PHOTOGRAPHING REAL EMOTIONS
I love photographing real emotions between two people in love and Couple Shoots are definitely a great way of doing just that in the purest form.
For many of my clients, capturing the unique connection between them is what they want most from their pictures and a key reason for hiring me to take their photograph in the first place. But capturing real connection between two people is easier said than done. The camera has a tendency to turn things awkward and emotions often feel – and by default look – staged and fake. We don’t want this. On a personal level, I become ‘Mr Awkward’ in front of a camera. I absolutely hate having my picture taken most of the time. As a result, I can relate to even the most camera-shy individuals out there.
But there is hope. Despite what some people might say, we all wants to look our best and exude confidence on camera. The good news is that everyone (and yes I really mean everyone) can become a legend on film and do just that.
I often get asked how to achieve this. In this post, I wish to address just that and outline my top five tips I use to turn any Couple Shoot into a genuine and fun experience with some great pictures to remember it by filled with soul and meaning.
TIP 1: ATTITUDE SHIFT
As a photographer, I believe that it is my job and responsibility to fully put you at ease in front of my cameras and not the other way around. That is the only way I know how to successfully – and consistently – keep photographing real emotions and not staged expressions.
“Act natural”, how many of us have heard those two soul-destroying little words? They are perhaps the most counterproductive things a photographer can every say to you. Those two words are enough to make anyone act unnatural. What does it even mean? You shouldn’t have to act, just simple be. And yes that sounds a but cheesy but it’s fundamentally true.
A photoshoot is about getting good pictures, sure, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun experience for the client as well! So, let’s be clear: it is my job as a photographer to create a positive environment for my clients to be able to fully be themselves in and thrive in front of the camera.
Easy-peasy. But how do you get a couple to be themselves, relax, open up, connect and get lost in one another in front of a camera? Bring on tip number 2.
TIP 2: BUILD TRUST
If your aim is to be photographing real emotions, then trust is paramount. Every great relationship is built on trust. As a result, there needs to be a solid foundation of trust between you (the couple) and me (the photographer). A couple needs to trust that their photographer has their best interests at heart in order to break down that wall of formality and, quite often, awkwardness, that having a camera pointed at you is bound to create. I want my couples to open up and be themselves in front of me, and in many ways, this makes them somewhat vulnerable. But vulnerability can be beautiful, and essential in capturing the types of pictures my couples and I want.
Remember: trust allows for that vulnerability to willingly come out in a natural way that feels comfortable for the couple.
I like to get to know my couple a little bit before I start shooting. This builds trust and allows us to get comfortable with one another, so by the time I get my camera out, my couples know that there is nothing scary or embarrassing or awkward about this and, after a few minutes shooting, will begin to feel totally at ease and natural.
TIP 3: BECOME ACCOMPLICES
Don’t consider your clients as mannequins, consider them your accomplices and partners in making beautiful pictures with resonate real emotions. Sure enough, by breaking down the barrier between a couple and the camera through trust and allowing them to become active participants, the photoshoot turns into a collaborative fun environment for both clients and photographer to experiment in. I want my couples to feel they have a say in things and that they are an important part of the process.
As a result, the outcome speaks for itself: beautiful pictures of real couples exhibiting genuine feelings between one another.
TIP 4: SET THE MOOD
Mood is everything in creating emotionally charged photographs where real feelings are what we are striving to capture. This is why before I even think of getting my camera out, I always encourage going for a little walk of discovery together to find a perfect setting that feels right, which by the way is also another great opportunity to get my couples feeling at ease and shake off any nerves (tip 1), get them complicit in the shoot (tip 3) and get to know each other a little better (tip 2).
For me, setting the mood is about paying particular attention to quality of light, atmosphere, and noise.
One of my favourite places for couple’s shoot is a forest environment, as I find that just being surrounded by nature calms the soul and sets the right mood for my couples to relax and feel comfortable in.
TIP 5: PRIMED FOR SUNSET
I want to end every session with a high and for this reason, when possible, I want to time my final shoots and locations around sunset. By then, we would have been shooting for a few hours already. My couple are now fully enjoying themselves; any hint of initial trepidation and awkwardness is long gone, and they feel super comfortable in front of my cameras. They are primed for some wow shots and sunsets are bound to deliver the right mood and atmosphere to get some incredible pictures.
Everyone loves a sunset and ending a session with a gorgeous couple looking in love and confident with stunning golden light is the cherry on top of the cake for a great couple shoot, one which is bound to create some lovely memories.
So here you have it, my five top tips to get the most out of a Couple’s Shoot and start photographing real emotions and some raw feelings of love.
Now it’s time to see some pictures.
Want to see a world class master of shooting for emotions? Have a look at the work of Gabe McClintock.
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