Lighting & Posing Tips for Wedding Photography

Wedding photographer Moshe Zusman shoots 15 to 20 very high-end weddings a year. Over the course of his career, he has learned the importance of lighting and posing to create perfect pictures that don’t need to be manipulated in Photoshop. Here, in a full-length workshop, he talks about posing for engagement shoots, posing the bride and groom, shooting the wedding party and family formals, the quality and setup of light, and light shaping:

Lighting and posing are so important, and Zusman uses them to differentiate himself from others. The way he uses lighting and posing is different, yet simple, taking his wedding photography to the next level. He fully believes that how you shape light is what defines the photo.

He likes to work with color, contrast and off-camera lighting. Back in the day, Zusman says he tended to use natural light and never went outside the box. He would let the couples do what they wanted, he didn’t pose them. Now, he goes in with an idea, a vision, and he can get the perfect image quickly and easily because he knows how to pose and how to light.

When he first started shooting weddings, his biggest fear was what to do with flash. Flash changes everything. A few years ago, Zusman started incorporating off-camera flash and lighting into everything he does. Now he produces stunning wedding photography that he is proud of and that his clients love.

wedding photography

Shooting a Bridal Party with Unique Posing and Off-Camera Lighting

Zusman’s Camera Gear

Zusman’s Lighting Gear

Zusman likes vibrant images. Those are the ones he shows his clients, the ones he uses for his portfolio. He doesn’t own Photoshop. His motto is “Shoot it right.” He does use Lightroom to make adjustments to his images in post-production, but that’s it. His changes are minimal; at most he’ll adjust contrast, change levels, bring highlights down a little, and add a vignette.

portrait lighting

Lighting a Portrait in Low-light Setting Without using Photoshop

5 Steps to Creating a Great Portrait

  1. Composition. Plan the shot. Listen to your clients about what they want, and use the background.
  2. Pose. Posing is key. Add some edge and sexiness, and keep it fun!
  3. Exposure. Know your camera settings. Set shutter speed for ambient light and aperture for your subject.
  4. Light. Add light where needed. Adjust the power, shape the light, and fine tune it.
  5. Post. Lighten it up in post-production.

Things to Consider when Posing Your Subjects

  • Background. Pay attention and incorporate the background into your work rather than ignoring it altogether.
  • Curves. Pose your clients with C-Curves and S-Curves to accentuate body shape and bring interest into a photo.
  • Lighting. Whether you’re using natural or artificial lighting, you need to know how to use light to flatter your subjects.
wedding photography posing

Simple Lighting of Bride and Groom with Two Umbrellas and Edgy Posing

What You Can Do with Artificial Lighting

  • Shoot when it’s dark
  • Control the light versus be controlled (By bringing lighting to the location, you remain in control of the exposures.)
  • Get more creative
softbox lighting

One Light with a 2 X 3 Softbox

Zusman’s Secrets to Success

  • Professionalism
  • Consistency
  • Education
  • Inspiration
  • Listening

And, of course, practice, practice, practice! On your spouse, your children… any chance you get. Pose them, light them differently and see the difference. Don’t be afraid to try new things!

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