Posing tips for fun and natural images.

September 24th, 2021
couple posing beneath flowering trees

We met up for an interview (aka – fun chat) recently with Laura Alpizar, a professional photographer based in Minnesota. Laura specializes in weddings, proposals and lifestyle photography with a candid natural style. She is especially talented at capturing images that look unposed and natural.

What do you suggest photographers do to create a comfortable atmosphere for a more relaxed session?

Get to know your clients more.  Whether it is before the session, in a video chat, a fun questionnaire, or even during the session. 

Secondly, allow the space for clients to relax and be themselves. Go into the shoot willing to adapt to their personalities and go  with the flow.

What is your go-to move when clients begin to get stiff?

I point it out in a fun way. I would say something like “Oh yes, we do this everyday, making out in the middle of the bridge!” or something like that. 

How would you suggest photographers differ their approach when shooting couples vs. family sessions?

Couples sessions are more about the interaction of the couple and tend to allow for more sentimental moments, go with them! Family sessions are to me, more dynamic and fun! There are still lots of moments of connection so make sure to watch for those moments and not to interrupt them when they happen!

Photo credit: Laura Alpizar Photography

What’s the best tip to share with other photographers who are trying to shoot candid poses?

Try to think of shooting more like directing your subjects than posing them. Give them ideas on what to do with their bodies or how to get into a mood, but avoid going from pose to pose, otherwise they will immediately attach to this dynamic.

Should photographers use prompts to help create natural emotion or movement?

I like prompts, but I think they are to be used carefully.  I like to stay away from using the same prompts every session since it can make every session look the same, and not every subject is the same. I love to be spontaneous at work and make up some “prompts” as we go based on the personality of the subject.

When directing clients, what natural poses for pictures are the most flattering?

Walking, moving, interacting ones!

Photo credit: Laura Alpizar Photography

Do you have a favorite flow of poses?

I like to do a lot of movement and will start with anything walking! Then I will move into different hugs and embraces, then try to bring the session to a slower pace towards the end. Once the clients are relaxed I like to try for more connecting moments, which in turn evolve into more relaxed poses.

Does lighting and the environment play a role in choosing poses?

I like to work with good light of course and making sure I have ample good light and space to work with.

Should photographers send their clients tips prior to the photo session? 

I send my clients tips via email! Some of my tips are :

  • Wardrobe guide and inspiration, as well as what to avoid
  • Tips for handling the weather (because Minnesota) 
  • Links to where to park, hours and what we will do. I really like to set the expectations that light is very important so being on time is key 
  • Think of it as a date or a play date!
  • Leave stuff behind like purses, sunglasses, makeup, hangers and phones!

Photo credit: Laura Alpizar Photography

Do you recommend photographers send advice to clients for their outfits and why? Also, do they change outfits during the session?

Absolutely! Wardrobe can make such a difference! I send a guide, as well as pinterest boards tailored to them. I like to ask them to text me what they are thinking of wearing, or two choices they have narrowed down so I can help them choose.

What is the most effective tip you give your clients?

Embrace both the laughter and the connecting moments. Just be yourselves.

How can photographers use the location to help clients pose in a more casual way?

Make sure your location has multiple photo opportunities. I like to make sure there is both shade and open spaces that clients can move around without having to stand still on this one perfect spot. 

How do you get the most natural smile out of your clients?

I make a fool of myself sometimes. Other times I ask about their story, their likes, who is the one that sleeps the most. But truly, once you are able to get your clients to forget the photo operation, everyone will relax and smile.

Photo credit: Laura Alpizar Photography

Are there any props photographers might find helpful when creating natural images?

I don’t really like props! When I had a studio I liked to keep simple things people could play with during the session, like a bouquet, or balloons, or a silly hat. That made the trick to help some people relax. But outside, go without props ! Props can take away from the spontaneity of the shoot.

Do you use flash or other artificial lighting when shooting? Does this change for indoor vs. outdoor locations?

I use mostly natural light for sessions, I find that artificial light and all the setup ruines the spontaneous reactions and movement that I am aiming for.

You shoot a lot of surprise proposals, what might be different in your session preparation for these candid shoots?

Proposals are so different from sessions in the sense only one person is prepared! I do give TONS of tips to the person proposing, even walk them through the exact where to kneel and for how long. I go ahead of time to find a spot to hide but sometimes I just bring a book and pretend to be a happy reader. After it happens it’s go go go and shoot without stopping so I don’t miss any of the candid moments.  

Taylor, a native of Silicon Valley, is a Sr. Technical Support Specialist at Zenfolio. She has a BFA in photography and graphic design. Her passions are photography, running, and exploring the great outdoors.

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