Often times, the bride and groom are initially nervous around you and in front of the camera. If your clients are stiff and uncomfortable, your images may not be as powerful as they could be. The more relaxed your couple is, the easier it will be for you to pose them and capture their genuine emotion. One of the best ways to lighten the mood is to get your couple laughing.

Virginia wedding photographer, Katelyn James, knows how to get your couples to laugh and enjoy themselves during the shoot. Today, we’re excited to have her share 3 tricks to easily make your couples laugh.



Download our free Posing Guide here, with 34 pages of posing tips and tricks from 9 successful wedding photographers!

1. Feel Comfortable with Couples

I was once asked, “How do you get your clients to LAUGH?!” This is a great question because I often forget this does not come naturally to everyone. Some newer photographers are nervous when they shoot and so being “funny” and “engaging” with their clients is uncomfortable at first. I think there are several variants which come into play when it comes to photographers photographing GENUINE laughs. There is not a magic formula or an “easy button” for this and every couple is different.


Image Compliments of Katelyn James

However, I do think that EVERY photographer HAS to be personable. This is non-negotiable. If you are a wedding and/or portrait photographer and you don’t really love being around PEOPLE, then you need to purchase an epic zoom lens and start photographing sports and landscapes. (Not that sports or landscape photographers aren’t personable… but they don’t HAVE to be in order to do their job well:)


Related: We’ve pulled 26 key tips from Roberto Valenzuela’s Picture Perfect Lighting – use them to advance your lighting knowledge!

2. Love What You Do

Loving people is a crucial part of this job! If you do not care about the people, it is impossible to care about their pictures. Now obviously this is just my opinion, but I find it VERY hard to believe that an impersonal photographer can take genuine, warm, or inviting images. You have to be able to engage with your clients. When I teach workshops, I explain that photographers are in charge of how their clients feel emotionally. It is up to us to make them comfortable and natural in front of the camera.

So, I am very down-to-earth with my clients when I am photographing them! I am honest with them and I explain that some of the things we will do are going to seem ridiculous! And so a lot of my posing instructions start like this:

“Ok Megan, you’re going to think I’m crazy but I want you to laugh across Jim’s shoulder at that SUV over there. You’re laughing at absolutely nothing and so you should feel a bit awkward, but just embrace it! You’ve got this! Now Jim, you’re laughing at Megan because she’s laughing at an SUV…here we go!”

3. Make the Shoot Quick

I shoot quickly and I only make them hold this pose for like 2 seconds. You can’t force laughs and you can’t “hold” laughs for more than a second or two – that’s just not going to work. I am not a comedian and so telling jokes isn’t going to work. I just encourage them to laugh and embrace their current situation. If we are being honest, standing in “prom pose” in the middle of the park with people walking around is just plain weird, but the pictures will be epic. So I tell them to laugh about the fact that people are staring and to trust me. Shoot, shoot, shoot and you end up with genuine laughs and gorgeous images!

So just to recap, here are a few things to remember while you’re shooting and trying to pull genuine laughter from your clients:

  • They have to trust you first. When they trust you, they’ll relax and laughter comes easier!
  • Don’t be corny. Corny jokes and trying too hard won’t get you anywhere. Be yourself! If you aren’t naturally a funny person (like me), joke about the situation. It’s not everyday that they “nuzzle” on the side of the road in a field of WEEDS! :)
  • Laugh WITH them. Be engaged and be present while you are shooting. Someone once told me they appreciated that I SMILED while I photographed them. So if you want them to laugh, you should be having fun and laughing along!
  • It is ok to fake a laugh to get them started. I tell clients to “fake” laugh at every wedding! If they seem unsure, Michael and I demonstrate a “proper” fake laugh and that is normally enough to get them going. 🙂
  • Don’t make your clients hold a pose too long. This kills the “fun” and allows them to slip into awkwardness.

Making your clients laugh during the shoot can create memorable moments they can cherish forever. After you send your images to a post production photography company, share them on your various platforms. Because your wedding photos represent you and your brand, your Signature Style should be present. Learn more about shooting during the wedding day with our Pro Photographer Lighting and Posing Guide!

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