Leading with Personality in Posing for Wedding Photography

January 21, 2023

When you start planning a wedding, the idea of finding a photographer might make you a little nervous. Posing for wedding photography can be really different from your everyday experiences. In this post, I share my philosophy on guiding couples to interact in a way that helps me document the genuine emotions at the heart of a wedding day.

Devon leans against her partner in a sunlit Philadelphia photography studio.

Posing for Wedding Photography – without Posing

Before I get into my approach to posing for wedding photography, I want to dismantle the idea most people have about posing to begin with. A lot of people come to photo sessions thinking that posing means standing still. It gets equated with a highly editorial style that makes some people uneasy. Posing doesn’t have to be forced or really serious. 

A couple stands in the doorway of a Philadelphia restaurant beside a potted plant.

I like to guide couples in front of the camera. They take the lead and show me what comes organically from being together. Then I guide them to where I might need them to stand for great light or interesting composition to highlight the emotion of the moment. This can be as small as asking someone to move a hand or tilt their head.

Devon puts her arms around her partner's shoulder and laughs in a sunlit studio.
A woman leans her cheek against her partner's shoulder.

For me, posing for wedding photography is all about movement. That can look a lot of different ways depending on your abilities and comfort level. In my photography sessions, I’ve found that movement helps ease couples’ nerves while creating dynamic action in front of the camera. Here are a few examples of simple movements that I incorporate to help couples get comfortable and have great candid moments:

  • Swaying back and forth
  • Moving from side to side
  • Walking down the street
  • Bumping shoulders
  • Running across the street
  • Kissing while walking
A couple walks towards a mural in a Philadelphia engagement photo.
An engaged couple crosses a street in Philadelphia.

These movements make for such natural photos because I get inspiration from people watching. Once I was at a restaurant and saw a couple waiting for their table. The moment was so simple but really intimate. Now I love placing couples on the sidewalk and just letting them be there for a while. Some of the best moments happen when people are guided instead of posed.

A couple sits on a city sidewalk in a Philadelphia engagement photo session.

Centering Your Personality 

Movement and interaction with their partner helps bring people into a session emotionally. On a wedding day, when there are a million potential distractions, that’s especially important. The images you’ll value most after your wedding day often aren’t the pretty perfect photo, or PPP as I call it. They’re the photos that showcase your personality and the unique dynamics of your relationship. That’s why posing for wedding photography should facilitate partners being present with one another. If a couple is really connected and focused on each other, I often don’t have to do much guiding to get incredible photos.

A couple laughs behind a torn studio backdrop posing for wedding photography.

If you’ve never had your photos taken professionally before, you might not be sure what it means to “be present” in a session. Think about how you act with your partner when no one is watching. How do you typically sit on the couch? Does one come up behind the other to give hugs? Do you kiss on the cheek or the forehead? How do you cuddle in bed or on the couch? Do you hold hands walking down the street or throw your arm over their shoulder? In other words, posing for wedding photography should reflect what’s authentic to your relationship.

A couple casts a shadow on the floor of a Philadelphia wedding venue.
A couple sits in a Philadelphia restaurant posing for wedding photography.

These questions help people move past preconceived notions of how they’re “supposed to” look or hold themselves in photos. You don’t have to stand tall with a practiced smile. When you’re able to ignore the camera or think of it as a best friend, the magic starts to happen. It’s not easy to do at first, but that perspective lets you be yourself in a more meaningful way.

A couple cuddles in a studio in front of a white backdrop.
A couple drinks beer and laughs on a sidewalk in a philadelphia engagement session.

Putting Your Real Moments Over the Pretty Perfect Photo 

My guess is that you want wedding photos that capture the real moments on your wedding day, not just the rehearsed events. My style of posing for wedding photography allows me to document the in-between moments. I’m talking about the times you laugh so hard that your eyes close, mouth wide open. It’s not about being perfectly flattering and magazine-worthy. It’s about having that perfect memory with the people you love.

A bride sits on a staircase surrounded by her bridesmaids.
A bride and groom pose for a silly photo at a Philadelphia wedding reception.

That being said, it’s important to choose the wedding photographer whom you trust to document those moments. In that process, it’s ok to reach out if you don’t see yourself represented in their portfolio. Reach out and ask if they have anything they can share with you. If they don’t, ask how they can ensure that your photos will come out like the ones available. These are your memories. You get to decide which photographer to entrust them with.

A bride and groom hold hands and smile at each other posing for wedding photography before their Philadelphia wedding.

Would you like me to photograph your wedding? I’m a Philadelphia wedding photographer who specializes in candid film images. Get in touch