February 1, 2016

5 Steps to Your Best Groom Portraits Ever


Last week we were talking all about 5 Steps to You Best Iconic Bridal Portraits Ever. Well what about the grooms? They matter too! So we always make it a point to grab a little time with them before the guys head off to the ceremony, to make sure that we get a portrait of just them by themselves for the very same reason as we do for the brides…for his grandchildren to find one day.

There are a few things that we do differently though when it comes to the grooms v. the brides, and that’s what we wanted to talk to you about today. But first, let’s take a second to review what is very much the same, and that is what we believe “posing” should stand for. Just like with the brides, we still believe the real secret to getting those amazing, iconic images has so much less to do with “posing” someone into what we think it’s supposed to look like. And it has everything to do with finding ways to evoke natural gesture- those organic movements that breathe life into a photo (which we’re going to give you some specific tips on how to do!)

That’s because when it comes to posing, what we believe is simple: when you get people moving, when you give them something to think about other than having their photo taken, when you give them projects and things to do with their hands….that honest, natural, spontaneous, imperfect, but it shows-who-they-actually-are result will ALWAYS be far more impactful than something overly posed to stiff, static, often-duplicated perfection. Because simply put, we believe honest will always trump perfect.

So here they are, our Top 5 Steps to Your Best Groom Portraits Ever!


1. It’s all about the hands. Anybody who has ever tried to have their photo taken and instantly turned into Ricky Bobby (“I don’t know what to do with my hands!!”) totally gets this. And for whatever reason, it is especially true of guys/grooms. That’s why giving them something to do with their hands is so important: both because it will make them feel more comfortable and because it will evoke some natural gesture. We go over a bunch of these in our The Art of Authentic Posing course, but here are just a few of my favorites: 1) have them button & unbutton their jacket, 2) have them adjust their bow tie (or even better yet, go for the portrait while he’s actually putting it on) 3) have him clap and then rub his hands together for an extra GQ look. (Like we always say when we’re telling them to do that, “sounds weird, looks awesome.”)



2. Ask for 47 Seconds. Where with the bride we might like to ask for 15 minutes to do portraits after she puts her dress on, we know that guys have a much shorter tolerance for how long they want to be in front of the camera by themselves…especially with their buddies watching! So for them, Justin loves to say, “hey can I grab you for 47 seconds.” It makes it sound a lot less daunting & they are much more likely to agree. And then if you push it to more like 3 or 4 minutes but still keep it short, they usually don’t mind.



3. If it bends, bend it. This is a pretty age-old piece of wisdom when it comes to posing, and for good reason. If you think about any of the great sculptures like the David or the Venus de Milo, they are posed in what is called contra pasto (Italian for counter-pose). Which basically meant that these artists discovered exactly what we’ve already been telling you…people look more natural, flattering, and like themselves when they look relaxed, not too stiff or static, and are in more of a gesture than a pose. And one of the best ways to do that is to follow the rule: if it bends, bend it. Look for ways to create bends at the elbow, knee and neck. Grooms left to their own devices in photos, usually tend to stand straight up and down with their arms at their sides. The more you can break that up (hand in a pocket, knee crossed, or looking off to the side) the more natural you’ll make them look and feel.

Best 15 of 2015011


4. Shoot up at them. This tends to be a pretty big no-no when it comes to shooting the bride, with the more flattering shots tending to come from either shooting down on her or straight across. But for the grooms, it can actually create a more heroic shot. From that vantage point & perspective it tends to make the shoulders look wider, which is very flattering for guys. And you can also create an epic, larger than life shot when you have an iconic background.


5. Capture the Emotion. One of our favorite times to do the Groom Portrait is actually while we have him outside waiting to do the First Look. When all of that emotion & anticipation comes rushing in just as she’s about to come outside, it means that not only are we just getting a picture of this groom…we are getting a portrait of what life looked like, right before it changed forever for the better.


Ok that’s it!! As always, we hope these helped & if you have any questions just leave them in the comments below!


**PS: 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. Stephanie

    Ah I love these! Normally groom photos are so bland, but these are some pretty dashing photos! Thank you for sharing this!!

  2. Krista

    You two are photographer royalty! Thank you for sharing your secrets!

  3. Jenny McQueen

    Thank you for sharing; these things sound so obvious on paper, and yet still tend to fly right out of my head on the wedding day. I might have to make myself a small cheat sheet from your blog post!

  4. Geert Peeters

    Great Post! Especially the ‘clap and rub the hands’ is perfect. I’m going to try this, definitely

    Amazing pictures by the way. And a stunning, stylish website!

comments & responses

Add a Comment