I LOVE Instagram's Poll and Questions Stickers! They are a great way to start conversations with your following and to flesh out aspects that they would like more information on. One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is 'How do I pose my couples to get candid / natural photos?'
Posing is probably one of the biggest elements most photographers struggle with, but it is something you can master with practice. Today I would love to share some of my top 5 tips to ensure more natural photos for your clients.
1. IT STARTS WITH YOU AS THEIR PHOTOGRAPHER
Most of us feel awkward when photographed and the idea of a professional shoot is enough to make every limb in your body freeze up. The biggest mistake photographers make is expecting / assuming your couple will be natural models. They most probably are not, so the onus is on you to educate them what they can expect before you arrive at their session.
It your responsibility as a photographer to educate (on your website + email communication leading up to the session) and communicate with your clients how you approach shoots; what you look for when you shoot and when you will provide curated direction. Easing their nerves my answering all their questions and concerns and building trust before you start shooting, is crucial when you want more natural photographs.
2. CHOOSE A LOCATION WHICH REFLECT THEIR PERSONALITIES
One of the elements which I feel is important to ensure natural photos, is to select a location which reflect your couple's personalities and interests. If they love being outdoors, suggest locations where they would feel at home. If they have a love for coffee, consider a coffee shop shoot / have them bring their favourite coffee in a flask to their session. Shooting in a location they love and feel comfortable with, makes the idea of being photographed less daunting. This is especially true for the guys!
Have a read here to see some of my favourite Cape Town location options.
3. EASE THEM INTO THE SHOOT
When I first started, I wanted to record every second of a session. I would arrive guns blazing and snap away without really paying attention to how my subjects felt in front of my lens. DON'T DO THIS! You will alienate your clients and it will show in their photos.
A great way to ease into a shoot is to start a little earlier (15 - 30mins of your own time) and have coffee. The extra time will be priceless to them and improve the final photos.
When you head out to your shoot location, continue the conversation. Ask them questions while you set up your gear. Give the same in return! Vulnerability goes both ways and the best way to get people to be comfortable and trust you, is to treat them like friends. Be real, genuine and sincere. With practice you'll be able to sense the right moment to start shooting their session. Once the camera is out, GIVE THEM THINGS TO DO!
4. TREAT THE SESSION LIKE A STORY UNFOLDING
Forget about Instagram and the perfect Pinterest pose! The best way to get natural photos, is to not get caught up in static poses. Direct your couples like a videographer with loads of movement-based actions. Once you flip the script and give them things to do, instead of poses to replicate, your images will be more authentic and natural.
When shooting, I specifically look for in-between moments during movement-based actions. Every couple will interact differently with each other and this is what most documentary photographers are after. You can cultivate more natural reactions, by prompting them say things to each other which will spark laughter, close hugs, and fun kisses. Be creative and urge reactions which reflect the couple's personalities; if they are camera shy have them focus more on each other, if thy are an energetic pair, harness this with more movement-based direction. Being able to read the mood of your couple comes with practice, so shoot shoot shoot till you have mastered your direction skills ;)
Also try to focus on little details during their shoot - a close up of their hands, their feet and a dress blowing in the wind. These frames might feel pointless, but they add richness to your story telling and once blogged they act as moments of pause.
5. PACE YOURSELF AND HAVE FUN
I know it is tempting to shoot non-stop, but your couple will feel tired after the first 20 - 30 minutes. Read their body language and if things start to feel sluggish, take a water / snack break. This is also the perfect time do a wardrobe change and move on to your next location (If you are using more than one for a session). A recharge will ensure that your sessions will always end on a high note.
When I started I was always in my head stressing if I was being professional. If it's not your natural inclination to speak in flawless English or act stiff and emotionless, then don't. BE YOURSELF! If you are an energizer bunny in your normal life, let that flag fly! The best way to get your couples to have fun, is to HAVE FUN YOURSELF!!! Your enthusiasm will fuel their excitement and keep their nerves at bay, your energy will affect theirs. The more authentic and relaxed you are, the more they will be. It's a win-win! Posing is about setting a mood and getting your clients to feel comfortable. Reassure them that you are not looking for the perfect photo. You are there to document the real, messy, fun, adventurous, loving side of their relationship. So relax and enjoy spending time with each other.
BONUS TIP: If you feel stuck with giving direction, take a step back, breathe and change your angle / view / perspective. When I run out of ideas / prompts, I usually step back and let them enjoy the moment of closeness. Walk away if you have to, and then after a few minutes start shooting wide, and moving in closer. Get into their space if you feel it's appropriate - the invasion will probably make them laugh and unravel into natural hugs and pull aways. The aim is to get out of your head and in the moment, so it's totally fine to be present and to forget about the outside world for a minute.
Most importantly, every shoot should focus on serving your clients. Relax and create a mood in which they will flourish. Show them that you care and encourage them to have fun and be themselves.
STORIES INSPIRED BY LOVE | ADVENTURE | BEAUTIFUL LIGHT