Directing the bride & groom during the portrait session can make or break your pictures. As a documentary photographer, I actually tend to avoid posing the couple at all which will most likely results in corny & cliché photographs but I do direct them during the photo shoot and only during the photo shoot.
1. Keep it short
Generally, a 15 minutes session is enough for me. The goal is to keep this moment short & fun in order not to bore the couple, capture amazing pictures and bring them back to the reception as soon as possible – don”t be selfish trying to impose yourself too long and do not forget this is their day. They probably want to go back to the cocktail or dinner with their families and friends instead of spending an hour of their wedding day with a complete stranger.
2. Not too much posing
Don’t pose your couple too much. It is very passive and repetitive for them and for your pictures. A few portraits of the bride and groom individually then together, few detail shots of the bouquet and dress and that should be it. Instead, create activities through simple exercices.
3. More directing
Make them active. This is the key for a successful couple’s session. Create activities that will help you re-create the moment through simple exercices. For example if you wish to capture the bride smiling and instead of asking her directly to laugh or smile, ask the groom to tell a joke to his bride. And wait for it. You will capture a real and genuine moment. Even if the joke is no good, the bride will still laugh or at least smile at her groom.
4. More examples of “must do” exercices
– Ask the couple to walk your direction while you walk backward and ask them to look at each others before asking the bride to look down then looking back to her groom. Repeat with the groom this time.
– Ask them to stand in a scenic location facing each others. Forehead against forehead. Closed eyes. Propose to the couple to keep this position before asking them to remember the first time they met each others. They will smile with their eyes closed. Turn around and get different shots. Finally, place yourself for the shot you want and ask them to open their eyes and kiss after a 5 secs countdown. You just got the perfect kiss shot.
– Ask the couple to face each others, the groom laying comfortably against a wall or a tree. Be the complice of the bride and ask her to tell a fun anecdote about the preparation to the groom. There is always something happening during the preparation you witnessed and that the groom doesn’t know about. Turn around the couple and shoot from different points of view. It generally allows to create a genuine moment between the couple.
If you have any suggestions or ideas for more exercises, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to add a few new exercices to my repertory.
5. Make it fun and stress free
Communicate with your couple during the session. Even between each exercices and while walking to the next location, converse with them, make them feel comfortable and remember that the more relaxed the shooting is, the better your photographs will be. Most of the time, couples never had the opportunity to do a photo shoot before and it is a very first for them, they might be stressed and concerned about how they will look. Never ask them to relax directly, instead make them feel relaxed. You know you achieved a successful shooting when your couple had a good time and you captured great moments. And when it is time for them to receive the photos, they will associate these good moments to your pictures, which will make your work even more special for the bride & groom.