Your wedding photos serve a far greater purpose than simply announcing your new relationship status on social media and decorating the walls of your home: Long after you’ve exchanged vows, shared your first dance, and cut that first slice of cake, your wedding photos are a physical reminder of the day you and your spouse are committed to a lifetime together. Through them, you (and generations to come!) can relive every special moment of the day you said “I do.”
The importance of these photos also means that couples tend to feel a significant amount of pressure to ensure they’re perfect. So, how do you do it? Hiring a great wedding photographer—one whose work you love and are able to form a wonderful connection with—is step one. After that, trusting them to guide you towards poses that look and feel natural is key.
Here, five top wedding photographers share their ten best tips to keep in mind when posing for wedding photos.
Meet the Experts
- KT Merry is a professional wedding photographer based in California and Florida.
- Abby Jiu is the founder and lead photographer of Abby Jiu Photography, an all-female collective of wedding photographers based in the Washington, DC, metro area.
- Terri Baskin is the founder of Terri Baskin Photography, a Washington, DC-based wedding photography studio.
- Laura Murray is a professional wedding photographer based in Denver, Colorado.
- Jenny Quicksall is a professional wedding photographer based in Los Angeles, California.
If there’s one piece of posing advice that really sinks in, let it be this: Try to relax and have fun. “My biggest piece of advice is to relax and live in the moment,” says Abby Jiu, the founder of Abby Jiu Photography. “That way the pictures result in something that is not posed, but truly them.” KT Merry agrees, adding that your photographer is there to be the expert and get the shot—your focus should be on reveling in this special moment. “My job is to scout and do the legwork to find a beautiful backdrop and great light ahead of the wedding day,” she explains. “My directives for couples are usually about getting them to relax, be present and happy, and to connect with one another. The more I can get them tuned into one another, the more authentic the images will be.”
Want to be more relaxed on your wedding day? Then don’t skip the engagement photo session. Scheduling a photo session with your photographer ahead of the wedding day teaches you how to feel comfortable in front of the camera. What’s more, it gives you the opportunity to see what types of photos you do and don’t like yourself ahead of the wedding.
Stand Up Straight
The secret to more flattering photos? Great posture. Standing up straight, with your shoulders back and your chin forward, ensures you look your best in every snapshot. “I will always look at the couple or scan the group and remind everyone to stand up straight, roll their shoulders back, and bring their chins forward,” says Jenny Quicksall. “Poor posture can make a photo look unflattering.”
Don’t Lock Your Knees or Elbows
While good posture is important, physical tension doesn’t make for beautiful photos, which is why Terri Baskin says she always reminds her couples to keep the knee and elbow joints loose. “I tell couples, ‘If it bends, I may ask you to bend it,'” she says. “That simply means I’m watching for locked knees and elbows. A slight bend in them creates a more natural photo for my style of photography.”
Watch the Angle of Your Chin
“A common mistake some people make is holding their chin too high or tilting their head too far where it doesn’t look natural,” says Baskin. You might think you’re making your chin look more angular and flattering, but Baskin says the result tends to be awkward and uncomfortable. If how your chin and jawline looks in photos tends to be something you worry about, tell your photographer before hand so they can direct you in the moment. “This isn’t to have them count any insecurities but it’s more about trying to understand the things that they will look for when viewing their photos,” he adds. “These are easy fixes to know during the shoot instead of afterwards when it’s too late to make corrections.”
Make Sure Your Pockets Are Empty
Leave your cell phone, keys, and wallet at home. “Bulging pockets take away from the elevated or tailored look of his outfit and can be a distraction when looking at the photos,” says Baskin. While your photographer will always remind you—and your guests who are being photographed—to empty your pockets, doing so before you start the photo session will speed things up.
Keep Your Jacket Buttoned
Anyone wearing a jacket should ensure at least one button is fastened during photos, Merry says. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but let your photographer instruct you to open it should they feel the shot warrants a more casual approach.
Lose the Hair Ties and Smart Watches
If Quicksall could give all couples and their family members one universal piece of advice, it would be to check their wrists before the photo session begins. Hair ties and smart watches, in particular, really take away from the look of a photo. “I always remind people of this,” she says.
Point Your Feet Toward Your Partner
Jiu says a simple adjustment you can make for more intimate photos is to keep an eye on the angle of your feet. “For couple portraits, having the couple’s feet pointed toward the camera instead of toward each other is best,” she explains. “The body language is so much more intimate and provokes a natural feeling of being together if they are pointed towards each other.”
Distance is a big mistake all of our experts see couples make. In photos, the closer you can get, the better. “A posing mistake I sometimes see is a couple being too distant or not connected,” says Laura Murray. “This is not because of them, but because of the pose. I think it’s helpful to always be connected and touching in portraits, whether it’s holding hands, connecting your heads, or something similar.”
Don’t Try to Pose
It may seem counterintuitive, but each of our experts emphasize the importance of not trying to post on your wedding day. “I actually feel it’s best that a couple doesn’t overthink posing,” says Merry. “If there are ways that feel natural for you to be together—maybe wrapping your arm around your partner’s arm or leaning on your partner’s shoulder—don’t be afraid to do that.” Murray agreed, adding, “This may seem the opposite, but what feels the most tried-and-true for me is actually not posing at all. The longer I’ve been a photographer, I’ve come to realize that my favorite images of a finished gallery don’t come from a pose. They come from naturally living in a moment.”