FAQ : How to Pose the Groom

A couple weeks ago, I posted a video on How to Photograph Groom Preparation Photos on a Wedding Day, but there were a few people who asked, specifically, about posing a groom, which usually happens after prep. Writing about posing is often times difficult for me because–without a model or demonstration–so much is lost in words.

In light of this, I thought I'd share a few of my posing guides I use as inspiration before a wedding day. I've mentioned this before, but when I first started photography, I didn't have formal training, so I simply taught myself. I went further in depth about this process in EXPOSED Magazine, but here's a few updated samples of how I dissect a photo and use it as a way to refine my photographic approach.

One of the top questions I was asked was how I pose the groom and his groomsmen. Well, I don't have a single approach (so much depends on light, location, vibe, and the overall comfortability of the wedding party), but what I will do is comb through my favorite music magazines for inspiration. For instance, this weekend I'm shooting a wedding in Arizona, so last night I went through magazines and clipped out photos for fresh ideas. Because I'm a girl (obvi), I need to study and understand the male form and what works when posing a group of guys…

The above photo is from a J. Crew catalogue. And I love it. Part of what I find appealing (aside from a set of impeccably dressed men…rawr) is the accessibility of the photo itself. And by this I mean I could easily replicate this idea on a wedding day, no flashy gear or complex lighting setup needed. The guys look comfortable, casual, and–most importantly–cool. Of course I'll always capture a traditional photo of the groom and his groomsmen, but if I can also capture an editorial photo like the one above, I'm proud because it's a mix of safe (mom will have a photo for the mantel) and edgy (the groom will have a photo he's stoked to post on Facebook).

In the photos below (left page: Rolling Stone Magazine, right page: Spin Magazine), I found the group poses particularly helpful because seeing and understanding what works for guys is important for me. If I can pose men in a way they're comfortable with, it makes me confident. When I'm confident, my clients feel it…and when clients feel it, they trust me…and when they trust me, I can push their limits.

Here's a sample layout I pulled from a J.Crew catalogue. When explaining to JD how I'd like for him to style (yes, style…I request that he position groom details in a particular way) and photograph the groom's clothing, this spread of photos worked well to articulate my point. I can talk for days about how I'd love things done, but giving JD this cheat sheet moved things along quickly…

Okay, so now let's move on to posing just the groom. I pulled these two pictures to demonstrate two approaches. The photo on the left is a great pose that works if the groom is uncomfortable or really doesn't want to be photographed. It's masculine, straight-forward, and if positioned in a cool environment can solicit an editorial vibe. Take notice of his hands, where he's placing the pressure on his feet, and the unbuttoned jacket (these are the styling approaches you'll need to make on a wedding day). The photo on the right is a great pose for a groom who's comfortable in front of the camera and has a little swag (these are my favorite types of grooms). Grabbing any chair or bar stool can achieve the same look, but be sure to study the placement of his arms and how much of his bum is actually on the seat itself (these small details can change the entire feel of the photo).

These are examples I pulled from the Lands' End catalogue because they are great ways of capturing a groom during casual moments through out the day. The photo on the left is a great photo to capture, especially if you ask the groom to look towards his groomsmen who are standing off to the side (this usually prompts the groomsmen to make fun of him, which results in a great, natural capture of a laugh). The photo on the right is a great example of natural light when photographing a groom. When finding photos for inspiration, one of my goals is to find imagery that is duplicatable on a wedding day. If the photo looks like it required a high-tech lighting setup, I'll usually pass because I need to focus on the reality of a wedding day: I don't use extensive gear, so remain true to my style and approach. Oh! And make sure and notice the way the model on the right is leaning…the only point of contact to the wall is his shoulder and his left knee is relaxed, not straight. If I can find something for the groom to hold (his vows, sunglasses, a flask, yarmulke, etc), I could replicate this idea with confidence.

So. I think I went on far too long with this post. Sorry. I just wanted to make sure I explained my thoughts the best I could to help a few people along the way. If I missed the mark, my bad. I'll try again soon, but until then I hope you rock out posing!

Stay Fabulous,