No Posing Please!

This probably wont be surprising news to you. But most people don’t feel like super models in front of a camera. Shocker. In fact, being told that “I don’t like having my picture taken” is one of the most common things I hear when people first contact me about their wedding photography. Sometimes, when I meet a couple for the first time, this is brought up in hushed tones, as if I would throw them out of my studio for confessing such a thing.  Here’s the dilemma for sooooooo many of my couples – you are wedding planning, good photography is a BIG priority, you want all those lovely authentic moments captured and yet you hate being in front of the camera.  Fear not. I’m here to hush those worries. It’s completely normal to feel that way. I feel exactly the same way in fact. Choose your photographer carefully and these worries will fade into the background.

beautiful wedding portraits - Inn at Whitewell wedding

You want beautiful images but hate posed photographs. 

Don’t we all! ‘Posed’ has become such a dirty word in the photography industry, where every other photographer (me included) talks about how they work in documentary style. Words like natural and relaxed are thrown around (yes again, by me also) in an attempt to ease the worries of couples landing on our websites. We’d never even dream of using the word posed. People would run for the hills screaming. You’d hear the word and imagine some stiff, awkward and horrendously cheesy image of the couple peering at each other around a tree.

But can I make a confession? I hope it doesn’t put you off. I actually do enjoy posed photographs. No don’t leave yet. Read on. I love documentary photography images. Love them. There’s no greater feeling of satisfaction for me during a wedding day than when I absolutely nail a great documentary image. When I capture the tear rolling down a cheek, someone whooping with laughter, or a fleeting glance between two people who are completely and utterly in love – I give myself a little virtual high five. These kind of images are what I’m striving for for 95% of a wedding day. I know this is what couples book me for time and time again. These moments make up the story of your wedding day that I want to tell.

But I cannot live a lie – I LOVE capturing some beautiful portraits too. I don’t feel like I’ve fully done my job well unless I can deliver a handful of truly beautiful images of my newly wed couple. And this involves a certain amount of posing. Posing is not something you need to be scared of. Posing is not being awkward, not being cheesy, not making you do something stupid or unnatural.

vintage camper van wedding pictures

Good posing looks completely un-posed…

That might sound a bit deep and meaningful but it’s true. Good posing is hard! It involves an awareness of the couple you’re working with, making them relaxed, getting them to interact with each naturally, being aware of any body hangups they may have (even when you think they are being silly and they are hot as flip.) All of this whilst you’re choosing the best location, trying to take advantage of the nicest light and ensuring the setting on your camera is right. Wowsers. It’s flipping exhausting sometimes. And – confession time again – it’s one of the areas of photography that I struggle with the most. It’s definitely the area of my photography that I never quite feel satisfied with. I’m always striving to improve my skills here. To get better at posing, so my couples feel less like they are being posed!

Totally relaxed photography…

On a wedding day I don’t steal my couples away from their guests for too long – I want you to enjoy your wedding day with the families and friends you’ve invited to be there. I usually ask for around 15 minutes of your time for some photographs around your venue. Most of my couples agree it’s lovely to get away from everyone for a short while, just to spend some time together in the madness of your wedding day. We’ll perhaps start off with a relaxed hand in hand walk around your venue (not hand in hand with me obvs – I’ll be busy with cameras and the like).  Then we’ll find a few lovely little spots for portraits. I generally get super excited about light, texture, painted doorways and walls – so if your venue has any of these I’ll be skipping.

Internally, I’ll be thinking hard about how I’m going to pose you, what’s going to work best, how do I get you to start interacting with each other and almost forget I’m there. I wont be barking orders at you but I’ll give you the odd light direction about where to put your hands or when to look at me. In between that I’ll probably be talking to you about the day so you don’t feel anxious about being in front of the camera. I’ll be cracking a terrible joke or having a non serious quarrel with my second photographer whilst they take the piss out of me for lying on the floor. Basically, what I’m trying to get across is, that whilst you’re being posed, it hopefully wont feel that way at all!  The result – some lovely natural images like some of my favourites below.

Wedding on a boat - Lake District wedding pictures

How to get the most out of your portrait session…

There’s no denying it – some people are easier to work with in front of the camera than others. Whilst I do work very very hard to make sure my couples are relaxed and happy during their portrait session, some people do hate it more than others. I’ve yet to have a couple who’ve defeated me but I’ve come close! Even couples who are anxious in front of the camera usually get so caught up in the enjoyment and excitement of their wedding day that by the time we get to the portraits (and I’ve sneakily left enough time for you to have at least one glass of fizz before I pinch you away) find that they are already relaxed and happy and it doesn’t take much work from me to elicit natural smiles and laughter. But if you are very worried about the portraits on your wedding day here are a few of my little tips.

1. Stop giving a shit. Harsh but true. Please stop worrying about how you look on camera. When you look back at these images in your old age you’ll see laughter and happiness and true enjoyment. And youth. You wont give care a jot about that little double chin or that your arms weren’t as thin as you would have liked. You honestly wont. This sounds like glib advise and it’s definitely not advise that I find easy to follow. In fact I dismissed lots of my wedding pictures because my arm looked fat or I didn’t like how I looked. I was 21 when I got married. My 35 year old self wants to slap my 21 year old self! It’s something I do still struggle with. Look in my own photo albums and you’ll see very few pictures of me. How about we take a pact? I’ll stop giving a shit if you do too? Maybe we can practise with a couple of selfies each month? Baby steps.

2. Be honest with your photographer – Is there something about yourself that you don’t like? Tell me. Secretly I’ll probably be thinking that you’re super beautiful and therefore crazy to be worried about it. Maybe not even secretly. I’ll probably tell you that. But professionally I’ll totally accept that it’s your little quirk and I’ll make sure that I keep it in mind when I’m photographing you. I want you to get your wedding images back and think “I look pretty fit”.

3. Have an engagement session. This isn’t some kind of up-sell I promise. My diary is very busy, my children’s diaries even more so and I like getting in my PJ’s by 5 p.m. if at all possible so I don’t go out of my way to encourage couples to book an engagement shoot for the sake of it. But they can be very beneficial to couples who are worried about their camera shyness potentially ruining their wedding portraits. Engagement shoots normally take around 45 minutes – much longer than your portraits on your wedding day. They are a great way to have a little trial run. For me, it’s an opportunity to see how you interact, if you do a weird Chandler smile when the camera points at you, or find poses that work very well for you or not at all. For you it’s an opportunity to see that’s it’s probably not as scary as you’re imagining.  For more information on engagement shoots check out this blog all about them.

Finally…..trust. Trust that your photographer (and hopefully that’s me) wants the best for you.  Wants to make you look and feel you best. Wants to give you images that you’ll LOVE and TREASURE for the rest of your life. If you want to discuss your wedding portraits or speak about an engagement shoot please feel free to get in touch.

x R

Tipi wedding yorkshire - beautiful bridal portraits