Do you remember the feeling of your first kiss? Maybe he swept you off your feet on the dance floor one night, in a whirlwind of joy and excitement you could relive over and over again. What about all the butterflies when he got down on one need and said those magic words: “Will you marry me?”
In my previous posts, we learned about the basic movements that make up every couple’s portrait, and we reviewed some best practices for looking your best at your engagement session. But knowing where to stand and what to wear is only half the battle. Photos that stand the test of time, cherished and proudly displayed, have more going on than good positioning and a nice outfit. They are rooted in memory and emotion. A photograph without a story is just a picture.
Cherished images are born out of real moments. And a moment doesn’t happen by simply saying, “Put your arms here.” We create moments using cues and prompts to inspire movements that evoke genuine emotion and connection between partners. In my previous post, we learned about the Five Foundational Movements; adding main movements and micro movements gives life and variety to your engagement and wedding photos. Let’s explore each in turn:
Once you’ve found your foundational pose, the main movement is the action that takes you and your partner from a static image to a dynamic moment. There are six main movements:
1 – Walking
This movement begins with the Side by Side pose. Then you might link arms, hold hands, slip your arm around each other’s waist, and take a slow stroll toward or away from the camera.
2 – Leading
We begin this one with the Guy in Front pose. Next, hold hands and let your man take a few steps ahead of you.
3 – Swaying
We can add this main movement to any foundational pose. Simply loosen your legs and rock back and forth to eliminate stiffness and add life to any image.
4 – Twirling
I like to think of this one like making a boomerang on Instagram! This movement pairs well with the Side by Side pose and the Facing Each Other pose. Once you’re in position, he takes your hand while you twirl back and forth! (Bonus points if you have a flowy dress…)
5 – Dancing
Show me your best slow dance! This one starts in the Facing Each Other pose. It’s as simple as slipping one hand around each other and holding the other up high, rocking back and forth until you’re slowly dancing together! This is a great opportunity to practice for your first dance, too!
6 – Rotating
This one is a treat for the photographer, and we can add it to any of the foundational poses. Once you’re in place, I’ll ask you to start slowly rotating clockwise. This lets me get a huge variety of shots out of one pose, because you’re creating so many different angles!
Maximizing the Pose
Before we move on to micro movements, I want to remind you that I’m here to help you maximize each pose. For instance, I may ask you to walk towards the camera, then parallel to the camera, and then away from the camera. By simply changing your direction of travel, we’ve added two more layers to the pose. You’ll thank me for all that walking when you see all the varied images in your final gallery!
We’ve talked about actions involving your whole body: facing your fiancé, walking, swaying… Now we’re going to unpack the smaller motions that make a pose stand out as a unique moment in your session. By using prompts and cues, your poses become interactions with each other. Let’s unpack what that means:
I could have you put your hand on his chest and leave it there. But what would happen if you added more action? By cuing you to hold onto his lapel, I’ve given you a smaller motion that instantly evokes more emotion than a static hand. Now you’re connected to him, maybe even drawing him toward you in a way that your flat hand wouldn’t communicate on its own.
Every session is filled with different micro movements. Now that you understand the reasoning behind them, here’s a summary of movements you might expect to use during your session:
- Kiss her on the cheek/temple/forehead
- Whisper in his/her ear
- Hug her
- Bring her hand to your heart
- Kiss her hand
- Wave your veil/dress train
- Bring your hand(s) to his/her face
- Fix his tie
- …and more!
Enhancing Emotion with Prompts
Emotion is the final component of every successful couple’s portrait session. Without capturing a genuine connection between partners, we have created pretty pictures but not beautiful portraits. Specific prompts allow you and your fiancé to focus on each other instead of the camera. By directing your attention to each other, I can document your love how you want it to be seen: as genuine and real.
Not all prompts are created equal. Some prompts evoke quiet moments, while others are more active, fun, and — dare I say — sensual. Let’s explore some examples:
To achieve a quiet, intimate moment:
- Whisper in her ear one reason why you can’t wait to marry her.
- Take a deep breath and imagine life together 50 years from now.
- Do you have your first dance song picked out? Hum the tune together while you’re dancing now.
- Whisper to him one reason why you’re so proud of him.
- Stare into each other’s eyes and say your favorite thing about the other person.
To achieve a louder, fun vibe:
- Pretend you haven’t seen each other in months. Run towards each other and embrace each other in a big hug!
- Attack her with kisses on the cheek!
- I’ll ask a question, and you both have to answer at the same time! Who fell in love first? Who’s more likely to burn down the house while cooking dinner? Who’s the better kisser?
- Who’s the most ticklish? Tickle them now!
- Wrap your arms around her and don’t let her get away!
Let’s review what we’ve learned so far: First, remember your number one priority is to relax, have fun, and love each other. I’ll take care of the technical parts. We’ll use foundational and main movements to establish your poses, then add the magic of emotion through micro movements and evocative prompts.
Are you ready for your engagement session?
“I was pretty nervous going into our engagement photo session because I had never done anything like that before and didn’t know what to expect, but Josh did an amazing job of putting me at ease and the pictures turned out beautifully!”Morgan & Chris
View more client testimonials here.