Every couple deserves beautiful photos that celebrate their love. These LGBTQ posing ideas will help you deliver images that shine!
Natural looking poses require clear guidance and a light touch. Don’t over-pose your clients, or they’ll look stiff and uncomfortable. But if you don’t give them any direction at all, they may just stand there with awkward smiles and absolutely no indication that they’re 100% in love.
That’s why it’s so important for you—their photographer—to know exactly how to help your clients relax, connect, and reveal their authentic selves to the camera.
These shooting and posing tips will help you create simple, romantic photos for queer couples
Let’s get started…
#1: Shoot in a safe, supportive location
Some parts of the world are less friendly than others to LGBTQIA folks—and that’s putting it mildly.
Whether you’re freshly focused on LGBT wedding photography or simply expanding your couple photography portfolio, you’ll want to know that the shoot location is a safe and supportive one. Collaborate with your clients to thoughtfully choose a photography venue that’s welcoming to queer and same-sex weddings, engagement photos, and families.
When a couple feels relaxed, they’ll more easily embrace the poses you suggest.
#2: Get out of your own head
If you’re accustomed to photographing cisgender, heterosexual couples, you may worry that you’ll pose lgbtq couples the “wrong way.” Before the shoot, spend some time reframing your gender roles-based expectations of how a couple “should” look in photos, and instead focus on the fact that every couple is unique, regardless of size, shape, color, or ability.
Your job isn’t to make every couple look the same. Your job, as the professional photographer, is to find each couple’s unique spark of connection and photograph that.
Posing LGBTQIA couples isn’t any different than posing cis/hetero couples. After all, love is love and people are people and a smile is a smile—so don’t overthink it!
#3: Let the couple set the tone
Spend the first few minutes of your session getting to know your clients and their relational style. Some couples are super touchy-feely, while others may be less publicly passionate.
To get the ball rolling, instruct them to move close together—”Close… close… closer!” They’ll hug or kiss or laugh or cuddle… This is where you’ll start to see how they interact naturally. Use those comfy connections as a jumping-off point for your first few portrait or wedding poses.
#4: Belly to back
This belly-to-back pose is an easy pose for every couple.
If one partner is significantly taller than the other, have the tall partner sit, then guide the other partner to wrap their arms around their significant other. This is also a fantastic pose if one partner uses a wheelchair!
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Are you ready to make a difference?
The wedding industry is notoriously uninterested in differently-abled people, so: Hey, wedding photographers! Let’s start a new trend that shows BIG love to happy couples of every kind!
If your couple is standing, you can still use the belly-to-back approach by asking one partner to wrap their arm around their SO from behind. Encourage your couple to adapt this pose to their comfort level, swap kisses on the cheek, and lean their faces toward one another.
If it’s your couple’s wedding day, this could be a sweet idea for a first look!
#5: Almost kissing
Kissing is fun for the kissers, but the most beautiful photos are made during the “almost kiss”—you know, that moment before anyone’s lips actually meet.
To capture this moment, ask your couple to slowly and gently rub noses. Tell them to get close enough to kiss, but to hold back from actually kissing. Sparks will fly, and you’ll see sweet, sappy love in action!
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Find something to shoot through
Invite the environment into your photos by photographing through an element around you, like Nicole Nero did in the fire pit photo below!
#6: Holding hands
Hand-holding is a beautiful, low-pressure way to show connection between two lovers. In fact, your couple’s first physical touch was probably to hold hands! Reimagine that first touch with simple hand-holding poses like these…
Showcase the environment
A wide shot with your couple standing side-by-side can highlight beautiful architecture or a stunning landscape. Ask your couple to space themselves apart so you can clearly see their clasped hands.
Holding hands and walking
Once your couple is holding hands, instruct them to stroll together toward the camera while looking only at each other (not directly into the camera.) Your final images will feel candid and intimate.
You can also photograph your clients walking away from you. Invite them to look back over their shoulders and at the camera for a series of parent-approved portraits.
Spotlight engagement and wedding rings
When their hands are clasped, look for ways to highlight the couple’s wedding and engagement rings. Remember: not all ring photos have to be macro shots. You can make a meaningful ring photograph that tells a story by including hands and faces in the frame—like you’ll see in the following two photographs by AK Photography and Zephyr et Luna.
#7: Forehead to forehead
Whether they’re standing, sitting, or walking, your couple can make any moment more magical by simply leaning their foreheads together. Ask them to “move in closer, forehead-to-forehead,” and you’ll have an instantly intimate connection.
If your couple is still feeling stiff, encourage them to:
- wrap your arms around each other
- lightly place your hand on his/her/their cheek
- take a slow, deep breath, then sloooooowly exhale along with your partner
#8: The “Grandma photo”
Sometimes called the “newspaper portrait” this is a picture with both partners smiling at the camera—you know, a photo that Grandma would frame for her mantle. If you clearly tell your clients that this is the kind of photo you’re taking, they’ll understand that it’s time to snuggle up and “smile cute.”
#9: Pets and other animals
Nervous couples feel more relaxed when they can include their animal friends in their portrait or engagement session. Be sure to make a few pet portraits in between sweet moments of the couple. Since we almost always outlive our animals, it’s a beautiful gift to receive quality photos of them. Give that gift to your clients, and they’ll be forever grateful!
#10: Kiss lightly
This is the simplest way to get romantic kissing portraits that don’t have to be censored: ask your couple to “kiss lightly.” On the lips, the forehead, the cheek, the shoulder… doesn’t matter as long as it’s a “light kiss.” Light kisses are family friendly, social media safe, and perfect for framing.
#11: Make posing easier with the right wardrobe
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak,” said Rachel Zoe—and the style of any photo is largely defined by your client’s wardrobe.
Help your clients bring their own personal A-game to their shoot by guiding them to select clothing that makes them look and feel great. When a client looks good and feels confident, their photos show it!
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Send your new clients a Style Gallery
Review your previous client sessions and set aside photos where your clients were especially well-dressed. Upload these inspirational images into a ShootProof gallery (no need to add a price sheet), and share this “Style Gallery” with new clients who need outfit ideas!
Get great outfit images
If your clients are wearing something especially terrific, be sure to move in for a series of detail shots. You can also emphasize great wardrobe pieces by using them as props:
- a jacket clung over the shoulder
- twirling the luxurious skirt of a wedding dress
- creative close-ups of designer details
#12: Get silly!
If your clients exhibit even a spark of silliness, encourage more of THAT. Here’s how:
Bring your Bluetooth speaker
Turn on your clients favorite tunes and start an impromptu dance party! It doesn’t matter where you are: at the park, in the studio, or on a city sidewalk. If the right song is playing, you can get just about anyone to bust a move.
Ask silly questions
Use a series of posing prompts or come up with your own. Questions like these can help a couple loosen up and laugh:
- When was the first time your partner made you laugh until you cried?
- What’s the most ridiculous experience you two ever shared together?
- How would you describe your partner’s sense of humor?
Be ready for the moment
The silliest situations are often unprompted and unexpected. Once your session begins, don’t spend too much time “chimping” at the back of your camera. Stay focused on your clients so you don’t miss a single smile!
People matter more than poses
If you’re ever stuck and aren’t sure how to “pose” your couple, remember: great photos aren’t about achieving the perfect poses. Heirloom images reveal the beauty of the real people in front of your lens.
Focus on the magic of each fresh moment, and your clients won’t care about a stray hair or fleck of sun flare. Instead, they’ll be basking in the glow of their love—and the way you brought it to life.