How to look stunning in your wedding photos

10th February 2014
You won’t be surprised to hear that most clients I speak with don’t like having their photo taken. I always joke that photographers are treated with as much affection as serial killers and tax collectors.
But think of it like this – the reason you probably dislike being photographed is that most people who photograph you don’t know what they’re doing, so you don’t look your best.

My portfolio has couples of all different shapes, sizes and personalities and they all look beautiful.

A good photographer will know how to accentuate your positives and help you look more beautiful than you’ve ever looked before. You invest a lot of time, money and energy into creating an amazing wedding day and the tips in this post will ensure your wedding photos do justice to it all.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that go into making your wedding photos a treasured collection of images you’ll cherish forever.

Here’s a poser for you
Almost every client I chat with says they don’t like posed photographs, but a large percentage of the photos clients love are the posed ones. A good photographer can pose you while still creating natural emotions so the image looks comfortable and authentic.

Journalistic photography is fantastic for capturing the story of the day and I wholeheartedly embrace it, however if you want to guarantee jaw-dropping photos then some posing is normally required. Don’t worry, it can be a huge amount of fun with the right photographer.

The funny thing is that the less confident photographers avoid posing and the less confident brides avoid it too. So what happens is many brides lean towards photographers who are less confident.

Just remember, posing doesn’t have to be stiff, dull or fake. It’s a science designed to help you look more beautiful than you ever have before. Once you start having fun with it (and the photographer should be making it fun) and you see the results it can achieve you’ll be itching to get in front of the camera.
My next post will be all about different posing techniques – so stay tuned.

Shooting stars
Celebrities are professional performers and they know a thing or two about looking great in front of a camera. Try this classic red carpet pose in front of the mirror and you’ll see how it creates beautiful curves that flatter any figure. Here’s how you do it.

  1. Stand with your hips rotated 45 degrees away from the camera.
  2. Put your weight on your back foot.
  3. Stretch out your other leg and cross it in front, with the foot pointed toward the camera. Then bend the knee so you don't look stiff.
  4. Feel free to put a hand on your hip.
  5. Don't forget to smile!

Smile with your eyes
As a married man I appreciate your face can seize up after a couple of hours of smiling. One technique for giving your face a rest while still looking happy is to smile with your eyes. Remember how you looked at your fiancé when you first starting flirting with him? Look at the camera like that.

Look deep into the camera. Slightly – almost imperceptibly - curl the edges of your mouth. Turn your head 45 degrees and look back at the camera to make the whites of your eyes look bigger.
If your eyes seduce the camera then you don’t need a beaming grin to look gorgeous and happy.

Avoid the double chin
I’m a ten stone weakling and I still get a double chin if I look down. I don’t care who you are, we’re all susceptible to them and we can all avoid them. To avoid it, elongate your neck by moving your head forward slightly and lift up your chin.

I like to think of it as the way you lift your head if someone asks you if you can smell gas!

If you place your tongue against the roof of your mouth right behind your front teeth it often lifts your palate slightly too.

How to slim your arms
It can be tempting (particularly if you feel nervous) to keep your arms tightly pressed against your body. This actually makes your arms look bigger and your shoulders broader. Instead, try lifting your arms out to the sides, just far enough to give the biceps and triceps breathing room.

You can do many things to give yourself a reason to lift your arms:

  • Put your hands on your hips
  • Hold a bouquet
  • Place your hand on your new husband
  • Place your hand on an inanimate object like a table or wall.

Pushing your chest forward and your arms back will also help the arms recede into the background, if they’re something you’re conscious of.
Stand up straight

When you’re feeling nervous it’s natural to shrink into yourself. Push your shoulders back and your chest will naturally push forward. If you turn your hips and suck in your tummy you’ll create a wonderful silhouette of curvy elegance.

To keep relaxed just take a few deep breaths and shake out any tension first.

Don’t get tangoed!
Many people want to look more tanned, but fake tan can lead to an unflattering orange glow in photographs, even if it looks ok in real life. You can always pop some on in the evening if you want the tan for your honeymoon.
Don’t forget there’s the danger of the tan marking your dress too… (yoinks!)

Blinking hell
Don’t worry about blinking. Your eyes will dry out and you’ll start squinting if you don’t blink as often as you like. People with light coloured eyes tend to be more sensitive to the sun. Don’t worry about it – it’s up to the photographer to manage this. One trick I use is to get you to close your eyes and then on the count of three to open them.

Have an engagement session
This is where you and your fiancé have some romantic photos created a few weeks or months before the wedding. It gives you an opportunity to get used to the photographer and being in front of the camera.

Think about the light
Photography is essentially painting with light. Light can make or break a photo. We can’t control the weather, but we can take some control over the light.

Window light is fantastic, so bright venues are excellent.
Alternatively shards of light coming into dark rooms (like a church) can look great too.

The low, soft light of the winter sun is actually good for photography, but the ceremony would need to be early to avoid darkness descending before the photos are done.

When looking at venues think about the light in each room. Is the bedroom you’re getting ready in well-lit and roomy?

The very best cameras and lenses can work well in low light, but if the light is flat then the photographer may be required to use more flash than they would normally.

Venue restrictions
Some wedding venues require that the photographer remain at the back throughout the ceremony. This is ok for ‘down the aisle’ photos, but it is obviously a little restrictive. If close-ups and expressions during the ceremony are important then you may want to consider a more accommodating venue.

Don’t forget the wedding party will have their back to the photographer for most of the ceremony if the photographer is at the back of the room.

Be careful of flashers!
It’s perfectly understandable that other guests want to take their own photos and I’d never have it any other way. Just bear in mind that most people will be firing off their flash which will affect the professional photographer’s images. Also, you’ll be tempted to look at your friend’s cameras instead of the photographer’s.

It’s best to politely ask guests to let the photographer get their photos done first and then allow the other guests to create theirs afterwards. You’ll feel more relaxed for the professional photos if you only have the one camera to concentrate on.

Leave enough time
Group photos take longer than you think. It’s not that the posing and photography takes that long, it’s more that (understandably) it’s a little like rounding up squirrels! Auntie Mavis has gone to the toilet and Uncle Patrick is enjoying a sly pint at the bar – you know the kind of thing!

I generally enlist the help of ushers and bridesmaids to round up the troops.

If you’d like ‘getting ready photos’ before the wedding then an hour is the least you need to capture the necessary photos of the dress, the banter, the shoes etc.

Once the dress is on its good to have around 15-20 mins to do portraits of the bride with bridesmaids and mum etc.

For those romantic bride and groom portraits where the three of us slope off together it’s good to get at least 30 minutes depending on how much walking around we might need to do and the number of ideas we decide to use. There’s usually a quiet period between dinner and the evening reception to do this and the light is usually luscious at this point too.

Some handy tips
After your eyes and face your hands are the most expressive part of your body. Keep them relaxed so the natural curl of your fingers maintain their elegance. Avoid using a flat palm or straight fingers. Give your hands something to do if you’re feeling a little vulnerable.
Pretend everything you touch is made of butterfly wings – whether it’s your new husband’s cheek, or a champagne glass – your hands should be used with delicate, sensitive care and they’ll naturally become elegant.

Hire a decent photographer!
Of course the best thing to do is hire a great professional photographer who you feel comfortable with and let them worry about everything.

Hopefully this article gives you a good overview of some of the things to look out for. If you’re still looking for a photographer you could bring up some of these ideas when speaking with them. For example, you could ask “I’m worried about my arms looking big in photos – what ideas do you have to deal with that?”

I hope you've found this post helpful in understanding a few of the issues surrounding wedding photography. I'm here to help you shine brighter than you ever have before.

If you'd like to chat further about your wedding photography (even if you've already hired one) then give me a call on 0792 358 3658 or email me at

I'm here to help.

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