Posing for photos can be stressful if you don’t know what to expect or how to prepare, especially if you’re a queer couple. As an LGBTQ+ photographer, I’m here to tell you that that’s okay! Whether you’re looking forward to your engagement or wedding day photos, are curious about how couples pose for pictures, or are simply beautiful and single and thinking about the future, this post is for you. Below, I’ll offer some tips on posing for photos during an LGBTQ+ photoshoot (which I also share in my podcast) and provide insight into why this differentiation matters in the first place.
1. LGBTQ+ Photography: Why Representation Matters
1.1 What is Representation, and Why Does it Matter?
2. The Uniqueness of an LGBTQ+ Photoshoot: A Story
3. Tips on Posing for Photos During an LGBTQ+ Photoshoot
3.1 Take Time to Think About Your Relationship Dynamic
3.2 Think about What Environments Are Most Comfortable for You
3.3 Tips for What to Wear During an LGBTQ+ Photoshoot
3.4 Think about How You and Your Partner Interact Day-to-Day
3.5 Show up Early
4. Ready to Strike a Pose?
After speaking at an engagement about sustainability in the wedding industry, I realized that “inclusivity” is often taken for granted by non-queer folks. Many people I talked to agreed that inclusivity across the board is a no-brainer, but it surprised me how many hadn’t thought about what this truly meant and how it could play out.
One thing became clear: As wedding photographers, we need to work on giving queer couples more representation.
If you grow up seeing similar versions of yourself in the media, whether through TV, books, movies, music, or photography, you likely automatically grow up feeling like you belong in this world. This is representation.
Unfortunately, as LGBTQ+ folks, finding these representations of ourselves is more challenging because we’ve been left out of dominant narratives for a long time. This struggle also applies to the wedding industry.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Why do you have to take in all these images of straight couples and force yourself to imagine what you and your partner might look like in their place? Why is it so hard to write yourself into this narrative?
Representation in the wedding industry is essential so you can visualize a similar version of your love story right before you. This image will help you feel confident in your photo session as an LGBTQ+ couple and, more importantly, make your love feel seen and validated for all the years of your life.
Lack of LGBTQ+ representation in photos can make navigating identity confusing, especially if you’re a bit like me and come from a sheltered religious background. Maybe you weren’t around queer folks growing up, and now you’re learning, working through your biases, and trying to understand how you want to fit in (or stand out).
This experience that you and I may or may not share is one of the reasons it’s so important for photographers to be aware during an LGBTQ+ photoshoot. You can’t just ‘copy and paste’ poses from straight couples to queer couples. I can tell you firsthand that it doesn’t work like that, and it can make things incredibly difficult for those trying to understand their identities separately from the heterosexual world.
At the end of the day, capturing queer love is sacred, so I want to share some insight on how we can grow together to make LGBTQ+ couple photo sessions fun, safe, and inclusive and ultimately increase our visibility and representation.
Before I get into my advice, I want to start with an embarrassing story. Who doesn’t love one of those? At first glance, many people may think that capturing queer couples is no different than straight couples (the ‘copy and paste’ method I mentioned above). As I began my journey as an LGBTQ+ photographer, I quickly learned this was wrong.
The date was October 2021, and I was getting ready to shoot my first queer wedding. Even though I wasn’t yet entirely out of the closet, as a queer person, I was over the moon about this opportunity. I was excited to see a couple that mirrored my relationship because I had never experienced this before — a true testament to why representation matters.
I showed up to the wedding pumped. But I soon realized that I wasn’t ready. More specifically, I wasn’t prepared to capture two women, which I found totally embarrassing because I am a woman dating a woman.
When it came time to pose the couple, I froze a bit. Everything I knew from my many shoots up to this point went out the window because those were all straight wedding experiences. Since this was all new to me, I didn’t feel like I brought my A-game, and I don’t think I made the couple feel as good as I could have.
Since this experience, I’ve built up some wisdom to help make your session as fun and comfortable as possible. The priority is to make sure you feel extraordinary!
Every photographer is slightly different in how they direct their sessions. As I worked more and more with the queer community, I began preferring prompts and guided interactions. In other words, I won’t typically tell you exactly how to sit or stand. Instead, the poses come by harnessing what you naturally do as a couple. Here’s how I encourage you to use this approach in your session:
Couples and queers: now’s your time to shine! Consider who you are as a couple and what each of you brings to the table. Here are some questions to get you started:
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to think about your relationship dynamic or your identities. Once you have your answers, I encourage you to share them with your photographer. Communicating your ideas can ensure that your session feels like you and is right up your alley. For example, if you’re a more reserved couple, this will let your photographer know that jumping around and performing crazy tricks and moves is probably not your style!
Everyone is unique! Think about the environments that make you feel alive. Do you like hiking or walking on the beach? Do you enjoy coffee shops or days spent on Main Street? Or are you and your partner more bar, bowling, or arcade kind of people?
Choosing a place to do your LGBTQ+ photoshoot is one of the most important parts because where you feel the most at home is where you’ll likely be the most excited and confident — and this will shine through in your photos!
And, by the way, if you prefer to hang out at home, don’t feel like you have to go on a two-mile hike just because it’s what you see other couples doing. If that’s not you, screw it.
Although not posing-specific, the clothes you wear will contribute to your comfort levels when it does come time to shine. We’re all about showing up confidently and authentically here! Here are some of my top tips:
Do you greet each other in a certain way? How do you hug and kiss? You and your partner will be stars if you can bring those day-to-day interactions into your session. It will help you show up more authentically, making your photos look more natural.
I always recommend you show up to your shoot 10 to 15 minutes early, even before your photographer arrives. Get out of your vehicle, check out the space, and take a few deep breaths together. If you have to, literally shake out the photo jitters.
Take a few moments with each other to exist in the space and breathe in all its energy. You can even use this as a time to connect — hype each other up, talk about your favorite things, and compliment each other because you both look stunning!
Ultimately, taking this first moment together will help you feel more comfortable, confident, and as relaxed as you can be. All of this will show up in your poses, and you’ll walk away feeling happy with the experience and the results of your photos.
I hope my tips on posing for photos as queer couples can help you feel prepared and more comfortable for your next photoshoot. If you like my advice and are looking for an LGBTQ+ photographer near you, connect with me! I can’t wait to meet you, listen to your story, and help you look and feel as extraordinary as you truly are.
By the way, if listening is more of your style, check out “Queer Posing 101: Couples Edition,” the second episode of my podcast, Queerly Beloved. Catch you there!