Kelly J Photography – Reportage Somerset Wedding and Portrait Photographer » Somerset Documentary style wedding photography and natural outdoor portrait shoots

  • Welcome toKelly J Photography |pleased to meet you
  • Thanks for visiting my website, I'm so pleased that you've found me.

    I'm a documentary style wedding photographer who proudly calls Somerset my new home. Originally from North Wales I have travelled all over the country for work. I love getting to know couples and being involved in a little piece of their story. My style is unobtrusive, relaxed and natural. I like to capture moments as they naturally unfold in front of me. Quirky and bohemian weddings are my ultimate favourite.

    In addition to weddings I also photograph portrait sessions on-location, so if you'd like a family/couple/baby portrait shoot please get in touch.

How To Pose Couples Naturally

How to pose couples naturally? When I first started photographing couples, a lot of my pictures turned out really stiff and the only directions I could think of were “look at the camera / just be yourself / be natural” – umm, no wonder the pictures didn’t turn out at all natural. It’s one thing to find a handful of really great poses on Pinterest but another thing actually directing your couple so that the pose comes out naturally.


So let’s get started..


Getting your couple to relax.

Before the shoot even begins it’s so important to talk to your couple. Tell them what to expect from the session, ask them what their plans are for the evening, ask them questions about themselves. It’s all about making that connection so that they feel comfortable with you. I always find some things in common with my clients to begin with and that helps us work together well.

How To Pose Couples Naturally


Start with a basic pose.

To begin the session, give them a super basic instruction. We don’t want to start with a really complicated pose, instead we start off with something small and once you have a few photographs at different angles of the first pose we move them on to the next phase of that particular pose.

You could start with a few poses like; stand side by side and hold hands / touch foreheads / put your arms around his shoulders / face each other and hold her waist etc

How To Pose Couples Naturally


Make adjustments.

While you’re shooting, give them small directions to add more variety and movement into each pose. Let’s say we started off with “Put your hand on his shoulder”, once you’ve got a few shots of her hand on his shoulder, ask her to slowly move her hand down his arm until they’re both holding hands. Keep taking pictures the ENTIRE time! We want to capture the process, not just the end result of the pose. It’s the process that we really want because that’s where you will get the most natural looking reactions.

You could try adjusting the basic poses we talked about into the next phase; stand by side and hold hands, then look at each other / touch foreheads, then have one of them look slightly off-camera / put your arms round his shoulders, then move your hands towards his collar / face each other and hold her waist, then lean in for a kiss.. etc.

Making these slight adjustments will give you lots of movement to capture.

How To Pose Couples Naturally

How To Pose Couples Naturally


Reassure them.

Let them know that they look great, that they’re doing well and the lighting is really pretty where they’re standing and “oh wow, I love that, hold that pose if you can”.  Your couples can’t see what’s going on at the back of the camera so it’s really important to keep them informed that everything is going really well.

How To Pose Couples Naturally


Move your camera and change lenses for variety.

You can get a lot of various images out of just one pose if you move around the couple or change your lens for a different view. Let’s say I’m doing an engagement session and the bride-to-be has her arms around her future groom, I like to move around them so I have both an angle from her point of view AND his, I also like to change my lens so I have a wide shot as well as a close up shot. Right there I’ve gotten 3 or 4 different shots from one pose.

How To Pose Couples Naturally


Show them what to do.

One of the best ways to get your couples into the pose if you can’t quite explain it, is to show them what to do by acting it out yourself. Simple.

How To Pose Couples Naturally

 What are your fool-proof ways to getting your couples to look natural on camera?

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  • 02/22/2015 - 22:09

    Melissa Avey - What a great post. PS I love that girls hair ( blue hair ) :)ReplyCancel

  • 02/20/2015 - 02:47

    Jennifer - Seriously great tips!! This is a great refresher. I love how you put it into such practical suggestions. Nice!!ReplyCancel

  • 02/18/2015 - 14:28

    Emily - Great post! Getting couples to relax into a pose isn’t easy at all. Your tips on how to pose couples in a photo session is super valuable!ReplyCancel

  • 02/18/2015 - 14:21

    Karidan Chapman - Great tips definitely going to use these in my next session!!ReplyCancel

  • 02/17/2015 - 21:27

    Stephanie Necessary - What great tips! IT’s true – posing is so important – but I love how you capture those real moments :)ReplyCancel

  • 02/17/2015 - 06:20

    sarah - great tips on how to pose couples! you have definitely done a great job of getting many different poses with real interactions!ReplyCancel

  • 02/17/2015 - 01:30

    Amanda Brendle - Great tips on posing! Love how simple adjustments by the photographer can quickly change the image completely.ReplyCancel

  • 02/17/2015 - 01:25

    Becky - Great advice and beautiful images, too!ReplyCancel

  • 02/16/2015 - 18:34

    Calgary wedding photographer - Gorgeous photos. I always love your work as a Somerset photographer. Thanks for the awesome tips on how to pose couples!ReplyCancel

A few weeks ago I posted the start of my 52 week photo challenge in which I take pictures every week that fits the specific theme. If you didn’t catch it, you can go back and see it here.

So here’s my last 3 weeks in pictures…

52 Week Photo Challenge


Week 4 – Texture

We had the teeniest, tiniest patch of snow on the 4th week, and I couldn’t resist going into the garden to snap some of it. I also got some bokeh photographs of my LED lights just because!

52 Week Photo Challenge - Textures


Week 5 – Food

It’s a well known fact that I love my food, you only have to look at my instagram to figure that one out, but I’m also actively trying to be healthier and more conscious about what I’m putting into my body. I’m following the paleo diet which is something I did years ago and it worked out so well for me – my chronic asthma even completely disappeared. After I let it slide my asthma came back and I generally felt rubbish so this time I’m making a real go of it.

52 Week Photo Challenge - Food


Week 6 – At Home

This week I tried some freelensing with my old, broken 50mm 1.8 lens. Freelensing is basically holding your lens unattached from the camera in front of the sensor and tilting it slightly to select focus. You eventually end up with a tilt shift effect that’s cheaper than buying a lens but rather difficult to get the hang of. I also reversed the lens to get some macro shots. They weren’t the best, but it’s always good to try something new!

52 Week Photo Challenge - At Home

So who else is doing a photo challenge? Pop your links in the comments :)

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As I’m regularly asked “How do I build my portrait portfolio from scratch/if I have no clients?”, I thought I would write an easy guide to get you started. Of course, some of these tips may help you if you already have clients yet you’re looking to open new doors, like if you want to shoot children instead of couples for example.

It doesn’t have to cost you the earth to gather a decent portfolio together, but it would really helpful to have a nice website to showcase your new work. I recommend ProPhoto or Squarespace if you have little to no web design knowledge, or like me you would rather spend more time on your work than designing your website.

Okay, let’s get to it…

How To Build Your Portrait Portfolio


Decide who you want your clients to be.

Before you even begin to start a portfolio, think about what kind of clients you want to be booking in the future. Do you want to shoot fashion, lifestyle, maternity, newborns, families? Think about which type of photography you would like to shoot and what your ideal client would be. Then stick to shooting that style! It will streamline your portfolio nicely and will keep it consistent.

If there’s one thing I would change about starting my business portfolio, it would be to stick to one style early on instead of shooting so many different things. It’s easier to market one consistently good style, than it is to market lots of different things. Of course you should practice new styles and types of photography all the time, but only show the kind of work you want to be booking on your website.


Ask friends and family.

It’s really hard to build a portrait portfolio when you have absolutely zero pictures of people in your library. I started off taking pictures of friends and family members just to practice my skills but when I had finally decided to photograph families and children for a career, I needed something to start building that portfolio with.

I asked a friend if she wanted a free shoot for her son because I needed some kid shots for my portfolio. I’ve gotten a lot better since then, but hey, it was a start!

Try asking friends if they want a free or discounted session while you are “revamping your portfolio”, just let them know beforehand if they have to cover the cost of any prints they might want!

How To Build A Portrait Portfolio


Work with models.

You could pay a few professional models to work with you – this is a great way of letting their experience help you at the same time.
Alternatively you can work with models who are at the same level as you on a trade basis. You provide the photographs, they provide their modelling skills. Put out a casting call on your facebook, blog, twitter etc. and be descriptive about the kind of project it’s for and what kind of model you would like to shoot.

You could also try out PurplePort or ModelMayhem and browse for models local to you and reply to other casting calls.


How To Build A Portrait Portfolio


Attend a workshop.

Find a workshop or course that caters to the kind of portfolio you want to build. Not only will get new pictures for your website, you will receive valuable information from  other photographers, as well as meeting new contacts.

Try Aspire Photography Training for different kinds of workshops and courses.


How To Build A Portrait Portfolio


Diversify but be consistent.

Always look for new locations, try new poses, make every image stand alone as a great image, but keep the images you want to show on your website consistent. Do they have a similar atmosphere about them? Are they of similar quality? Are they recognisable to your brand? That’s what you’re aiming for.

If you don’t know what your style is yet, choose some words that you want people to describe you work with, then keep that in mind every time you shoot!


Work on giving directions.

How good are you at getting your subjects into the poses in your head? How are you at getting natural reactions out of people? Time to start working on it! “Just be natural” or “Be serious” just doesn’t cut it. You have to be more precise.

By giving direction and putting your own ideas into every session you do, you will create your own recognisable style and that is something you can’t afford to brush over. This is something you can really focus on during your portfolio building stage as there is a little less pressure and you can ask your subjects for feedback after every session.

How To Build A Portrait Portfolio

Some other stuff to remember..

  • Not only should you show your very best work on your website but you should also only give your clients/models/friends the very best from their session too! Don’t be sending them 200+ pictures of their kid picking their nose! If they post it out there on the webisphere it’s forever attached to your name. Just don’t do it.
  • Ask for critique on your photographs, what do you people like and dislike about them? How do they make people feel? It’s always good to have other peoples views on your work so you know exactly what prospective clients will think when they check out your website.
  • Try and master one or two types of portraits instead of doing it all. Make it clear who your work is targeting.
  • Remove older images as you get better and keep your portfolio fresh.
  • Be picky about who and what you shoot to make sure you are only shooting the kind of work you want your brand to be associated with.

What has your experience been so far? I would love for you to leave a comment.


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  • 02/04/2015 - 21:13

    Emily Chappell - Love this post – I always appreciate when seasoned photographers are willing to share some advice!ReplyCancel

  • 02/03/2015 - 18:39

    Rebecca Anne Photography // Tacoma Wedding Photography - What great tips to help people learn to build their portfolios!ReplyCancel

  • 02/03/2015 - 16:21

    Hendrick Moy - sage advice for beginner photographers! Family and friends are most defnitely the best way to begin a career in portraiture!

    Hendrick Moy PhotographyReplyCancel

  • 02/03/2015 - 16:20

    Hendrick Moy - Great advice for starters! family and friends are a wonderful way to begin.ReplyCancel

  • 02/03/2015 - 12:56

    Stephanie Necessary - Awesome tips! I used family, friend and Model Mayhem to build mine and it works!ReplyCancel


Sometimes when you take pictures for a living, you simply forget to take pictures just for the pure pleasure of it. I wouldn’t say taking pictures as a job makes it a chore, but you tend to focus all of your energy on your work making it hard to find the time or motivation to create anything else. These days I almost feel as if I need a little push to get my creative juices flowing, a little inspiration to make me want to shoot just for me. Lately I have been obsessed with ViewBug, which has helped me think outside the box and take it one step further. Literally, I am obsessed with it. Moderator level obsessed. I wanted to do something else to keep my creativity spark all lit up inside, so I’ve decided to go for a 52 Week Photo Challenge. I invite you to do it with me.

Pin it. Share it. Do it.



52 Week Photo Challenge

Here is my first 3 weeks of the 52 Week Photo Challenge;

Week 1 – Beginning

The start of 2015 began with cake. A mega, massive, over the top, indulgent beast of a cake. A black forest cake filled with bucket loads of kirsch, fresh cream, chocolate ganache and plenty of cherries. It took four layers of sponge and two days to make, it was exhausting. P.s do you like my little trees on the top?

We served it at our post Christmas dinner, hosted by my lovely Mum.
Every year my Mum and Step-Dad have myself and my step brothers and our partners around one big dinner table so we can have our own Christmas dinner together. It’s one of my favourite days of the year, the big family Christmas that I’d always wanted and now I get to look forward to it every January.

Also, what a perfect way to start the New Year as a healthier person, by going out in style with this monster of a cake….

Black Forest Cake - 52 Week Photo Challenge


Week 2 – Light

Out in the garden getting some new self portraits for my marketing with the help of my boyfriend. It starts raining, really hard.

I’m usually known for running around in the rain having a great time and this occasion was no different. So we grabbed the flashes and experimented with some Off-Camera Flash, which for me is something I don’t often do apart from at weddings. I loved the outcome of this, not to mention this picture basically sums me up entirely. It was worth freezing my nips off, for sure.

52 Week Photo Challenge - Off camera flash

Week 3 – Winter

Wednesday I went on a “drive by shooting” as my boyfriend affectionately named it.
In the car towards Westbury  in Wiltshire, the snow fell. So I perched my lens on the open window and photographed the scenery on the way. I wasn’t driving by the way, I’d just like to point that out.

After the snow, the sun came out and melted most of it away but I still managed to catch this.

Winter - 52 Week Photo Challenge

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