Photographing couples in love is an intimate and special form of portrait photography. As the photographer, it is your job to capture these memories and moments that will last a lifetime for your clients. In this specific niche, the work you create is built on your ability to understand the conditions and complexities of romantic relationships. You will want to know your client truly, make them feel comfortable and relaxed, give them ideas for candid and expressive posing and act as if you are a trusted friend hired merely to create a recollection of their intimacy and love for one another.
If you want to be successful as a love photographer, your work should begin by creating a connection with your client, understanding their relationship and expressing their true personalities through your images. Whether you are an experienced couples photographer or looking to strengthen your skills and client relationships, here are ten tips for photographing couples in love.
Start By Connecting With Your Client
As a couples photographer, your job expands far past the typical photographer-client relationship. In a typical portrait or headshot session, your subject may arrive at your studio, have their photograph taken and then leave once they are finished. Yet, in a couples session, the process is much more personal between you and your clients.
Typically, photographers that capture images of love do so for various special occasions such as; anniversaries, proposals, engagements and weddings. Due to the nature of these events, you will want to start your photography session by connecting and forming a relationship with your client. Creating a bond and mutual understanding between the two parties will allow for your subjects to feel relaxed and open up organically in front of the camera.
In order to connect with your couple, get to know more about them and their relationship. Perhaps you set a meeting before your shoot to show them ideas for wardrobe, posing and location options. While you are planning the session, ask them questions that allow you to dive deeper into their personalities. Some topics could include; their hometowns, how long they have been together, how they met, what they like to do together or what they both love about their relationship. As a love photographer, you are set with the task to capture the true essence of your client’s love and admiration for one another.
Pick The Best Location
Once you have begun to build a repertoire and connection with your client, you can start to brainstorm location ideas. Locations can often be decided and chosen by the client and requested explicitly during the booking of their session. Yet, in many instances, the client will seek the advice of the photographer for location recommendations.
If you are photographing your couple in the town that they live, start a list of places that feel special and memorable to them. This could be simple spots such as their house, their favorite cafe, the spot in town where they go to watch the sunset, a park where they walk their dogs or even the beach where they spend their weekend afternoons. When determining the location in a couple’s place of residence, aim to choose areas that will tell the story of their relationship.
Now, if you’re a photographer that lives in a popular, tourist destination – a majority of your clients will be visitors wanting to capture their love in a beautiful city. For example, let’s say that you are a portrait, love photographer in Paris. Paris is a wonderful and romantic city, perfect for capturing couples while on vacation. In this circumstance, the majority of your clients will have little to no knowledge of where they may want to capture their images. The typical locations will come into play, such as the Eiffel Tower, but as a photographer well-versed in your city, you should aim to suggest several photogenic areas of town.
When choosing a location, you should consider:
- The purpose of the shoot
- Iconic spots that have a personal touch
- A place that may be hidden, quiet and away from tourist crowds
- Spaces that provide natural light and a beautiful backdrop
If your client asks you to suggest locations for their session, create a list of 3-5 options from which they can choose. If your session time allows for more than one location, develop a route from one spot to the next accessible by either walking or using public transportation. Having an itinerary for your session with location details will help your couple understand what to expect on shoot day.
Make Them Feel Comfortable
One of the most challenging aspects a photographer faces when photographing couples is determining how to make their client feel comfortable. Considering that the typical everyday, normal couples having their photographs taken are not professional models, posing and feeling at ease in front of the camera can prove to be difficult.
In order to help your clients open up in front of the lens, you will need to not only guide their movements but focus on creating a fun, relaxing environment. One way to achieve this is by continuing to talk to them throughout your session, for it can be easy to make the mistake of going silent while you are in shooting mode. Too often we hear of photographers who may start by chatting with their couple once they arrive at the location, set them up for their first pose and then begin to shoot without a word. This is an irrevocable mistake you will want to avoid at all costs when working with a client.
For many photographers, client interaction can be tricky territory to navigate. Not every photographer is necessarily an extroverted, outgoing personality type, so consistent talking and communication with a client can feel uneasy. Yet, you have to remember that a client books a photographer for not only beautiful images but a well-rounded experience. With this in mind, be intentional during your session and focus on communicating with your client throughout.
This includes giving them ideas for poses, making jokes, carrying on a conversation through the shoot and making them see you as less of a photographer and more as their friend with a camera. Creating a comfortable set environment should be at the top of your priorities when working with your clients.
Aid Them With Poses
As mentioned above, capturing love photography will require the photographer to aid their client with posing. Poses for couples are usually intimate, delicate and showcase an outward expression of their love. Some clients will arrive at a session with ideas in mind for posing or may have even had professional photographs taken before and therefore feel at ease in front of the camera. These clients will usually need little to no guidance. Yet, for couples who are weary and may express feelings of timidness, it is essential to understand how to gently aid and guide them into comfortable poses.
Before the shoot, you can create a shot list as a visual reference for your couple. This can include inspirational images, showing them how to pose and interact with one another. Although many couples will want the traditional poses they may have seen in other couples photography sessions, it is essential to remind them to pose in a way that feels natural for them. When a couple aims to “recreate” a pose that doesn’t truly express their personalities, the results can be awkward and inauthentic.
When posing your couple, encourage them to become intertangled with each other. Holding hands, kissing and wrapping their arms around one another is a perfect way to show them blissfully in love. Some go-to poses you can use in your session are:
- Holding each other’s hands
- Kissing on the forehead
- Looking into each other’s eyes
- Wrapping their arms around another and laughing
- Being swept up and carried
- Running or jumping with happiness
- Sharing a passionate kiss
Remember that love photography is always about the emotion, feelings, and intimacy of your couple. Focus on setting the mood, creating the scene and capturing this essence of passion and vulnerability in your images.
Have Them Interact and Act Candidly With Each Other
A common misconception about portrait photography is that every image needs to pose and your subjects’ focus always has to be directed toward the camera. As we have covered some ways you can guide your clients through posing, it is also important to remember that candid, unplanned moments can bring about your most authentic imagery.
The best way to create candid shots is by having your couple interact with each other. Prompt them to talk with one another, share the funniest thing that happened to them that week, tell their worst joke or even just tell them to act as if nobody’s watching.
These actions not only help create natural expressions but give the couple a break from the traditional posing with one another. You want to remember that a portrait session for a couple should be enjoyable, so encourage them to have fun together while you snap away.
Capture Their Relationship
Since you have taken the time to connect with your couple and understand their bond, now is the perfect opportunity to create photographs that capture their relationship. To truly encompass the personality and behaviors of a couple, you should encourage them to engage in activities together during your session.
For example, let’s say you are hired to photograph a proposal session that will be used to announce a couple’s upcoming wedding. While you will want to create some beautiful portraits of these two, you should also suggest additional setups for their session. These other, location-focused images describe lifestyle imagery. This is where you can represent the life of your clients by showing them in certain places, engaging in activities and creating scenarios that are representative of their daily moments with one another.
Here are some examples of how you can use a couple’s relationship to create lifestyle, love imagery:
- Maybe one of their favorite pastimes is to go to watch baseball games together; you could then create a whole series of them in sports jerseys attending a game. Have the couple sit in the bleachers, order popcorn and cheer on their favorite team.
- Let’s say they are both professional chefs or bakers; then you could photograph them in their home kitchen cooking together. Have them bake a cake, toss around some flour and make a perfect mess together.
- Perhaps they spend their Sunday afternoons boating with their two dogs; you could photograph them out at sea enjoying a family day.
- Or if your couple is a bit more adventurous and enjoys hiking up cliffs, join them for a morning hike and capture them at the peak, soaking in the breathtaking view.
In each of these scenarios, you are deviating from the typical couples session and instead are infusing their personalities into the images you create. By showing the physical actions of the couple spending time together, enjoying what they love to do most, you will be effectively capturing their relationship in a real, meaningful way.
When approached by couples for sessions, don’t be afraid to pitch them the idea of a lifestyle and love photography shoot. This will show them your creativity and give them an option that they may have never considered. To build a platform and location concept for a lifestyle couples shoot, integrate this idea into your first meeting when you are learning more about the couple’s history and relationship. You can ask them simple questions about their hobbies, weekend activities and passions to jumpstart the brainstorming of your ideas.
Shoot The In-Between Moments
To add to the candid, effortless moments of your session, you should always be shooting what we call in the photography world the “in-between” moments. The in-between moments are mostly the small pockets of time between posed or set-up shots where the real magic happens. Imagine these as sweet, candid encounters, another way for you to capture some truly natural, authentic imagery of your clients.
What matters in love photography is that you can photograph the unexpected within the expected. Having an eye that can pick out the tender and sweet moments between two humans is the mark of a genuinely talented couples photographer. Even when it seems that you have created every shot possible, there will always be that last interaction that defines the entire session.
To employ the use of in-between moments, keep shooting even when the couple may have paused during their session. This could be while in the transition from one location to another or even during readjustment of poses. A couple who is having a good time during their session will likely have elevated moods and positive expressions with one another. Try to capture those pieces of time that they may not realize were worth the shot. And even after your session, including images in your gallery that your couple did not know you captured can be a bonus to any photography session.
Avoid Acting As The “Photographer”
When working with couples in the realm of love photography, you as the photographer will necessarily become a pillar of expressing the bond of two people. Although you are hired to perform a service for your clients, a rule to live by when photographing couples is to act less like a photographer and more like a trusted friend with a camera.
Because intimacy can be hard for individuals to convey in an outward manner, couples will already feel tense and nervous about expressing displays of affection to someone they view as a stranger. As you have already made the strides to connect and build trust with your client, remember that your actions during the shooting are just as if not more important than the preparation.
To allow your clients to view you as a trusted confidant, aim to focus less on your camera and more on working directly with your subjects. This means spending your session alternating between viewpoints from behind the camera and stepping out in front of the lens to actively engage with your models. For every few photographs, you take, pause and reconvene with your subjects in order to create a smooth transition between frames.
Another tip is to be completely set up before your couple arriving at their location. This means you should already have changed out your lenses, tested the lighting and set your proper composition for when the session will begin. In this manner, you can make the technical aspects an afterthought for your client, focusing primarily on your demeanor, interaction, and presence with them.
Add Movement To Your Images
The last technique you can implement in your love photography is to add movement. Encouraging your couple to stretch their limbs and move with one another will add emotion and dynamic composition to your images. These acts of moving can be simple such as walking hand in hand, running down a beach, spinning each other around or even jumping in the air together.
Movement can also be expressed through the use of touch, instructing your clients to use their hands as often as possible. For example, couples can use their hands by caressing each other’s faces, placing their arms around each other or just simply holding one another while sitting, standing or walking.
You will want to integrate movement throughout the session, especially in locations that allow for carefree, lifestyle images to create. Let’s say you are photographing a couple on a beautiful beach. In addition to your posed photographs, instruct your clients to walk hand in hand in the sand together, run through waves, splash and play with one another or even roll around in the sand. The images that integrate action will tell a story and showcase the personalities of your couple in love.
Give Them An Unforgettable Experience
Finally, through the process of bonding with your couple, making them feel comfortable and creating stunning images, you must always remember to give them an unforgettable experience. As with many forms of intimate portraiture, a client hires a photographer not only for their work but for the knowledge they will receive during their session.
Your job is not to only create well composed and technically correct images. You are there to establish a connection, form a relationship and act as the vessel that demonstrates and articulates the love and admiration two people have for each other. To do this effectively, you will have to create an environment before your session, on location and after the shoot that is memorable for your clients.
Remembering that it is a privilege to be a part of someone’s special day, you should always strive to create lasting and quality relationships with your clients. This includes having a reasonable turnaround time for the delivery of your images, answering any post-shoot questions they may have and sending them a follow up thank you note for choosing you as their photographer.
Not only are these good practices in building your reputation and business as a love photographer, but will surely evolve and expand into the future of your career with word of mouth and glowing recommendations from satisfied, happy clients.
Capturing couples in love is a beautiful experience for any photographer. Being able to create and craft moments that showcase the bond, dedication, and adoration of two humans is a truly memorable event. Whether you are photographing their anniversary, proposal, engagement or wedding – you are now a part of their special unity.
To be a successful couples photographer, you must connect with your client, create a relaxed environment, guide their poses, capture the essence of their relationship and create an unforgettable experience.
Are you a photographer that captures couples in love? Do you have any additional tips for working with clients? Please share with us in the comments below.