For many years there has been a trend for reportage wedding photography but I always recommend to clients to allow some time for more formal group and family wedding photos, as they are the ones they will want to look at in years to come. While during a wedding I photograph a lot of candid portraits to capture the wedding day in a more fun and casual way, and while I describe my wedding photography style as modern creative wedding photography, classical wedding portraits still provide an iconic feel to the couple's official wedding shots. And equally important these are the wedding photographs that the parents of the bride and the groom also prefer printed and framed.
If you chose a professional wedding photographer s/he should be aware of the below and guide you during the photography photo session, but it’s always beneficial to bear in mind the below tips on posing which you can apply not only while your wedding photos are taken but also when any other photos are taken.
The Body and legs
The first guidance I give to anybody I shoot in a standing position is to stand at an angle of about 45° to the camera. This is the classic model’s pose as it makes the width of the shoulders less visible and therefore makes any person look slimmer. The second tip I give to the couple when we start the photo session is to put the weight on the back leg (the one furthest from the camera) so the back hip is hidden and away from the camera. The back foot should be pointed away from the camera about 90 degrees, and the front foot should be pointed at the camera. (That’s feet in 4th position for the ballet dancers among you!) This gives a slimmer, more pleasing stance for any photo not just a wedding photo.
Similarly, if I photograph the bride and the groom seated I recommend that they sit slightly sideways to me and turn the upper body back to the camera. This posture makes legs look longer while crossing the legs also reduces the width of the body.
I also remind the bride to roll out the shoulder for a more erect posture which gives more elegance and style.
Hands easily show awkwardness so I always look out for people clenching their fists or curling their fingers. I advise clients that bent arms look more relaxed than straight ones, so I recommend to brides to hold the bouquet loosely in the hand nearest the camera and then to bend the elbow so that the bouquet is at waist height. A further tip to brides especially when being photographed alone is to hold the bouquet in one hand and to put the other hand on the hip as this accentuates the waist.
To the groom I recommend to put one hand in the pocket of the trousers in order to avoid the awkward hanging of the hand which the groom often doesn’t know what to do. It’s important to keep the thumbs out of the pockets so your whole hand is not hidden. This gives again a much more elegant and finished pose not only of the groom but of any man posing in a group photo.
In the cases when the bridal bouquet got misplaced I always position the bride and groom in what I call the Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Stephanie wedding pose. Their photograph of a pose without a bridal bouquet was widely published in most media and was still very royal and flattering. The idea is to show elegance without the awkward holding of the hands that often happens between couples when the bridal bouquet is missing. The idea is for the groom to bend his arm at the elbow and turn it upwards and offer it as a support to the bride who gently places her arm into his. The trick is for both the bride and the groom to avoid clenching strongly onto each other which makes fingers look unappealing and the wedding photo look strained.
Just like the shoulders, turning the head slightly to a three quarter position allows to slim down a wide face or jaw line. Therefore unless I intentionally photograph the person straight on I always recommend the bride or the groom to slightly tilt their face to one side. It also helps stretch out the neck area which helps avoid double chin problem.
It’s always a fun moment during the photo session when we come to the ‘kiss’ photo as a lot of couples are quite eager share a kiss with their newly wedded other half. However it often all ends up with quite a lot of squashed lips and noses that do not look very flattering. I therefore recommend the couple when posing for a more formal kissing photo to pause for a second just millimetres from each other just before the actual kiss. This not only shows both faces in a more elegant and beautiful way but also make the kiss look more natural.
Allow plenty of time
It takes time to create good wedding photographs and an extra bit longer to do something creative, so don’t expect masterpieces in five minutes. While in the US couples allocated up to 2 hours for their wedding photography in the UK most wedding photographers recommend at least 20 minutes to for wedding portraits. If you only have 10 minutes, that’s fine, just be realistic about what can be achieved. I’ve photographed weddings with no time allocated for formal wedding photos when bride and groom wanted pure photojournalistic wedding photography but I always tell the couple that the more time they allow for the photos the more creative wedding photographs I can produce.
Enjoy the moment
Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the moment while taking the photos. Couples often don’t realize that their wedding photo session is one of the few moments during the wedding they can spend on their own. After the more formal photos I switch to my long lens and step back and leave the couple to enjoy themselves while I take more relaxed casual portraits. The easiest way to get a natural smile is to think happy thoughts. I often ask the couple to share their feelings about the wedding so far. I urge the couple to concentrate on each other rather than what I am doing. Some of the best photos come when you forget you’re being photographed.
Last piece of advice to all couples however is – choose a wedding photographer with who you have a good rapport. S/he will be the one to help you relax in front of the camera. I always include in my packages an engagement photography session. This not only gives a few nice photos of the couple but gives couples the chance to get to know me better and practice some of the poses. It also helps break the nervousness of being photographed out of the way.