August 15, 2012

Pancake Session: 1 Pose, 4 Ways

Like we’ve talked about before here on the blog, sometimes stuff just happens on a wedding day. There’s traffic, somebody’s running late, the limo driver gets lost. The timeline gets crunched, and suddenly you find yourself with something like 7 minutes total to shoot the entirety of the couple portraits. It can be stressful to say the least. And not if, but when that happens you’re going to want to have a plan.

We talked a good bit in this post about a go to strategy for maximizing the portraits when you only have a very small window of time to work in. But today we wanted to expand on that by talking more about maximizing the different looks you can get from just a single pose, without having to move your couple around or ask too much of them on the wedding day.

Because here’s the thing. The timeline getting crunched is just one of many reasons that you might find yourself in the position of needing to get a lot of different looks without directing your clients into a lot of different complex poses. Maybe because of the light or the location that you’re at, there’s really only one good spot to shoot in. Maybe it was raining that day and the grass is wet, and your bride doesn’t want to move around too much and get her dressed soaked. Maybe your couple is just really overwhelmed with all that’s going on, and they’re experiencing a little bit of temporary ADD. :) Now is not the time to have a drastically different pose for every shot you want to get. Instead, you want to have a strategy that allows you to move you own feet or just change lenses to get the different looks you’re going for.

Also, it probably bears mentioning that even if we did have more time or space to move around in, just from a personal point of view in keeping with our ownWhy….we actually prefer to keep the posing very simple because we want it to feel like the kind of stances we might have actually found our couple in on the wedding day anyway, had we not been there putting our stamp on the day. Otherwise we feel like we’re become too much a part of the story. For that reason, and like we touched on in this post, we’re actually getting away from the idea of “posing” our clients into stiff, static poses and getting more into the practice of just putting our couples in good positions with the kinds of prompts that lead to a natural gesture.

I think all this will make more sense if I show, not tell. :) So let’s take a look at 4 different looks we can get from starting with just one simple base pose, and the prompts we’re using to get more organic gesture from each.

First, our base pose. We call this one the forehead to forehead pose, for obvious reasons. :) The forehead to forehead is actually one of our favorite go to poses, because body language experts tell us that the forehead to forehead embrace is actually more intimate and creates a stronger bond than even a kiss. And only the best couples do it. So when I tell them this, our couples are more than happy to rock out this pose! :) I think it’s such a great starting point because its such a sweet, simple pose, and it really allows our couples to just take a few minutes to soak each other in. We always make sure to have them also either hold hands low, or hold on to each other at the waist so that they stay connected and the arms don’t just look like they’re hanging there. And then we also tell them to bring their bellybuttons together so that we don’t have any butts-sticking-out situations. Finally, a great way to keep this pose from getting static, is to just have them rock back and forth while they’re standing there. Which is also a great way to have them connect even more.

Once we have that main wide, full-length shot of the forehead to forehead, now rather than asking our couple to move….we can move our own feet to get four more different looks from this pose. Let’s go through them in turn.

*The Three-Quarter Crop
Moving in a little closer, but still shooting straight on I can now get the three-quarter crop of this same pose. But a great way to shake it up, is to have one of them (in this case our groom) kiss her on the forehead or on the cheek that’s facing away from me. And then if we want to bump this up even one more level to create more organic moments, a great way to do that is to have them both close their eyes before he kisses her. Because he can’t see where he’s going and she doesn’t know when it’s coming, it makes for either some really sweet moments or some really genuine laughs when they inevitably bump into one another.

*The focus on the shoulder shot
Now I’m ready to start working a few different angles. One of my favorite side angle shots to do, is to swing around to one side and focus on a shoulder while asking my couple to do “the slowest kiss imaginable.” I tell them to really own it, Chariots of Fire style. The slooooowest kiss they’ve ever had. And by doing that, I can get a few shots on the approach and then a few shots of the kiss itself. To be honest, this can make for a pretty steamy shot if the couples really get into it. :) But by focusing on the shoulder, you get a sense of what’s happening in the background without being all up in their grill while they’re making out!. :)

*The peek over
The next variation would be to swing over and shoot from the other side. A shot that we love to do is to shoot past one of them while the other is just peeking over. To keep this from getting static, I had Lara alternate between looking down at her bouquet, out in the same direction as Peter, and then back over at me. And anytime I felt like the pose was going a little too long, I would just have her change where she was looking again.

*The Slice of Life
Finally, I love to make sure to look down for little slices of life that might be telling a whole story in and of themselves. What the feet are doing, how she’s holding his hand, where his hand is on her waist. And this is also a great time to come in and get a great detail shot of the bouquet.

So there it is! One pose, four ways. I think it’s worth mentioning that for all of the extra four poses we showed here, we got closer. But remember that moving your feet works both ways, so another great way to shake it up would just be to step back and get some wider shots showing off the scene that you’re in. Also remember that our poses don’t have to be your poses. The point is to just find a couple of good go-to base poses that you can start with, and find ways to make them work for you.

I hope this helps!
Happy Pancake Day!

  1. Tara Peddicord

    Love this. Just had a wedding where we were literally left with ten minutes for b&g portraits. This is so helpful! :)

  2. Shannon

    Such a great idea, and guarantees you have a little series of shots that all go together within the couple’s story, rather than several good but disjointed shots.

    Also, I am a little obsessed with her dress. Just a little bit. :)

  3. Deney

    Thanks J&M! Needed to be reminded of this one.

  4. Abby Grace

    I’d totally forgotten the "slowest kiss imaginable" thing- TOTALLY using that ay my next wedding. That over-the-shoulder shot is so beautiful!

  5. Dede

    Great stuff! Thanks!!

  6. sharon elizabeth

    greatttt post!

  7. Luke

    The only thing that could make your pancake sessions bettah, was if they came with actual pancakes!

  8. Abbey

    Amen Mary!!! You’ve brought it down to simple terms that are easy to remember! I do have a question for you – do you use this same approach when the groom is much taller than the bride?

  9. Brent - Live View Studios

    Love this! Great starting position .. I’ll be remembering this for future weddings. I love the thought process behind generating organic gestures vs. putting people into poses.

  10. Rachel McCloud

    Thank you so stinking much for the post. A few of my recent wedding have been quick so this helps so much. :)

  11. Kari Jeanne

    Love the idea of keeping it simple! Thanks for sharing :)

  12. Lindsay Taryn

    THANK YOU!! this is super helpful stuff. you guys rock for sharing!

  13. Jason and Amy

    Might be the best pancake session ever! Great stuff! Thanks so much for sharing this type of nuts and bolts info!

  14. Becky

    Thank you so much! Posing is one of the scariest parts for me cause I feel like it’s so easy for things to get awkward. I love yall’s idea of keeping the poses moving. Thank you!

  15. Laura Gordon

    Super duper helpful!! Thank you all :)

  16. Rici

    Thank you for this post! I really love it when you share from behind the lens and add what you say to your couples! SUch great tips!! Saluti.

  17. Emma Davenport

    This is such a brilliant post with lots of helpful techniques. Thanks for writing this up!

  18. Stephanie Stewart

    Love this post! I need to try that "slowest kiss imaginable" during the portraits! Brilliant!

  19. Lara

    There we are again! Great post, Mary. Lots of really good information.

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