10 Fantastic Natural Wedding Posing Tips

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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 built his photography business in Santa Barbara, CA, where he has shot over 70 weddings, countless head shots, and events for the past 6 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.

  • Stay in touch & The Almost Kiss
    pose is very eye catching pose. I like this .Thank you so much for sharing with us.

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  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    THank you @Clippingpathserviceindia:disqus!

  • Amazing tips, Phil!

  • Hoang Ha

    thank you a million for these valuable tips. For me, the almost kiss and walk away & comeback are always on the go to list ^^.

  • Pamela Tributino

    Good tips! I think most, if not all of them, can be applied to other group or family photos as well. Thanks!!

  • alan batham

    Great stuff, really helpful. Do you have any other wedding articles? After turning countless ones down I’m doing my first wedding in 3 weeks time and I’m soaking up as much info as I can!

  • Jordan Cummins

    Great post with some very cool tips !

  • Kelly

    I’m in the same boat! Turned down a few weddings, and now i have 2 in Oct! These are great tips, and can easily be used with engagement sessions too!

  • Jordan

    Fantastic – quick and memorable takeaway tips that anyone can use!

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  • Neil

    There is a lot to photograph at a wedding, bride getting ready, groom getting ready, ceremony, bride and groom, family, reception. You will want most of your time spent with the bride and groom. Shoot in manual, bring a good flash and a fast lens for the reception if it is inside at night. You will have to shoot wide open, 1/80 min, and as high as 1/1600 for the moving people at the reception. Above all, the camera will be in your face 90% of the day to catch the best shots, you should have at least 6-700 shot by the end of the night. I have a small video light attached to my camera also with the flash I case you need more light.

  • Kim Coombs

    My favorite thing to say to a couple after letting them kiss is “get a room.” I always get a big genuine smile with just a little bit of a “hand caught in the cookie jar” smirk.

  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    Kim, this is so good! I’m totally using this tomorrow 😉

  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    @disqus_Eb1LYPwiEX:disqus thanks so much for reading! Let me know how it goes next time you try some of these

  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    @jordancummins:disqus thanks for reading 🙂

  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    @alanbatham:disqus, I do have one more on Digital Photography school about how to edit a wedding in one day https://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-edit-and-deliver-wedding-photographs-in-one-day/

  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    @pamelatributino:disqus you’re totally right! One thing I do with large large groups of people is tell them “You are one good looking group of people!” They always laugh and smile nice. At the end of it, with a lot of gusto, I tell them to wave at the camera, for some reason that looks very celebratory. Makes more sense with a crowd of 15+

  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    @disqus_yYDMmJ7HdR:disqus awesome! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    Thanks @joebunting:disqus! You rock.

  • Steve Williams

    Just getting into the business and these are some great tips, thanks for sharing them.

  • Dianne

    Fantastic! Love the article and photos!

  • alan batham

    Hello Neil, thanks very much mate. I think I have pretty much everything covered kit wise, I have various lenses; 35mm 1.8, 50mm 1.8, 18-140mmm 3.5, even a 10-20mm 3.5 for some funky wide angle! I have my speedlite and unbeknown to my daughter I’m gonna hijack her d5500 as back up! Hopefully I have everything I need, iv virtually camped out on you tube and feasted on tutorials so I’m ready for the big day, I think I’m more nervous than the bride and groom but can’t wait to get it on!!! Thanks for your advice ????

  • alan batham

    Hi Kelly, good luck with those. It would be great to hear how you get on and see a few shots from the day

  • alan batham

    Yep, read and ingested Phil! Another great article, thanks again for posting this extremely helpful stuff

  • COI

    Thank you!

  • That first groomsmen picture: I once heard a photographer call that the ‘fig leaf’ position. Why do groomsmen stand like that??? Please, tell them what to do with their hands!

  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    @karenchildress:disqus Haha I guess I bounce between that and hands in pockets (thumbs out, of course!) What have you found that you like? I’m totally open to new ideas 🙂

  • Hands in pockets is definitely better. Hands clasped behind backs works, too. I just can’t see a photo of hands clasped in front without thinking “fig leaf position”.

  • joe

    Inspiring tips, i love the “button up & look at your shoes”…thanks!

  • Trifon Anguelov

    These are great wedding posing tips. I enjoyed reading the article and find the information very useful.

    As a San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Photographer myself, posing has been one of the most important aspects during every wedding I have photographed. Not every bride and groom feel comfortable in front of the camera and many don’t know how to pose in the best way, so it is up to the wedding photographer to guide and coach them.

    There is a related guide I have created for my brides and grooms, called How To Looks Better On Your Wedding Pictures. Many past clients found it useful and helpful, so I am glad to share with the wedding photography community on this website.

    Hope you guys find it useful.

    Trifon Anguelov Photography
    San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Photography Blogger

  • Asef khan
  • Thank you! Great article with excellent suggestions.

  • Have explored other wedding tips before but i particularly liked these. Maybe it’s because it flows with my style

  • Excellent share & the excellent photo-shoot…really informative tips for photographer.

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