How to Pose Couples for a Portrait

Learn how to pose couples from professional photographer Joe Sinnott in this Howcast portrait photography tutorial.

My name is Joe. I teach photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York. We’re going to talk about some couple photography tips.

Don’t try and pose your couples side by side. It makes the frame really wide and makes them look kind of disconnected. Put one person a little bit in front of the other one.

If you’ve got them sitting on the ground like on a picnic blanket or something, get down on the ground where they are. Don’t try and photograph them from above.

Have them lean into each other a little bit, as though they like each other which is kind of what you’re looking for.

When women sit or kneel or something like that, there are a variety of attractive, fetching poses that they fall into right away. Men can’t do anything that way. So try and frame your picture in such a way that wherever their long gangling legs are going, it’s out of the frame and cropped out of the picture.

Talk to them. Don’t let them just sit there and stare at you. Talk to them. Let them know what you want them to do.

Very nice.

Don’t be afraid to shoot horizontals when you’re photographing two people together. Don’t make all of your pictures be horizontals, but don’t be afraid to do it.

Syd, tilt your head a little bit to your right. Good. Very nice.

You don’t want them to get so close together that one person’s head is blocking the other one’s face unless they really don’t like each other.

I usually use a short zoom on the camera when I’m photographing couples. Something that goes to telephoto pretty easily but comes back to normal. I don’t use a wide angle lens when I’m photographing couples. It makes people look fat. Nobody thanks you for making them look fat.

Don’t be afraid to shoot a lot. You never know which one of your subjects is blinking and which one is not.

That’s terrific.

You want to make sure you close down to about F-8 or so, so that you have enough depth of field so that both people are in focus.

When your couple is standing, try to get a stool or something to stand on to get a little bit above their eye line. You don’t want to be way up in the air, just a little bit so you’re not shooting from below their chin.

Once again, have them be close together. They’re a couple. It’s okay if they’re touching each other.

It’s better when they look really, really happy. That’s kind of why they’re a couple in the first place is to be really, really happy.

Mark, put both arms around the chick. There you go. There you go. You too have done this before, I can tell.

When they’re standing and they’re very close together like this, you can use a reflector to bounce a little light back into them. It makes them stand out a little bit from the background.

If you’ve got a couple who’s kind of fun, don’t be afraid to camp it up a little bit. Introduce some props, have them play against type. These kinds of pictures are a lot of fun and people enjoy them.

So you look kind of sly and you look kind of over it. Yeah, you look way too happy. That’s a good sly look. I can see you’ve been practicing that. Mark, even your over it look looks pretty happy. Very nice. Mark, camp it up. Give it up. That’s it. Now, switch. Syd, bring your arm around to his other shoulder. Like that. There you go. That’s terrific, Syd. Don’t break character.

If you get a couple that really likes each other, let them show it.

Lean into the man just a little bit more. That’s fabulous. They look very happy.

It’s nice to have pictures where they’re looking at each other but don’t make it be all about that.

Look at me. That’s great.

If they really like each other, they’re going to smile big while they’re doing this and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Syd, put your arms around Mark’s neck. Syd, look at Mark. Mark, look at me. Switch. Mark, look at Syd. Syd, look at me. Everybody looking at me. Syd, lean your head back just a little bit. That’s great.

And those are a few tips for shooting couples.