Too many wedding photographers fall into the same routine pitfalls: standing large groups in a uniform line, not bringing enough softboxes to cover everyone, and, worst of all, posing the bride and groom unnaturally. Wedding photographers have to know what works for individual couples and place each person to highlight his or her best features. In this information-packed video, Moshe Zusman gives some excellent tips to help you stylize your next wedding shoot:
Ask your friends or family to pose them in your spare time. Get a feel for what it means to move someone, because you don’t want to look hesitant on the wedding day. An even better idea, Moshe says, is to work with the couple for an engagement session. This less formal shoot can establish early on a connection between you and your clients.
“The engagement session is what’s gonna make couples really, really comfortable, because they already know where you’re going with your posing and directing.”
Come wedding day, you want to work as efficiently as possible. Scout locations in advance to know where you want to shoot. A good bet is natural light—even if the room isn’t that gorgeous, or the background is kind of plain, with a tight enough focus, the lighting can engage your subject enough on its own.
“What I really like to do is, once I have a money shot, and it looks great in-camera, I’m just going to turn to the bride, show her the back of the camera. And at that point you’ll see a transformation. When they see a good-looking photo, they’re feeling a lot more comfortable and a lot more secure about themselves. The rest of the day’s gonna be a lot easier from that point on.”
Try posing your brides in C- and S-curves, with their backs or legs arched. Use as many different poses as you can until you find one that makes their body shape shine. She might look all right with her arms hanging down in a straight line, but usually curves are more attractive and definitely more visually interesting.
Uncertainty is a plague. Once you show signs of discomfort, your couple will catch it. But if you’re keeping the mood light but staying assertive, your couple will loosen up and start to trust you a little more. Attitude affects pose. Imagine your shot will wind up on the cover of a fashion magazine like Vogue or GQ. Very particular details like placing the groom’s hands in his pockets (thumb out to create definition) or placing the bride’s hand on her fiancee’s shoulder makes for more interesting visual images than simply standing side-by-side and smiling.
Everybody knows “the group wedding shot”—straight line, smiling at the camera, everyone and everything symmetrical. Isn’t that boring by now? Instead, create levels by setting your parties up on stairs. Don’t be afraid to be meticulous, explain your image and take your time. If you don’t have physical levels, work with varied lighting using off-camera lighting like sharp Qflashes, and stagger up your group.
Here’s a good example of a dynamic group shot, with a story to explain the logic below:
“I had a huge wedding party, and I had to pose each and every one of them. I knew that I definitely don’t want to pose them traditionally like everybody else does—in a straight line, holding their flowers, looking at the bride or smiling at the camera. I created a different look. I posed each one at a different height—some are sitting on the floor, some are sitting on a chair, some are standing up—and everybody is doing something just a little different, which, altogether, tied the photo into a very, very dynamic image.”