveled. Published in the New York Times, Huffington Post, New York Times Magazine, featured in Santa Barbara Dining and Destinations Magazine, Cretus Mag, and San Diego Style Weddings magazine. You can connect with him on his blog and on instagram.