If you’re here and reading this post, you’re probably wondering what’s going on…because, obviously, I’m not Jodi. And I wouldn’t try because she’s way cooler than I am in real life. My name is Jasmine Star and I’m a lifestyle wedding photographer for fabulous people. I reside in California with my dog and husband, although I don’t know who is my favorite. I was honored when Jodi invited me to guest blog about Tips for Posing, so hang on for a wild ride because we’re about to get busy!
When it comes to photographing couples, my goal is to make them comfortable, have fun, and feel amazing. However, from a business perspective, my goals are to ensure the photographs adhere to the words I want associated with my brand: Fun, Fresh, and Editorial. We can get into the specifics of choosing branding words and how to build a business around this idea at a later point in time, but for now, I’m going to reference these words and use them as a litmus test to measure the success-fulness in my approach.
I’m honored whenever I have the opportunity to see my work featured in print or online media, so I’ve found myself posing my clients in a way that appeals to editors. When it comes to selecting features, editors are looking for subjects who are natural in front of the camera. Weddings and engagement sessions can be a challenge because a bride and groom aren’t usually professional models and standing in front of a camera can be nerve wracking and awkward. In light of this, I prepare my clients in advance before they step in front of my lens. The first time I interact with a couple is at their engagement session. However, my preparations begin before this point, as I feel it’s part of my job to make clients feel their absolute best.
Before the engagement session, I email the bride and give her what I call Love Tips. These are basically a list of things to create an optimal shoot. After all, I want their engagement session to be awesome just as much as they do.
J* Love Tips…
1. Arrive on time. Nothing kills the vibe of a shoot than showing up late. The light changes, there’s less time, and more pressure. That’s not fun for anyone.
2. Be sure to check out the shoot location in advance. Nothing’s worse than showing up for a shoot only to realize it turned into a construction zone just a few days before. Once I heard of a photographer scheduling a shoot in Downtown Los Angeles without knowing the LA Marathon was taking place that weekend…needless to say, the shoot had to be rescheduled. Scoping out the location a couple days in advance is always advantageous.
3. Feel free to get hair and makeup done. Not only is it a great way to feel extra dolled up for the photo shoot, it can also double as the trial run for the makeup/hair artist!
4. Make sure the groom watches 2-3 engagement slideshows (I make a slideshow for every client) before the shoot. Guys are less likely to work-it in front of a camera, but if they come to the session already knowing my intention is to make them look their best (i.e. strong poses, masculine forms, etc), they’re malleable. This is only accomplished if the groom is aware of my style and my intentions in advance.
5. Feel beautiful. This probably sounds silly, but it’s true. During a session, I want my bride to feel beautiful; like the best version of herself. I let her know in advance that I want her to let her guard down and give me everything she has for an hour and a half. If she’s committed to getting beautiful photos, then so am I!
Once I begin shooting, it’s important to ensure my couple looks and feels natural in front of the camera. At the beginning of each shoot, I state the obvious: “You’re probably nervous.” Once we get that into the open, it puts clients at ease. I don’t show up to a session expecting my clients to act like models…it’s my job to make them look like models. I start each photo shoot simply by talking. No stress, no drama, no pressure. We walk, chat, and I explain what I want them to do, but–more so–how I want them to feel. That changes everything.
Now, despite my best efforts, there are couples who are just frozen in stage fright. Sometimes I’m asked by photographers if I have to work harder with some couples than others and they wonder if “directing” them to be natural is counter-intuitive. And to them I reply: Yes. In fact, I’d venture to say most clients are frozen…but why would I expect them NOT to be? They’ve never done this before!
In all truthfulness, it’s a photographer’s job to, literally, give their subjects something to do. Directions, feedback, encouragement. Some of the best photographers are the best directors in my opinion. Sure, it can be difficult at times (I’ve been known to cuddle with a groom to shown the bride, precisely, what I wanted her to do), but it’s something photographers work on to make the client experience better. If you’d like to read more about giving clients directive posing and steps to make it happen, feel free to CLICK HERE for a detailed post.
I realize that some photographers have a set of standard poses they use, but I prefer to approach each couple with a clean slate and a willingness to push myself to try something new. If I did have a set of standard poses, I think the photos would begin to possess a generic quality about them. Every couple is different, so every session should be a unique reflection of their love. Some of the leading photographers create unique imagery without taking cues from others and this is a standard the industry should aspire to.
If we as photographers are trying to keep things fresh and stay away from the posing patterns we can easily fall into, how can we keep things fresh? The best way to keep things fresh–for me, anyway–is to let the clients dictate the pulse of the shoot. Sometimes photographers want to control every element during a session, but I’ve discovered when I take step back and let things unfold, pictures happen. Nothing forced, contrived, or packaged…just love. And, better yet, it’s love in the shape and form of two unique people, which never looks the same.
Lastly, during a shoot I tell my brides to OWN IT. Let every worry or concern fade away and be prepared to have the best day of your life. If they feel happy, feel like they’re in love, and feel beautiful, a photographer can capture happy, lovely, and beautiful images as a true reflection of a perfect day.
If you’d like to learn more about posing, how to grow a photography business, and marketing tips for a creative entrepreneur, I put together a 165 glossy-paged book about how I started. It details the ups and downs I faced as a new photographer and how I created the type of business I dreamed of. To get more information, feel free to check out EXPOSED.