Daniel Doty Photo
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Foundations of Posing

HOW TO LOOK YOUR BEST IN WEDDING PORTRAITS

 

The Foundation To Perfect Poses

Posing is subjective & posing is an art form. However, there are objective rules and guidelines inside of the art of posing that if you learn, you will be able to take gorgeous portraits whether your photographer knows how to pose or not.

So what should you do if you have a photographer who does NOT know how to pose you with intent and confidence? We will start with the foundation and work up from there.

Here are the foundations to posing you MUST remember

1. Elongate The Spine: 

I asked Eric & Gabriela to elongate their spines to create a more elegant posture for this detail shot.

I asked Eric & Gabriela to elongate their spines to create a more elegant posture for this detail shot.

Your spine should be straight, but NOT stretched and stiff.

I want you to do an exercise with me. Most likely you are sitting while reading this. Notice how you may be slouching and you are now feeling that your spine aches a bit. Sit up straight and gently arch your lower back. Take a deep breath and notice how your spine elongates as you breathe in. Imagine that there is a string on the back of your head and you are now pulling gently upon the string as your back is elongating.

You now have an arched lower back and a straight spine. This is the most elegant position for your back and your lower back to be in regardless of sitting or standing. 

2. Shoulders:

With your spine elongated you should now roll your shoulders about one inch back.

Your shoulders will be lower than your collar bones and your chest is now facing slightly up and out. With all the combined your body language will exude confidence.

3. Weight Distribution:

I asked them to walk towards me to shift up their weight distribution and create a sense of movement and action into this portrait.

I asked them to walk towards me to shift up their weight distribution and create a sense of movement and action into this portrait.

Put your weight onto one side. Uneven weight distribution appears natural and can emphasize your curves.

Even weight distribution enlarges you and can make you look blocky. Either cross one leg over the other or pop a hip.

If you are having trouble getting you weight distribution correct, try taking shots while walking as your body will naturally shift weight from one leg to the next as you move.

The Hands

Hands have a mind of their own.

Hands have the nasty habit of being forgotten and if not posed correctly, they can completely break the pose and elegance you worked so hard to capture.

You can save a pose by remembering to either hold something or always have ballet hands.

1. Hold Something

Holding the bouquet gave her hands something to do and balances out the top of the frame.

Holding the bouquet gave her hands something to do and balances out the top of the frame.

Your brain is trained to notice subtle cues from a person’s body language, even if you are not consciously aware of it. 

We look to hand placement and hand tension to give ourselves clues as to whether we should be wary of a person or if we can trust them. 

You never want to pose your hand(s) with the outer edges of your palms (Pinky side of your hands) facing straight onto the camera.

Notice how if you bring your hands up to your face, thumbs towards you, you are a simple fist clench away from a boxer’s stance. 

People who see your portrait will pick up on the antagonistic nature of your hands and be put off by the photo, even if they can’t explain why. It’s because your hands look like you’re about to attack something or you are about to use your hands to defend yourself. Either scenario causes the viewer to feel tension even if there was none at the time of the portrait session.  

You can mitigate this by giving your hand something to hold. Your bouquet is perfect, even your veil. The awesome thing about this trick is that you only need to have one hand holding something. You are free to use your other hand to gently touch your groom or your dress or even leave it dangling.

As long as one hand is holding something our brains pick up that action, give context to why the hand is posed that way and dismiss the other hand.

Strathearn Historical Park and Museum Wedding from Daniel Doty P

2. Ballet Hands

055_09_17_17_Sam_&_Hunter_Engagement_087.jpg

Imagine you are a ballet dancer, bring that fluidity, and grace into your wrist, hands, and fingers.

When you are not holding something, always remember “Ballet Hands.” 

If you are touching your groom's chest, touch it as a ballet dancer would, with a gentle soft touch that is a fluid movement from the shoulder, to the elbow, to the wrist, and finally to the hands, and fingers.

When you notice tension in your hands, shake them out and return to the pose with ballet hands and you’ll always have elegant, soft and gentle hands.

3. Avoid Mirroring

By moving her hand to his chest, instead of also holding his arm, asymmetry in the arms is created and your eye travels over the image more than it would have if she was mirroring him.

By moving her hand to his chest, instead of also holding his arm, asymmetry in the arms is created and your eye travels over the image more than it would have if she was mirroring him.

You should never be perfectly symmetrical in your hand and arm poses. Additionally, you should never match your fiance’s pose and hand placement.

If you have a hand on your hip the other hand should either be slightly higher up on your body, such as you gently touching your face or collar bone, or slightly lower, such as you lightly resting your hand on your thigh. 

If your groom is touching your face, avoid the temptation to touch his face, effectively mirroring his hand. Place your hand lower on his chest.

By avoiding symmetry and embracing asymmetry you will create beautiful fluidity in your portraits.

You want to avoid mirroring, it comes off too staged. Utilize asymmetry with your poses, leave perfect symmetry for architecture. Your portraits will thank you!

Notice how Samantha’s hand is touching Hunter’s face instead of his thigh. You may feel tempted to say that Sam touching Hunter’s hand is mirroring, however, for it to be mirroring she would have to be touching his knee instead of his hand. By touching his hand, it created another point of contact between them and creates a sense of continuity and togetherness.

Notice how Samantha’s hand is touching Hunter’s face instead of his thigh. You may feel tempted to say that Sam touching Hunter’s hand is mirroring, however, for it to be mirroring she would have to be touching his knee instead of his hand. By touching his hand, it created another point of contact between them and creates a sense of continuity and togetherness.