One of my words, as a person and as a photographer, is ‘natural’.
So when the Unposed Field Guide by Love is a Big Deal popped up in my Facebook newsfeed, I was intrigued.
Not because I don’t believe in posing. . .I do.
Rather, I was intrigued because I wanted a way to make sure my couples were having truly beautiful, fun, and romantic moments together while being posed, instead of just being put into poses meant to look like they were being romantic and having fun.
Typically, what we do as photographers is pose our couples and say ‘touch your foreheads together’!
Why? Because we believe it makes the image look romantic, like they are connected. We are trying to capture a couple in a quiet moment.
Unfortunately, the truth is that in poses like this, the couple often feels awkward and unsure.
That feeling becomes the memory of that experience. This actually breaks my heart, because with things like this we are often celebrating with them on their wedding day. A day where memories should be made of love, and laughter, and beauty.
One of my big beliefs is that the images should be the result of a beautiful idea; we should not be recreating moments and poses for the sake of a photo, but rather, having real moments for the sake of the experience.
The UnPosed Field Guide helps me facilitate a beautiful experience, not just beautiful poses.
Disclaimer – this is how I use Unposed and what I believe works best for myself and my amazing couples. Everybody will have a different idea and experience, including the creators of Unposed!
Unposed is NOT a posing guide. It does not offer a single actual ‘pose’ or way to set up your couples together.
If you are struggling still with putting couples into positions that are varied, flattering, and interesting, then IMO you still want to develop those skills. (hint, I’m going to be releasing some mini-guides for photographers soon and one of them is on posing!)
If you have a handle on basic arrangements (side by side, prom pose, t-pose, one behind, and facing each other) and know how to use angles and posture to make those poses amazing, the Unposed field guide will take your work a HUGE step further!
I personally believe that the UnPosed Field guide doesn’t mean ‘never pose’. Your couples may still be seeking some kind of direction, but the difference is that with Unposed techniques, your couples will be having truly genuine interactions with each other.
So now that we’ve established that Unposed, in my opinion, does not mean ‘never posing’. . .what DOES the Unposed Field Guide offer?
It offers movement and motion that works beautifully for couples AND wedding parties. I set both of these images up with a basic pose (hold hands, etc.) but then gave one of the more popular prompts from the Unposed Field Guide.
I’m amazed at how this simple phrase makes people genuinely laugh, and smile.
When you say ‘laugh, smile, and walk towards the camera‘, 9 times out of 10 somebody says ‘do we look at you?’. They are still unsure.
This particular prompt I’ve used here, however, removes the unsure part. By saying it, you give them a solid direction that actually evokes a sense of fun and laughter from a real place.
Not a single one of these smiles is fake. How cool is that?
I still used traditional ‘posing’ to help them into this triangle shaped line – and asked them to wrap arms together and keep their bouquets at their belly buttons. . .but then I threw the Unposed prompt in and got this image, and several other fun ones like it, on the first try. It works every. single. time.
So many times we tell our bridesmaids to ‘lean in together and laugh‘.
I love Unposed because it gives me prompts that help my girls have real laughter and a moment together as a group of bridesmaids, instead of just manufactured laughs to create a photo. How cool is it that they get to have a fun moment together and have the image as a side effect of that?
Interestingly enough, so many of us love to say that we are there to ‘capture memories’. . .but then we use simple posing cues (‘look at each other and laugh’, for example) that take the real, natural, authentic reactions out of the picture.
The whole point of bridesmaids laughing like this is to show who they are, that they are enjoying their wedding day. Not that they are faking it to get a photo that makes it *look* like they are enjoying the wedding day, but rather, a photo showing that they really, truly, were.
There is a huge difference there and I’d love to see this idea embraced, not just for couples and the bridesmaids, but the groomsmen, wedding party as a whole, and family.
Unposed works for couples, too. This is not just about putting them in these positions and telling them to laugh and smile – it’s about putting them there and then giving them cues and prompts from the Unposed Field Guide that facilitate sweet moments, laughter, and snuggles.
It works for romance, too.
If you have a really solid connection with your couple, you can use Unposed prompts to facilitate deep and sometimes emotional conversations that really get to the core of who they are. I love how he’s looking at her like she is the only woman on earth – and how it feels to me like there is no camera in sight. Just a couple enjoying this beautiful space together on a beautiful day.
Or this couple, taking a moment to love on each other in the mountains. Unposed allowed me to transport them into a quiet space, where those sweet smiles they share with each other were truly genuine.
We had only a short time on this busy ski mountain for portraits (I actually love the skiers in the background, it suits them!) – it was an honor to give them the time and the space to really just enjoy each other for a moment, using Unposed prompts; this image will be so much more meaningful to them than if I had just told them to stand this way and put their heads together.
I can go on and on about this, but the truth is, I love Unposed. In a matter of 6 months it has changed the way I approach weddings and posing and couples. I have SO many couples and so many members of the wedding party tell me that it was so much fun. That they had been nervous about being photographed, and were so surprised how fun it actually was.
At one wedding, I had bridesmaids in fits of laughter and then eventually sweet tears with the bride, as they spent a moment together to share a memory with each other. Some of the most beautiful, real portraits I have are of friendships like this, where I can use natural prompts to give them that experience.
Now, this wouldn’t be a good review without an unbiased, raw opinion of where I feel Unposed falls short.
For one, it’s expensive. For $150 it’s a set of cards, that’s it. The cards are luxurious and beautiful, yes, but that and access to the Facebook group is all that is included. Expensive is relative, however. . .I don’t regret my investment at all.
Two, as mentioned above, it is NOT a posing guide and I think many people assume it is. It will not teach you or show you the placement of couples.
Three, the cards are full of ‘oh, duh’ moments.
This is both good, and bad. When I first read through the cards I was seriously thinking ‘OMG Chris you dingbat. Duh. This is so simple it’s stupid, why didn’t I think of this, and I can’t believe I paid so much money for these cards!‘ This is ok though, because having not bought the cards, I was still floundering around trying to figure out how to get my clients to act natural on camera. I may have eventually figured this out on my own, but sometimes it pays to invest.
One huge positive that I didn’t expect is that the cards really did open a can of worms. I don’t always follow the prompts exactly – I used the *idea* of unposed to come up with my own process, prompts, and ideas.
In and of itself, I don’t believe that ‘Unposed’ is a proprietary idea. There are so many ways to modify it that it really isn’t some big secret that should only be shared by the creators of the original set of cards and those who invested in them. I do think that Love is a Big Deal did a smart thing by owning this concept, and putting it to market as something for all of us to learn from.
I think that overall, it’s a concept that should be embraced by anybody who wants their couples to share real emotion and experiences.
Is it worth the money? Yes, if it means creating a diving board for yourself from which to jump in and change the way you approach your weddings and your couples. Like anything, no amount of money is an overnight fix, and as mentioned above, if you are still struggling with posing basics and variety and angles, this isn’t going to automatically make you amazing at posing.
Is it going to change your work? In my opinion, not if you don’t change they way you approach the ‘why’ behind what you are doing.
Is every card and prompt going to work? No, it’s not.
Sometimes, it’s how you have presented it to the couple; you have to be confident and own what you are asking them to do, fully, or they won’t be able to own it themselves.
Other times, they don’t work because you just haven’t gracefully led them to the idea and that will emotionally facilitate what you are asking for.
Some of the cards offer cues that really are deep and almost heartbreaking – you cannot just throw that in at the beginning. It has to come after some adrenaline rush and the let down following it.
Having a real, solid connection with your couples is key – and marketing yourself to a specific couple (that is, your couple, your ideal client) will do more for your process than almost anything.
Where to get the Unposed Field Guide:
I don’t regret investing in the Unposed Field Guide, and I have encouraged many others to do so. They have all shared positive results and ‘aha’ moments with me.
When I taught the Posing Workshop in tandem with my good friend Ashley Kidder recently, I shared the concept of creating real and emotional experiences for our couples. This one topic seem to hit a hot-spot among several of our attendees, who cited that they had never thought of it this way and immediately noticed a difference in how their couples were on camera when given the opportunity to have real laughter and real romance (no, I did not share any unposed prompts – I honor the system there and believe if people want the actual prompts, they should invest in the guide as I did).
Conclusion? Yes, worth it.
Go out and create something amazing!!!!