Posing 101: Couples, Weddings and Families

Lesson 2/17 - Couples Posing Guidelines


Posing 101: Couples, Weddings and Families


Lesson Info

Couples Posing Guidelines

Let's do couples posing. Couples posing essentials. Couples posing is easier than you think. It's easier than you think it is. So here are my really basic guidelines, five again. The very first posing guideline is that you want multiple points of interaction. Meaning, you don't want them to just be touching in one way. Can I borrow you, Iris, can I make you be my couple? Yeah, you're gonna be my couple. Okay, so for example, when I see couples, will you turn around that way? When I see couples and people have them pose like this... (laughter) Or just like, the guy reaches forward with one arm. It's not really intimate, it's not really, it just looks like, "I'm stuck posing with you, here's my hand." Okay, multiple points of interaction is what makes them, thank you, is what makes them look like a couple. Okay, so we're gonna talk about that, and that makes better posing, it doesn't mean that you can't have one point of interaction but it looks so much better when it is like, their head...

s are touching, and a hand to the side of the face, and a hand to the hip. Like, that is what gives you that visual circle where your eye follows around and it makes it clear that they're a couple. The next one is to go asymmetrical, avoid mirrored poses. I have examples so you'll be able to see this. Meaning, if he has her hands on her hips, she shouldn't have her hands on his hips. If she has her hands on his shoulders, he shouldn't have, 'cause otherwise, it is a big blob. And you'll see that, I have examples. Number three is proportions, even if the guy is much bigger and the girl is much smaller or vice versa, you still want to make them look somewhat equal in size in the frame, and I don't mean the girl should look big, I mean the amount of the frame that they dominate, she can still look tiny but it shouldn't be, for example, the woman completely hiding behind the guy, and all you see is just a little bit of her. If you wanted to have her behind him, maybe have her off to the side and the arm wrapped around, so you see more of her versus just her head peeking out. It's all about proportion. It looks very unbalanced in a bad way, when one person is dominating the frame far more than another. Course the woman is, you know, kinda more important in the photos. (laughter) So they can dominate it, personality-wise, I'm just kidding. Okay, number three, sorry, number four. Is to tilt heads together to show attraction. It is very important for couples photos to watch body language, which means, if their heads are straight towards camera, and they're holding each other like this, it's almost like they're pushing away. You always need to tilt heads together, like always. And I like a term that I heard Roberto use once, and he called magnetize. You know, just think of it, what can I do to bring those heads together, tilt those heads together in a photo? And that's any poses that you're doing, and I also will use that technique when photographing families. It's that, even if they're not touching, even just tilting the heads that way, saying, "We are joined "together, we are a family, we are a couple." That's what it's communicating. So heads become incredibly important in couples photography. And then number five is making the rounds for new pose ideas. I always felt that needing to know a million poses was unnecessary, but I've heard people do the idea of flow posing, one pose into the next, I have my own version. Like, my own made-up version of how I think of a million different poses, and it has to do with making the rounds. So I'll show you, it means working around the subject, and I personally have the female move around the guy. So that's kinda how I come up with a million different poses. There are many more than that, but that helps me get started. So, let's start and let's take a look at what those looked like. The don'ts and the dos, mirrored poses. So both hands on the hips or both hands on the shoulders, or anything where they're copying each other, it just, it doesn't work, it doesn't translate visually. So if you look, asymmetry is much better. A hand on the hip, a hand on his chest, a hand to his face, a hand to her face and her hand on his hip. Just make sure that it's asymmetrical. Looks much better. All right, let's look at another example. Okay, be aware of your cropping. I think that people when they think of posing, they're like, "Okay, well I have to have the whole body pose." No, if I'm doing this tight, romantic shot where he's looking at her and cupping the side of her face and it's, I don't need to have the whole body posed beautifully, so I definitely wanna crop that out. There's nothing going on down there. So I do a lot of really just tight shots here, where I literally do this, okay. Both of you look at each other, both of you close your eyes. Well you look at me, you stay looking at him, well you kiss his forehead, okay, now switch! You look at me, well you look at her, you kiss her forehead. Makes it easy. But related to that is you don't need the whole body. It's not going to be interesting. All right, next one is avoid noses overlapping if you can. When the noses merge, it's usually just not flattering. So if you can do a little bit of negative space, it's not actually, okay I'm gonna pretend that this is a nose. It's not even just about the not touching, it's actually about depth, like if one behind another. So if you look in this photo, you can actually have one turn their head down and the other tilt away. You're actually just kind of changing the angles of their head, not the distance, because you don't need them to back up, you just need them, she's just kinda turning her head down a little bit in that example. So watch for that, and I don't have an example of this, but kind of similar is kissing. For any kisses, if he is kissing her forehead, no swishy lips. It's like, soft lips, no pressing. And then people always do the big pucker and then they never like it, because it looks really corny. I kinda do the, remember we talked about the soft, breath at the end of the breath, the soft lips at the end of the breath. You know that feeling, and then just kinda softly press them on the head. Not a huge kiss and the same thing, I don't usually photograph too many intense kisses either. I usually leave that out, that's just me personally. Okay, this one is particularly, particularly prevalent when photographing couples. Like this is a really big one, is when you have them and you say, "Look at each other," they actually look at each other. So this is where my huge tip I can give you for posing couples is actually pose their eyes when they are together. If they're not looking at you, not looking at the camera, tell their eyes where to look, because if you say, "Look at each other, look lovingly at each other," if they're lined up, you see whites of the eyes. So in fact, I would probably tell her, "Look at his ear." But what's funny about that, is if I say, "Look at his ear," they smile, they laugh, because they're like, "Look at his ear," and then all of a sudden it's a cute, they're cuddling and laughing. Or, you know, I'll tell him, I love this one. I heard, I think it was Roberto saying like, telling him, "Lean forward and smell her eyeball, or smell her forehead," or something like, cute things like that. (laughter) I don't even know if that was one that he said, but, things like that, kind of interacting. But yeah, notice I told him in this case, I said, when I kinda fixed this photo, I told her to look at his lips, and him to look at her nose. You know, just kinda controlling versus looking up at each other. All right, another one. If a girl has her hand on his chest, if the guy is tall, a lot of times she will reach up and her shoulder goes way up, and she totally loses her neck. So for the tall guy to try to, to basically try to even out, she'll do this, and it is extremely unflattering. Not only does she lose a neck, but typically when she does that, kinda the hip gets more attention. So even if her hand needs to be much lower, that's fine. We're going to talk about posing uneven couples tomorrow. There's a lot of tips, but one of them is just working, working with what you have, you don't need to even them out exactly, even them out a little bit. Like that cover for the Twilight movie, the very first one, his head is all the way over her and her chin, like his chin is above the top of her head. But it's kind of communicating something about their relationship, and that's okay. So if they have different heights, you can go with that. So watch for relaxed shoulders. Always have them shrug their shoulders, especially if they're nervous. More than one point of interaction, so if you're seeing there, at least there's going to be the hand and the hip. Not just leaning against each other, not just one hand on each other's hands. Try to get more points of interaction, it makes it more intimate. If he was kissing her forehead, notice how that gets more intimate, it's more points of interaction. I don't mean blob, I mean more points of, basically caressing each other. When posing couples, watch for finger nubs, because you get these a lot. Like if the guy or girl, whoever puts their arm around somebody's back, and all you see are these little fingers peeking out over the neck. (laughing) It's visually distracting and it's weird. So watch for that, another one is hands around the hips. Watch for fingers that come from nowhere. If you want them to look like they're embracing, I didn't just have him drop his arm. I wanted more points of contact, right? So that makes it more intimate. I wanted him to be holding her, so I just made sure he wrapped his arm around more, so I can see where it comes from. For fingers, as long as you can see where they originate from, that's okay. I would say, I mean ideally you can see past the wrist. At the wrist is okay too, but ideally past the wrist is when it's completely fine visually for you. And so I think that has a lot more impact than the one on the left. Okay, make sure you're not leaning away. You'd be surprised, a lot of people lean away. So this is the kind of the magnetizing the heads, or the putting the heads together, tilting them together, always lean together. Even though you want negative space for posing individuals together, it's okay not to have it, because the way you pose their arms is what gives you the shape, which is why, if they're both wearing solid black, for example, they'll just blend together, 'cause you can't see that, so then they actually do look like a blob. It's the color of their skin or the color of the clothing they have that creates those shapes. All right, and notice even though they're not leaning apart there, see how much better the heads together looks? Like a million times better. So it's tilting the heads together, they don't need to be lined up. By the way, in traditional portrait photography, there was a standard that they always used to say. Just so that you're aware of it, I don't really pay attention to it that much. But they'd actually say this is really good, because if you're trying to figure out, ideally you'd try to line up her eyes with his lips. That was a more traditional portrait rule, is her eyes line up with his lips. And so that puts him bigger in the frame, and then it's going to make nice shapes, and so see how this has a really nice flow to it? So if you're ever wondering, really for couples, ideally their eyes don't line up perfectly. It just, it doesn't have that same pose, because what you do is you kinda look from eye to eye, it's too symmetrical. Remember what I said, you want balance but asymmetry, in everything you do, so instead of lining up the eyes, having them a little bit off and heads tilted a little bit, that asymmetry makes more for your eye to explore. Like we see in that photo. I see this endlessly, because no one realizes that picture on the left, and we're gonna talk about this tomorrow. But if somebody is kind of leaning in, it should always be lean, not slouch. And my significant other is guilty of this, because I'm, like I said, I'm 5'3" and 3/4, and he is 6'3". And so he has a general stance if he's making himself shorter for me. 'Cause otherwise, I'm talking to him like this. And so, that doesn't translate into photography. So again, it would be leaning, and we'll talk about this more tomorrow, it's leaning versus slouching. And in group photos you see it all the time. People leaning, or slouching in, versus leaning in. But we'll see that tomorrow.

Class Description

Need to pose a group of people quickly and effectively? Join fashion photographer and CreativeLive instructor Lindsay Adler for a hands-on introduction to posing couples, wedding and families.

Using live shoots and a 5 guideline approach, Lindsay will give you a posing foundation and essentials poses for working with more than one subject. You’ll learn how to pose mature, uneven height, maternity and same sex couples. Lindsay will teach you how to navigate the chaos of a wedding day and pose with brides, grooms and weddings parties. Additionally, she will show you how to pose families, kids, and parents in a variety of scenarios.

Taking the reigns and posing a large group can seem daunting. This course will show you quick, easy steps you can follow to pose groups of 2 or more people and have everyone looking their best.


Santosh Mareddy

Lindsay Adler's Posing That little Queens looks Like Awesome,... Loved it


Lindsay Adler is a Creative Live treasure! Her teaching style is consistent, relaxed, easy to listen to, and to the point. Several times now I've intently watched her various classes "live" only to later purchase the class so I can review it again and again...I've never been disappointed. Thank You Lindsay!

Ginny Koppenhol

Lindsay Adler's Posing class gave me tons of confidence going into my first wedding shoot. Posing was one of the aspects I didn't have a lot of experience in, but this class is so clear and helpful that I managed some great creatively posed shots on the day!