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Wedding photography is often thought of as one of the most challenging genres to document. On any given weeding day you need to be a fashion photographer, product, documentary and family photographer all in the space of a few hours. Of these genres, one the hardest aspects to master is photographing the groom pre-wedding while trying to make him feel at ease and relaxed about the experience, while offering posing tips and advice to him.
On the morning of a wedding, have you ever walked into a groom’s house and felt like you could cut tension with a butter knife? Often the groom is nervous knowing that he is about to be the center of attention, so he may find the whole experience daunting and uncomfortable. Your job is to make him feel at home and comfortable so you can create some amazing shots of him for the couple to cherish for years to come.
As a male, I can attest to being nervous about being in front of the camera. So what can you do and say to make your groom, his groomsmen, and family, feel comfortable on the big day? Here are a few general and specific posing tips that will help you break the ice and build some rapport with your groom.
When you first arrive at the house, walk in without your camera out and do what you would do if you were going out to meet new friends at dinner. Walk in, say hello, introduce yourself, shake hands, and just be nice to everyone. You’d be amazed at how this first simple step will break the ice and help establish rapport.
If you’re shooting in a house which is full of family and friends it can be somewhat noisy and distracting, especially if you want to create a certain look with your groom. He may be embarrassed or self conscious having photos taken in front of everyone.
So when it’s time to photograph him alone it is a good idea to find a quiet space in the house and take him there away from all the distractions. This way you’ll be able to get the kinds of photos you want of him without having to try and silence 10 people who are talking in the background.
When it comes to photographing the groom, or any male for that matter, you need to make him feel cool like The Fonz on Happy Days! If you give your groom masculine things to do, you’ll never have issues getting him to cooperate and participate.
Ask him to sit on a chair and lean forward with a glass of scotch in his hands or lean against a wall with his hands in his pockets while bringing his chest off the wall. What guy wouldn’t feel cool doing that? Once you have his trust, he will do anything you ask. He just needs to feel strong, cool, and confident.
Men can sometimes feel and look awkward if they have nothing to do with their hands. So give him something to do with his hands like buttoning up his jacket, holding a glass of whisky, putting his hands in his pockets, holding a hat on the brim or holding his jacket. Whatever you ask him to do just make sure it’s something he would normally do with his hands so it looks natural and unforced.
Explaining what you want your groom or subject to do can sometimes be confusing for them, especially if they’re a visual person. If you want him to sit or look a certain way, show him by doing it yourself first. This method is called mirroring, and 99% of the time you will get what you want after demonstrating how to do it.
There’s usually a joker in every wedding party or group. So once you find out who he is, give him a few cues and watch him get all the boys laughing naturally without being prompted to do so. This will bring out everyone’s real character.
Once you have built trust with the boys, you will see it come through in your photos. Suddenly everything will be real. If you’re not confident posing or directing men, grab a friend and practice on him so when it comes to the real deal you’re 100% confident.
Do you have any other posing tips for working with groom on the wedding day? Please share any tips or questions you have in the comments section below.