What if Photographers Shot Grooms the Same Way They Shoot Brides?


Turning sexist wedding photography on its head

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

emilyedAPW_vivianchen-0094

It’s no secret that the wedding industry is a pretty sexist place. Grooms are almost universally ignored as human beings, and it’s assumed that all women have been dreaming about their wedding days since birth (and that’s not even counting the numerous ways the industry ignores LGBTQ couples at large). But sexism in the wedding industry isn’t always as overt as say, this diamond ad. Sometimes it’s more subtle. Like, in the way photographers pose couples for portraits.

So this week, as we were writing a post about how to make wedding photography more egalitarian (coming soon to an APW near you), we asked Vivian Chen Photography and Emily Takes Photos if they’d be up for helping us put together some examples of poses that don’t play on the typical masculine/feminine dichotomy. But while they were at it, they couldn’t help doing a gender swap on some of the more traditional wedding poses, and the result was too good not to share:

The Headless Groomsman

When to use this pose: If your partner has really sexy ankles. Or if they are in the witness protection program.

The Breast Friends

When to use this pose: When your partner just switched their shampoo, and you can’t quite tell what it smells like, but you’re pretty sure you like it.

The Two Tickets to the Gunshow

When to use this pose: If your partner has been working out, and you want to show everyone how much you appreciate their biceps.

The I Carry Your Heart (I Carry It On My Back)

When to use this pose: You accidentally bought your shoes a size too small, and now walking kind of hurts.

The Oops, I fell Over

When to use this pose: If you’ve have too much champagne and it’s time to take a nap.

Works best if: Your partner is wearing a lot of tulle (makes for a great pillow.)

We’ll be back next week with those useful tips on making wedding photography a little more gender neutral, but in the meantime, enjoy the absurdity. Eat your heart out, Pinterest.

Related: A similar take on engagement photos, and this hilarious groomsmaids video from BuzzFeed.


The Info:

Photographer: Vivian Chen | Models: Emily Takes Photos, with her husband Eddie | Dress: Rho by Watters Encore Collection from The Wedding Party in Berkeley, CA

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, she currently lives on a pony farm in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Michael, their son Lincoln, and an obnoxious mastiff named Gaia. Current hair color: Natural (gasp!)

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  • vegankitchendiaries

    THE I CARRY YOUR HEART (I CARRY IT ON MY BACK)

    Uh… So that pose title provided much guffawing here. Our engagement photogs were saying the WEIRDEST stuff to us including ‘Show off that raaaaaaaang you worked for, girl!’ They made us do lots of these cliché poses and when they asked for a piggyback shot, we also decided to buck tradition…

    https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3956/15735565256_6122c535f7_n.jpg

    They didn’t get it.

    • Sarah

      Cute! Love the way you’re both laughing in this :-)

    • Jennifer

      This is awesome. I would LOVE to buck tradition on this but it probably wouldn’t look like much (spouse is 6’7 to my 5′ and he wouldn’t even look like he was carried!)

    • Lisa

      LOVE it. I got a manicure done for our engagement photos because I was so used to seeing all of those awkward “HERE ARE OUR HANDS. LOOK AT THE RING” pictures. Then our photographer didn’t make us do those (probably because we looked horribly awkward in staged photos), and I was so happy.

      • Sarah E

        We fortunately worked with a rad photographer for our engagement pictures. He noticed I don’t have an engagement ring and was just “Oh, you don’t have a ring, do you?” And I said nope, and the nice hand-holding pictures are just us holding hands, so the focus is us together rather than LOOK AT THE RING. Which fits us so much better.

    • KC

      Huh. “that ring you worked for” would be either extraordinarily offensive (if taken in the sense I suspect they meant) or an unusual statement about both the romance of combined finances paying for all aspects of the engagement/wedding and your significant financial contribution to the partnership.

      (I would probably fire someone who said I “worked for” the ring in the first sense. Because seriously, no no no no NO.)

      Hooray for piggyback rides, though! :-)

      • vegankitchendiaries

        She might have actually said “SHOW OFF THAT RING!!!” actually. I don’t want to malign this woman too badly, but still… kinda ick.

    • laurasmash

      My sister’s photog did the whole bride lays down across the groomsmen’s arms and they hold her up pose. I believe I shouted something to the effect of “Anything you can do I can do better! Bridesmaids and groom, get over here!” The resulting photo was hilarious, especially since there were only 3 bridesmaids and we actually had kind of a hard time lifting the groom, whoops.

  • SoontobeNatalieN

    Using this post as an opportunity to share the funny outtakes of our engagement photos – because who says a shoot has to be serious?

    • Acres_Wild

      I just DIED laughing at that second photo – that is hilariously awkward and looks just like something I would do! :)

      • SoontobeNatalieN

        Haha, that one was a “game” where I was supposed to try and kiss him, and he had to try to not let me, but he could pin down my arms… we got really into it and both wanted to win;)

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Second to last is the best. It shows what a delicate flower your man is… :)

      • SoontobeNatalieN

        Haha, so delicate ;). He did the classic dip shot, and then our photographer was like “okay, now dip the other way” (meaning direction), we shrugged, and dipped the other way :P. She thought it was awesome and rolled with it

    • Okay, y’all seem like TOO MUCH FUN.

    • KC

      The third “aaaack! I’m being bitten by a Beach Vampire!” photo is great. Okay, actually, all of these are pretty awesome or hilarious or both. :-)

    • Lisa

      Third to last is my favorite!!

    • KitBee

      What do you mean, outtakes? One of these should definitely be on your save-the-dates! (I am 100% serious.)

      • SoontobeNatalieN

        I wanted to! Then I got too caught up thinking about what other people would think… so instead I just used photos in which we were laughing – usually at the face we had just made ;). Maybe (read definitely) we’ll take silly pictures at our wedding next year and use them on our thank you cards :P

    • SChaLA

      k so i’m really concerned about his back. IS HIS BACK OKAY?

  • SoontobeNatalieN

    oh, and one non-cheesy one ;)

  • macrain

    Okay, these models are flawless.
    Are they a real life couple?! Please say yes! #nailedit

    • Viv

      YES! This couple is Emily of Emily Takes Photos and her husband Ed. Love these guys! Couldn’t have asked for a more hilarious couple to shoot for this!

    • Meg Keene

      This is Emily, APW’s former long time advertising manager (and basically very first sponsor) and her husband.

    • Aww thank you!!

  • BeccaC

    This article is amazing!!! Especially the Oops I Fell Over – such an awkward pose! I can’t wait to read the post about how to make wedding photography more egalitarian!

    On a side note, the I Carry Your Heart – Eric and I actually had that happen on our first date because I did buy my impractical shoes slightly too small! He gave me a piggyback ride part of the way home, and it is a cute little story that always makes me smile. Definitely not recreating it in a wedding dress though!

  • Juliet

    How about a picture where the photographer tries to jam the couple’s wedding bands around the heel of the groom’s shoe? Or maybe just put them inside the shoe and take a picture of that? Because who doesn’t want a picture on something that goes on your HAND in/around something that goes on your FOOT…

    • KC

      I think the appropriate thing in that case would be a delicate strip of duct tape attaching the rings to the heel of the groom’s shoe…

      (but yes, of course I want my rings on my shoes, on the part of my shoes that step on sidewalk gum and such. Obviously.)

  • BD

    Okay, this post makes me feel vindicated! Getting our bride/groom photos done was… awkward, to say the least. The poses our photographer kept putting us in all felt wrong and weird and like “who the hell does this, oh well our photog is a professional I guess we’ll just go with it” and you can see the confusion in our faces in the those photos . Finally both husband and I ended the session because it was just getting too damn silly. The photos of us two alone and posing are my least favorite. In fact, I can barely stand to look at them.

  • Basketcase

    This post made me go back into our wedding photos and see whether I could see any gender-focus.
    And I reckon we must have got awesome photographers, because I think its well balanced.
    There are two or three (of over 300 taken on the day, 80 being the “posed” ones) that are a bit “I’m the man up high, looking out for you” or “I’m way back here, out of focus, watching you”, but our faces are both there, we take turns being front or back / focal point of the image, and both have action shots (we played pool for an hour for a chunk of our bridal party time) for all the rest.

  • Caroline

    I love this!! Overall, our wedding photos were amazing but the super gendered portraits are my least favorite. They are just weird. Why am I looking a million feet shorter than him, laying my head on his chest and gazing up at him? This is just weird.

    Luckily we have lots and lots of not-weirdly gender intense/stereotypical photos I love. My favorite from the portrait session is us walking hand in hand down the beach. That’s maybe my only photo regret is I would have mentioned we didn’t want super gendered photos. But that’s okay, because we have so many great photos anyways.

    • I didn’t think of it that way…. like, gazing up at the other spouse. It does seem a bit… demeaning? Like you’re worshiping this man who deemed you worthy of being wed, or some weird sexist shnit like that.

      Our photog was so great anyway that all of our shots felt totally natural and equal anyway, so maybe I’m spoiled to not have thought of these things before!

      • KC

        To be fair, there are Official Standard guy-worshiping-the-girl poses, too. That said, the way in which this is expressed isn’t the same. I’m not entirely sure how to phrase it, but there tends to be an “oh, you’re so stroooong/brooding!” focus for the male role and an “oh, you’re so delicate/pretty!” focus for the female role.

  • KBE

    I think this finally helps me put words to what bugs me so often about engagement shoots…human beings used as props. I’m so used to those kinds of shots that it really took the gender role swap to remind me how silly they can be.

    note to self, remember to insist on engagement pics with two active/equal participants (and zero close ups of my ring dangling precariously off a tree branch)

    • Lauren from NH

      Yeah the ring shot doesn’t quite make sense to me either. My ring is unique and personal and hugely important to me, but I get to wear it…so I don’t really need to drool over pictures of it. For marketing or style shoots, knock yourselves out, market the shit out of rings on pinecones and in flowers and on and on, but in real life…naw not for me.

      • Violet

        I totally agree. I think what started as an advertising/blog thing has turned into a standard shot, without really a whole ton of rationale.
        THAT SAID. There are sometimes reasons for a ring shot (one gal here has a beautiful Brent &Jess ring that you can’t see the inside of when she’s wearing, so a pic is cool.).

        • Or engravings inside the ring!!! I’m not huge into doing ring shots (I take them if a couple requests it, but I’m much more interested in the people wearing the rings), but these two definitely needed to be documented! These grooms each had “my person” engraved on the inside of their wedding ring.

          • Robin

            This ring shot makes me super happy. My boyfriend calls me “his person” all the time.

      • Meg Keene

        Interestingly, we pretty much don’t run ring shots on APW, per fiat by Meg (I think the staff agrees, but the blame on this is on me). I totally get why you might want one (as someone who got her original engagement ring stolen). But putting them in wedding media makes me uncomfortable. It just feels way too much like pushing a expensive consumer good, instead of a important celebration.

        • KC

          I think there can be a ton of symbolism attached to the ring, so there’s that, and yeah, it’s nice to have a photo of things that can get lost. But no, not going to be framing it…

        • Lauren from NH

          I guess I was thinking more if you are a jeweler or if it’s a ring from one of your sponsors or if you are an indie wedding website sharing the many varied engagement/wedding ring possibilities. I guess I feel the same way about the wedding dress on a hanger shots. Too much focus on what is essentially just an object. But let no one take it personally, I am just not real pressed where it comes to photos in general, I can appreciate beautiful ones as art, but photographing my own life…meh I am secretly way too lazy and forgetful for this.

          • Sarah E

            Yeah, I don’t get the dress-on-hanger shots, because the dress just looks. . .like weirdly draped fabric? I mean, the dress can be really meaningful for you, but probably because it’s ON you.

          • Lauren from NH

            Yeah some how these symbolic and significant objects lose a lot of their meaning for me when they are put on display in this way. I feel like the meaning for me is held in interacting with them as intended, wearing the ring and watching the gems twinkle in the light, touching and wearing the dress, the act of zipping it up, receiving an invite, smelling the expensive paper. That experienced meaning can’t really be documented for me.

            ETA: Also experiencing them with your partner, we are both very proud of our rings and we give each other these goofy grins when we catch each other checking them out. A photo can’t catch that feeling for me.

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            What I find particularly interesting is how much work and prep go into those shots. Do you know how expensive a macro lens is?! It’s crazy. And don’t get me started on what happens when there’s no where to even hang a dress. For a while I used to carry command hooks with me to every wedding so that I could get that dress hanging shot. And for what? I mean, if it happens naturally, awesome. But the amount of staging that can go into those shots is absurd. It’s worth it to me if you’ve got meaningful details (like if your ring is an heirloom, or your dress is especially significant.) But it can get really exhausting and sometimes expensive when you’re trying to get those shots.

            And dresses and rings always look cooler on. :)

          • Lisa

            Can I just say that I love that you carried command hooks to weddings? This is like my photographer telling me on our wedding day that he makes a note of every thing a bride ever needed or asked for at a wedding and adds it to the collection he takes with him to the event. He showed me that he had a whole sewing kit, safety pins, floss/mouthwash, bandaids, etc, etc. I am so impressed by how thoughtful you photographers are!

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            YES. If I had a dollar for every time we needed a sewing kit or a safety pin…I’d be able to buy a lot of each.

          • Julie

            I don’t mean to seem deliberately contrarion, but I love dress shots. I’m probably not the typical APW-er: as I’ve been obsessing over the dress since I was about five. so the dress is really, really important to me. My dress was a significant part of the budget. I consider it with all of its beads and layers of tulle and silk to be a work of art, and it saddens me to know that someday I’ll pack it away or sell it off, so I’m so excited to photograph it and maybe get to hang that photograph in my closet. Yes, it’s a consumer item, but it’s also so beautiful, and I have a feeling photographs of me in the dress will never show the detailing and beading, the way close ups of the dress’s bodice will. I want those. I’m glad you carried the command hooks, in case you had any brides like me…

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            Nah, if it’s important, it’s important! It’s mostly the frustration of knowing how much time and energy goes into a shot that a client might not even care about, because the wedding industry said it’s important. Or sometimes clients don’t even know they want or don’t want it, but have seen it so many times that they assume they DO want it.

            I’ve had weddings where the dress WAS really important and you bet I shot the shit out of it. :) I just wish it was easier to separate out the authentic “This is important” from “The wedding industry said I should care about this.”

          • Julie

            Ahh, understood. Thanks for the clarification! :).

        • Julie

          I understand your reluctance to run ring shots, especially to discourage the traditional ring olympics that is a part of the WIC, but I think they have their own documentary value. Ring styles change over time, and for a web site that values the vintage and unusual I would think documenting all of the different varieties of rings would be of interest. Plus, it’s not as if the website doesn’t run many, many features and ads regarding rings. I have no idea what my grandmother’s ring looked like, let alone my great grandmother’s. I believe they have been passed on to different family members, and it would be so cool to be able to look at different photos of the rings. Plus, on a purely aesthetic level, rings are often beautiful objects that look great when co-mingled together (even on the heel of a beautiful spike heel or a piece of ribbon–as trite and silly as that might seem). I don’t see the harm in photographing them or sharing them.

          • Violet

            I think there are different issues here that are being compared a la apples and oranges, if you know what I mean. On an individual level, you can want pictures of your ring, wish you had pictures of your grandparents’, find images of rings you see beautiful, etc. All that falls under individual preferences, and that’s fine. (I’ve had my ring for two years now: I still stare at it on the daily, magpie-style. So, I get it.)

            There are different considerations when running a business. Sure, there are ads for jewelers on APW. But Meg as EIC can specifically vet them to make sure she agrees with their practices.

            If a reader submits a picture of a ring that is STUNNING, but there’s no context of its sourcing, that could be an issue. No one wants to even inadvertently support blood diamonds. Or, to take another hypothetical, if it turned out the couple went into massive consumer debt for that ring, that might not be a value Meg wants to espouse on this site either. The problem is, the WIC doesn’t care about context, they just want to feed the beast. I like this little corner of the world that refuses to play that game. Plenty of other places to go see sparklies, if that’s your jam. They run this site so it seems like it’s a democracy of sorts, but Meg owns this business, so it’s always her call.

            In sum, my parsing of the issue: Individual choices are one thing, vetted vendors another, reader-submitted photos of bling without context, another.

          • Julie

            Excellent points. I totally agree that it’s up to Meg to highlight what she wants on the wedding posts she runs. APW definitely takes more interest in the emotions/feelings/sentiments behind weddings than in the “stuff” that usually takes center stage on other wedding websites. People > stuff is definitely a refreshing part of this website. I think I was reacting more to two things: 1) the idea (not espoused by Meg) that some of the stuff photos: rings, dresses, centerpieces, etc. lack substance, are frivolous, or should be mocked. I like the visuals, the aesthetics of weddings, and the documentary aspect and I enjoy seeing those things, but as you pointed out there are plenty of other websites that cater to those interests. 2) I think I also just found it confusing that it is “okay” to have posts on selecting wedding rings, engagement rings, highlighting certain vendors etc., but in Meg’s words showing photos of real-life rings “just feels way too much like pushing a expensive consumer good, instead of a important celebration.” Advertising for wedding rings (even rings you find ethically tolerable) seems much more like “pushing” a good to me, than featuring photos that include rings. It is okay for a website to have contradictions. It is the right of the EIC of a website to draw lines as to what feels okay and what doesn’t feel okay, but I felt that there was a contradiction there that was worth noting.

          • Violet

            Ah, gotcha. Well put! For me, specific advertising or sponsored ads are different than being in the midst of enjoying the emotional (and yes, often aesthetically beautiful) parts of a reader wedding and then be all, “Oh, woah. Huh. Wonder how much they spent on that ring…” But I don’t think everyone necessarily compartmentalizes the way I do. I think you raise a valid point.

      • ardenelise

        Yep, I’ve got some of those pictures of my ring on a pinecone, and it’s not like I’m gonna print them and frame them. They’re actually probably my least favorite pictures from the engagement shoot & wedding combined. It’s weird that the pinecone shot has become “a thing.”

    • Violet

      Ditto, my rings do not belong on a tree. (!!!) I asked my photographer not to do any of those shots, and she obliged. A year or so out, and no regrets for lack of precarious-ring-shots.

    • Allie Moore

      We were excited about having some good ring shots because the ring used to belong to my husband’s grandmother (who is still living). We’re definitely giving her a framed ring picture for Christmas and as a thank you for giving us this very special gift!

      • Lisa

        This is how I feel about my dress shots. My mom made my wedding gown, and I definitely wanted a bunch of pictures of the beautiful work of art she had created. I love the idea of giving her a framed picture of it to put in her sewing studio!

        • Bethany

          See, for things like this it totally makes sense. For my friend’s wedding where the photographer bullied her into a photo of her heels that she’d bought a week before and ended up not wearing during the wedding (she decided flip flops were hella more comfortable), it’s just odd.

          I was amused by two friends’ take on the shoe picture. They love to run together and actually got engaged on a run so they got a photo of their running shoes. They’ve said that when they have a child they plan to take an identical photo with a pair of baby sneakers because they want to bring their kid up to love running and hiking.

  • Laura C

    Love it. We hardly had any posed photos at our wedding, but I loved how our engagement shoot steered clear of or slightly inverted the cliches. Like, one of the few kissing pictures we did, I sort of lost my balance and lifted my foot in cheesy kissing with popped foot fashion, and I made sure we took one with both of us doing the same thing with our feet and that’s the one that went on FB etc.

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/908ijnlom1uuvmp/AAD5LsyQcCrM0d2_D7sUE4Isa/Laura%26Arjun-0099.jpg?dl=0

    • Meg Keene

      I talked with Maddie about the foot photo just because… I”m not sure it’s always awful. (There are some that are always awful, and I think that’s in sometimes awful). Because behold how I act when I just got married and am not being posed in the slightest. By which I really mean to say, I think the flaw in so much of this is FORCING roles on people through posing. If someone is a kick their foot up kind of person, go for broke. But putting someone into that role because of their gender is… a little gross. Or as someone said below, it’s using people as props.

      (Photo twice because DISQUS….)

      • Jess

        To this point, my go-to “But I’m being really cute right now,” pose in conversation is to tilt my head to the side and pop my foot, and smile. So with or without significant other in the shot, I would probably take one of those.

      • EXACTLY. It’s the people as props thing that gets icky. If people do a dip or a leg pop or some other ultra pinterested, posey gesture spontaneously, that’s awesome! They’ll have photos where they will recognize themselves, because they’ll be doing something normal for them, and the pictures will bring back good memories.

      • Laura C

        Yeah, I mean, I did that accidentally during our engagement shoot, because, like I said, I lost my balance. It’s just all the ones I’ve seen where she’d obviously been standing like that until she got a charlie horse…

      • Kara

        Without meaning to, my husband totally did the food thing. It’s my favorite photo and we have a canvas of it :).

        • Kara

          I don’t know how to get the picture to show up :(.

    • Michelle

      Comm Ave?? Sigh, Boston in the fall. Cute picture, too!

  • sarahderagon

    HELL YES x 1,000!

  • Kelsey

    Our favorite awkward pose for all the other lady-lady couples out there is the gay spin on the chest-to-chest lady hand on the gentleman’s pectoral ring shot. Because if you do it with a ring hand on a lady’s chest, then it’s just copping a feel….

    • Meg Keene

      HAHAHAHA please tell me you took the cop a feel photo and can share it.

      • Kelsey

        Oh, we took SEVERAL. I think Julie has them- I’ll find them and post them when I do.

    • CCT

      Haha, my girlfriend said that when she was at the getting-close-to-possible-kissing age, her mom told her that she could put her hand on the guy’s chest to create some distance if she wanted it. Many laughs were had as that technique produced a quite different vibe for us. :D

  • Guest

    At the end of this couple’s session, they said “Thank you SO much for not making us do anything like making a heart with our hands and stuff!” So then of course we had to do it, and it was hilariously awkward.

    • Sorry the photo is so big! I just remembered that they also did The I Carry Your Heart (But I Cannot Carry You).

  • anneschwal

    We decided to skip traditional engagement photos and instead take our own with some cute animal stand-ins! https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.974551154669.1073741836.15801120&type=1&l=98054b0acf

    • macrain

      HAHAHAHA.That just made my day. Seriously.

    • KC

      Those are fantastic.

      (it *does* say something about how standardized a pose set is if you can reproduce things with stuffed animals and it’s immediately obvious what kind of shoot it was)

    • vegankitchendiaries

      YOU ARE AWESOME.

    • Douglas Pettway

      That’s genius! :D

    • Mandi P

      fantastic!

    • Lauren

      YESSS. Fiance’s last name is an animal in his native language, this is a major running gag in his family. We need to steal your idea and stage it with his animal ;)

  • Rose

    And once again, glad not to be planning a wedding with a dude. So much gendered baggage.

    My friends who got married a couple of years ago did do the reversed I Carry Your Heart pose. And she’s quite short and he’s pretty tall, so it was particularly unexpected, but it just looked cute. Although maybe I’m just used to it, since I see her pick him up whenever she feels like showing off.

  • Julia

    The bicep one, LOL. These photos are hilarrrrrrious. I always felt really confused by the “girl lays head in guy’s lap” photo — like, how often does that happen on a park bench in the middle of the woods? The only time I put my head in my fiance’s lap is on the couch at home while watching a movie because I want a head rub, or when I’m angling for some sexy time.

    I also laugh whenever I see this pose in the photo attached: Guy Admires Girl/Bride from Blurry Distance because She’s So Amazing and Obviously the Only Important One.

    Props to this couple for flipping gender norms around, and ending up with some awesome photos! Also – do non-heteronormative couples experience this kind of thing during photography sessions? Like, one person asked to be in the “male” poses or “female” poses or vice versa? (Hopefully I worded that in a respectful way) Just curious.

    • Guest

      Here’s the photo:

      • Ana

        I’m in a lesbian couple and our photographer was great about letting us share the spotlight/have things be equal. The only inequality was that my upper body was more flexible than my wife’s so if the “pose” involved reaching behind me or over the head, it was always me.

        • KM

          We really love (most of) our photos now, but the sub-set of “edited” photos sent to us right after the wedding were really hard on my wife because she felt like the selection made her out to be the “traditional dude” with all focus on me (i.e. focused face shots of me and her as “backup” figure)…and this was two brides in dresses, hers even arguably the more “traditional bridal gown” than mine. I warmed up to the camera more easily than she did and we both have our individual body image issues so it was an awkward and difficult conversation for us to work through.. but it really hurt my wife to think she was seen as some kind of ugly duckling or “backup figure” on a day that she actually felt so centered and beautiful in memory. I’ve wondered since if many grooms feel this way with so much of the “traditional” wedding photography.

  • Noelle Bakken

    So much loling. Especially “I Carry Your Heart (I Carry It On My Back)” – the title alone makes it amazing.

  • Nope.

    I’ll just add that a lot of the gender normative photography pretty much goes out the window when the bride is seven inches taller than the groom. We were thrilled that our photographers A) didn’t make my husband stand on a box and B) took the time to find some really nice angles/poses that made us look like ourselves, but which allowed us to be in the same frame.

    Just wanted to give hope to the other tall girls out there! Find a good photographer and they will make both of you feel lovely and comfortable and non-cheesy!

    • KJS

      Awesome! I’m 4-5 inches taller and although I love our heights day to day, it does sometimes look awkward in photos. Would love to see examples if you have them.

      • Nope.

        We found the snuggled up from behind pose looked good for us: http://malloryplusjustin.pixieset.com/lilydavid/lilydavid/?pid=76867611&id=227

        As did the peeking out from behind him:
        http://malloryplusjustin.pixieset.com/lilydavid/engagements/?pid=55429685&id=24

        As did sitting in creative ways to get close to each other (although we’re the same height sitting down):
        http://malloryplusjustin.pixieset.com/lilydavid/engagements/?pid=55472199&id=116

        In general, we did only a tiny bit of trickery (I leaned against a wall, or where he was inadvertently higher on a hill: http://malloryplusjustin.pixieset.com/lilydavid/lilydavid/?pid=76873740&id=250).

        There are some photos of us where we’re standing straight on (http://malloryplusjustin.pixieset.com/lilydavid/lilydavid/?pid=76633105&id=10) and it’s very clear that I’m a lot taller. You know what? I’m a lot taller. That’s fine. That’s what we look like! But in most of the photos, where we’re moving/sitting/gesturing/dancing, the height difference isn’t nearly as clear.

        I’m thinking about submitting some photos to APW since taller women/shorter men couples are rare (7% of the population!) and are woefully underrepresented in wedding world.

        • vegankitchendiaries

          That’s a brilliant idea. I’m 5’11” and I’d love to see it. I married a man an inch taller than me, but I dated dudes shorter than me (often MUCH shorter) and, seriously, when your tall, getting over that kind of thing quickly is the best thing you can do for your love life! Normalizing taller lady/shorter dude couple pictures is something that’s long overdue, I think.

        • KJS

          I would love to see that post with examples from a few different weddings/engagements! You should definitely submit and get the ball rolling.

          Gorgeous photos btw. :) They look really natural/un-awkward so it looks like there’s nothing to worry about.

        • Yes, please!
          I also want to know if taller ladies wear heels when they marry a shorter dude. And like, how they rock it.

        • You guys rock! I love your photos and embracing of the taller-woman dynamic.

          I’m 6′ and am slightly taller than my beau – we like us this way! But I usually stick to medium/small heels and reserve the 6″ sparkle shoes for girls-night out/ events where I won’t be tempted to walk my feet to death.
          (ask me about my collection of actually cute/elegant shoes with cork footbeds! The sparkle shoes are the only painful pair left :) )

          Anyway, I really do love being tall and it’s always fun to find other ladies rocking the height. <3 !

        • ms k

          My mom is 5 inches taller than my dad! I didn’t know the percentage was that small!

  • To be honest, I think if the poses had been done more naturally rather than intentionally to look silly they wouldn’t have been all that awkward. They’re sweet, tender positions… and usually it’s the female doing the “head on chest” because they’re shorter, but I could absolutely see my very masculine husband doing some of those poses with me. Just offering another opinion. :)

    • Guest

      I just looked back at my own wedding pictures now… and I like that even though my photog grabbed some traditional shots of me with my husband as less of the focal point…

      • Guest

        she also grabbed some awesome ones of him too, swapped.

        • vegankitchendiaries

          AWWW! Totes adorbs. I remember your wedding post… so, so sweet!

    • KC

      I think some of them would find it well-nigh impossible to avoid being a bit silly (as noted with the hand-with-ring-on-guy’s-pecs pose) when gender-swapped, but some will tend to just look a bit silly when gender-swapped because 95% or more of “those” photos have a specific gender in a particular half of the role. (there’s nothing that says a girl can’t dip a guy to kiss him, or a guy can’t pop his foot while kissing, but we’re not used to seeing that)

      If one were working with a “blank slate” of never having seen this sort of set of engagement/wedding photos, then more of them could be gender swapped with less silliness. Probably?

  • Clare

    I have mixed feelings about this post. On one hand, yes there is a weird amount of gender specific posing. On the other hand, its kind of dissing people who might want some of those posed photos. I’m super short, I rest my head on my partner’s chest all the time- not because he’s a big strong man, but because its convenient. We have photos of us in that pose that I really like, because its a very nature photo of us.

    Sometimes ring shots are really important to people, perhaps its a family heirloom or a really important symbol to them.

    Its good to be aware of poses that are super dependent on gender, and I’m looking forward to seeing example poses that don’t have that dynamic.

    I’m just hope that post does a little bit less shaming on people who might really like having traditional photos.

    • Violet

      I hear you. Sometimes examining the previously-unexamined can feel like shaming. In the case of this post, I personally didn’t get that negative of a tone. It felt like a light-hearted way of examining the often unquestioned poses people make. People often have pictures like this because that’s what they see in the WIC or Pinterest, or that’s what their photog told them to do so they went with it, etc. There often isn’t a lot of thought put into it.

      Now, sometimes there is thought, a preference for a certain aesthetic, or in your case, the realities of body height! But so many people are getting the same photos taken, it seems unlikely to me they all really thought about it and decided to have the same gendered pictures. It just seems unlikely to me to be a coincidence that all these individuals really thought it through and just happened to arrive at the same gendered conclusions.

      Also, I don’t think these poses are “traditional.” All of my grandparents’ wedding photos (what I personally go by as “traditional,” obviously YMMV) have them standing side by side, holding hands, looking straight into the camera. Ain’t never seen an old photo of a bride on the ground hugging her man’s leg. I have seen that on Pinterest, though.

      • vegankitchendiaries

        Yeah, I REALLY dig what Violet’s saying here (especially in regards to the use of the word “traditional”) but would add if YOU like/want a picture of your ring in a flower, or a shot of your head in your fiancés lap… AWESOME FOR YOU!!!! We have a tonne of corny shots in our batch, and I like a lot of ’em.

        • Violet

          Exactly. Straight up aesthetics are a good enough reason, especially when we’re taking photography. While it’s documenting a day, it’s still also an art form. I’m pretty sure aesthetics are allowed to matter in art. ; )

      • Jess

        The last paragraph of this is soooo true. Standing in a line with my family? Pro, because that’s what we do EVERY HOLIDAY. It’s what my grandparents’ wedding pictures look like. It’s what my parents’ wedding pictures look like.

        Artfully looking like a model in a field while getting a piggyback ride? not so flattering to me, not so traditional.

      • “Ain’t never seen an old photo of a bride on the ground hugging her man’s leg. I have seen that on Pinterest, though.” <3

    • SarahG

      I hear you. I think there’s two things at work here: 1. the choices individuals make (either the people getting married or the photographer or both) and 2. the gendered, sexist culture in which those choices are made. Critiquing #2 is necessary, and sometimes involves pointing out trends in #1. I haven’t seen our photos yet, but I’m SURE there are some that look very cliche/gendered because I’m short and my male partner is tall, and because when we were getting married it was all so overwhelming I didn’t really think about sexism in photography choices (this is so unlike me, you can tell I was overwhelmed!) and our photographer probably made choices based on what “most people” want. I am OK with that. (Hell, I’m more worried that I won’t look cute!) AND I’m also OK with critiquing the larger sexist system in which we always end up representing different-gender relationships in a certain way (dependent female, strong male). I feel fine about my personal choices, while also acknowledging that they don’t happen in a vacuum.

    • Danielle Antosz

      Fair point, but I took it a bit more tongue in cheek. If anyone wants these types of photos (whether you want to call them traditional, cheesy, or whatever else), they shouldn’t feel bad. Its your damn wedding, do what you want! (I imagine that in Cartman’s ‘what-eva. I’ll do what I want’ voice.)

  • Ha! This is great!!! I’ve become so dulled to the sexism, I didn’t realize until you pointed it out. Bravo APW, bravo! lol *thumbs up*

  • Fiona

    Can we talk about how the very last photo–the one with the groom’s head in the bride’s lap–is actually adorable.

    • laddibugg

      yeah, i really like that one!

  • april

    Ha!

  • april

    Haha! This was awesome. Our photographer was pretty good at avoiding these types of shots, but she also didn’t do a ton of posed pictures with us (she picked up pretty quickly on how awkward we felt about them). She did, however, coach me and the bridesmaids into what I like to think of as “the bridal party huddle.” It was kind of cute, but also really awkward. So we demanded that the groomsmen take the same picture …

    • april

      And the gents …

      • Meg Keene

        Hahahaha. This is…. priceless.

  • ms.m

    This is amazing! and one of the reasons why we have vowed not to use our wedding photographer again. Her attempt at a lesbian wedding was a bit mediocre. A few times I said “well what would you do if a male groom were shorter and smaller in stature than a bride?” When she tried to make my butch wife pose in more feminine ways. mind you I had a fluffy tea length dress and the wife was decked out in a suit and mohawk. ;)

  • ML

    This post confused me a little because most of them look weird and awkward both ways, except for the head on chest one, which does seem pretty typical. It seems more about bad poses, rather than ones that would look normal for a female/ not normal for a male.

    • Eve

      Completely agree with this. The shots basically all look ridiculous – not as much due to the contrast between traditional and reversed genders but because the couple just seems to be making a joke of the shoot. Still a good point – we should be thinking about gendered poses and what they are saying, if anything.

  • Kayjayoh

    For our engagement photos, we have a number of photos of me trying to eat his brains, zombie-style, and me chewing on his beard. Of course, we also have a shot of him giving me a wet willy. Because we are odd and that’s how we roll.

  • Pingback: Best What if Photographers Shot Grooms the Same Way They Shoot Brides?, DJ Prices, DJ Reviews()

  • Teresa

    This is awesome. :) Thanks for the hilarious post (and a good reminder of what i dont want in our wedding album….)

  • SChaLA

    IN DEFENSE OF SOME OF THESE POSES: I am shorter than him.

    I can lift my husband and often do. Forgot to get a pic of that on the day of, though!

    • Jennifer

      I wish I could lift my husband! That would be an awesome photo!

  • Amanda

    What is up with the whole girl looks at camera but guy doesn’t thing? I feel like that is really common. The dude is spruced up, too. He should get spotlight!

  • And this is why, five years after getting married, we all keep coming back.

    Our favorite was doing the peeking around a tree pose with a tiny sapling and also with a saguaro cactus.

  • Amanda L

    Ugh, I just heard an ad for our local jeweler that basically said ‘It’s almost Christmas and your girlfriend really wants a ring, make her happy.’ How about ‘are you madly in love with a woman and want her to be your wife? Buy a ring!’

    Anyway, my family (sister, BIL, niece, nephew, DH, and parents) just had a photo shoot. My sister and I had a couple shots together and we totally did the cheesy hands-make-a-heart thing because we both think it is SO CHEESY so I’m sure we were laughing hysterically in those pictures.

    • Sarah E

      Yeah, the billboards for “The Best and Most Wonderful Diamond Store in the State” are a bit much. Makes me want to graffiti them with some APW-mantra magic.

  • Stacy {Woodsy Weddings}

    This is a fun read and shoot! The two obviously had fun, I love when people go against the grain!

  • JDrives

    These photos cracked me up!!!

  • LOL best post ever <3