How to Pose for Engagement Photos: The Five Foundational Movements

After we got married,  my wife and I were ecstatic to receive our final gallery and relive the moments of our big day. But there was one problem…I remember the look of disappointment on Jasmine’s face when we finished scrolling through the candid, intimate images of our ceremony. We opened the folder of formal portraits, and she said:

“I wish you could have taken our wedding photos.”

I recently learned that almost 40% of brides have regrets about their wedding photographs.

Often, it comes down to posing.  Perhaps you’ve been to a wedding where you felt the photographer positioned the couple’s hands, arms, and heads like they were mannequins. Maybe the couple had a hard time following the photographer’s directions, and the result was something less than intended. “Put one hand on his chest, put the other on his arm, look slightly left, bring your shoulders back, smile, bend your right knee…” how to pose for engagement photos

How to Pose for Engagement Photos

Are you lost yet? Unclear directions lead to stiff, cheesy, awkward photos.

A majority come to me anxious, saying, “We don’t take good pictures together,” or, “We’re not good at posing,” or, “I’m afraid of the camera.” The list goes on.

But that’s where I take tremendous pride in my work. Part of my job is to take the complexity out of posing, so you can focus on having fun and making memories with your partner. After I learned how many brides are unhappy with their photos due to this issue, I am that much more thankful for what my couples have said about me. I’m happy to pass on a little of what I’ve learned about this touchy but rewarding process.

First, some rules to remember as we work together: how to pose for engagement photos

I’ll be coaching you the entire time.

It’s not your job to be a professional model and know exactly how to stand or where to put your hands. But it is my job to help you look and feel amazing! I’ll do that by giving you plenty of helpful directions.

Let me know if you’ve ever been photographed before!

Maybe you’ve had your portraits taken before, or you did a couple’s shoot after he proposed. Perhaps you’ve never stood in front of a professional camera in your life. Maybe your selfie game is top-notch. Letting me know about your previous experience in front of the camera — positive or negative — enables me to meet you where you are and informs me of how best to serve you.

Your only job is to have fun and love each other!

Relax. The first fifteen minutes of your engagement session are just a warm-up; this is when we start to get to know each other and get you comfortable in front of the camera. Remember, I’m here to help you look beautiful. Focus on your special someone, and I’ll take care of the rest!

Now that we know what our responsibilities are, let’s unpack the foundational poses I use for  every couple’s portraits.

1- Facing Each Other

We begin this pose simply by turning you toward each other. I’ll help you move your hands and create natural and elegant connections after that. how to pose for engagement photos

How to pose for engagement photos | chicago wedding photographer

2 – Side by Side

This is usually the easiest pose for couples; I often start my sessions with a variation of the side-by-side pose: Walking hand in hand.

How to pose for engagement photos | chicago wedding photographer

3 – Guy in Front

Every gentleman needs his moment in the spotlight. Maybe you’re giving him a hug from behind, or resting your head on his shoulder. Or perhaps — as pictured — he’s giving you a piggyback ride! how to pose for engagement photos

How to pose for engagement photos | chicago wedding photographer

4 – Girl in Front

We’re not talking the “prom” pose everyone knows and cringes at. Instead, think about your bodies overlapping so the girl is the center of attention. how to pose for engagement photos

How to pose for engagement photos | chicago wedding photographer

5 – One facing in/one facing forward

This one sounds more complicated than it is. Simply put, one of you stands straight on to the camera while the other turns 90 degrees away. Ladies, if your man is facing the camera (a very strong and flattering position for him!), just think about attaching your belly button to his hip! how to pose for engagement photos

How to pose for engagement photos | chicago wedding photographer

Now you know the movements anchoring every couple’s photograph I make,  and you may have picked up on some of the phrases I use during my sessions: walk together, rest your head on his shoulder, hug him from behind, attach your belly button to his hip… These are just some of the cues and prompts I use to help each of my couples find the perfect pose. When responding to a prompt, move according to your body’s natural tendencies. You’re much more likely to assume a flattering position than if I were to arrange your limbs for you.

Cues and prompts are the secret sauce my couples count on to produce real connection, evoke genuine emotion, and — above all — generate images that are beautiful to behold. To learn more about  how I help couples create dreamy engagement and wedding portraits, stay tuned for a future post on the magic of movement and emotion!

“Our photos came out better than we could have imagined. You made us feel in love and happy for our big day!”

Chris & Rachel

View more client testimonials here. how to pose for engagement photos