February 22, 2016

The 3 Small Changes in our Posing that Have Had The BIGGEST Impact!


It was somewhere around 2008 or 2009 that we made a HUGE shift in our approach & thinking about posing that would change everything for us. And when that happened, two crazy things followed. First, people started to notice a difference almost immediately in the posts we were putting up, and for the first time ever started using words like “organic” and “authentic” and “honest” to describe the photos. And second, we started getting asked to teach a course on posing almost right away.

That was honestly something we put off for a long time because at first we weren’t sure exactly what it was that had changed….and we also weren’t sure that it was something that was even teachable. So we thought about it & we thought about it some more and years went by. And it wasn’t until we knew we had over 4+ hours of content on posing, and a specific approach that anyone could use to change the game on their posing that we turned it into what would eventually become our Art of Authentic Posing course! Fast forward one year later and this course has now helped hundreds of photographers all over the world change the way they think about posing, and we get emails from more people every week. That’s SO awesome!!

But like I said, that’s four hours of content! So what can I tell you in just one post to help you right now? What are the Top Three Small Changes we made in our Posing that had the BIGGEST Impact? Well, I’m glad you asked…here they are!


1. Movement. We realized that part of what was making our poses look stiff & static is that they WERE stiff and static. We were posing people into perfection, telling them exactly where to put each hand and what to do. And then we were taking photos of what we had created. We were having them hoooold it, hooold it and we were losing anything honest about them in the process. So now, even if the pose we have them in looks like it is a “still” pose, we are still finding ways to add little movements in. So for example, we might start with something like “forehead to forehead” which could be a very static pose. But then we are going to have 3-5 variations that infuse movement back into that pose. Things like having them walk together, meet in the middle, and then touch foreheads. Or to slow dance with their foreheads together, or close their eyes and then find foreheads. In the course, we go through 10 Core Poses and show variations for how you can turn those 10 poses into hundreds of different honest results, all by adding movement.


2. Make a Choice to Show Who People Are. The second that we realized that our Posing shouldn’t mean “these are my 27 poses that I walk every couple through in the exact same order so that every result is the exact same and we learn nothing new about this couple in the process,” that was when everything changed for us. When we made it our purpose to take images that show who two people are together so that generations from now can look at those photos and feel like they knew who their grandparents were on Day 1, it changed the way we thought about what we do forever. Because no longer did posing mean “these are my set poses” it meant “hey, how can we put people in good situations that are poised for them to show us who they really are.” Sure, we might have a few go to poses that we start with, but the point of ALL of them is never to get a picture of the pose…it’s to get a picture of the people To capture those moments in between, where we’re just putting them in good situations and then allowing for the REAL them to shine through. And we do this by adding movement, and then “PINGING” each moment with emotion.


3. Become an Observer of People. If we want to tell real love stories- the kind that generations from now can look at & understand an entire life together in just one moment- then we have to study & understand how real people in love interact. We have to become observers of people and be committed to telling honest stories. When we started doing that, we knew a LOT of our go to poses at the time would have to go out the window. Because those poses were more about us as the photographers doing something cool rather than us as the storytellers telling something honest. We were starting sentences with “pretend.” We were having people do fake laughs at the camera…and guess what, the photos we got felt fake too. We were making it more about the epic location we had put them in than the two people right in front of us. And we were asking them to do poses that no two people who are really in love ever, EVER actually do in real life. A great question to ask yourself as a test of authenticity is this: would these two people ever stand like this or link arms like this or stand back to back like this if a photographer was nowhere around. If the answer is no, then something is really off there. Because if we want to tell the best kinds of love stories, then they should start with what real people in love actually do.

Happy Monday!

**PS: Here are some other Posing Posts You Might Find Helpful!!
5 Steps to Your Best Bridal Portraits Ever!!
5 Steps to Your Best Groom Portraits Ever!!
J&M Behind the Lens: How We Got the Shot

**PPS: If this approach to posing, the one that believes in 1) creating opportunities for people to show who they really are, 2) that movement & gesture & candidness are so much better than stiff, static posing and 3) that imperfect, honest & beautiful will always TRUMP pretty, posed & perfect then our Art of Authentic Posing Course is probably for YOU! 

This is over 4 HOURS of teaching from us on everything that goes into posing the bride alone, groom alone, couple together, wedding party & even our approach to the family photos. You first get to see us teach all of the principles (including our 10 core poses that can turn into literally hundreds of different authentic results) and then you get to watch as we put them into practice ourselves with a real couple & wedding party. **AND, when you sign up today it’s $50 off in our J&M Store!! 


  1. Cristi

    Thank you for this post! I can’t wait to buy your authentic posing guide! This information is something I can really use right now as I’m just starting my business. Thank you so much for all you do and share with others. You are an inspiration and a blessing!

  2. jane

    I’m a recent fan and I love how both of you capture emotion.

  3. Rebecca Nash-Emerson

    I can’t wait til I can get my hands on the Authentic Posing class. (I promised my hubby I wouldn’t buy any more professional development books or courses til April after Shutterfest) I have been working on moving away from stiff posing and into more movement that allows couples express themselves how they truly do.

    Thanks for both the inspiration and creating education for all of us!

  4. Peaks of a Slow Week & Where to Find Education » title

    […] Finding Posing tips for my intern. While explaining about this to her, I was really wondering where did I learn all that? For many years I have followed some great photographers very closely on their blog. Find some tricks from Katelyn James here or Justin & Mary here. […]

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