How to…Pose in Your Wedding Photographs – What to Do (& What Not to Do)

kathownottopose1010Before I start, I just want to say one thing…ARGGGH!

Yeah that’s right, I’m posting some pretty hideous (and ahem hilarious) photographs of myself today. I hope you’ll find this slightly scary post both helpful and funny…that’s the idea anyway! So, ready to see me looking haaawt!?

Looking naturally beautiful on your wedding day is something that’s often referred to by some as a bit of a given. “On your wedding day you’ll be so glowingly happy that you will look as stunning and radiant in the photographs as you did when they were taken” they say…and they’re right…right!?

Well yes and no. I’m sure you’re all with me in some degree on this one, that there are certain areas of your body that you’re never going to be happy with. No matter how often your fiancé says you’re beautiful, when you look at a photograph of yourself your eyes are always first drawn to your arms/nose/chin/stomach aren’t they? Yeah me too…

Let’s be honest with ourselves here and say that we are all a little bit worried about how we’re going to look in our wedding photographs. Looking at yourself in a photo can be seriously HARD if you have a hold ups about how you look, and actually even if you don’t. There isn’t a person in the world who hasn’t taken a bad photograph, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll be praying that the happiest day of your life will be reflected as such in the photographs. Not to freak you out any more, but after all these are the photos that will remain on your parents’ and grandparents’ mantelpieces forever.

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“Now come on…!” I hear you cry “Kat Williams we’ve seen you in hundreds of photo shoots and you always take a good picture.” Well I’m here to burst that little bubble for ya right now ladies (and gents.) If you could see the photos that end up on the proverbial cutting room floor after one of my shoots…well…you certainly wouldn’t be saying that! And before you say so, no I’m not just being modest. I can take a seriously BAD picture. Just ask all the photographer’s I’ve worked with!

However what I have learnt over the past few years of prancing about in front of the camera, is how to pose (and be posed) correctly. I now know how to position and angle my body to accentuate my good bits and hide my wobbly bits. Today I want to pass that knowledge onto you. The point of this post is not to make you dwell in the parts of yourselves that you dislike, but to celebrate the parts you do like and to learn how to look the very best you can. I am a firm believer that everyone can take a beautiful photograph – all it takes it the right photographer (for you) and some clever posing. I seriously hope you will thank me for it too, because sharing some photos of me looking well…awful…is quite a momentous thing for me!

So last week I met with my friend, photographer David McNeil to take some good and badly posed shots in order to show you what to do and of course not what to do in your wedding pictures or bridal/engagement/trash the dress shoot. Thank you so much for all your comments on last Friday’s post about this subject - we’ve tried to cover all the areas you asked for so I hope you get some ideas of how to look as smokin’ as you feel in your wedding photographs.

OK, deep breath…

Chin / Neck

I was both surprised and comforted that so many of you seemed to have the same most hated area as me! I detest my chin and neck area (what is it with my fat neck!?) It’s so easy to get that awful double and/or dimply chin look in photographs too… argh!

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In order to combat this, raise your chin by a few degrees and twist your head slightly away from the camera. Then, either focus your eyes a point above your natural eye line or look back down the lens. Tilting your chin upwards will elongate the neck, pull the skin tight and smooth out any wrinkles/folds. Even if your photographer is shooting from a low angle (argh scary!) or straight on, this pose will look a million times better than looking straight at and directly down the camera. See…?

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The most flattering angle for disguising an unsightly chin area is from above. Remember that famous ‘myspace pose‘? Teenagers didn’t hold their phones above their heads and take photos like that by accident! The high angle not only hides any excess skin but also makes the eyes appear to pop and look bigger/brighter. The face also looks softer.

God bless gravity.

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Nose / Profile

My God I hate my nooky nose. Just so you know you are unlikely to see a straight-on profile shot of me ever again so count yourselves honoured right now! It is actually quite unlikely that a photographer will want to take a straight profile portrait, but just in case, twisting your face 45 degrees will improve even the most unsightly conk…yes even one as hideous as mine! This next point kind of contradicts with the chin/neck tips, but tilting your chin slightly down will also be more flattering to a bigger nose. Be sure to let your photographer know your problem areas so they can pose you in a way that makes you and your features look their best.

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Arms

Another biggie with you guys was the not liking the tops of your arms. This one is actually pretty straight forward – simply keep them away from your body and don’t lean on them so they smoosh out! Having your hands on hips is an easy one, but even just keeping them slightly away from you body (but remember to keep your shoulders relaxed and down) will work wonders. This will stop the arms smooshing and looking wider. Observe…

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Another obvious thing to avoid if you hate the tops of your arms is strapless dresses. Why oh why would do bride’s do this to themselves? Luckily for you lot, non-strapless dresses are a lot more readily available these days so there really is no excuse for this fashion faux pas.

Another thing to think about it your positioning in terms of the things around you – i.e. if you’re next to a wall don’t lean on it too hard. Again this will make everything smoosh out. Instead lightly lean on the wall – almost just brushing it with your body.

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Stomach / Waist

Apart from the obvious advice of wearing a 50′s style dress to accentuate a smaller waist (hello, look at my outfit!) there are some things you can do to make you look tinier. Firstly twist your body 45 degrees (a good photographer should be able to tell you the exact point where your waist looks it smallest) and put each leg in a slightly different position (again, your photographer should be able to direct you toward which positions look good). Put all your weight on one leg (usually the back) and give it some wiggle (stick out those hips!)

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Have you ever noticed how celebrities pose on the red carpet…they all adopt a similar pose and this is not a coincidence!

Way-hey slim arms, toned thighs and tiny waists!

Legs

As with slimming the waist, to have hot looking legs in photographs it’s all in the angles. Point those toes, bend those knees and position each leg differently. I like to think of these poses as ‘dolly poses’ or ‘awkward legs’ – weirdly with legs, positions that feel a bit unnatural or uncomfortable look really great in photographs! It’s all about shifting your balance from one leg to another…

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Hips / Bum

Shake what your Mamma gave ya! Quite simply, lean forward and push the area you want to hide away from the camera (hence creating the illusion that it’s smaller - perspective at it’s best.) This tends to look better (and sexier) if you are at a slight angle to the camera too. Check it…

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Please excuse my stupid face in this photo…I’m pretty sure it was funny at the time!

Smile (teeth) / Eyes

I was honestly surprised at how many of you said you hated your smiles and teeth! In a similar way to eyes, natural emotion is the number one trick here and a forced or closed-mouth smile to hide your teeth will never look good (seriously, we tried for ages to get a natural and nice smile out of me with me lips closed…impossible)

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A good idea is to think happy/sexy/excited thoughts (hopefully you wont have to do this on your wedding day!!) and really commit yourself to these feelings. It sounds utterly ridiculous I know, but honestly if you are thinking and feeling sexy and confident it really will come through in your expression. Compare – a forced & unemotional eyes and smile vs a natural & confident expression. See the difference?

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Keep smiles and eyes soft and confident. You know the expression ‘smile with your eyes’? well this is what they’re talking about.

As a side note, looking directly down the lens takes confidence but creates a dramatic image (when the emotion behind those eyes and smiles is right.) Looking down slightly will create a more demure effect, whereas eyes (and chin) up to the sky will give the impression of confidence.

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Hands

Think loose, think relaxed, think soft.

On your weding day or in a bridal shoot you will often have something to hold (bouquet/husband!) to keep your hands busy, but it’s important to be soft and natural with your hands whether your holding something or not. It sounds simple, but when I do photo shoots I’m always getting told off for having stiff hands!

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A good tip would be to shake them out and start again if you feel yourself tensing up. Relax your arms, shoulders and hands and move them where it feels natural – a slight curve of the fingers always looks better, and more natural than straight and witchy hands too! A good photographer should be able to spot this for you and call you out on any witch-hands.

Posture / Shoulders

Finally, and most importantly – commit yourself to the pose you’re being put in. A lot of the time an over exaggerated pose can feel ridiculous in ‘real life’ but looks great in photos. This is why it’s so important to book a photographer that you 100% trust.

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David’s Top Tips

I asked David, who took these photos, if he wouldn’t mind sharing some of his top tips too. He’s as big a poser as me so he jumped at the chance! (ahem, I kept the out-takes in because they made me laugh. As I hope you can tell, this post is pretty much all about not taking ourselves too seriously!)

Oh and apologies for the background noise. We tried to find a quiet coffee shop, looks like we didn’t do so well on that one! D’oh…

My Top Tips

♥ The poses listed above are things that work for me and my body shape (although most are relevant no matter what your shape or size). For something a little different, taking a look at the models in fashion and wedding magazines. This is a good starting point to see what looks good and why. Of course not all of these high fashion poses will be suitable for your wedding day, but it’s certainly worth noting the shapes the model’s bodies make. Ask yourself why they’ve been posed like that and what the overall effect on their body is. Does the positioning make them look slimmer, taller or curvier? Does it accentuate or hide a certain feature?

♥ Another important thing to do is practice practice practice! You will feel silly (believe me) but it’s so worth it. Stand in front of a full length mirror (or if you’re really brave, ask a friend or your fiance to take some photos of you) and literally just get posing! It’s a funny thing about photographs, sometimes you think you look hot to trot in the mirror but when you see yourself in a photo, the result isn’t quite what you imagined! Your eyes work very differently to a camera lens which explains why most high fashion models look incredible in editorials, but in real life look a bit like lanky aliens…it’s all in the posing and the camera work baby!

♥  ♥  ♥

I really hope you’ve found this article helpful and I haven’t just subjected myself to ridicule by sharing my fat arms, wobbly chin and wide waist for nothing! Comments will be a million percent appreciated…

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Supporting Cast

277 comments

  1. Kat – after seeing all the hoo-ha, i had to butt in again.

    As a working wedding photographer who utterly loves what she does, and has massive respect for my fellow photographers, I’ve got say to some photographers who’ve commented – lighten the hell up – knowledge is power, and I’m all for empowering the people i work with.

    This was a simple exercise about body confidence and as far as I’m concerned anything that makes anyone more comfortable in front of the camera is a huge plus – whether they are a bride or not. Yes hire a pro, because we can help make the individual look their best and capture them using our style, but i can’t see an ounce of harm in someone knowing how to make themselves feel better when they know a camera is snapping at them – it’s scary, and it doesn’t have to be.

    Regarding the negative comments I’ve personally found some of them rather disrespectful to David and to Kat, who I feel kick ass on a daily basis and both has produced or shown me some of my all time favourite bridal images. (and yes I probably will be accused of brown-nosing – but i care not!). They are sharing knowledge and on behalf of brides who can’t afford the pro’s or who choose not to have one, i thank you both for it! To criticize the technical ability or the intention, i feel was unfair (oh and if certain people had read the article in full, you would have known David was a boy!).

    Any bride who wants to look fab should trust her photographer, but also work with them on these kinds of poses before the day in front of the camera, because it will make a massive difference, regardless of budget, talent or style.

    Rock on Kat, and keep the controversy coming – people will just have to up their game!!

    *Caz steps down from her soap-box now*

  2. wow- I read this when it first came up and thought it was a great idea and then I come back to see all the comments! haha- why are photographers getting so defensive?? Sure- its our job to try to pose people naturally and in a way that makes them look great, but we don’t always know which parts of their body they bride don’t like- its not always obvious people! Not every client is going to tell you exactly what they want hidden. I had the most beautiful bride about a month ago and I never would’ve guessed that she had ANY issues with her body, and if she happened to be shy and didn’t say anything before hand I never would’ve posed her properly. So it IS good for brides and grooms to be clued up on these things. And if having a few pointers before hand gives me more confident couples to photograph, then sweet! It is MUCH easier to pose a couple who are confident and this post will definitely help them get there! Thanks kat. you rock!

  3. Jonathan

    Reading you article in New Zealand having been directed from my daughter, Gala Darling’s blog. Excellent.

  4. Post author

    Thank you Jonathan! Im reading your comment in England… Thanks so much for your comment. Im a BIG fan of Gala so I’m honoured that she linked to my post

  5. Paulina V

    I HATE the way I look in pictures totally hate it, but I’m going to get in font of a mirror and practice and maybe latter ask my boyfriend to take some shoots. Great tips

  6. Anna Won Derful

    I came here from Gala as well but I have been looking in on your site for quite some time and I love it! Not having found the guy I want to marry yet and thereby not really “needing” your site means I instead recommend it to everyone I know who is getting married :)

    This post was great since I’m currently thinking about how to look better in pictures and I will take them to heart.

    I think my biggest problem in pictures is that, being quite thin and with very sharp features in my face I sometimes end up looking like I’m almost dead, and not in the hot way. Do you know any tricks to avoid that?

  7. Rylie Carson

    Anna, I know exactly what you mean. I have a fairly athletic build but it still comes out gawky most of the time.
    My best advice, try every “softening” trick in the book. Smile big and genuinely, to add shape to your face. Maybe try different make-up styles that accentuate your favourite features and draw the eye. Don’t worry about defining your waist, if you’re like me, you may not need it. In most cases I try to “cheat” curves, things like popping out my hips to give the illusion of a behind, dropping my shoulders to help stick out what little chest I have, and finding different angles that best suit me.
    One of the best advices I’ve heard yet would be to get in front of the mirror and practice, practice, practice! Find what works for you, then work it! :) Hope some of this helps!

  8. Veary

    Wish I read your article two yrs ago yet better late than never!!!! Brilliant advice

  9. Samantha

    What an awesome post! Thanks for being so open and willing to offer some totally helpful tips. Love, love, love!!!

  10. Tips for wedding pics- awesome idea! For such an obviously important day this is an un-obviously important thing to research a bit. Good stuff!

  11. Nice post offering some good advice to brides as there are tricks to posing well – and a good photographer will help them to look their best by offering tips during the shoot.
    One question – why are there so many shots from low pointing upwards? That’s a big ‘bad’ for angles since no one’s nostrils look good lol. I just had a wedding where the photographer shot most of the ceremony from that angle and the photos are very unflattering, so much so that if I were the couple, I’d delete them. I’d maybe recommend in your post that this is an angle to be avoided – like you said later in the post, the shots from above are a very flattering angle.

  12. Kat this is a great post. Ignore all those fuck-tards who are jealous that you leaked all their best tips. Thank you for sharing. Me and my bingo-wings thank you.

  13. Great tips for brides to be!

    As a photographer I spend a great deal of time sensitively posing brides to make them beautiful on their wedding day or on pre-wedding shoots, these tips are spot on and will give all you girls who’re worried about impending photography more confidence in front of the camera. Also remember that on your wedding day the wonderful work of make-up artists and hair stylists will make you great!

  14. Laura

    Thank you thank you for this!

    The Boy and I are having our first shoot on Sunday and I am so scared. In typical Boy style he is really looking forward to it so I am determined not to let him down.

    Committing ALL of this to memory!

  15. Top advice. All brides and grooms to be should take note as this is exactly what makes the difference between good and bad photos (and it’s what I tell all my couples during their engagement photo shoots).

  16. dom

    Great post Kat! I wish I’d known about the strapless dress/unflattering arm situation before I bought my dress but at least I know what to do now. And if all else fails I have a cardie :-)

  17. Angi

    i have chubby cheeks – just one of those unfortunate traits that run in the family – and when I smile they push my eyes to nearly closed. Any suggestions for that? Coz I really don’t wanna not smile! Any ideas on angles, etc that would make it look better? Coz I always tend to raise my eyebrows/forehead when I smile.

  18. kat, Just read my notes from your talk at the photography farm and about your How to pose post… LOL! amazing! and so true and helpful. SMIZEEE! XXX

  19. Mary Drahos

    I found this article after googling “how to look great in wedding pictures” and I must say, you have some AMAZING tips! I have all of those insecurities (especially with arms and profile since I have a huge Jewish/Italian nose). I forwarded this link to my photographer and told him to remind me about this article on my wedding day.
    On a side note, some other people who do articles like this seem so distant and unapproachable. However I feel that if for some reason I would see you somewhere, I could approach you and become friends lol. (Is that too stalkerish?)

  20. Drema

    This is so silly. During all this posing and worrying about if how you’re standing, what direction you are looking, where your arms are, how you are leaning… when do you actually enjoy the day and have fun with your photos…? I think you are gorgeous, but these poses look so forced. I also like how you have to delete all the negative comments. I guess there is no room for critique.

  21. talia

    hey Kat! I have been searching around for photography tips, I’m starting in on a new high school film assignment for portraiture and all my friends are wanting professional photos… now i may be able to give them more what they are hoping for! Thanks for the tips and keep writing!!! :D

  22. chelita

    Thank you for all the tips. loved this article, and your sense of humor just makes it all more enjoyable!!!:)

  23. Liv Galun

    Fab article, feeling a lot better about our engagement shoot this Sunday! Rock on Rock n’ roll bride – fricking love your work!

  24. Hahaha!! I just saw your link to this from the Blogcademy forum and am cracking up over how heated the conversation got. I mean, as if your professional photographer is the only one photographing you on your wedding day!?! There are going to be a gazillion Instagrams taken of you and these tips are perfect since you can be a little more aware and then have all your guests’ snapshots turn out that much better. And, besides, a true professional can work with whatever is thrown at them.

  25. Great post! Way to be “brave” with the examples — I know it helps. We all have problem areas and lack confidence occasionally, and your tips provide lots to think about and some good action items :-)

  26. Louise

    What is UP with the photographers moaning that they should tell you how you should pose? Flip, if on my wedding day the photographer has to tell me ‘chin up, left a bit, left a bit, arm out, arm in a bit’ for every shot we will be there all day, and I will be very bored.
    To be honest I found their condescending attitudes, lack of respect towards your photographer and silly name dropping very off putting, not the kind of people I’d want at my wedding!

  27. Oh my goodness! So surprised to see this post had some negative comments! Crazy!!
    This post is great! I think, though it’s a sin to admit vanity – who wants to look like crap in their wedding pictures!!?

    I think it demonstrates perfectly that it’s Ok, to be a tiny bit vain, especially on your wedding day! Maybe it’s not even vanity, it’s wanting to get your money’s worth, from your dress, your hair, make-up, diet, exercise, dress – no matter how amazing you look on the day, if you sit like a sack of potatoes, you’re more than likely going to look like a sack of potatoes! You just want to look good for one day – ever!!!

    Even though there are sometimes only subtle differences in the before and after pictures, sometimes a jaw line reflecting the light, or a less rigid body pose can make sooooo much difference to your mentality, which in turn lets you relax and smile . . . .

    I’m aware that I’m considered reasonably attractive, but hate to appear that I’m super vain and a show-off, so I act in the opposite way, especially in front of a camera and I freak out. I ‘act natural’, and the pictures look awful! I see people who are confident enough to strike a pose, and I wish I was them!

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with posing, even practicing your posing. Otherwise you photographers might end up with a couple who want to check every image on the view finder to check they look Ok!

    I know I will definitely be practicing my pose (maybe in secret though so I appear model-like and my guest will be in awe!!)

    Xx

  28. Tess August

    I’m like Charlotte; so concerned with *not* being vain or caring about how I look in what I believe is an uncool and silly fashion that I too try to just look natural. Unfortunately silly faces and clumsy non poses look good only on very small children so I end up feeling bad. I would be far far too selfconscious to hire a photographer for August even if we could afford it. I am so glad that I saw this article shared on FB. I will practice the poses until I fall naturally into them instead of sticking out my stomach and scrunching up my face. Thank you! Some of us are really shy about doing girly things and it is nice to be able to read about how to do it right without anyone else here to criticize.

  29. Becks

    I wish I had read this two weeks ago- just received a preview of my nYE wedding photos and have a fat face in some of them! Gutted.

  30. Lindsay

    Great post! Any tips on how to (nicely) push back when a photographer is trying to get you to pose in “ugly” angles? The photographer we have for our upcoming wedding is decent and in our price range, but her work on other weddings almost always features some pics taken from low angles that are SUPER unflattering for the couple. The pics are nice otherwise, it’s just that she’s obviously not the kind of photographer that can always judge how to best flatter everyone (and frankly we can’t afford a photographer who can). I tell myself that if she’d try to take one of these pictures, I’d tilt my chin up and slightly to the side, but what if she tries telling me not to do that? And how do I tell her I don’t want to do the extremely awkward/stiff/unflattering “dip and kiss” and “me leaning back on him” pics (apparently her favorite poses to do because she does them with EVERYONE)?

  31. Not getting married, but these are great tips — especially when everyone everywhere has a freaking camera and facebook!!! Thanks for these immediately useful tips!!!

  32. Post author

    Hey Lindsay, god honestly hardly ANYONE looks good shot from below. I’d probably nicely say beforehand that you’d prefer mid or higher angled shots because you’re conscious about your chin or something. A good photographer should take concerns like this into account and do their best to shoot you in the most flattering way.

  33. Wow, this got a little crazy didn’t it. It’s all really good advice and good humoured too. Davids done a top job illustrating everything through the photos especially. More than anything it’s really useful and I know lots of my couples will have a little chuckle whilst reading it and find it all incredibly helpful. Hope you guys are well. Mj

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