While I’m a big fan of dramatic editorial style poses, I especially love capturing in-between candids that ooze raw genuine emotion. Making authentic moments happen is sometimes one of the hardest parts of being a lifestyle photographer. If your subjects aren’t skilled models, they likely won’t know how to give you that legitimate laughter or emotive embrace you’re looking for without a little guidance.
Rather than simply telling your couples “Act natural!“, try giving them a prompt to act on. Unposed prompts recently became a big trend in the photography community. And for good reason! They’re fun and easy ways of creating organic movement and getting your couples acting and feeling natural.
Instead of instructing poses, prompts create moments. They make room for real reactions so you can capture the couple for who they really are. After getting through my main poses, I frequently found myself saying, “Now interact with each other. Pretend I’m not here.” While that works for some couples, it doesn’t give them much to build on. They’ll likely awkwardly stare at one another until bursting into giggles – which is great! But the spontaneity usually stops there before they’re looking for direction again.
The trick is to constantly keep them moving and interacting. That’s where prompts come in. Below I’ve listed 12 posing cues for capturing natural moments. These different intensity levels will help create genuine connections between your subjects at your next engagement, wedding, or couples shoot.
The fun prompts may seem a bit silly at first. But they’re perfect icebreakers for getting your couple comfortable in front of the lens. Giving them something to do helps them forget the camera is even there. Better yet, genuine laughter often ensues as a result. Start your sessions with fun prompts and sprinkle them in throughout the shoot to keep things entertaining.
✳ Hold hands side by side and tell me an embarrassing story about your partner.
✳ In your sexiest voice, whisper the names of as many breakfast cereals as you can think of into your partner’s ear.
✳ Stare into each other’s eyes and try to guess what color the other is thinking.
✳ Run towards each other and embrace like a rom-com airport scene.
Romantic prompts can be equally playful, but they go a bit deeper. They encourage getting closer, touching more, and tapping into their lovey-dovey side. Telling the couple “Okay, now kiss” for the first time can feel a little awkward for both parties. But these prompts make those romantic moments flow more naturally.
✳ Take your partner’s face into your hands and kiss your favorite part.
✳ Hug each other like you’re saying goodbye and won’t be seeing one another for 6 months.
✳ Get in close for a super sexy kiss. But no kissing until I say so!
✳ Wrap your arms around her from behind and sway while humming “your” song.
Intimate shots require a lot of trust between the subject and the photographer. The couple is letting you into a moment usually reserved for just the two of them in private. These sorts of prompts can lead to some really beautiful and emotive portraits. But before jumping straight into intimate prompts, make sure you’ve made your couple comfortable and broken down any walls they may have started the shoot with. On the contrary, if it feels appropriate for the particular couple I’m working with, I may dive right into the intimate shots first – it sometimes actually helps them relax and connect with each other in the moment faster.
✳ For a minute, with your faces as close as possible, try to express just how much you love each other using only your eyes.
✳ Hold each other close and breathe each other in.
✳ Slowly move her hair off her shoulder / tuck her hair behind her ear and kiss her on the neck.
✳ With your foreheads touching and your eyes closed, inhale and exhale in sync with your partner for seven breaths.
I hope these tips and prompts transform the way you approach posing on your next shoot! If you have any prompt suggestions or tricks that have worked for you, I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments.