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Couples Posing Guidelines

Lesson 13 from: Posing 101

Lindsay Adler

Couples Posing Guidelines

Lesson 13 from: Posing 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

13. Couples Posing Guidelines

When posing a couple, you want to make sure they actually look like a couple. Here are some guidelines for photography poses for couples so that both people look great.

Lesson Info

Couples Posing Guidelines

So, don't forget, we're going to pick five poses for men and women, and then for every single section. So you guys already get that, but for everybody out in the audience, if you buy it, you'll get those exact posing guides. You'll get the tips that I give you, followed by five poses, 'cause you only need five. And then you just tweak pieces. You don't need to reinvent the wheel every time. So 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. All right, 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 guys? Can I make you be my couple? Okay, 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 posed like this, (audience laughs) Line is behind, or just like the guy r...

eaches for her with one arm. It's not really intimate. It's not just looks like, I'm stuck posing with you, here's my hand. 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 you can't have one point of interaction, but it looks so much better. I mean it's like, their heads are touching, and then, a hand to the side of the face, and a hand to the hip. That is what gives you that visual circle that 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...kinda more important in the photo. (audience laughs) So they can dominate it personality-wise. I'm just kidding (laughs). 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 that a term that I heard Roberto use once, and he called magnetize, pft! 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 a new pose idea. 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, my own made-up version of how I think of a million different poses, and it has to do with making the rounds. Well, I'll show you. It means working around the subject, and I personally have the female move around the guy. So that's how I kinda come up with a million different poses. There are many more than that, but that helps me get started. All right, so let's start, and let's take a look at what those look like. All right, 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's, 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, I don't need to have the whole body posed beautifully, so I definitely want to crop that out. There's nothing going on down there. So I do a lot of really just tight shots here, where I like, I literally do this: Okay, both of you look at each other. Both of you close your eyes. Will you look at me? You stay looking at him. Will you kiss his forehead? Okay, now switch! You look at me. Will you look at her? Will 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, so 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 is one behind another? So if you look in this photo, you can actually have one turn their head down, and the other tilt away. Or actually just kind of changing the angles of their head, not the distance. 'cause you don't need 'em to back up, you just need them to, she's kind of just 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 smushy lips. It's like, soft lips. No like, pressing. And then people always do the big pucker, and then they never like it, 'cause 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 the 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. 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...right, they smile. They laugh, 'cause they're like, "Look at his ear?" And then all of a sudden, it's a cute, they're cuddling and laughing. Or, I'll tell him, I love this one, I heard, what was Roberto saying? Telling him, lean forward and smell her eyeball, or smell her forehead or something. (audience laughs) Cute things like that. I don't even know if that was one that he said, but like things like that, kinda interacting. But yeah, notice I told him, in this case, I said, or when I kinda fixed this photo, I told her to look at his lips, and him to look at her nose. 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 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, kind of 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 with 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 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. Kind of 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 hand. 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. So I don't mean blob. I mean more points of basically caressing each other. When posing couples, watch for finger nubs, 'cause you get these a lot. 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. 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? I said it 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, ideally, you can see past the wrist. I mean, 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. Oops. 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 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, yeah, if you're ever wondering, really, for couples? Ideally, their eyes don't line up perfectly. It doesn't have that same potency, 'cause what you do is you kind of 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, endlessly, 'cause 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, 'cause I'm 5'3 and 3/4", and he's 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, I mean, 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. All right, so, we're gonna finish this up with talking about finding different shots for couples posing, coming up with new ideas. All right, so these are all different things that help you get a different shot. So lets' say on the wedding day, you're like, holy crap! I've got five minutes, and I have to think of so many poses, and make an album out of this. I need to get a ton of poses. What makes a different shot that you can put in an album? Or that you could lay out on a wall? So these are all different things that help you create a different shot. So first of all, you have your essential pose. Once you have that pose set, you can choose a different lens. That changes it, shooting an 85/14, where like, now you're focused on her. This time you're focused on him. Now you're doing a wide, full-length shot. So you have that. Which takes me to crop. The crop totally changes the picture. The angle and perspective totally changes the picture. I can get up at a higher angle, or I can get lower, or I can move around the couple. So these are all different ways to get shots, by depth of field, the expression, whether they're looking at each other or closing their eyes, and then, lastly, actually moving individual features, like you set the pose, and then you switch the hand. So from one pose, changing all of those things, I mean, I think from one pose, where they don't move their feet, they just maybe move their hands and their faces a little bit, I can probably get 20 totally different shots. So it's just a matter of seeing, it's not all about knowing 50 poses, it's knowing 5 poses, and working those poses, and then getting different expressions, the serious and cuddling shots, the laughing, him whispering into her ear, kissing her neck, like something like that in the pose can be identical, and you just move around. So you don't need to know a million different poses. So I'm going to give you an idea here. For posing a couple, these are all different parts of things you can move. You can change their hands, their head positions, their shoulders, their arms, their nose, their feet, their hips. And each time you move one, it's actually like a different pose. All right, so I'm going to demo in a second the endless pose. I never really learned much about flow posing, so I don't know if this is the same concept. It might be. So this is my made-up thing. It could be identical, I'm not sure. I've just heard the term flow posing. But this is how I come up with endless poses. I make the rounds, okay? So, can I borrow you guys? Hi guys. Hi. How's it going? Okay, so this is what I do. I have, if I'm in a hurry and I don't wanna reinvent the wheel, I just want a bunch of different good poses without having to memorize a ton. I have the guy stay stationary, and I will move the girl around him, and then I will move around them. So for example, I might start off with the woman in front of the man. So, perfect, okay. (audience laughs) So then, just overlap your shoulders. You're fine. Just in a little bit more, overlap just a little bit more. Good, all right. So, I would start there, and then say, okay, what am I missing? I'm missing heads tilted together, right? That's one of the things. Tilt your heads together for me. Okay, cute. All right, I'm definitely missing multiple points of interaction. They do not look like they like each other. (audience laughs) Okay, can you put your hand maybe up around his neck? Like just-- Oh, sorry, around this side, and just real low, good. And now, okay, I can also tell from her body language, she's like this. Can you put your hips back a little? (audience laughs) They're not together, so...(laughs) Okay, so we do something like that. So now, their heads are together, at multiple points of interaction. Meh, it's okay. It's a little random handish. Will you hide this hand? And so I could either have her hand touch his hand, something like that, whatever. I mean this is a way to do it. I'm saying, okay, they need multiple points of interaction. All right, so I could start there, and the shots that I can get would be like, okay. I've made my list of what I can do. I can change my lens. So I could come in, I could grab an 85/14, and I could get a shot straight on of the two of them. Okay, then I could come over here with my 81/514, I can shoot at 1.4, so really wide open, and now just he's in focus, and she's closing her eyes, and he's looking at me, okay? And then I have him close his eyes, and now you just look at me, and I focus on her. And so I've got those kind of things. And I can back up and grab a different lens and do a mid-length shot instead of a tight shot. So those are okay, so that's like, what, six poses. Okay, cool. Next one, woman facing man. Okay, will you face him? Will you put your hand soft on his shoulder? Perfect. Drop your right arm. Good. And heads tilt. Okay good, perfect. All right, so that is a super basic, right? But the next thing I can do is, straight on, heads tilted together, perfect. Okay, now I can change one little thing. Will you close your eyes? And tilt your head towards him? Okay, and you look straight at me, minus the hair. There you go, good (laughs). And I'm just gonna move this hair real quick, perfect. Okay, so now, that pose is about him. All right, now will you kiss her forehead? I would have to, the hair would be a little, I'd work on the hair here. If you want, just spread your legs like this a little bit. Good. Okay, so now that pose, and I make sure she's leaning back a little bit. Can you stick your chin out just a little? Good. Okay, so there's another pose. Okay, so I haven't moved anything. Okay, you can, yeah, that was good. That was good. (audience laughs) It was believable. Can you face each other one more time? Okay, now, you're gonna look at her, but you look at me. Okay, and look like you like each other again. Heads tilted back together. Okay, so there's another pose. But this whole entire time, I could grab a different lens, photograph him. I've got him, and then her profile out of focus. And then switch. Now I have her in focus, and him out of focus. There's like a whole bunch of other shots. Okay, so I did in front. So she's gonna make the rounds. She did facing away, facing towards. Now I'm gonna have you stand on his side. So you're gonna face me straight forward, hand in your pocket. So it says woman beside him. And so you are going to stand, basically hook your arm around her, and you're gonna put your stomach here, okay? Perfect. So this is kind of her on the side. And now, can you put your hand up soft to his cheek? And then tilt your heads together like you like each other. Okay, so this is a different pose, right? 'cause now it's opened up a lot more. And then now what she can do is, can I have your right arm? Your right arm. That's it. And can you put your hand on your hip? Your right hand on your hip. Oh. No just like, just behind. Oh, right here? Yeah, yeah. That was good. And now what you're gonna do, is you're gonna rotate your body like this. Good. So now, lean in towards each other. That's fine. (audience laughs) That's good. You're fine. No, he can just leave it there. He doesn't need to do anything. Pop that elbow way out. Good. And now tilt your heads together. So now, I've given her more of a sassy shape. Now pull on his jacket a little bit, pull him in. So like, I'm facing away, facing towards, on the side, and then, I'm gonna have you come stand around from behind. Okay? Yep, perfect. Stand right behind him. And I'm going to make you shorter. And what you're gonna do is you're just gonna step forward and lean like that, okay? Just like that. So you're gonna come up behind him. Perfect. And I'm gonna have you put your hand soft like that, on him. Good, and you tilt your head towards her. Okay, and then so now, I've got a shot like this, I've got a shot where he's totally out of focus. Close your eyes for me. And I'm looking at her, so I have his profile out of focus and she's in focus. So that's how I come up with a million poses. It is not like, I just remember this. Is remember okay, she stands in front of him. She faces him. She goes to the side. She stands from behind. And for each and every single one of those, I wanna have their heads together, I wanna have them touching in multiple ways, and then I can switch my lens choice and my crop every single time. So just by that, and those were not particularly profound, I can probably come up with 100 different shots. And then each and every one laughing, closing their eyes, kissing, kissing forehead, nuzzling, all of that. So that would be my recommendation to you if you're just getting into photographing couples, and you want to not have to flip through a book and remember 50, 100 different poses, just remember this, and then those key guidelines, which will guide you as you make the rounds, is which I call it. Cool. That was awesome. Awesome. I love seeing that. (audience applauds) Applause for our models. Thank you, guys. Thank you very much to both of those guys, they are great. We love 'em. So we, do we have any questions here in the audience? We have a little bit of time, just a brief amount. I actually do have a quick question. Yeah? When, I guess, posing same-sex couples, it's a little different, I would think, and I don't know if you're gonna touch on that later or anything? I am. Oh, okay. I'm teaching it, so don't worry. Then we'll wait for you to answer that. Okay, but that was a good question, though. That makes me feel like I did good. (audience laughs) Lindsay is prepared for any eventuality, and we're gonna cover so many different subjects. That's what's great about today, is that it's been kind of the principles, the theory, all of that, and then, over the next two days, we see all the variations, and we see all the specific examples. And for anyone, for purchasing, I didn't shoot that, because I can't really move in the studio as much, 'cause I'm trying not to show light. So I did actually go ahead and shoot something like this, so you can see it. So for someone looking for the posing guide, I kept it simple. I didn't do focus. And everyone, just remember, you can change all those different variables. So that will be there, in the guide, for people to access. Fantastic. So maybe one question, just really quick. Sure. Just an interesting one from one of the folks in the chat room. So, men, you said, are very much more limited in the amount and type of posing that you do with them. Women are much broader. Which is more interesting to you? Do you find that the limits on male posing more of a, more interesting, or more difficult? Do you find the broad variety with women more difficult? What do you like? Women are much more interesting (laughs). (audience laughs) I would agree. Yeah, no, I'm glad you agree. For guys, so I'm talking, we're teaching portrait here, right? When I photograph guys for fashion in the studio, my key for fashion with guys is movement. So I have them up on their heels. I have them stepping and walking with a little cape on and they kick it. I have them with one hand in their pocket, grabbing the side of their jacket. I do a lot of stepping, jumping, movement, I have them in capes, I don't know, whatever (laughs). (audience laughs) And so I do a lot of movement. So I find that interesting, 'cause it's more like, it's almost more dance-like, and I'm trying to choreograph. So I wouldn't necessarily recommend that for men's portraits, but when I photograph young men, they are kinda into that. And so they'll jump and twirl around, and so I like that. But women, I can go endlessly. My favorite is really, there's this one model. Look up Mari Agory. And I think it's M-a-r-i A-g-o-r-y, and she's African, and she's endlessly tall, bald head, the most impossibly long legs, and I can make the most graphic shapes ever. That's my type of posing. I love it.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Bridal Couples
Bridal Parties
Couples - Different Height.
Female Seniors
Folding - HowTo
Male Seniors
Mature Couples
Mature Men
Mature Women
Parents Children
Plus Size
Same Sex-Female
Same Sex-Male
Women Posing

Ratings and Reviews


I would highly recommend this class! I have been shooting for some time now and I've been pretty satisfied with my pictures from each session. A few weeks ago, I happened upon this class and thought it would be nice to get some new ideas. I then took the ideas from this class and applied them to a maternity shoot. I must say it took my pictures from good to amazing!!!! My clients bought them all😊 Thank you Creative Live for offering such amazing classes to help any level of photographer learn and grow!

Ruth Ganev

Lindsay is such a great teacher. She doesn't overcomplicate things - so that you can really learn. She also reviews things again and again - only in different contexts - that make total sense. I have learned so much from watching this course of lessons. I went to a natural lighting portrait workshop a couple of weekends ago - and was able to put into action what I have learned. The models loved my photos, too. She keeps things moving, is clear and to the point. I highly recommend this class to anyone wanting to become better at posing. It is so rewarding to look back at my previous photos and understand what doesn't work and why, and also to see things improving. She is a natural teacher - the course is not boring - you will learn tons!

Maya Tleubergen

I really love it! Thank you, thank you, Lindsay! Beautiful girl with a huge talent to teach! I absolutely love it! Worth every penny!

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