Skip to main content

Seven Fundamentals of Pose

Lesson 12 from: Wedding Photography: Capturing the Story

Rocco Ancora, Ryan Schembri

Seven Fundamentals of Pose

Lesson 12 from: Wedding Photography: Capturing the Story

Rocco Ancora, Ryan Schembri

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

12. Seven Fundamentals of Pose


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Define the Goals of Wedding Photographers


The Importance of Wedding Photographers


Shooting Philosophy


How to Build a Shot List - Bride, Groom & Formals


Tye the Wedding Story Together


Capture Stories in Wedding Pictures


Get the Right Exposure


Lesson Info

Seven Fundamentals of Pose

So, we're going to get into one of my favorite subjects and I'm sure everyone's favorite subject, is posing. Does anyone have any problems with posing? Anyone? No, you're all legends at it. I know I wasn't, until I actually figured out a few things about posing and learned a few things about it as well, and, I've come up with, now, what I call the seven fundamentals of a pose, and the way I'm gonna talk about it now is actually how I direct my brides or, generally, women in general, any bridesmaids or mothers of the bride, whoever. Whoever I meet, as soon as I meet them, I run through these particular steps with them and I say, if you remember this all day for me, trust me, you're going to look amazing in front of the camera, you're just gonna look phenomenal. And if you think about it, a pose starts somewhere, it has to start somewhere, and it's usually the relationship with light where the pose starts. So we need that relationship, and that tag-team nature of light and pose. So I sta...

rt with- my posing technique is by saying to my brides I never want to photograph you flat to the camera, I always wanna photography you with a slight turn. And usually, it will be turned away from the direction of light. Okay, so turn the body away from the light. The next step then would be turn their chin back in to the direction of light illuminating the face... So we went through that, that's the play between light and pose. But then, the actual pose itself has to start somewhere and for me it starts always at the feet. It's feet and leg position. So I say to them, this, and if we have a full shot because I'll probably just do this and it'll be easier, so. So, with my feet, I've turned my body away from that direction of light. Then, what I'm gonna do- if you keep your feet like that, and you say to people, can you now turn? They'll often just keep their feet planted. Yeah? They'll do this. And it'll look weird and funny. So what I do though, I say, what I want you to do for me, darling, with your front toe, with the one closest to my camera, I want you to point that to me. Okay? So we point that toe. The next thing, I come up from the feet, I come up the legs. Let's go to the knee. With your knee, with your front knee, I want you to cross that front knee over your back knee. You see that? I'm quite good at it, aren't I? I look very feminine while I do it. So, point. Bend. Then, the upper body needs to go to the light. We lean in. Now that's doing a few things, isn't it. It's taking the biggest part of the body away from the camera- we sort of all know that one, that's a general rule, take the biggest parts and push them away. But, the more important part to that, and this is the part that everyone misses, the more important part is pushing the face into the light so that the face hits the light first and becomes the brightest point of the image. So don't worry about, Oh, I'm making things smaller by pushing them away... No. Has nothing to do with it. Push the face into the light so that the face becomes the brightest part so that the light falls off from there. Yes, you're accentuating the curves and everything else, which is great, but remember, there's the relationship between light and pose that we must remember. So that, that's the hips and spine, we want to break and what we basically wanna do is never form a straight line. So straight vertical lines and straight horizontal lines. That's what we want to sort of steer away from. So, again, turn, point, knee, bend. And we get to a couple of the last things. Lean to the camera, to the light, the tilt of the top of the head. so we're tilting the head back in- again, it's all about that light, isn't it. I'm getting that face into the light. Get into the light. So I'm tilting in, and then the chin is coming up to the light. Now, another thing I see people do is they try and bring the chin down into people, or into the camera... If you think about light placement and light direction, where does light come from, most of the time? Where does light come from? It comes from above the eye level. So if the light's coming from above the eye level, it makes sense to me to push the chin up into that light. Now that's gonna do two things: it's gonna stretch all of this, isn't it, so we're not gonna have triple chins. But, more than that, it's gonna push the eyes into the light so that the eyes catch all that beautiful light and illuminate them, and bring them together. So, the last thing we get to, this is the problem all my brides have. They come to me and they say Ryan, I just want to make my arms smaller. Do you ever get that? Yeah? Do you know what's really scary at the moment is that some brides come to me and they say it's alright, Ryan, you can Liquify me later. (audience chuckling) I don't know what's more scary, is that statement or the fact that they know the word Liquify. Like, how do they know the word Liquify? I say to them, look, how 'bout I just look after you? I'll just look after you on the day, you'll look amazing, beautiful, we won't need to Photoshop you at all. They love to hear that, yeah? "We won't need to Photoshop you at all." Because at the end of the day, who wants to be Photoshopped? So, arms. My basic movement, and we'll get into a lot more of this but my basic movement is if you keep your elbow behind your waist, if you keep your elbow behind your waist, not out from your waste, because what do we do there? We make people three times larger than what they are. Hello, people. We want to keep them behind the waist That opens up their gap, and the other thing that you can't do when you have your elbows behind your waist is touch your body. And that's, most times, why people's arms become bigger is because they touch the side of their body, right? Now, for a guy like me, trust me, especially out there in Internet-land, I want to be bigger. I've been going to the gym, but it hasn't worked yet. But, for most people, they want their arms smaller, so we push that behind the waist, that opens up their gap, and we get to hands and things like that as well, and hands are kind of a weird things, aren't they? Mhm. They can be a bit odd. But you can see here, just to point out to you, how essential that body away from the light is. If we see in the first diagram, she's turned straight directly to the camera, we see exactly how wide she is, when we turn the body into the light would you agree that that becomes a little bit larger, doesn't it? Because we're illuminating that biggest part. With the body away from the light, the body becomes much slimmer, much better to look at, basically. We'll get into a little bit of hands now. But we're gonna do a whole heap more of this this afternoon, when we shoot, and placement of hands, but we'll explain a couple different things. If you look at her hands there and where they're placed at the moment would you agree that there's something quite wrong with that? It's like, dun-dun, it's wrong, yeah? You look at her wrist, and basically her wrist, in photographing that flatter part of the hand this flatter part, is what we wanna try and avoid. And anytime I push that flatter part forward to a camera, it becomes bigger. So we want to try and avoid that, we want to try and soften that angle. So if I push it forward, it looks big. Bring it back, it looks a bit smaller. So it's kinda like the body, isn't it? You can imagine my hips, it's the same as the wrist. Push it away, it becomes smaller. So we fix that now, but there's something still wrong here. We fix the wrist, we photograph the slimmer part of the hand. Not the flatter part, the slimmer part. But now, what have we done? We've chopped the fingers, haven't we? And by covering those fingers, we're basically saying to the audience that they're not there. That they've been amputated off. What we wanna do, have really soft fingers, really soft curves, and fix all of those parts. And what I say to my brides, especially, is, because you see, brides on a wedding day are often quite tense, aren't they? They're really tense. And they hold their bouquet like they're going to strangle this thing. It's like, okay I'm holding it. Just wanna try and relax everything. And I actually grab their hands and I say Just, uh, make it floppy. And once it's floppy, I can place it anywhere. So relax, relax the fingers, relax the curves in those hands. And we end up with something quite beautiful. We actually, we've done a lot of work on hands and body positions, and posing, and different looks, and all sorts of things, to the point where we just decided to write a book. So we did it. It's actually called, "Refining the Pose and the Art of Direction." It's an eBook, so it's downloadable, you can keep it with you on the day, I know a lot of people that have it with them on wedding days and they flick through it on their phones. It's 125 pages of posing guides, whqt to do, what not to do, posing females, grooms, couples, families, all sorts of things in there, so we think it's pretty great value. Yeah, Christie? Is part of the posing book in your bonus materials for the course? Yeah, there was actually a chapter in the bonus material as well, so there's a free chapter in there. Great. Yeah, absolutely. I think, maybe, we're going to come back, maybe, and do a little bit more on posing after our break, because, we've run a little bit over time here, but if you've got any questions for us now, that would be fantastic. Absolutely. I've got a couple here from the internet, audience, do you have any questions here? Alright, I'll take one from- That mean's we've either done a really good job or a really bad one. (all laughing) Let's see, one about posing, just to continue that thread. Sure. So, depending on your height versus your subject's height, how do you handle when you're leaning forward, lifting the chin, looking for the light, do you vary that depending on your height versus theirs? Okay, yes. So that's a really interesting question, 'cause that's all about giving either the viewer dominance over the picture or giving the subject dominance over the picture depending on eye level. So if your eye level or your camera plane is over the subject's eye level, that gives the viewer of the picture dominance in looking at it. If it's the other way, like the Mona Lisa, the Mona Lisa is painted above your eye level as you're looking at her, she has dominance, yeah? The subject has dominance over the picture and that's why it's such a beautiful constructed image. I'm often trying to get above eye level, it just, it feels better to me. I try to get above it. Now I'm a short guy as well, so that leaning in, it helps me. It helps me because they become shorter and I can just get above them. And you've gotta see me after a wedding, my legs really do hurt because I'm on my tippy-toes all day. Absolutely. Another question, jumping back a little bit to talk about the exposure and the lighting. When you are exposing someone's skin tone, if they have darker skin, especially when it's them paired with a white wedding dress where do you meter, and how do you handle darker skin tone and still get all the detail in the white dress? Do you want to handle that, Rock? Yeah, absolutely. The dress is king. So we still need to expose for the dress, and we still need to place that dress within the zone six and a half/zone seven, so we need to increase our exposure to render it a highlight, which then pushes our shadows away which then renders, you know, every other tone that is relative to that it'll sit exactly where it needs to sit. Okay, so, yeah. And then in post, in Lightroom, we can reduce our highlights, and increase our shadows, to then play around with the relationship between the two to equate it a little bit better. There's a certain relationship, then, if you think about it, that light and pose thing as well. Because if we're, again, where that light direction's coming through and as it's hitting- if it's hitting the dress first at any stage that is gonna be the brightest point and ultimately if you're trying to work out your exposure there, it's going to be a really tough one because you're either gonna blow out the dress or underexpose the skin. So, that's why that relationship between pose and light, and then now we're introducing that relationship between pose, light and exposure is so important. So, bringing the important elements of that shot bringing that into the light first, leaning that into the light, making sure that's the part that the light hits first, that'll be your brightest point, there's the base of your exposure, everything'll fall off from there. Yep? We've got one more regarding exposure from the internet community. When you are working with either increasing or decreasing your exposure, why do you choose to do it with the ISO versus your aperture or your shutter speed? I don't, per se, I may have done it in that example, and just because it's all a relationship between that exposure triangle that I'm sure we've all learned at school, I might have, in that particular case, I might have been already been at my lowest aperture or my lowest shutter speed that I particularly like to shoot at. I drink way too much coffee, so I know with my 200mm, I don't like to shoot anything under 1/200th of a second. I just want to make sure I'm safe with it. So yeah, I may have already just been at those points and I adjusted the ISO. But I could adjust anything as long as it keeps within my, rotating that triangle, so. So you're just adjusting as you go. Yeah, yeah, whatever it may be. Great.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Posing Guide Book Chapter

Ratings and Reviews

Jerry Willis

Ryan & Rocco, in my very humble opinion, are THE best wedding photography instructors in the entire industry! I've been watching their work for years now, which just so happens to win a most grand-scaled competitions, and they somehow continue to keep getting better! I first drilled Ryan at WPPI inquiring about what made his workshop different from all the others. His response, me paraphrasing, "If you're looking for tools to learn, come to my workshop. If you're looking for inspiration and smoke blowing, don't come." That's exactly what I needed to hear. Straight tools, no fluff. THE BEST photography workshop I've EVER taken, by far. You want the best photography education, learn from the best. This CreativeLive workshop is the PERFECT complimentary refresher and companion to what I learned! Thank you so much for having them! It's not the same as the workshop, which it shouldn't be, but they ARE reinforcing many things that have slipped my memory! I'm for sure buying this! :-)

Neeraj Arora

WOW!!! I have started a few CL courses but not finished as I got distracted by "life" and it took me a while to get back and finish them. But these guys!! They were simply superb. I finished this course really fast. Amazing artists, they explain things so well, Ryan is such a charmer and engaging teacher, Rocco is a fountain of knowledge. I am an enthusiastic photographer with aspirations to start my own business soon. I learn't so much from this class that will help improve my photography even if I don't become a professional wedding photographer. Great job guys, keep it up. I will need to come back to the lessons and I very much appreciate the key note pdf. All CL courses should include the slides like they did here. Thanks CL.


I am a newborn photographer by trade, but I really want to venture out and photograph more weddings so I decided to purchase a wedding class on creative live. Of course when I typed in wedding, quite a few classes came up. But when I saw the image and title "capture the story" I was definitely intrigued. I've always been touched by the photographs that have emotion and that's what I'm passionate to photograph! Always a little nervous when you purchase a class because you don't want to feel like it was a waste of money, but this knocked it out of the park for me! Thank you to Ryan and Rocco for explaining so much, showing the pull backs, and moving your subject and explaining why! This has opened my eyes so much to how beautiful photographing a wedding can be and not so terrifying as I've been making it out to be. I'm really so thankful to hopefully being a great wedding photographer and making more income for my family, while having fun creating something beautiful

Student Work