Plan a Quiet Escape - Wedding Photography
In my experience, posed bride and groom portraits are the most challenging of all wedding photos. Unfortunately, it’s a subject that is far too complex and lengthy to go into great detail in this book. Instead, I will provide an overview of the basics of bride and groom portraits and offer suggestions for easy yet highly effective poses. Bear in mind these are general suggestions and are not possible in all situations. Use your best judgement and that of your photographer to get the best results.
To get the very best couple portraits, the foundation of the pose needs to be set up correctly; therefore, the first key element for standing portrait poses is the feet. All of a subject’s body weight should be shifted to one foot—ideally the back foot, the length of which should be parallel to camera—so that the front knee is slightly bent. Women should position their feet to create the shape of a “T.” The heel of the front foot should be tight to the middle of back foot, and the front toe should point towards camera. For those familiar with dance terminology, you will recognize this as “third position” in ballet. Men should be posed in a similar fashion, though they should keep a wider stance—a “fourth position open” in ballet (which is probably more comfortable).
It may seem like an insignificant detail, particularly if the bride’s dress is floor-length and you can’t even see her feet in the shot, but this small adjustment does three important things:
1. It creates a natural 45-degree angle in your shoulders, which in turn creates a natural and dynamic slimming effect.
2. It facilitates the most comfortable standing position for you, which will ultimately make your images more natural looking.
3. It lowers one of your shoulders, which in photography is used as a reference point for brides and grooms to create masculine and feminine poses; the groom should slightly tilt his head to the lower shoulder and the bride should tilt her head slightly to the higher shoulder. It is also important to make sure you keep your spine straight and your shoulders relaxed. Little details like these make a huge difference. Ignoring them will result in terrible images.
Now that you have helped create a solid foundation for your photographer, you need to know how to make the pose more dynamic and flattering. Bending both arms so that the elbows are away from the body is a simple trick that creates space between the arms and the body. This allows light to pass through and create a slimming effect. If you let your arms dangle, the camera sees one big body mass, which will make the you or your spouse appear larger than you really are.
Your photographer should pay special attention to your hands. Unlike in group shots, more focus is on the hands in photos of just the two of you. The hands (of both the bride and groom) should portray tenderness, love, and protection. To achieve this, there should be few gaps between the fingers of your groom as he holds you in any way. As the bride, be careful not to bend your fingers too much when you place a hand on the groom’s chest or back. Bent fingers can look like a scary claw!
A good photographer knows he should never shoot a couple straight on. Position your head in a way that avoids having the neck form the background of the chin. By turning the chin slightly to the left or the right, it is separated from the neck (which again creates a slimming effect). A natural facial expression is actually very difficult to capture in a posed shot, simply because the shot is being largely fabricated. A professional photographer, however, is well trained and experienced in drawing natural expressions from his subjects. It’s a skill that requires a lot of trial and error—and a good personality doesn’t hurt, either!
One way to get a “natural” expression in bride and groom shots is to direct your eyes toward separate focal points. If there is no focal point and you simply look into one another’s eyes, the image will definitely look staged (and boring!) Instead, have your groom look at your lips while you look at his eyes. Voila! The pose has now become more engaging and natural.