In honor of the EDU 2014 Photo Contest sponsored by Resource, ViewBug and SIGMA we’ve been providing various educational articles and how-to guides to help student and emerging photographers grow and expand their knowledge of photography. This latest edition covers portrait photography for couples. These 3 helpful tips for perfectly posing couples will ensure quality  results and avoid letting you become a staple on the awkward family photos website.

3 Tips For Perfectly Posing Couples

Tip #1 – Keep it Intimate

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© Anshum Mandore via Flickr Creative Commons

This is one of the more essential goals of a couple shoot. The main reasons couples come to you is to gather an intimate, yet professional snapshots of their life. They want a moment in time that they can remember forever, but it’s difficult to get that intimacy with couples who are uncomfortable. Be friendly at first and ensure them that you’re a complete professional who knows what you’re doing.

Second, if you are not shooting in a studio, make sure you choose a location that furthers this comfort. This means if they want you to shoot in a specific area, scout it to find the perfect and most intimate spot.

Tip #2 – Know the Signature Poses (Be Commanding, Yet Respectful)

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© Etsy Ketsy via Flickr Creative Commons

There are hundreds of different poses, but photographer Lindsay Adler believes that all beginners should start off with four: 1) While keeping the man stationary, the woman begins with her back to his chest; 2) The woman faces the man chest to chest; 3) She moves further away, with her chest against his shoulder; 4) she is behind him, posing over his shoulder.

Once you move past these first few, there are a variety of poses for a portrait photographer to master. It’s basically what you feel the most comfortable with, which will have a direct effect on the couple you are shooting. Finally, various photographers, including Adler, have mentioned to make sure the models/couples remain loose: “Really pay attention to the body language in their head position. Heads should usually be brought closer together, tilted toward one another. This shows connection and unity as a couple and makes for more intimate portraiture. Distance between their heads makes them look uncomfortable and disconnected.” These little things are what separates the the amateurs from professionals.

Tip #3 – Change it Up

photography, education, student, emerging, portrait-photography, posing-couples, tips, tricks, how-to, edu-2014

© via Flickr Creative Commons

Once you have the signature photos, do not be afraid to do some unorthodox angles or to experiment with how you shoot. For instance, use depth of field to focus on one particular object, creating a fairly unique image. Experimenting with “lens choice, crop, focal length and aperture” are fine as long as you maintain the couple’s intimacy throughout. Constantly talk to the couples to ensure that they are doing fine, but also make them feel a part of the process, which will result in the best photos possible.

Our EDU 2014 photo contest is upon us and submissions are coming in. This year’s judging panel includes Brian Matiash of Google+ and NIk Software, Vice President of Content at Shuttershock Scott Braut, Principal Product Manager for Photoshop Digital Imaging Bryan O’Neil Hughes, renowned portrait photographer Peter Hurley and Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Vincent Laforet. To help you get ahead in the contest, we’re a variety of the tips and tricks you’ll need to take an awesome image. Stay tuned!