Wedding Photography Posing Guide - Poses That Work (2023)

Do you often struggle when posing newlyweds, not knowing what to do next? Shooting under pressure, you then ask the couple to kiss while neglecting their body positioning, posture, hand movement and facial expression.

The ingredients to a good portrait include: quality of light, composition, exposure and a flattering pose. To not properly pose your client is similar to missing a key ingredient in your meal. Something just doesn’t taste (look) right.

Wedding Photography Posing Guide - Poses That Work (1)

My name is Jimmy Chan, the wedding photographer of Pixelicious from Montreal, Canada. I promised PetaPixel that I would follow up with another in-depth guide:

  • Packed with actionable step-by-step tips for your next assignment;
  • Written in a language that hobbyist / amateur photographers can understand;
  • Featuring images of real clients, never models in stylized shoots;
  • I will tear down some of my favorite shots by explaining what didn’t work and how would I have done things differently.

If you find my previous article on wedding photography lighting helpful, this will be just as worthy of your time.

Common misconceptions

Unlike lighting and composition where I would encourage others to experiment, the human anatomy hasn’t changed much in the past few thousands of years. In other words, a flattering pose for a female subject will remain a flattering pose, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

(Video) Wedding Photography: My 10 Favorite Easy Wedding Poses

Instead, they say “I don’t really care about what other photographers have done in the past. I’d rather experiment and find out on my own what makes things work for me and my clients!”

Do you really believe that anyone can figure it all out by himself?

If you’re looking for the easy way to become a creative portrait photographer, then continue to study here, to practice, and to grow. If, on the other hand, you decide that you’d rather make your life difficult, go ahead and learn the hard way—put this book away right now and try your own hit-and-miss techniques until you might stumble on something that will work once in awhile. It’s up to you.

–Monty Zucker’s Portrait Photography Handbook

This might sound strange, but nothing in this article is new. I am only sharing knowledge gathered from other master photographers who spent decades perfecting their craft: Monty Zucker, Cliff Mautner, Jerry Ghionis, Roberto Valenzuela, Sue Bryce, Lindsay Adler and so many others who I will credit their techniques as we go along.

Don’t expect a laundry list of “best wedding poses” that you can replicate, we all know this is a recipe for disaster. Instead of blindly copying others, develop a systematic approach to posing your clients that works for you which will yield consistent results shoot after shoot, even when pressed for time.

(Video) Wedding Photography: How to Pose a Bride and Groom (Posing Tutorial)

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Remember that we aren’t working with models so don’t expect them to pose like one. It also means that they expect guidance from us. This is wedding photography, not photojournalism. The bride will not magically hold her bouquet with her eyes closed waiting for the camera. You must ask, direct and pose for the shot you wish to achieve. PetaPixel has an excellent posing guide with models for those interested.

Building a strong foundation

The body is positioned for light and composition. After a couple of test shots, my exposure is set. By having 3 out of 4 ingredients taken care of, I can now fully concentrate on the posing and interaction with my clients.

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Tip on exposure: I want you to observe your subject’s face before grabbing the camera next time. Does her face become brighter or darker by the second? If not, then why does your exposure need to change? Shooting in Manual mode not only makes sense, it will save you tremendous time because you can batch edit the images later. Being constantly worried about exposure will undermine your ability in posing your subject.

Posing the eyes, hands and spine

I want my brides to look tall, elegant and confident. I do this by asking them to really stretch their spines, no slouching allowed.

The spine is the cornerstone of any pose. Ignore the spine and the whole pose will fly out the window. So if I can help you with one thing in this book, let it be this statement: The spine must always be straight and as tall as possible.

– Roberto Valenzuela’s Picture Perfect Posing

(Video) Wedding Photography Poses

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You might have heard of Jerry Ghionis’ mirror technique for posing (fast forward to 10:15 in the video below). The idea is to have your subject follow your movements instead of communicating verbally. Not only does it work, I will shamelessly attempt all the feminine poses you see in this article and I am a guy. The brides end up laughing (at me) and this has become a great ice breaker for those who are reluctant in posing for portraits.

Gentlemen’s club

I like my grooms to look classy and handsome. This can be achieved by reverse engineering how I pose female subjects:

  1. Lift the back leg instead to shift his weight forward to look more imposing. I can also have him lean forward for upper body shots;
  2. We tend to rotate the female’s hand to avoid seeing the palm or backside, but strong hands are suitable for men;
  3. Tilting the head and chin towards the higher shoulder looks feminine, do the opposite to achieve a more masculine stance.
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The need for speed

Wedding photographers are always pressed for time so I have since learned to not sacrifice productivity for perfection. I recognize countless flaws in my images, but a photographer sees pictures differently from a client. Don’t get me wrong, when the stars are aligned, go all out and get that money shot. Otherwise, capturing the safe shots first, then move higher on the difficulty scale, remains a viable strategy.

We are not looking to make the Mona Lisa sometimes, we are looking to create texture, dimension and mood, and give a nice array of images, fast.

– Cliff Mautner’s Searching for the Light

(Video) Speed Posing: Wedding and Portrait Photography | How to Pose People (FAST)

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If you watched Jerry Ghionis’ video above on posing, you would come across what he refers to the “phone number” technique (fast forward video to 25:28). By making small changes to the pose, you end up with a different picture. In practice, I can capture both holding hands (one shot), one hand raised (another shot), both looking at the camera (another shot), both looking at each other (another shot) and so on. You don’t need to memorize and execute 50 poses, only a few strong ones will suffice. Quality over quantity, always.

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When I was just getting started in photography, one of my mentors taught me this amusing saying: “When’s the best time to take a horizontal image? After a vertical. When’s the best time to take a vertical image? After a horizontal.”

– Lindsay Adler’s Fashion Flair for Portrait and Wedding Photography

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3 focal lengths x 2 orientations x 3 small changes = up to 18 workable images for me to further cull down at home from “one pose”. This can be achieved quickly with minimal effort from the client.

Other common posing scenarios and pitfalls

Let’s dive further into other common scenarios we’ll come across:

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Tip on composition: Whether on the street or at the lake, you will come across the horizon in the form of a dominant horizontal line across the frame. When shooting at eye-level, this line can slice through someone’s joints: elbows, hips, knee or ankle. You can “control” the horizon line by lowering yourself, such as kneeling or laying down on the ground.

(Video) Tips for posing a couple on a wedding day- 20+ poses in 10 minutes!

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Posing for groups

The bad news is that clients aren’t necessary fans of family formals. The good news is that all the posing techniques apply, whether for the bridal party or the guests. To help expedite the process, prepare a list of must have groups in advance. Also, inquire on the family dynamics to prevent awkward situations (putting divorced parents together).

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Adding children into the mix

Children play a big role at weddings so don’t neglect them. We want to capture them naturally so it’s best not to force things. Also, lower ourselves down to their height when shooting, let them invite us into their world.Elena Shumilova shares some amazing tips on how to photograph children here on PetaPixel.

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What challenges did you face when posing your clients? Would you also have great tips, why not share them in the comments section!


Do and don'ts for posing? ›

Strike a Pose: The Do's and Don'ts of Posing
  • DO:
  • Relax. Take it easy, it's just a photo. ...
  • Keep your chin down. I cannot stress this enough. ...
  • Take suggestion. More times than not, photos come out odd for two reasons. ...
  • DON'T:
  • Look up. Keep. ...
  • Do the “thin lean” ...
  • Freak out!
12 Oct 2015

How can I look skinny in wedding pictures? ›

To look thinner, avoid facing the camera head on. Instead, angle your shoulder to the camera, keep your weight on the back foot, and place your other foot in front so as to create a “T” shape.

What is the 7 tips for good photographs? ›

7 Tips For Taking Better Photos
  • How To Compose Great Photos. Great photos start with great composition: how you frame the shot and where you position different elements within the scene. ...
  • Keep It Simple. ...
  • Change Your Perspective. ...
  • Add Depth To Your Images. ...
  • Use The Sun To Create A Silhouette. ...
  • Look For Reflections. ...
  • Find Symmetry.

How do I make my wedding photos look professional? ›

Table of Contents
  1. Use Flags and Stars for Easy Culling.
  2. Use Customised Presets to Speed Up the Editing Process.
  3. Edit in Stages.
  4. Perfect the Exposure.
  5. Colour Correct With White Balance and HSL Tools.
  6. Don't Forget to Sharpen and Reduce Noise.
  7. The Crop Tool Is for More Than Just Crops.

How can I look natural while posing? ›

Here are some of our best tips for natural poses that will make your images shine.
  1. Ask your model to shift their weight from foot to foot. ...
  2. Give your subject a prop or something to do with their hands. ...
  3. Get moving. ...
  4. Find something to lean against. ...
  5. Ask your subject to look away from the camera.
18 Oct 2021

What should you not wear in pictures? ›

what not to wear to a photo session
  • 10 tips on “what not to wear” when preparing for your photo shoot. ...
8 Jan 2021

How can I make my face more photogenic? ›

How to make your face more photogenic
  1. Find your best angle. The majority of people on the planet do not have a perfectly symmetrical face, and asymmetry doesn't always look flattering when captured through a lens. ...
  2. Smile with your eyes. ...
  3. Utilize natural lighting. ...
  4. Grab some paper. ...
  5. Point your camera down.
27 Jul 2021

What color makes you look thinner on camera? ›

Black never fails to make you look slim and elegant. Darker shades of colors like blue, purple and brown can also help to hide flaws and create a slimming illusion. On the other hand, lighter colors, like white and khaki, can add pounds and give the illusion of a larger frame.

How should an overweight bride pose? ›

Flattering Angles and Poses for Plus-Size Bride Photographs
  1. Turn the subject's body away from the light source. ...
  2. Have the subject lean slightly toward the camera with their chest. ...
  3. Change your camera angle—a higher camera angle will minimize double chins. ...
  4. Bend a knee. ...
  5. Have the subject sit on the side of the thigh.
25 Sept 2014

How do you smile in a wedding photo? ›

Photography Tips & Tricks For Your Wedding Day Smile
  1. Slightly Tilt Your Head. Celebrities know how to flash their perfect smile for the cameras. ...
  2. Moisten Your Teeth Just Before the Photo is Snapped. ...
  3. Smile With Your Teeth Slightly Parted. ...
  4. Wear A Creamy Lipstick. ...
  5. Practice Makes Perfect.
7 Feb 2010

What are the 7 common photography mistakes made most often? ›

Here's how to avoid the most common mistakes photographers make and a few tips on how to rise above them.
  • Cropping Your Photos. ...
  • Forgetting to Charge Your Batteries. ...
  • Using Slow Cards. ...
  • Not Remembering What You Did Right. ...
  • Not Learning How Your Camera Works. ...
  • Not Learning the Big Three. ...
  • You're Getting Good.
14 May 2019

What 3 things make a good photo? ›

The three variables that matter the most in photography are simple: light, subject, and composition.

What are the 5 Golden Guides to better photography? ›

  • 5 Golden Rules for Better Street Photography. To help charge your creative inspiration, here are 5 golden rules for taking amazing street photos. ...
  • Get Closer to Your Subjects. ...
  • Streets Come Alive at Night. ...
  • Never Leave Your Camera at Home. ...
  • Get Creative. ...
  • Focus on Architecture.
28 Sept 2017

What is the best color to wear for a professional photo? ›

Neutral or Solid Colours

Solid and neutral colours always work well as the eye is used to seeing them and they have little chance of overwhelming the frame. Light neutral shades include white and cream, while dark ones include navy and black.

How do I make my wedding photos crisp? ›

General Tips for Maximum Sharpness
  1. Use the Sharpest Aperture. Camera lenses can only achieve their sharpest photos at one particular aperture. ...
  2. Switch to Single Point Autofocus. ...
  3. Lower Your ISO. ...
  4. Use a Better Lens. ...
  5. Remove Lens Filters. ...
  6. Check Sharpness on Your LCD Screen. ...
  7. Make Your Tripod Sturdy. ...
  8. Use a Remote Cable Release.

How can a shy person pose? ›

10 Posing ideas for shy people
  1. Show your back and look at the landscape. This is the easiest, you look away and don't have to worry of your facial expressions. ...
  2. Looking over your shoulder. ...
  3. Looking down and smile. ...
  4. Dress / Skirt Twirl. ...
  5. Use props. ...
  6. Look away. ...
  7. Create shade with your hand. ...
  8. Sit on the edge / bring a knee up.
27 Oct 2021

How do you pose your face to look thinner? ›

Hold your head forward

“Stick your chin out a little bit—think of leading with your forehead,” says Burr. “It brings the head forward a little bit but slims under the jaw line and the neck.” Lowering your chin down a touch will keep the pose from looking unnatural, she says.

How can I look good in photos without smiling? ›

It is possible to look better in photos though.
  1. Clench your teeth first. This is a great tip for guys who want their jawlines to look more defined. ...
  2. Smile with your eyes. ...
  3. Close your eyes just before a photo. ...
  4. Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth. ...
  5. Smirk away.

What clothes look best in pictures? ›

7 Types of Clothes That Photograph Best
  1. Solids colors. "It's no secret that zany patterns can be, ahem, less than flattering to even the most svelte figures. ...
  2. Traditional patterns. ...
  3. Fitted pieces. ...
  4. Dark colors. ...
  5. Flattering necklines. ...
  6. Classic over trendy. ...
  7. Non-sheer.
14 Mar 2017

What is the secret to taking a good picture? ›

Want to Take Better Smartphone Photos? Try These 10 Tips From Pro Photographers
  1. First, start with a clean slate.
  2. A little framing goes a long way.
  3. Ditch the digital zoom.
  4. Look for light before making your own.
  5. Watch out for cloud storage shenanigans.
  6. Steady yourself — or use a tripod.
  7. Go remote with a shutter button.
26 Aug 2019

What clothing looks best on camera? ›

Avoid bright white: White tends to dominate the screen, and like neon and bright colors, should be avoided. A better choice: not-quite-white colors like light beige, light gray and very pale colors may work better. 5. Avoid wearing bright red (or orange): Red tends to look orange to the camera.

How do I look prettier in photos? ›

Avoid the I'm-so-over-it look.

"Keep your body language warm and open. Don't cross your arms; it makes you look defensive. And face the camera while looking directly at the lens. Tilt your chin down slightly to make your eyes appear larger and more seductive."

What features are most photogenic? ›

As the camera captures a 2 dimensional image, features that 'flatten' well are typically considered favourably in photographs. This includes wide set eyes, a straight nose, high cheeks and full lips.

What features make you photogenic? ›

Are Some People Just Naturally Photogenic? Some characteristics translate more gracefully to film than others. Sharp cheekbones, a square jaw, and other angular facial features make for attractive subjects in photography because they better capture the available light.

How can I make my arms look thinner in wedding photos? ›

Tip Three: Flattering Your Arms

My first tip for making your arms look amazing, is to hold them out away from your body slightly. When your arm is pinned to your side, it gets squished and flattens out, making it look much larger than it actually is. You can avoid this by holding your arm slightly away from your body.

Why is my face so fat in pictures? ›

Lens distortions – Your body appearance in pictures is directly related to lens distortion. If your camera lens is wide-angle, the distortion can be why you look fatter than you already are.

How pose to make arms look thinner in pictures? ›

There's a reason it's called the “skinny arm!” Try to keep your elbows bent and slightly away from your body at all times. This will make your arms appear slimmer and show your waist. If the skinny arm is too “sorority” for you, try placing your hand on your hip, in your pocket or on your lap instead.

How do you smile for wedding photos? ›

Photography Tips & Tricks For Your Wedding Day Smile
  1. Slightly Tilt Your Head. Celebrities know how to flash their perfect smile for the cameras. ...
  2. Moisten Your Teeth Just Before the Photo is Snapped. ...
  3. Smile With Your Teeth Slightly Parted. ...
  4. Wear A Creamy Lipstick. ...
  5. Practice Makes Perfect.
7 Feb 2010

Which type of photography is best for wedding? ›

Photojournalistic. Candid and documentary-style photographs make for some of the most heartfelt and memorable images, which is why many photographers have adopted a photojournalistic style. These photographers treat the wedding day almost like a feature or news story.

What makes a photo aesthetically pleasing? ›

Just as the term “beauty” can be subjective, “aesthetic” can be distinguished as something that is immediately visually pleasing to a viewer. Aesthetic photos aim to utilize visual characteristics such as color, composition, lighting, and subject matter to create a visually pleasing photograph.

How many photos should a photographer give for a wedding? ›

How many photos should a wedding photographer give? The short and simple answer is ~100 per hour of shooting or roughly 800 photos for 8-hour wedding day coverage.

Are wedding photos better matte or glossy? ›

If you intend to print and frame your wedding photos behind glass, then a matte finish is the best choice. It also applies if you're placing your photos in an album with a clear protective cover for each photo. Keep in mind that the matte finish doesn't highlight color or contrast as much as glossy photos.

What are the most important pictures in a wedding? ›

Here are 5 of the most important photos to take on a wedding day.
  • The Couple Looking at the Camera.
  • A Photo with Each Partner and their Individual Family Members.
  • The In-Betweens and All the Emotion.
  • The Moments Immediately After the Ceremony.
  • Photos of the Couple Enjoying their Reception.
2 Feb 2022

What makes a woman photogenic? ›

Having a natural non-forced smile, finding the right angle, and taking the right poses are the essential things that make a person photogenic.

How can I look flawless on my wedding day? ›

5 Tips to Look Flawless on Your Wedding Day
  1. Get Plenty of Sleep. It may seem difficult, but it will help you deal with any wedding complications if you aren't sleep deprived. ...
  2. Get Waxed, Early. Waxing gives you silky, smooth, healthy, hair-free skin. ...
  3. Get Pampered. ...
  4. Watch Your Mouth. ...
  5. Moisturize and Exfoliate.
29 Jun 2016

Which wall is best for couple photo? ›

As per Vastu, place family pictures in the south west direction. If you have wedding pictures or any other couple pictures place them on the east wall. It will generate positive energies in the bedroom.

What do you do with your arms at your wedding pictures? ›

Relax Your Arms

Whether you chose a strapless wedding dress or not, many brides tend to hold their arms close to their torso. This kind of pose can cause your arms to look bigger and your shoulders broader. Instead, lift your arms away from your body for a more flattering look.


1. How to Pose a Bride | Wedding Photography
2. 90 Second Posing Challenge - Wedding Photography (Free Posing Guide)
(Josiah Blizzard)
3. 3 more great posing tips ideas for bride and groom - wedding photography posing guide
(Christian Tudor - Academy of Photography)
4. Top 3 Photography POSING Tips for Brides and Portraits (Posing Tutorial)
(Vanessa Joy)
5. Speed Wedding Posing Tutorial: How to POSE a Bride (FAST)
(Vanessa Joy)
6. Wedding Photography Tips: Posing with Moshe Zusman
(B&H Photo Video)
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