7 Ways to Capture Stunning Portraits without Posing

Sep 11, 2023

There’s no right or wrong way to shoot a wedding (broadly speaking!). But as you know, our co-founder and instructor, Matt Tyler, is a documentary-style wedding photographer.

His approach is naturalistic and the focus is on capturing authentic visual stories.

Yet most brides and grooms will want at least a few romantic couple portraits from their big day to look back on. Something special that probably didn’t happen by accident, but does capture their love for each other.

Does that mean photography that is not technically documentary-style? Yes, but does that mean those moments have to be posed? Not at all.

Every couple is different - some want to pose for romantic shots; others don’t. Matt typically works with the latter, and here’s how he keeps things as natural as possible when capturing portraits.

Top tips

  1. Get bonding - Establishing a connection with the couple early on is hugely important, as it will allow them to be as comfortable as possible with you. Ultimately, you want them to be themselves and forget you’re even there. Of course, you’ve hopefully started building a rapport already, during any engagement shoots, pre-wedding consultations or first thing on the big day itself.,

  2. Keep the couple moving - I always want the portraits to be as fluid as possible. I don’t leave people standing around in one spot for too long; that’s when couples remember they’re being photographed and things get rigid.

  3. Keep yourself moving - I utilise the wide and tight method. Start with wider shots then gradually move in closer, keeping movements fluid. By moving myself around, the couple has less awareness of where I am and this will help them naturally focus on each other.

  4. Let the couple enjoy being together - Most couples don’t require a huge amount of direction when you steal them away for couple portraits. After the whirlwind day they’ve had so far, this will probably be the first time they’ve been alone for more than a few moments since getting married. Let them chat to each other and lose themselves in the moment, and just be ready to capture those cute interactions!

  5. Use natural light - As ever, you can’t beat it! Introducing flashes or video lights makes it too much of a photo shoot. Learn to understand and maximise the ambient light you have available - whether that's harsh, strong directional light or a lovely golden hour.

  6. Put your director’s cap on, just briefly - I generally steer away from directing the day, preferring to let things happen naturally. But that’s not to say I don’t take the couple to the best spaces to have some otherwise natural moments in. If there’s a gorgeous and secluded location at the venue, I might take the couple there for a starting scene, but from there I step back and just capture what happens.

One final tip…

Don’t follow the crowd - Experiment with slower shutter speeds to capture some movement, but don’t overuse this technique. It’s become popular lately to shoot couple portraits with a slower shutter speed and it can create some lovely dynamic frames. But following the latest trends can mean your work blends into the background. Push yourself to find and evolve your own photographic style.

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