Photographers: You can’t just “copy and paste” poses from your traditional straight sessions onto your LGBTQ+ couples. If you tuned into my podcast last week or read my previous post on posing for queer couples, you would’ve heard me say this. Photographing queer couples is a different experience. It requires varied skills, and it’s a muscle that few get the chance to exercise. That’s why I want to share my insights on LGBTQ+ posing for photographers.
I’m in a unique position that allows me to offer advice to the community, not only because I’m a photographer specializing in LGBTQ+ weddings and elopements but because I am queer. My partner and I have been the subject at shoots several times, and I can speak to how vulnerable this experience is.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Queer love is sacred. It’s a special kind of love wrapped in the vulnerable fabric of our history. To this day, we still never really know how people perceive us behind the camera. And that needs to change.
So, to my fellow photographers: Listen up. This advice is for you.
You may or may not know by now that I love telling a good story. Enter: My partner Angie (you’ll probably hear a lot about her — she’s pretty incredible).
One day, we stepped in as a model couple at a photography content event that boasted a rather large attendance of photographers. As you can imagine, as subjects for the camera, these numbers were already intimidating. We could also tell the photographers had never worked with queer couples before. They seemed unsure of how to interact with us. Although the shoot wasn’t all bad, we spent most of the time feeling nervous and uncertain if we’d walk away with cute photos or feelings tainted with disgust and shame.
This experience is just one of many that queer folks face during photoshoots capturing their love. That’s why I can’t stress the importance of these tips for LGBTQ+ posing for photographers enough. With that said, let’s get into it!
As I said earlier, posing queer couples is a muscle that needs exercise. And you can’t strengthen this skill without practice! If you have little to no experience photographing the LGBTQ+ community, be proactive and reach out to folks who might be open to a session with you. Ideally, you want this to be a learning moment to prepare you for future opportunities. When those inquiries come your way, you’ll be ready to make the couple feel as comfortable and safe as possible — it’s a win-win situation!
When you work with queer couples at the beginning, I encourage you to communicate that it’s your first time and that you’re learning. This openness promotes honesty and transparency and allows them to decide if the arrangement works for them. We’re all about empowering LGBTQ+ couples over here!
Our world operates on heterosexual norms; chances are, you’re not immune. So, when an LGBTQ+ couple comes to you, do not, I repeat, do not direct your session by putting them into “femme” and “masc” boxes based on your assumptions. It isn’t your job to decide for them, and placing people into roles based on their appearance is never okay.
Additionally, always ask for pronouns and introduce yourself with your own. This practice opens up the dialogue and provides the space for everyone to be who they are. And isn’t that what celebrating love is all about?
Again, we can’t “copy and paste” traditional straight photography techniques onto our LGBTQ+ couples. Here are some examples of conventional photoshoot poses that we need to leave behind as photographers, especially during queer shoots:
The beautiful thing about working on LGBTQ+ posing as photographers is that it allows you to practice open communication. It’s your opportunity to shed your biases and assumptions, talk to the couple, and build a relationship with them. All you have to do is ask questions — I promise it doesn’t have to be a whole ordeal!
If we take the example of partner dancing and twirling, you can approach these poses in different ways. For example:
You can learn a lot about a couple by using guided prompts and remaining open and honest with your questions and conversations. This won’t go unnoticed and will help them feel comfortable, safe, seen, and validated.
While photoshoot poses are not inherently gendered, because of traditional ways of thinking, certain stances and prompts tend to put people in boxes. Gender-neutral poses are a way to stay clear of those conventional assumptions and make the couple feel natural and in their element. For example, a gender-neutral prompt could simply encompass walking together along a path, bridge, beach, or wherever the location might take you.
There are some excellent resources where you can get inspiration for gender-neutral posing for photographers, including the Unscripted Posing App that offers a section for LGBTQ+ couples and Dancing with Her, a magazine, blog, and directory dedicated to queer folks in love.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to transform your entire session model all at once. However, please remember that as photographers capturing the love of queer couples, we are the ones who set the tone and guide our clients through the photoshoot. So, it’s only fitting to learn how to pose better for them. Remember, don’t assume anything and take the time to understand who they are and how they show up in the world. I promise that if you can nail this, the experience and results will be beautiful!
If you’re a queer couple in love looking for an LGBTQ+ wedding or elopement photographer near you (or not — I love to travel!), please reach out. I can’t wait to meet you, have meaningful conversations, and celebrate everything you lovely humans bring to this world.
To my fellow photographers: if you want to know more about posing LGBTQ+ couples for weddings, engagements, or just a regular ol’ shoot, feel free to connect with me. Let’s chat about how we can make the wedding industry a better place!
By the way, if listening is more of your style, check out “Queer Posing 101: Photographer Edition,” the third episode of my podcast, Queerly Beloved. Catch you there!
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