1. Invest in hair and makeup. If you’re doing a photo session for a special occasion, I would recommend going the extra step and investing in professional hair and makeup. You want to look like the most elevated version of yourself, so stick with a look that feels true to your style.
2. Be colour conscious. Be conscious of how the colours you wear may reflect on your face as well as the surroundings you’re shooting near. A forest can create a green cast onto your skin, just as a bright pop of colour, can reflect and pick up on your skin as well. I do tend to recommend lighter colors, but ultimately you should go with whatever makes you feel the most confident (even if that’s something darker). Confidence will show when you’re posing for your photos.
3. You can always turn to your “good side.” Don’t worry too much about standing on your “good” side. For a more dynamic shot, turn your back and lean into the group. I actually prefer this to the typical “hugging” shot where everyone’s arms are around each other. Overall, aim for poses that feel more natural and fun, rather than stiff and staged, by looking for new angles and connections.
4. Try to coordinate outfits without completely matching. When people ask me what they should wear for family photos, I recommend they create a cohesive color palette without being completely matching. If everyone is wearing the exact same color, everyone kind of blends together in the shot. I’d also recommend making sure only one third of the people in the shot are wearing patterns. If there are too many competing prints, the focus will be on the prints rather than your family’s faces.
5. Have an extra set of hands. If you’re taking a photograph with kids or pets, I’d always recommend having someone on hand to help out and help wrangle everyone. The photographer will be busy capturing the shot, and the people in the shot will be trying to pose, so an extra set of hands never hurts.
6. Get close—closer than you think! Whether you’re posing with family, friends, or your significant other, look for points of connection and get tangled up with the other people in the shot. No one should look like they’re standing on the sidelines, so make sure everyone is very close together. It will make the photos look much more intimate and connected.
7. Try an alternative to the hand on the hip. A lot of people like to do a hand on the hip pose to create more space between their arm and their waist, but it can look overly staged. Instead, try finding space in more organic ways. If you’re holding a dress, swing it by your side. If you have a purse, pull it forward. These are all ways of creating a visual “belt” for your waist. For bridesmaids, I always recommend holding your bouquet near your belly button for a pose that’s natural but flattering.
8. Create angles and dimension. Whenever you can, create dimensions with your body for a more dynamic shot. I like to add a bend to my knees, or do what I call the “Barbie toe.” Take a slight step and point your toe forward. This elongates the leg and makes the shot a little more visually interesting than when your feet are standing straight next to each other.
9. Get moving. If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, move around. Think of each shot like a Boomerang, instead of holding a smile in one pose. If you need to shake off your nerves, walk around. I like to capture couples walking together right at the start of a session because it makes everyone feel relaxed and at ease.
Above all, be confident going into your shoot. It’s the photographer’s job to capture the best version of you, so have fun, relax, and smile!
Cathy & Jenn of CatsMac Photography, Peterborough, Ontario.