Whether you’re photographing a gay couple or just shooting for fun, you need to give your subjects clear and light guidance to capture their best selves. These LGBTQ posing tips will help you get results that shine!
When the photos above were taken, homosexuality was still considered a practice, not an identity. Their contemporaries probably wouldn’t have batted an eye if they saw these men together in public.
1. Dress for the occasion
When you go to a gay photoshoot, you want to look your best. That doesn’t just mean wearing clothes that compliment each other or flatter your body shape, but also using accessories that help bring out your personality and add a pop of color or shine to your ensemble. A great bag, a fetching bow tie, or a classy lapel pin are just a few of the small touches that can make all the difference.
Pride photos are often taken at events or in the studio, so having versatile and comfortable clothing is key. Look for items that can be worn again and again, like a blazer with a bright red button or a classic denim button-up. You can even give a shirt or jacket a little extra flair with a suede patch, an enamel pin, or a colorful sash.
Whether you’re taking solo Pride pics or snapping a few for a client, it’s important to have clear communication with your clients and show them respect before beginning the shoot. “A lot of times when photographers work with people, they have to ask what their comfort level is, and what their expectations are,” says Woodcox.
These men may look very gay to our modern eyes, but in their time they were not outing themselves. The photographs simply reflect the intimacy and closeness of their male friendships and would not have made anyone blink if seen in the public eye.
2. Look your best
Gay men put a lot of thought into their appearance, and they want to look their best. They often put extra effort into grooming, hygiene, and fashion choices because they feel it’s their right to look the way they want.
Whether you’re photographing a gay couple or a cisgender, heterosexual couple, your goal is to capture their connection with one another. The key is to guide them with clear, light posing that allows them to relax and connect. If you’re not accustomed to posing LGBTQIA couples, it’s important to spend some time reframing your gender roles-based expectations. This will help you pose them in a natural, authentic manner that makes their unique connection shine through the lens. You’ll be amazed at the results! These posing ideas will help you get started.
3. Be yourself
In addition to ensuring your subject feels comfortable, you must also respect them and their agency. This means asking them what they feel most comfortable with, including whether they want to address you by your preferred gender, and it’s a good idea to let them know that you will use their pronouns throughout the shoot. This is not only a best-practice for any photographer, but it’s also an important part of showing your LGBTQ+ clients that you are inclusive and supportive.
This is especially true of couples photos. If you are shooting with a partner, make sure you discuss boundaries ahead of time and prepare a few poses that accommodate their comfort levels and expressions. You may also need to be mindful of PDA, as many LGBTQI+ people are uncomfortable kissing in public for fear of unwelcome attention.
While it’s great to mention your support of the community in your bio and on your website, it’s even better to actually show up for the community by regularly photographing LGBTQI+ individuals and couples. This will help you build trust and respect for the community, which can lead to long-term relationships with both new and existing LGBTQI+ clients. It’s not easy to do, but it’s worth the effort. So what are you waiting for? Start celebrating Pride Month with some fabulous photographs!
The more relaxed a subject is, the better their photos will be. It’s a photographer’s job to help their subjects relax and feel at ease, so they can be themselves. This can be accomplished by reassuring them that everything is being taken care of and that the photographer knows exactly what they’re doing. If a subject feels like they’re in good hands, they’ll start to relax and have fun.
Another way to help your subjects relax is by changing up the pace and atmosphere. This can be done by altering the lighting or even shooting at different times of day to create a new tone, mood, or feel. For example, if you’re shooting at Pride, consider shooting at midday for a bright and lively photo, or shooting at dusk or twilight to create a more moody and atmospheric image.
Posing LGBTQIA couples can be challenging for some photographers, especially if they’re used to posing cisgender, heterosexual couples. However, it’s important to remember that love is love and that everyone deserves beautiful photos of their relationship. By following these simple tips, you can make your LGBTQIA clients feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera and achieve stunning photos that they’re proud to share with their loved ones.