July 26, 2017

Three Tips for Better Portraits

Happy Wednesday, friends!! I’m so excited to share a new addition to one of my favorite blog categories: Bridal Basics! As an Indianapolis wedding photographer, I get to witness more than the average amount of weddings a year, and I love getting to pass along little tips and tricks that can help your day run smoother. Brides (and future brides!), this one’s for you!

3 Tips for Better Wedding Day Portraits / Sami Renee Photography

As the title shares, today I wanted to share three important tips to keep in mind when thinking about your wedding day portraits. Portrait time with my brides and grooms is hands-down my favorite moment of the day. I love giving my couples the chance to breathe…to slow down and step away from the guests and schedules and craziness and just revel in the fact that they are officially woven together for the rest of their lives. It’s the best!

However, I also am aware that taking photos is rarely high up on a couple’s list of things to do. Everyone feels a little awkward when they’re in front of the camera — it’s actually out of the norm to NOT feel weird! Haha! After all, it’s not every day that someone follows you and your man around with a camera and asks you to be intimate and real. A huge part of success in this area comes with TRUSTING your photographer (which could be a whole different post!!), but there are also a few things you can do yourself to make sure your portrait time is as successful as possible.

Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to get in close.

I always make a point to remind couples at the beginning of portrait time that the closer they are, the better. Yes, it may not feel super natural touching noses, foreheads, or cheeks with your man 98% of the time…but it looks so intimate and REAL in photos. The image below on the right is one of my favorite photos from Allison & Brandon’s entire day. I love the way his smile is about to break into a laugh as their nuzzled up nice and cozy. It doesn’t look forced or awkward or odd — it just looks like they’re in love. ‘Cuz they are. :) :) 

3 Tips for Better Wedding Day Portraits / Sami Renee Photography3 Tips for Better Wedding Day Portraits / Sami Renee Photography3 Tips for Better Wedding Day Portraits / Sami Renee Photography

Tip #2: Feel free to move around!

I always recommend thinking of whatever “pose” you are in as a foundation or starting place. So, maybe I’ll say something like: “Alright you two, go ahead and go chest to chest, and Groom, I want you to wrap your arms right around your bride’s waist and pull her nice and close — looking right at each other!” From there, I give further directions, but the best is when couples make a pose their own. Don’t feel like you have to wait for me to give you permission to move. :) If you want to kiss him, give him a kiss! If you want to lean your head on his chest, sway a little, or laugh joyfully over in my direction — do it! All of my poses and directions facilitate some sort of interaction or movement in general, so the goal is for you to take ownership of them and make them your own. 

I love this example because that second photo? All Molly!! I had Matt wrap her up tight and kiss her temple and snapped the picture on the left, but then Molly cuddled right up to him, and I was able to grab the second shot, too. It’s one of my favorites from their whole day — I love how content and at peace she looks in his arms!!

3 Tips for Better Wedding Day Portraits / Sami Renee Photography3 Tips for Better Wedding Day Portraits / Sami Renee Photography3 Tips for Better Wedding Day Portraits / Sami Renee Photography

Tip #3: Make sure to schedule an engagement session!

An engagement sessions is the perfect way to shake any pre-portrait nerves. E-sessions allow me to teach you how I work — you’ll leave our time together feeling confident and comfortable! Almost every single couple starts out their session with a disclaimer, telling me they are so *not* photogenic and have no clue what they’re doing. Haha! However, by the end of the session, we are all laughing and having a great time. Nothing makes me happier than getting that thank you text after a session, and it almost always includes something along the lines of how comfortable they felt, or how they were surprised with how easy it was.

And then on wedding day? You’ll be good to go! You won’t have to worry about photo nerves, because you’ve done it all before.

Another big e-session bonus? Your photographer gets to know what core poses work the best for you as a couple! Wedding day photos are obviously 100 times different than an e-session; after all, you’re in your wedding dress!! However, it’s so fun being able to tell a couple: “Hey! Remember that one pose you guys did at your e-session?? Let’s do that again!! You were SO great at it!!!” :)

Take Brandon & Allison for example…

Engaged // Married

Indianapolis Wedding Photographer // 3 Tips for Better Portraits

Or Scott and Christine!

Engaged // MarriedIndianapolis Wedding Photographer // 3 Tips for Better Portraits

Kim and Kent..

Engaged // Married

…I could go on and on!! :) Engagement sessions are the best!

What about you? I’d love to hear further questions you may have about any and all things wedding! Drop a comment below or shoot me an email — who knows?! Your question may be the foundation for the next issue of Bridal Basics! :)

Indianapolis, IN



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Sami Orndorff is a Wedding Photographer & Lifestyle Newborn Photographer located in the greater Indianapolis area.