Posing Basics: Face-to-Face

When I first started doing wedding photography six years back, posing terrified me. I would do anything to get through them as quickly as possible. And my least favorite poses were face-to-face ones. They seemed so mundane – like prom pictures. If the girl stood in front of the guy with her back on his chest, it automatically became more dramatic. If the couple walked side by side, it conveyed a sense of looseness and movement. But facing each other? What’s there to do with that?

As time passed by, I came to enjoy posing more, and I saw the value of face-to-face poses. After all, when you think about it, there are only so many ways to make a couple stand, and having them face each other in some fashion or other probably captures the vast majority of those options. My problem when I began was that I treated the poses statically. I’d have people face each other, look at me, maybe smile a bit or kiss, and that would be it. The trick is to treat it like jazz. You have a fixed framework, but from there, you let it evolve and play with it. You pick what resonates with the moment.

In reality, fact-to-face poses are remarkably versatile. Within minutes, you can capture enough pictures for an entire session. Just by varying where they look, what they do, and how you frame it, it’s easy to get 10 solid pictures that no one is ever going to get tired of seeing.

It goes something like this. First, I’ll have a couple stand with their bodies facing each other. Maybe I’ll have them hold their hands, maybe they’ll hold onto each other, maybe one will put their arm around the other’s shoulder – it really depends on their vibe, the environment, and the lighting. And, of course, their height. Whatever the case, that’s the first shot – a solid portrait. I’ll shoot a tight version, a mid version, and a wide version, which takes all of 1 minute. It’s an easy start for a nervous the couple, it’s easy to shoot for you, and it guarantees that you’ve captured something many see as essential. From there, it might go something like this:

– Girl turns away, and guy says something to the girl
– Guy looks away, then girl looks to camera
– Girl rests her head on guys chest
– Couple kisses
– Couple plays around a bit

With each of these, I’ll not only shoot a few different framings, but I’ll adjust my angles both horizontally and vertically between the shots, which keeps it from looking like the same shot over and over. The variations are almost limitless. Where the girl looks, the guy looks, the expressions on their faces, the framing, and the arm and leg positions – all of these dramatically change the feel. Improvise. Play with it. Change things up, and see how it alters the mood, and look at how your favorite photographers vary this basic pose to create their own unique look.

Photographs by Spencer Lum of 5 West Studios

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