There are a couple of things I hear very often when I meet my couples, a) we don't like posed photos and b) we are not that good in front of the camera. Both feelings are completely natural. I mean, who wants to be placed in a stiff pose and for a photographer to say 'hoooold it, hold it, hoooold'?! Also, I understand that you may be feeling nervous and a little anxious in front of the camera when you are about to be photographed by a complete stranger. So, I have a couple in front of my lens who I either never met, or met only once before the shoot or a wedding, I have to know my settings, I need to think about light + background + composition, and how to make you feel and look natural and relaxed in your photos, for you to fall in love with them afterwards. No pressure, right?!
When I first started on my photography journey more than 7 years ago, I was daunted by the whole posing thing. I wanted my couples to feel at ease with me and my camera, and for my photoshoots to feel lively and sort of organic and not forced. I quickly realised that I couldn't just tell my clients to have fun, or to be themselves. Can you imagine something along the lines of "Ok, guys, now have fun! One, two, three go! Now just laugh!"? Most people will feel awkward and think "Now what?". So, what do I actually do?
I like to think that I direct my couples, rather than pose them. If I were to tell you to just be yourself in front of the camera, you wouldn't know what to do. Plus, we probably wouldn't get a great deal of variety in your portrait photos. Through several years of practice I learned a few things that help my clients relax during their photoshoot or a wedding portrait session, and result in natural photos depicting genuine emotions and interaction:
- first and foremost I approach each session as if I'm doing it for my friends. I'm genuinely excited to meet you. We chat about anything and everything. I'm interested in what you do and things you like. Perhaps we'll discover mutual love for dogs, or a common passion for cooking. Talking and having a conversation will help me understand you better, and will set the tone for the photoshoot, which will reflect your personality. It could be soft and romantic, or very energetic and full of laughter, or both
- I give my couples something to do, or something to talk about between themselves. I want you to interact with each other in a genuine way, so instead of saying " Now laugh", I will tell you "Cuddle up to each other and remember your first date". You will give each other a hug in a way that is natural to you. You may burst out laughing remembering how you missed the last train out of town, or maybe you will feel like kissing after recalling the long walk home, when you felt like you'd known each other for years. I stand at a distance and capture what happens
- I will never tell you "Give me love" or "Show me the passion" (cringe!)
- movement is important to achieve natural and organic images. We don't just stand in one spot. We move between locations, and often my couples move within a location whilst remaining in one spot. It could be walking, swaying the wedding dress, practising your first dance, closing your eyes and finding each other for a kiss etc
- it's very rare that I take a picture of a pose itself. I always look for those moments that happen in between, which show the natural energy and interaction between you two or how you feel at that moment.
And that's it basically! I hope all the above gives a little insight into how I work, and makes the word 'posing' a little less scary ;)