Posing clients can be stressful - and awkward. I know for myself that when I had started doing family sessions I was so nervous and unsure about it. Now, I guide well and allow myself to adapt to the energy around me.
Here are 5 things that helped me along the way.
1. SHOW THEM!
You have to show your clients how you want them to pose! If you want them to sit and cross their legs, sit and cross your legs first. If you want them to stand in a certain spot, stand there first. Not only will it prevent confusion, it will also make your client more comfortable. If they see exactly how you wanted them to pose then they won't question how they are supposed to do it. I am most definitely 'that' photographer who is laying in the grass with the toddlers, ha!
2. USE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Whether they are sitting on a rock, or leaning their shoulders against the wall, the client becomes 100 times more relaxed when they have something to do. If there are no rocks, benches, trees, cars or other objects around, make sure at least the hands have purpose. It can be anything from a hand on a hip or in a pocket, to grabbing their jacket or hair.
If the children (or groom) aren't cooperating, add everyday things! Bring their favorite toys or books, start a tickle fight or hold hands and swing. It may not be the hang on the wall photo that you were hoping for, but keeping it real with everyday elements still keeps it special for the family and relaxed for the children. After they calm down, try another pose.
3. DISTRACT YOUR CLIENTS FROM THEMSELVES & NEVER STOP TALKING
If they feel awkward, they look awkward. It's that simple. You have to get the client to think of something besides how they look for the camera. Get them talking, laughing and focusing on you instead of the camera. If you put them in a pose that makes them feel uncomfortable, change it. Respect them and let it be clear that you care about how they feel.
From the moment you meet to the moment they leave, you need to keep talking. Get to know your clients. Ask about their jobs, schools, teachers, friends, children and what's most important to them. If you stop talking, it gets awkward especially if a couple is kissing or cuddling. Always keep the conversation going to make them feel more comfortable. Step back and let the family or couple talk to each other as well. It allows them to relax as you get candid pictures.
4. MAKE CONNECTIONS AND KEEP IT COMFORTABLE
As a photographer your job is to capture the love and relationship within a couple and family. Connect shoulders, hold hands, touch shoulders, or have them wrap their arms around each other. For couples, encourage cuddling nose-to-nose, forehead-to-forehead or just front-to-back. Keep them connected and keep them touching!
5. BEGIN COLLECTING POSES ONLINE
Scroll through Pinterest, your favorite magazine or photographer's blog to see what kind of poses stand out to you. Pin them or save them and look through them often to feel inspired. Copying each pose detail for detail will kill your inspiration and creativity. Instead, decide why you like that pose and how it makes you feel.