Couples photos are a romantic and intimate type of portrait photography. It’s a really special experience for a photographer, as you are helping to capture special memories of their relationship on camera.
However, it also has its challenges and there are a few mistakes that a couples photographer can easily make. To help you overcome common couple photography challenges, we will go over these, with some couples photography tips to help you make the best couple photos.
1. Not connecting with the couple
Because this is such an intimate form of portrait photography, couples may be shy and awkward in front of you. This is completely natural, but it’s up to you as the photographer to build a relationship with the couple, to establish their trust in you and making the experience more enjoyable for the couple.
2. Not finding out important details
Before you plan your session, it’s important to know some context about your couple. Make sure you find out the following details so you can plan accordingly:
- How long they’ve been together
- The purpose of the shoot
- Their personalities
- What their expectations of the shoot are
3. Not planning the session
For photographers who are starting out, they can neglect planning the session, either thinking that they will spontaneously plan it on the spot, or the couple will plan it themselves. Most clients will be relying on your expertise as the professional, as they may have little to no experience with photography. To ensure things go smoothly on the day, you should always have a plan beforehand; and ideally, talk it through with the couple together, in advance.
4. Not choosing the right location
To help couples create beautiful professional portraits that they love, the location is a huge factor. It’s important to choose the right location according to the purpose of the shoot. If it’s a photoshoot to celebrate an engagement, your clients may want a romantic, fairy-tale setting. If it’s to celebrate a pregnancy, your couple may want a more low-key, intimate setting, such as their home. It’s always important to consider the shoot and liaise with clients to establish the right setting.
5. Not taking your couple’s personalities into consideration
While it’s easy to fall into a pattern of shooting couples photos in your particular style, this may not suit their personal tastes. If your couple is fun-loving and playful, it’s unlikely they will want an artsy, posed, black and white photoshoot. Always ask your couple what style of photography they like and whether it suits their personalities.
6. Not chatting to your couple
Nothing is more awkward than a photographer who makes small talk on arrival and then is silent for the rest of the shoot. To make the experience comfortable and fun throughout, chat to your clients, make jokes to break the tension, give them direction, and ask them for input about what they want to do.
7. Not asking your couple what they want
Some couple photographers take too much control of the session and take the photos that they think are the best. While you, as the photographer, are bringing your professional skill set to the shoot, there are also photos that your clients will have their hearts set on. To make sure you are helping your clients get what they want out of the experience, ask them what they want, rather than only getting the shots you like. Again, this is about proper planning.
8. Not showing what makes the couple special
It can be tempting to follow industry trends, but by doing so you will end up with a cookie-cutter set of couples photos, which look great but lack all the charm of your clients. By asking your couple what their shared hobbies are, or where they met, you can tell the story of your couple. If they are both football fans, shooting them at their favourite stadium would make a genuinely special and unique photoshoot for them, rather than having just the same shoot as everyone else.
9. Not telling couples how to pose
Inexperienced couples photographers will assume that couples know how to pose, but they will rely on you for direction. Give them prompts for poses to help them out. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out this article on the best couples poses.
10. Telling your couple to smile at the camera
Couples will inevitably want posed portraits, but there are so many great poses beyond smiling at the camera. Try telling your couples to look at each other, or to look into the distance together.
11. Not taking candid photos
Many portrait photographers will think to take professional, posed portraits. This is great as many clients will want this, but candid photos usually end up being the gems of a photoshoot. Make sure you capture some candid moments too.
12. Being too involved
This might seem contradictory, given what we’ve just said about giving them directions – however, a couples photographer should try to be a fly on the wall. Because being intimate in front of a stranger can be unusual for couples, being too involved can make them hold back. And by giving the couple breaks to chat and do their thing, you have the perfect chance to get some great candid photos.
13. Only taking static photos
Taking photos of your couple sitting, standing and lying down is great, but adding movement to your images can add energy and enthusiasm. Asking your couple to hold hands and run, or even twirling each other around can create some great photos.
14. Only shooting at eye level
While the majority of your images will be taken at eye level, you are missing out on some great photos by limiting yourself to just one angle. By experimenting with angles, you can create some really interesting images. For example, if your couple lies down, and the image is taken from above, you can evoke feelings of closeness and intimacy from them.
15. Not allowing enough time for the shoot
A typical couple photoshoot should take an hour. As a professional, you should: calculate the time of your journey to the location of the shoot, arrive early so you don’t eat into shooting time, and factor in the time the shoot will end, too.
16. Not having a contingency plan
Imagine you have an engagement photoshoot planned, and you’re at an outdoor location. Unexpectedly, heavy downpours of rain begin, and it doesn’t stop. What do you do now? Because unforeseen circumstances arrive, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan for your photo shoot, so you can adapt when issues arise.
17. Not shooting in RAW
Some photographers can be tempted to shoot in JPEG, as it looks initially much better, and takes up less memory on your drive, but JPEG images are more difficult to edit. RAW files maintain the original image data, making it much easier to rectify issues in post-processing.
18. Not retouching
Some photographers who are just starting aren’t experienced in photo editing. Photo editing is a current industry standard, which most photographers offer. Your clients will likely want blemishes on their photos edited out, so it’s worthwhile for you as a couples photographer to invest some time in learning to retouch photos. Alternatively, handoff retouching to a professional specialist.
19. Not having a workflow
Photographers who are starting often don’t think about their workflow, which makes life difficult for them. Having disorganised photos on your computer, with both RAW and retouched photos all jumbled up makes it a nightmare when it comes to sending your photos out to your clients. Couple photography workflow is especially important as you want to keep photos of different couples properly organised.
20. Not backing up your work
Although we rely heavily on technology, sometimes it fails us. Always back up your photos to a hard drive or cloud storage to avoid losing all your work.
As an alternative to using paid-for cloud storage, take a look at the Splento App – organise your photos into albums, all in full original quality, and never lose a photo again!
Once your couples photosession is complete, you can upload the final images to a fresh album, send it to your clients, and they have an instant – free – online album they can keep forever, to share with whom they want.
The Splento App is a great new way to engage more with your clients and is the opportunity to offer a unique and new service to them all.