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Posing Deep Dive: Contrasting Colors can Make or Break Images

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When you are photographing couples, there are several factors to take into consideration in order to produce a beautiful photo. Not only do you need to examine your surroundings, understand the lighting, and determine the best pose, but you also need to look at elements such as color. Color can play a large role in your images, because it can direct your attention to a certain aspect of the photo.

In our Posing Critique Webinar with Roberto, one of the goals was to help photographers learn posing techniques to enhance and improve their work. Today, we are continuing our Posing Deep Dive series with Roberto Valenzuela, where he takes a clinical look at some of the images submitted and provide tips and insights on how to improve them! In this second installment, Roberto explains the importance of being aware of colors in your shot and how they can affect the focal point of the image. Enjoy!
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This week, I want to focus on an image submitted from Vince Murdock from Indigo Sky Photography. Overall, this photo is beautifully done, and the contact between the couple engages the viewer, and a true connection is made.

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Image Highlights

Properly Positioned Bodies
In this photo, her head is lying on top of his right arm, which is the proper way to execute this pose. If it was positioned the other way (with his head on top of her arm), there would be too much weight placed onto her arm. This would result in her looking uncomfortable. By having her head leaning on him, it creates a beautiful and genuine feel to the photo.

When examining their body language, the couple actually has different body language when it comes to how their heads are positioned. His head is slightly leaning away from her, and she is leaning towards him. The reason this works in this photo is because of the connection the photographer created with the arms. When you look at the way his right arm caresses hers, you can feel the connection through the image. This draws him back toward her, showcasing that they still have a strong connection.

Related: Are you capturing your couple’s natural expressions during the engagement session?

If you examine their hands, you can see her right hand underneath his arm. For this pose, it was very important that the photographer made sure that her fingers on her right hand were visible underneath his left arm. This is key because if they were not visible, it would have given the impression that her hand was chopped off. By seeing the fingers, it completes the visual of the hand and does not bring any unnecessary attention to that part of the photo.

Feeling of Spontaneity
Even though this image is posed, there is a feeling of spontaneity to it. With the way that the ribbon on her dress falls off to the left side, it looks as if the couple naturally sat down and relaxed in this position. The blades of grass are all moving harmoniously together, helping to support this image and draw your attention to the couple. She also has her legs crossed, which adds to the natural feeling of this photo. In a typical situation, if you were sitting in the grass for awhile, you would most likely cross one leg over the other. This was a nice touch that really adds to the image, even though her legs are not the main focus. The photographer did a great job at creating a photo with a spontaneous feel, yet it looks very controlled and thought out.

Additional Insights

Watch for Contrasting Colors
Simply said, colors matter. If you want to master the fundamentals of what creates a great photo, it is crucial that you keep track of colors. You may not have control over what the couple wears to the shoot, which is okay (though it is always a good idea to give suggestions prior to the session). In this case, the colors the couple wore were very complementary to one another and the grass, so this was done well.

The area in this photo that becomes distracting is her left hand. As much as I want to focus on the interaction the couple has with their heads and arms, I am immediately drawn to her left hand on her stomach. This is because it completely contrasts against her blue dress. With the brightness of her hand, it almost looks as if there was a light source directly on her hand, and this takes your attention away from the main focus of the image. When you have a contrasting color in the clothing like this, place the hand in a different position, otherwise attention will be drawn to where it is placed. If she was wearing long sleeves, this would help minimize the distraction; however, you would then only see the brightness of her hand coming out of a sleeve. This would still result in her hand being a focal point of the image.

To fix this, you could place her left arm by her neck. This way, the flesh tones would have matcher her neck tones, and it would not be a distraction. This would also lead your eyes to their faces right away. Currently, her hand is contrasting against her blue dress, drawing your attention down to her stomach.

Remember, your eyes are drawn to areas of photos that stand out, which can often be where contrasting colors meet. This does not mean it is bad to have contrasting colors in photos – you just need to ensure they are intentionally placed.

Examine the Lighting
Overall, the lighting is very close on this image. There are no harsh shadows, and it is evenly lit throughout the shot. One way to improve the lighting on this photo would be to use two reflectors – one on the left side and the other on the right. This would help give it an extra boost of light, specifically on his face. Currently, his face is a little darker than the rest of the image. If his face were brighter, it would help bring the attention to their faces rather than her arm. Before you take a photo, remember to examine the entire image. In this case, you would see that her left hand is brighter than the rest of the image, indicating that you should find a way to light other areas to reduce the attention from this spot.

Related: Do you know how to shoot with backlight?

Overall, this is a beautiful image, and the photographer had a great attention to detail. By adjusting the bride-to-be’s hand from her stomach to her neck, the contrasting colors would be removed. In addition, using a reflector to add light to his face would bring the focal point to the center of the image.

Understanding all of the elements of posing takes time and practice, but it is an important aspect to focus on as a photographer. Find areas of your business that you can have others help you with, such as your wedding photo editing. Be sure to check back for Roberto’s next image critique in our 5-part blog series! To learn more about posing, download our guide, Posing for the Wedding Photographer!

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