Personal | Our Grand Manan Portrait Session [Part 2-Swallowtail] + TIPS FOR POSING

Personal | Our Grand Manan Portrait Session [Part 2-Swallowtail] + TIPS FOR POSING

We’ve taken a photo or two together, lol.

Since 2012 or so, Dan and I have taken part of multiple professional photos sessions, both with the kids, but mostly alone. To be honest at this point I’ve kind of lost count, it’s close to 10, usually 1 a year (a couple years we did more than one, ha!) It’s no secret that I’m pretty shameless when it comes to my love of photos of Dan and I, so over the years we have learned a few things about what works *for us* for photos.

So, instead of just sharing the 2nd portion of our session at Swallowtail Lighthouse with Hillary (you can see part 1 in The Birdhouse here), I thought I would share a few posing tips and tricks, both from the perspective of a photographer, and of someone who has been in front of the lens with multiple photographers over the years.

1. Make sure you are both on board and know what to expect.

It may not be a popular opinion, but if both parties are not on board with having their photos taken, then it will show in the images. This usually means that if your partner (husband/bf) isn’t into it, no matter how good you look or how pretty the location, the good feelings will not show through (and even worse, you may capture a bad mood or indifference). So making sure that your partner knows what to expect, what you would like him/her to do (without being controlling), and how much it means to you, is super important. Then once the session starts, offer lots of encouragement and praise! There is nothing better than seeing a couple where both parties are equally committed to the session <3  

Dan, despite how it appears in most of our images, isn’t a huge fan of having his photo taken. He is quite used to it now though and knows how important it is to me, so he cooperates when asked, follows instructions, and I’m sure to let him know how much I appreciate it (and how frigging good he looks).

2. Choose a photographer who will work with your style/needs.

Choosing a photographer is obviously a super important part of the process, but besides the obvious question of ‘do you like how their photos look?’ is the question of whether they will give you what you need; do you feel like you’ll need lots of instruction and prompts to pose? Do you prefer if they don’t talk much and let you be in the moment? Do you want to move around a lot or would you rather stay still? Do you want to be serious or playful, and what does your photographer tend to capture? These are things to ask your photographer and can make all the difference in your experience!

Dan and I don’t need or want much instruction when it comes to photos (besides letting us know if we have something hanging off our butts or if our hair is wonky), so we are able to work with photographers who like to give prompts (like Hillary) and those who are more quiet and observant. I also felt comfortable enough letting Hillary know before hiring her what we wanted and asking whether she was ok with it (a good photographer will let you know if they don’t think they are the right fit for you!!) She normally uses tons of prompts and loves capturing the playfulness, but was also willing to let us do our thing and not stretch us beyond what we were comfortable with (no piggyback rides).

3.    Play up your natural interactions.

Are you and your partner playful with each other at home? Do you tease, flirt, wrestle, hug, laugh a lot? Or are you more quiet together, subdued, romantic, serious, intimate? Whatever your natural state together, play that up in your images, it will be much easier than trying to be something that you are not! This also goes back to your photographer and letting them know these things ahead of time (Hillary was great in that she sent us a questionnaire before the session so I had plenty of opportunity to let her know how we tended to interact). Then once the session starts, your photographer will help you draw out these interactions in a more photogenic way (if needed). Be up for trying new things, as they can often lead to pleasant surprises, but be yourselves, above all.

When it comes to our photos, it’s no surprise that we are more on the serious side of things; we do of course laugh and joke at home, but we are also very cuddly and quiet, we’re not the ‘piggybacking’ or ‘picking up’ type of couple, so these prompts/poses wouldn’t make sense for our love story. We know this and don’t stray too far (with a few exceptions, we’ll follow prompts when requested but they never end up being our favourites).

4. Hands, hands, hands.

The biggest practical tip I have for couples session is to think about your hands. They can convey SO much, both good and bad. Always keep your hands on each other (never let them just hang), and always keep them moving. If you photographer want you to hug each other, do so, but move your hands up and down each other’s backs, up your arms, grab their wrists, their shoulders, their neck, their face (the face hold to me is the most beautiful pose, I specifically tell Dan I want him to do this, because it might not come naturally…also, little secret, it covers my double chin!); this works for both playful and serious images. If your hands are still, be sure to apply slight pressure so that they don’t look too ‘picture perfect’ (aka kinda fake). If you have a piece of clothing that requires holding, do so, and also running your hands in your hair is a good way to keep hands engaged. Basically, keep ’em busy! Movement in general is important, so even if your photographer tells you a pose, try to ‘move through it’, vs holding it still.

5. Eyes open, eyes closed.

It can be hard to stare at your partner for a couple hours; I’m not great at eye contact, to be totally honest, so my trick over the years has always been to get super close and keep my eyes shut; this works especially well if you want an intimate, romantic look. Or close your eyes and laugh/smile, it can convey either contentment or look like you’re talking about something hilarious! Looking down is also an easy trick and shows off beautiful lashes!

6. Practice at home.

This may sound absolutely ridiculous but if you are unsure about how to pose or how it’s going to feel to pose with your partner, practice at home before your session! Look at images online, and try to replicate them in. mirror or just to see how they ‘feel’. So many poses are dependent on height/size difference between you and your partner, arm length, flexibility, and a million other little factors. Plus, some will naturally feel more comfortable than others! Your photographer of course will help you with some ideas but knowing what will work and having a few in your back pocket is a good idea too! Especially if you’re working with someone who you know may not ‘pose’ you much, but you don’t want to just stand there.

I make Dan practice posing in the kitchen all the time; sometimes it doesn’t feel natural and doesn’t work, sometimes it does, but I love trying new things with him (poor guy also has to do this so that I have ideas for my own clients). Going back to hands, the placement is key and knowing how to do different ‘holds’ will give you more variety, so I’m always making him wrap me up in different ways, lol.

Hands, all sorts of hands.

7. Trust your photographer, trust each other.

I know it’s hard to do: nerves and outfits and weather and wanting everything to be perfect can sometimes get in the way, but the truth is these images are about capturing a tangible documentation of your feelings for each other at this specific moment in time, and in the end that is all that matters. Choosing a location that will mean something to you (or at least pleases your aesthetic), dressing in a way that won’t distract you, spending time together before and after the session (even having a drink if need be), these will all help to create a good experience, but in the end it all boils down to trusting your photographer, and trusting each other to be in the moment.

I hope that helps you rock your next couple’s session!


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