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Couples Body Language

Lesson 6 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

6. Couples Body Language

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

In this lesson, the instructor discusses the different levels of intimacy and body language in engagement photography. He explains that cultural differences play a role in determining what is considered intimate and that it is important to be aware of each couple's preferences. The instructor goes on to explain the significance of different body parts, such as hands, heads, lips, chest, and hips, in creating intimacy in photographs. He also discusses the importance of couples' body language, particularly the touching of hips, in creating a sense of comfort and intimacy in the images. The instructor provides examples and demonstrations to illustrate his points and gives tips on how to coach and guide couples to achieve natural and comfortable poses.


  • What are the different levels of intimacy discussed in engagement photography?
  • How do cultural differences influence what is considered intimate in photographs?
  • Why is it important to be aware of a couple's preferences regarding physical intimacy in photos?
  • What are some body parts that can convey intimacy in engagement photos?
  • Why is touching hips considered intimate and important in couples' poses?
  • How can photographers guide couples to achieve natural and comfortable poses?
  • What are some tips for coaching couples who are stiff or uncomfortable in front of the camera?


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Posing Guidance for Him


Posing Guidance for Her


Foundational Posing


Posing Touch Points


Couples Body Language


Posing Three Point Check


Posing Tips with Demo


Lesson Info

Couples Body Language

So what I wanted to identify was that there's different levels of intimacy that each of these points on our body creates, okay? So, for example, hands is kind of like what I would say, and by the way, the more stars here, the more intimate something I would identify is. And this isn't like some professional, scientific display, this is like in my mind, culturally for me, what this is. You understand that every single culture is different, right? When, Jessie, when I walk up to you, did we do the kiss thing? No? We didn't like (puckering). We didn't do that, right? Because culturally it doesn't make sense for us as two Americans, or whatever I am, I don't know, yeah. It doesn't make sense for that, but if we were in France, that would be totally acceptable to kiss on the cheeks. That's fine, right? And the lips in an area like that are gonna have a very different level of intimacy. Does that make sense? So, for example, you could be in another country. I remember back in studying old, o...

ld, old art, it was like the elbows were the most intimate places in Middle Eastern, it was something like that. It was, whatever, the elbows and knees were like the sexy spots. And I'm like, show me your elbows, baby. (laughing) No. So that was like, that was what it was though. But now, this is, so this is what I'm saying is, this is based on my cultural experience. And you need to be aware that for different people it's gonna be different. For my Indian clients, for my Indian clients, lips are almost taboo. Like you do not kiss on camera. It's considered extremely intimate. You don't want your family seeing, and granted, there's American-born Indians, and then there's India-born Indians. And they're gonna vary. But a lot of my Indian clients come in, they say, "We don't want to kiss on camera." And I go, okay. It's not like you're getting married. I'm just kidding, I don't do that. I say, okay, that's great. We won't do those kind of shots because it's too intimate for that type of photograph. So, heads. That's my level two of intimacy because you're much more likely, like think about this from going back to the awkward phases of dating, right? Your first step is usually the holding of hands, right? Unless you're like Simon, you're like super smooth, and his first step is like let's just skip the first step and go into the heads. I don't know what you do with your heads, but, maybe? Okay, so first step is usually holding hands. And then the closeness of the heads, like kind of leaning into each other. The girl relaxes her head on your shoulder, and you're like, "This is awesome. "I might get kissed tonight." And then you get shut down. (laughing) Now I'm just speaking from past experience right now (laughs). So (laughs), okay, so the next step is face. When you start touching faces, right? Bringing the faces in, making facial contact, those kind of things. The next step is lips. I've got hips on here. Oh, chest, chest is a number two because it's very common for us to hug each other, right? Girls and guys, we always hug each other, and chest is like you kind of do that with, actually chest, you might even put as a one on this scale because we always do that. But the hips I have as a three, maybe even a four or a five would be appropriate for hips. Trevor? Can you come up here? Yeah. Let me demonstrate something. Round for Trevor. (applause) I'm just kidding, stop! You save the clapping for the end of this. Okay. Okay, bro hug, we're gonna demonstrate a bro hug. Just do a bro hug. Couple times, three times is good. (laughing) Yeah, that's a bro hug. Did you guys notice our hips, though? Watch that again. Stop it! Okay. What was going on with our hips? Did you see it? Keep them apart. Okay, can we touch hips? (laughing) Let's try it again. Let's go from the hips in a hug. (laughing) Okay. (laughing) Okay, that was-- Did I sign a disclosure? Now you can clap guys. (applause) Now you can clap. (applause) You can go back. So, that was pretty awkward, no. What that was was it was extremely intimate. Did that, did the mood not change? It changed for me, did it change for you, Trevor? (laughing) Okay. It changed. Okay (laughs), so, what happens is is touching hips is something that we reserve for people that we're intimate with. This means that if you're shooting a couple, they need to have their hips touching. I have this happen all the time where basically I'm shooting a couple. It happened just two days ago on my last shoot. It's a newly wed couple, and this happens a lot with newly weds, especially couples that might be abstaining from sex before they get married, they're not yet comfortable with each other. We don't want that to come through on camera, right? So the whole time I'm telling them to close the gaps between the hips, connect hips, pull her in from the hips, that kind of stuff. If you're shooting a same-sex couple, the exact same thing applies. It does not matter. Openness in the hips is gonna create an awkward tension where it doesn't feel like there's comfort between them. Cool? Was that not eye-opening? We have a question. No, we can't do it again Trevor. (laughing) If that's your question, no. Okay, so my question is, you talked about the different foundation poses and how you go over that with a couple beforehand. Do you do the same thing going over the head in and the touch points and things like that with the couple beforehand as well? Or is that just something that kind of comes along with the shoot? So usually within the first pose, when I say okay guys, we're gonna start with some basic poses, and we're gonna start with the V up. Do you guys remember the V up? And so we kind of reiterate that right then. They go into the V up. I say now what I'm gonna have you guys do is lean the heads in. Leaning the heads towards each other gives it a sense of closeness. So, from there, what we do is we try and give them maybe 10 minutes of, because I feel attention span-wise, after five, 10 minutes, you just lose them. They can't retain more information than that. So we give them the basics on the spine and the stance, and then I actually save the walking stuff for later when we actually start walking. We do spine stance, and then we do the five poses, takes five, 10 minutes, and then we start coaching through the shoot. So that way we're actually kind of moving and building and not overloading them with too much stuff. We've got a lot of questions that are coming in from folks at home. I would love to just go back to when you were teaching about the walking. Do you give them a walking tempo so they're taking steps at the same time? That's not a bad idea, like a beat? (beat boxing) Like slow down, (imitating drum hits) No. We don't necessarily, I tell them 30% speed. And I say walk in step with each other. So walk in step with the same leg, and then kind of just go 30% your normal speed. Usually they always start too fast, and we just tell them to slow down. Slow down. The funny thing with the walking shots is that often times when they walk out of step, you create really cool shots with it because what happens is, if you guys came over here and walked out of step for a second? I don't know if we can demonstrate. It's a very spontaneous type thing. Let's just have you guys right here. What ends up happening is is there's bumps and collisions when they're walking, and it sends them apart from each other and then back together very naturally. And they almost laugh and goof around with it. So, sometimes it works. And if you guys start walking out of step with each other. That's completely in step. I know (laughs). You guys can't do this! (laughing) You're too well-practiced. (laughing) Okay, so if she's hugging his arm. Do it one more time, hug his arm. And then look toward each other when you're doing it. Okay, do you guys, it happens almost every time just like that. Where they start walking, they're like (fake laughing) "Why can't we walk together? "This is so weird." (laughing) But, that's perfect guys, that was fantastic. So, often times, we'll let them go on their own without telling them in-step because it'll create those natural bumps. They'll come apart smiling at each other and then they'll pull themselves back in, laugh, and that kind of stuff. If it doesn't work, like if it's just, and it will happen where the couple is so, I don't want to use the word awkward, just uncomfortable. They're so uncomfortable that it doesn't happen, where you gotta go, okay, I want you guys to start with left-left, right-right, in step with each other. Okay, and then you do that. That's great. I mean I think what a lot of people are asking about is people who are stiff and just, so, that's exactly what you're teaching us is how to coach them and guide them to the un-stiff. Yeah, and if they're stiff, what we do is, let me have you guys come back out one more time. You guys don't have to pretend to be stiff. That's just not gonna work. You guys are just too smooth. It's just not gonna happen. Okay, so, if they are stiff though, what I'm gonna do is say okay, hug on his arm with both hands. You guys are in open pose. I want you guys to just walk towards the camera. Pause. Perfect. Now look down and to the side. Look down and to the side. And then we just re-enact it. Okay, so this is level three. So level one is okay they can somewhat do this with some guidance. Level two is like, ah, they're having a hard time with it. Level three is pause, let's just get the shot. So, perfect guys, thank you.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Pre-Shoot Videos
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Presets Installation Guide
Gear Guide
Favorite Software
Lightroom Presets

Ratings and Reviews

CPR Photography

I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)

a Creativelive Student

This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!


This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.

Student Work