Those amateurish, heavily edited phone shots that couples make for Instagram are maybe a wonderful way to celebrate engagements or anniversaries.
But Instagram hasn’t eliminated the need for a great lens and a well-thought photo session. Unlike the engagement pics took by your friend’s brother’s cousin, professional photos will make the couple’s scrapbook. They will take their present moment and create memories out of it. And that’s why couples photographers won’t get out of business any time soon.
“People are so wonderful that a photographer has only to wait for that breathless moment to capture what he wants on film.” – Weegee
Making a great couples photo session isn’t just about technique. It’s also about getting to know those two people, understand their affinities, hobbies, who they are, what they like, what brings them together. It’s about transmitting that knowledge into a visual form whose lifetime is much longer than an average post on social media.
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And then, when such an album ends up on Instagram, everyone will profit. The happy couple will get to show some of the most amazing and creative moments they spent together. And you will get a nice endorsement along with the tag.
9 Tips for Perfect Couple Photography
Whereas couples photography has much in common with portrait and wedding photography, there are extra things to keep in mind. Check out my list of handy tips to get those perfect romantic shots.
- Plan your shooting session ahead with your models. You need to figure out which kind of environments would suit your purpose best. You can’t just take them to a hiking trip without them being aware and ready for that. One of the main preconditions for a successful photo shooting is that your models feel comfortable and reassured. To you, it may sound like a good idea to take them to a hiking trip, but if it’s not their familiar or favorite activity, it just won’t do. Try showing them a bunch of ideas – a photo session in deep woods or mountains for more adventurous couples, or in a park, city downtown or at the seaside for those more traditional.
- Tell them not to wear too prominent colors or styles. As cool as his Star Wars hoodie might be, it just draws too much attention to itself. The couple’s clothes should be rather neutral and coordinated in some way, which of course doesn’t mean wearing identical or even matching clothes. You want them to appear connected but not merged. Planning their style ahead has another advantage. They will be pretty active, maybe run, jump, climb hills, walk through thick forests. Whatever you make them do, they have to be prepared to look their best while feeling natural. (Of course, the “prominent” part doesn’t apply in case of wedding photography.)
- Talk, talk, talk. It’s normal that they should feel awkward and exposed with you watching them through the lens. You are an intruder and they are well aware of that. But you can make the awkwardness go away at least partially by inciting conversations about their relationship. One of the best ways to do that is to ask them how they met. It will trigger their memories and install the right mood for new romantic moments. By having them talk about their old memories, you will help them create new ones.
- Feel free to give advice and direct. Contrary to all expectations, your being in charge will relax them. She won’t have to worry if her hair got messy. He won’t have to bother thinking whether he looks too stiff in that position. Providing clear instructions is a shortcut for your models to trust you.
- Suggest poses, but don’t insist. Much like portrait photography, couples photography requires you to have things planned, but also to be ready to adjust your plans to match their wishes. If they don’t feel comfortable while kissing in public, that’s okay. Sometimes, a warm and affectionate hug will be more telling than a kiss.
- Never keep them still for too long. Have them walk a lot, and even walk away from you. This is a handy trick because they will get a few moments alone, with you being able to capture some genuine scenes when they forget that they’re being photographed. Photographing a couple is a way to literally take a glimpse into their relationship from different angles. You shouldn’t always stand right in front of them. Shoot them from behind or from the side. Have them lie on the ground and close their eyes. Tell them to dance or act silly so you could get them to laugh sincerely. You’ll be surprised to see the results.
- They don’t have to be close all the time. Feel free to take separate photos of them, or photos where they are positioned apart from each other. You don’t want this session to ever become monotonous. If she is sitting on a stone, it’s perfectly fine that he should stand a couple of feet away and stare at the distance. Relationship is about many different ways two people can be together.
- Not every scene has to feature the couple themselves. You can single out different motifs that are related to their love. In fact, if you’re at their home, ask them about different items and their meaning. A vase may be just an ordinary part of their interior, but it can also be a special gift he gave her for on their first Christmas Eve. If that’s the case, it will definitely make sense to feature that vase in a composition along with the engagement rings. You can also make photos that show them only partially – let’s say, their hands with intertwined fingers, or just their bodies standing back to back or next to each other. There are countless ways to show their love, and your job is to find as many and as compelling as possible.
- If you’re a newbie, practice with friends. If you’ve never done couple photography before but want to give it a shot, a couple of your friends probably won’t mind posing for you. Even though you’re probably close with them, it will make for some nice experiments. And it will give you a feeling about all the things you need to pay attention to.