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The Ultimate Posing Guide for your Engagement Session & Beyond!

Every Bride’s Ultimate Posing Guide

Asheville Wedding Photographer shares top tips and tricks for Posing for your Engagement Session & Beyond!

Hey Girl! Congratulations on getting ENGAGED!!!

Couple looks out over the Blue Ridge Mountains at Craggy Pinnacle on the Blue Ridge Parkway during their Engagement Session.
  • Fall in Love: CHECK
  • Realize it’s Forever: CHECK
  • Get Engaged: CHECK, CHECK!!
  • Find an Awesome Photographer: We know some pretty okay ones, check them out here! 😉 Oh, Heyyyyy!
  • Schedule an Engagement Session: Hello Anxiety!

Vendors often forget that this is probably your first rodeo! 😉 It’s easy to forget that when you’ve never done this before, the world of wedding planning and engagement sessions, styling, and posing can all seem pretty foreign and feel a little overwhelming & kinda stressful, to be honest! The good news is that your Wedding Photographer can often be your very best friend in this process! For example: I’ve been working as a professional photographer in the wedding industry for the last eleven years this July! With allllll those years of experience comes a literal treasure trove of knowledge and expertise about all things wedding! I am basically a walking wedding encyclopedia & will have an answer to pretty much any question that you might have which is why I’ve put together this Ultimate Posing Guide for your Engagement Session & Beyond to help you get the Engagement & Wedding photos that you’ve always dreamed of!

Typically, the sequence of events after getting Engaged goes a little something like this: Set the Date, Determine your Budget, Find a Venue, Book a Photographer, Schedule an Engagement Session, etc etc etc….

There are probably a few questions on your mind, such as:

  • Do we need (or want) to shoot Engagement Photos?
  • When do we shoot the session?
  • What do we wear?
  • “OMG How do we even do this? We’ve never done this before! This is going to be awkward AF! We don’t know how to pose for Engagement (or Wedding) Photos!?!?! Ahhhhhh”

Don’t worry, I’ve got you! We’re going to answer each of these questions right here, right now! Let’s get it!

In the Portraits Below is Joy & Brittany. When Joy (brunette) booked their Engagement Session (and again when we met up to shoot), she expressed how very anxious she was about how “awkward she is in front of the camera”… I think she looks like a natural, don’t you!?

Do we need to shoot Engagement Photos?

Of course you don’t need to shoot Engagement Photos but I’m going to tell you why you should!

  • If you’re getting Married in 9-12 months from now, in the summer or around a holiday, it’s nice to send out Save the Dates to the people that you really want to attend so that they can plan their vacation time, summers, or holidays accordingly! Often, Engagement portraits are used for Wedding Website & Save the Dates (if that’s the case, you’ll want to schedule your Engagement Session ASAP!)
  • Maybe you aren’t building a Wedding Website or sending out Save the Dates, do you still need to shoot an Engagement Session? Well, you don’t need to but I want to tell you why you should.
  • Engagement Sessions are invaluable for exactly three reasons:
    • A. It’s good PRACTICE for your Wedding Day. Do you really want the first time that you guys spend an extended period (an entire day) in front of your photographer’s camera to be ON your Wedding Day!? #AwkwardCity
    • B. It’s a good opportunity for you to get to know your photographer, to get comfortable with how they work & to build a friendship with them!
    • C. It gives your photographer an opportunity to actually get to know you guys. It gives them a chance to know your love story, to get familiar with your dynamic and move with each other, to know what makes you uncomfortable, how to make you laugh and where you shine! This will 1000% make ALL the difference on your Wedding Day & with how your Wedding Photos turn out!
    • Bonus: When your photographer walks into your bridal/groom’s suit on your Wedding Day, it’ll feel like an old friend has just walked in rather than a stranger who you’re just meeting for the first time on the biggest day of your life! Don’t you want to feel like you have a friend in your corner, who you know (from experience) is gonna make you guys look like a million bucks on that very big day!? I would! 😉

In the Engagement Portraits Below, you’ll see Colton & Amanda. When Amanda booked her Wedding, Amanda described herself as being “a tom boy who is pretty awkward in front of the camera” but,

What do we wear?

Keep an eye out tomorrow for your next gift! We’re gonna get wayyy into How to Style your Engagement Session (+ Pinboards! ahhh yeah!!!) 😉

POSING for your Engagement Session & Beyond:

Remember how I told you about the study that mentioned that close to 40% of brides surveyed report feeling disappointment with their Wedding Photos?

After reading that, I picked my jaw up off the floor and thought: “Wow! I really can’t believe that percentage is so high! But whyyyyyy!???

I started digging deeper to find the reasons why these brides were unhappy, and this is what I found:

1.“Our photographer got drunk, and you can see the photos in the gallery getting blurrier and blurrier as you scroll through.”

(We rarely ever drink at Weddings, gotta stay sharp! Sometimes, our couples love us so much, they beg us to have a drink at their reception, if we do, it’s never more than one for this very reason!) 😉

2. “He just really didn’t seem to know what he was doing! He didn’t guide us for portraits and we were just standing there awkwardly!”

(In my last email: “Top Ten Tips for Unbelievable Wedding Photos” – Remember # 10 — this is what I was saying! There are some definite personality traits that you’re going to need in your wedding photographer!)

3. “They only captured moments of my husband and I but not of our close friends and loved ones. That was really disappointing.”

(This is exactly why we offer unlimited pre-wedding phone support with all of our collections & why we schedule a pre-wedding phone consultation ahead of your big day… So that you have the opportunity to tell us what’s most important to you! We want you to have the Wedding Photos that you’ve always dreamed of!)

   And that was just the tip of the iceberg…

I take pride in my work and after seeing this study where almost half of brides out there are extremely unhappy with the results they were getting from other so called professional photographers, I couldn’t help but feel extremely proud of what every single one of my couples have said about me.

Like Tasia & David who said: “Brittany photographed our wedding in Asheville and she did a PHENOMENAL job! You can honestly tell the difference between her experience and professionalism as a photographer over someone who takes candid photos with an expensive camera. She knew where to go without question both in the Asheville area and at the venue and was definitely prepared beforehand. She was also great at positioning us into ways that we would have never done on our own, and those are the photos that we love the most!”

Check out a few of Tasia + David’s Capital Club of Asheville Wedding Photos below!

Sadly, a lot of photographers don’t understand that amazing wedding photography is not just about amazing venues, beautiful details, lovely compositions, breathtaking backdrops or the candid moments. Though those things are all super important, it is an absolute necessity to be a master in the art of posing & body mechanics to ensure that the bride and groom look absolutely dazzling on the best day of their lives. I want my clients to look beautiful, like they’re having so much fun & are so in love and like they could grace the pages of any bridal magazine. This is incredibly hard to master.

For years, I’ve asked my brides: What are you afraid of? and this is what I hear over and over again: “Looking too posed”, “Looking fake or cheesy”, “Unflattering angles” or “Looking stiff or awkward”

In this next section, I’m going to share as much of my expertise in the fine art of posing as I can with you so that we can to ensure that you guys look your very best & have no regrets about your wedding photography! These Posing Tips will serve you at your Engagement Session and on your Wedding Day!

Authenticity – There is literally nothing more awkward than trying be someone you’re not or do something that feels totally unnatural. Forget me & this big camera. Focus on each other. Try to relax & just be yourselves! I know that’s much easier said than done but if you can do that, your light will totally shine through in your photos, I promise! The first few poses always feel a little unnatural because let’s be honest, we can’t all be instagram models! After the first 15 minutes with me, you’ll get more comfortable, you’ll be laughing and and then it will feel more natural! I always suggest a beer or a glass of wine before engagement sessions to break the ice and relax a little! You want to look back at these photos and see who you are together in this moment! It will make my job much easier if you’re as relaxed as possible so, Cheers!

In the Engagement Portraits Below, you’ll see Rachel + KP during their Engagement Session! I’m sure it will come as no surprise that KP wasn’t entirely thrilled about shooting Engagement Portraits (I mean, I get it) but as you can see , once we got started, they focused on each other, on laughing and being affectionate with each other and he looks entirely comfortable and like he’s having fun even! 😉

FUN – Your engagement session is probably one of the most fun things that you’ll do together during the planning process! (Engagement Parties, Catering, Cake & Booze Tastings, Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties and Bridal Showers are okay too! ;)) It can actually be a pretty fun 1-2 hours with your photographer where you guys get to be silly, laugh, hug, kiss, hold hands and cuddle in front of my camera, and it isn’t weird at all! It’s only weird when I’m like: “that was a really good kiss guys, let’s keep this going!” (in Napoleon Dynamite Voice) 😉 We do everything we can to make sure you guys are having the most fun possible! When you’re having fun, that means that you are doing the first thing: Being Yourselves! Those are the images that we really want because those are the moments that feel honest and real and authentically you. Which brings me to……

Location Location Location – I ALWAYS recommend not just going to a park and posing for a bunch of basic ass photos! Let’s have an ADVENTURE!!! These photos will be so much more meaningful to you if they happen somewhere that means something to you or really makes you come alive! As an added bonus, if you’re doing something, enjoying something with each other — well, that’s one way to achieve candid and natural looking engagement photos, isn’t it!?

Ideas: Where did you have your first or most memorable date? Where were you when you said I love you for the first time? Love concerts? Love tailgating? Love Hiking or Camping, Coffee or Art Museums? The. Sky. Is. Literally. The. Limit. Ya’ll!!!

Body Mechanics – I’m not a huge fan of images that look too posed or cheesy which is why I prefer photographing the way that your bodies fall together naturally much more than if I were to perfectly place every single finger. Typically, I’ll give my couples an instruction or prompt and let them just do it as they naturally would and if it looks weird, we’ll adjust! I have a handful of pretty funny prompts that feel completely ridiculous but they’re designed with intention, to get your reaction & what comes next! 🙂

Building a Pose – When photographing an Engagement Session, Bridal Session or a Wedding, I will often give my clients a prompt or instruction, let them execute that first part and then build upon it as we continuously shoot because movement in photos produces a more candid/natural effect than if you were to get into a pose and remain stationary in that pose.

The Basics – So what if you end up with a photographer who’s posing game is weak? You’ll want to keep these three very basic techniques in mind to help you look your best:

  • A. Imaginary String:  First off you want to ensure that your spine is straight, but not stiff and unnatural. I often ask my couples to act as if there is a string on the back/top of their head & pull up. You want to have a straight spine and a natural curve in you lumbar (lower back).
  • B. Shoulders: Push your shoulders jussssst 1 inch back. This will further bring confidence and beauty into your pose.
  • C. Weight Distribution: You don’t wanna be squared up with the camera, you want your weight distribution to be uneven or else your pose will look unnatural & there are a few ways to do this. Either cross one leg over the other, stagger your feet or put more weight on your back leg. 

What about your Head, Hands & Eyes?

  • Head: Ever seen those images where the couple are forehead to forehead, looking into each other’s eyes? That’s okay buuuuut Hot Pro Tip: tilt your heads just slightly into each other & down like Shan & Myra above! This subtle shift creates more of a natural, candid effect, as if we’ve caught you in an intimate moment together!
  • Hands: First, you need to always keep your hands on each other in some, loving way during your session! Engagement & Wedding Photos are meant to convey love and affection, right!? Hot Pro Tip: I always remind my clients that: “We don’t want Freddy Krueger Hands” (when you’re touching your partner’s face and your fingers are spread wide open!) This looks super weird in photos. So, I encourage my clients to stretch their fingers out and then let them relax naturally (close together).
  • Eyes: Although, we’re totally gonna shoot a handful of more traditional images where you guys are looking into the camera & smiling, where you look can dramatically change the feel of a portrait. Choosing to look at each other or look down or away makes your images feel more genuine. Each of these suggestions for head, hand & eye positioning was used in the above photo of Shan and Myra.

Walk the Line – When in doubt, WALK! 😉 Whenever I’m shooting Engagement, Newlywed or Bridal Party Portraits, I often spend a little time photographing my clients as they walk to and away from me. I instruct them to be “magazine couple” or “magazine bridal party” etc. I encourage them to have light hearted conversation, I encourage them to make each other laugh, to hold hands and look lovingly at the person they’ll build their future with. I always make them walk the line 2 or 3 times for good measure (usually by the 3rd pass, they’re pretty relaxed) and what happens in those moments feels real.

KISS – It is about this kiss but, it’s just as much about what happens just before and just after the kiss!! I photograph lots of kisses but my favorite moments are those intimate mili-moments that I was never meant to see. The magic really happens just before and/or just after the kiss. So linger there for a mili-second. Be present in that moment. Your engagement session isn’t something you have to do, it’s a memory you’re making.

Treat Yo’ Self – Although it’s definitely not necessary, in my experience both personally & professionally, when I (feel) pretty, when I feel like my outfit is on point, when my hair and makeup is on fleek, I feel more confident. Some of our clients schedule hair and makeup for the day of their Engagement Session. This helps them to feel a little more ‘done-up’ for the shoot and boosts their confidence. So, if you’re feel’n it, get all dolled up and go ahead and Treat Yo’ Self girl!

Engagement Session Locations seen in this post:

Biltmore Estate , Great Smokey Mountains National Park, NC Arboretum, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Downtown Asheville & various Hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Asheville family Photography

Serving Asheville, NC & Beyond

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Serving Asheville North Carolina& Beyond