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Portrait Poses 101: How To Pose Your Brides, Couples, & Their Families
Portraits of the bride alone, the couple together, and their families and bridal party are usually a part of every wedding photographer’s shot list. However, whether or not you have the set time to dedicate to each category depends on the way things are running on the wedding day. At some weddings, you might not get any alone time with your bride, and at other weddings, you might just find yourself spending more time posing the bridal party than photographing them. No matter what the case, you can never get too creative to ignore classic portrait poses – for all three categories. And in this blog, we offer some tips on portrait photography and how to help your subjects pose.

Portraits of The Bride By Herself

Black and white portrait of a bride facing sideways and wearing a floral fedora hat
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @estesweddings

If the wedding is not running as scheduled, then you may either have a very rushed session with the bride or not get any time at all. Either way, don’t worry if you don’t get to have any time with the bride before the ceremony, as you will still get time to focus on her during the couple’s portrait session and after the ceremony. But one way to ensure that you do take time out for photos of the bride is by including them in your timeline. Discuss this with your bride as well, so everyone is on the same page on the wedding day. 

While making your list of portrait poses for your bride, don’t forget to add the classic full-length pose with the bouquet. Even though it’s a traditional pose that’s been around forever, it’s something that will remain timeless. Take photos in the room she is getting ready in and try to move around the space a little for some variety in the pictures. Some photographers swear by three types of bridal portrait poses: Bride alone full length, bride alone 3/4, and bride alone close up. Some other portrait poses that you could try with your bride include playing with the veil, holding the bouquet, standing by a window, and looking away from the camera. Most of your brides might be simple, regular people, who are probably not too familiar with posing for portraits, so if your bride feels awkward, you could even ask her whether you can help her pose yourself. 

Related Read: Bridal Portraits You Can’t Miss: Featuring Shootdotedit Customers

Portrait Poses For The Bride and Groom Together

Infographic stating Avoid giving your bride & groom a long list of instructions.

This goes without saying, but the photos of your couple together are something that not just your couple, but even their friends and families are going to want to see. If you have the time to spare, couples portraits before the ceremony can take anywhere between one to three hours if there’s a first look involved. If your couple isn’t doing a first look, then your chance for taking their portraits might come right after the family formals after the ceremony. However, we’d recommend that you discuss the first look with your couple before you reach the wedding day. This will help you as you create your wedding photography timeline.

Even if your couple has been together for years, they might instantly get uncomfortable as soon as you point the lens at them. So our first advice for guiding your couple through portrait poses would be to make sure they are comfortable. Don’t make them do something they are uncomfortable with just because it might give you that perfect couple picture. Instead of giving them a long list of instructions, you could simply tell them to talk to each other as you take their photos. You could also keep talking to them as you take their pictures. If the couple feels like themselves and doesn’t feel forced to get into a pose, they might be more relaxed and natural, and that might translate into the images as well. Some couples may not be comfortable with PDA, so find a way around that while keeping them close together for the photos. For portrait poses, you could ask them to walk around hand in hand (away or towards you) or dance around a bit and just be goofy together. If they have something to do, they are more likely to feel less awkward. When it comes to kissing shots, try to capture that moment right before or after a kiss. 

The Family + Bridal Party

Infographic stating discuss the family and bridal party dynamics with your couple in advance

The most important part of planning the family and bridal party portraits is when and where you will take them. Even if you don’t lock your shot list when it comes to the bridal or couple’s portraits, try to finalize the family and bridal party photos before you reach the wedding day. There are so many people involved in these photos, so to avoid any chaos or confusion and save time on the wedding day, plan these shots and where you are going to take them well in advance. 

Low-angle shot of the groomsmen and bridesmaid posing in a circle and looking down at the camera alongside the bride and groom kissing
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @jodibphotography

There are so many portrait poses that you can try with these groups. You could go the formal way, and you can also mix it up with some fun group photos. Either way, the tricky part is managing your time. To be on the safer side, you may want to discuss the possibility of dedicating less time to one of the two with your couple. So ask them, if it comes down to it, who they want more photos with – their family or the bridal party. Discuss the family and bridal party dynamics with your couple in advance. This way, you will have an easier time grouping the people for the photos. Once you are done with the formals, you could try huddling up the bridal party and shooting from below or asking them to jump and capturing them mid-air. 

Related Read: 35 Must-Have Bridal Party Photos

Help Your Subjects Be At Ease

Infographic stating don’t force a perfect pose, let your couple be who they are

Portrait photography poses don’t necessarily have to be so glamorous or out-of-the-box that your subjects start to feel awkward and uncomfortable. For some people, getting their photos taken is awkward no matter what, and that’s okay. In these cases, try to make them feel as comfortable as you can by letting them pose in a way that works for them or even helping them pose by moving them around yourself (remember to ask them if that’s okay with them). Either way, portraits are more about the people you are photographing than showing off your skills. Learn to shoot pictures in all kinds of situations and with all sorts of models. This is where your photo-taking skills will really shine. 

Further Read: The Ultimate Wedding Photography Preparation Checklist

At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about helping you dedicate your time to doing what you love. If editing your photos slows you down, let us take that off your plate with our professional photo editing services. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, check out our pricing plans.


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