Know Your Dress

How to Look Good in Photos

November 25, 2014
Words by Kate Branch
Photos courtesy of Kate Branch Photography

When I was a child, I would walk past my grandmother’s dressing table and gaze at her wedding photos in awe. She just looked stunning and elegant on her wedding day. As my career as a photographer flourished, I realized that these shots weren’t just about capturing an ecstatic and memorable day, it was based on how my grandmother posed, with confidence.

Everyone deserves to look amazing on this special occasion, that’s a given. For the rest of your life you will look through your wedding album and see you and your partner posing together as a couple, with family and a large group. The best pieces of advice I can give you are based on years of experience and coaching individuals on how to pose, before and during the wedding. 

In my opinion, wedding dresses and wedding photographs are the most important elements that truly encapsulate the day. When I arrive at the bride’s house I always take a few minutes not just to photograph the gown, but think of creative ways the bride can pose, showcasing the gown’s original qualities.

Taking a leaf from my Amazon book “How to Look Good in Photos,” I ask the bride and groom to adopt a “frame it’ pose technique. Our hands are our frames and they direct where people’s eyes should focus on. If you don’t take ownership of maximizing your dress and yourself in the best light, photographs can give them impression that you’re uncomfortable, tense and appears the dress is wearing you. This is a common trait with brides who are not only unfamiliar with the camera but the added celebration pressure that exudes a discomfort in photographs.

Using the hand gesture tip, practice in a full length mirror: find the best accentuation for your body in your dress and focus your hand towards that area. For example, if you’re wearing a one shoulder or sleeveless dress, this will highlight your décolletage so in photos, place one hand on your décolletage and glance down or smile at the camera. This pose will also bring to life any detailing from your waist to neck, based on your hand being a perimeter focus. Always position your hands softly, as the camera will pick up any tension immediately.

Another simple, yet effective tip is to find the unique qualities of your dress and use them as a prop. Sometimes a dress will have a beautiful silk tie, or a veil will drape delicately down to the hip. Before your wedding day, I advise you to practice holding a delicate wrap, silk tie, lace veil or extend the A-line with your hand on your hip. This will make you look at ease wearing your stunning gown, becoming familiar with the style, shape and how to pose. Once your big day has arrived, you’ll now feel and look like a natural in photographs.

For brides that choose to wear a backless dress, you must practice your cheeky ‘stare over the shoulder’ look. In magazines, looking over your shoulder with your back to the camera looks relatively easy, but it does require a few attempts before you master the art. The trick is that you stand slightly to the side of the camera so when you look over your shoulder, your face is centered at the lens. This is also what I call a ‘slim and streamline’ pose as your shoulders are not square on. As shoulders are the widest part of the body, shooting streamline is more flattering.

My last tip would be the most important for the entire day. It’s extremely common for dresses to showcase the bride’s entire arm. A tummy…you can hide. A bottom…you can cover. But arms are on show the entire day. The more nervous a bride is, the more she’s likely to subconsciously push her arms to the side, making them look thicker (the same for brides who nervously cross their arms, covering their beautiful dress). There’s just one rule of thumb to combat this: make sure your arms are always away from your body. You can bend your elbows, rest your arms on your thigh or place your hand your husband’s arm or shoulder. The latter always makes for a super cute snap. This is also a great tip to adopt within group shots. Instead of everyone standing in a row like isolated soldiers, ensure they’re touching their neighbors arm or shoulder. It will then show a happier and relaxed photo for group shots, replacing spaces and gaps with a streamlined flow.

Your wedding day photographs will be displayed proudly in your home forever, possibly on social media and shared with friends and family. You need to feel comfortable, happy and content, showing your best assets in every photograph. Just practicing these few tips will give you additional confidence and may be the icing on the wedding cake.

Kate Branch is a popular wedding photographer in Sydney, Australia and is a former professional model. She overcame shyness in front of the camera herself and regularly runs workshops to help other women combat low self-esteem. Her book How to Look Good in Photoscan be found on Amazon.

Weddings at Sandals
Iberostar Destination Weddings

Find a Vendor

Access our list of vendors based on your destination location.