20 Posing and Directing Cues For Portraiture
Words every client will say.
“We’re awkward, but we want to be natural fun & romantic”
We’ve just completed and released The Complete Posing Workshop, the ultimate course on posing and directing. The course provides photographers with a technical mastery of posing and body language.
Posing is naturally stressful as it’s challenging to create unique and authentic poses. Understanding the technical art of posing allows photographers to know where a pose is going wrong and how to fix it, and mastering the concept of “being a director, not a photographer” takes a photographer’s client-service to the next level by using cues and direction to create images that tell consistently authentic stories.
To celebrate the release of this course, we’ve asked 20 of our incredible portrait photographer friends to help in this collaborative article with an image and one of their favorite posing cues.
Learn more about the course at the bottom of this article, but without further a do, let’s move on to the cues from 20 incredible portrait photographers.
Ben Hartley – six figure photography
“Just as he thinks the kiss is over. Take control, pull him back in and give him another.”
Jason vinson – vinson images
“Grab a big handful of your dress and whip it back and forth like a fan”
AMII & ANDY – sunshine & reign photography
“Andy and I like to chase unique perspectives. And although we favor a “documentary-style,” we’re not afraid to direct a pose. In this case, as the bride and groom stopped for a kiss before getting in their ride (from the church to the reception), we told them to get in close and almost kiss. Foreheads together. Lips almost touching. We find the “almost kiss” to be hotter than the actual kiss.”
christina blanarovich – christina zen studio
“Walk towards me like you’re drunk, laughing and holding each other up. Bonus points for knocking into each other!”
James day – James Day Weddings
“I’ll have the groom stand behind the bride and I encourage him to squeeze her until she pops.”
shannon cronin – Shannon cronin photography
“You’re at the airport picking him up after a month apart. You arrived early, parked, and you’re excitedly waiting at baggage claim. Then you see him walk out and everything else fades away as you run up and give him a month’s worth of hugs at once.”
Brett benham – brett & tori Photographers
“I had them finish this sentence: “I fell in love with you because…”They take turns and keep going. Always produces a range of emotions.”
jihan cerda – jihan cerda photography
“While walking, face the opposite direction of one another, ] and when I count to three, turn and face each other with your ugliest mug face!”
Timothy eyrich – Timothy eyrich photography
“To her: when he puts his arms around you try and move away.
To him: Put your arms around her and pull her into you while trying to kiss her cheek.”
jeremy ellsworth – JEREMY ELLSWORTH photography
“When working with artists/musicians, I find the best thing to do is to just tell them to be themselves or their persona. I know that sounds way too simple, but you will find that it relaxes them faster in front of the camera and in return you get more authentic images.”
christine yodasukar – The yodasukars
“I like to start sessions with vague instructions to see what they naturally do. I’ll start with “Stand together”,and not “stand side-by-side” or “stand facing one another” so that they really have freedom. Then I might move a hand to a face or say “do you want to hold his hand?” I’m inviting rather than instructing. Then to get the emotion that is natural for them, I say, “tell each other your favorite thing about one another.” Their personality as a couple really comes out, and the moment after they’ve told one another is usually the best!”
rich lander – chard photo
“Forehead to forehead can be hard to get an expression out of couples because they feel out of place so I tell them “Give each other eskimo kisses with your noses…yeah now you feel really dorky huh?!” and they smile or giggle EVERY time! Probably just because you’re calling out how they really feel…I’m ok with that!”
clay cook – cLAy cook photo
“Focus on lines; lines in the frame and also lines of the body. Direct your model to use their legs to compliment parallel lines of the arms or use the hands to form shapes surrounding the body. Pay attention, lines are a crucial piece to the puzzle and can point the viewer’s eye to a product or expression.”
dan dalstra – Dan dalstra photography
“For brides and their maids, I always ask the bridesmaid to whisper in the bride’s ear a ‘secret’ to keeping their marriage hot… it usually makes for hilarious situations and nice fun moments.”
jenn bischof – jenn bischof photography
“When it comes to photographing women, especially if they are tense or nervous, I tell them to shake it out, literally. Give them a simple task and they immediately relax.”
“Think about the first time you kissed her.”
phillip van nostrand – PHILLIP VAN NOSTRAND photo
“I tell the subject to look away and then right back at me to capture a fresh, unaware look.”
nathan nowack – nathan nowack photography
“I love reception dancing and getting the guests circled around the bride and groom. I usually tell a bridesmaid or groomsmen, “Go request Journey or another classic artist that the bride and groom like and pull them into the middle.” Then I just watch the magic happen, of course making sure I’m also in the middle ready to get the shot.”
kate noelle kernutt – kate noelle photography
“I tell the groom, “as delicately as you can, use your fingers to bring her lips in for a slow-mo kiss you’d see in a movie…. the slower the better”. Usually, if they’re going slow enough, smiles and laughter happens on the way to the kiss.”
megan allen – studio 22 photography
“I tell the groom: “in your sexiest voice, whisper your favorite vegetable in her ear.” Sounds ridiculous, but the laughter that ensues is absolutely priceless, and the photos always end up being some of the couples’ favorites!”
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Purchase Page: The Complete Posing Workshop