March 20, 2018

When I first started in this photography adventure, I would “pin” these gorgeous images of couples laughing and loving on each other. I was so drawn to those particular types of images, because they felt so REAL. There was something authentic about the couples interaction, and it felt as if a photographer just stumble among that moment and snapped a photo of it. At the time I craved to create images like that, yet in midst of all the time I spent studying those images, I just couldn’t seem to “get it together”.

My images of couples felt stiff, life-less, and frankly a little fake. I would NEVER wish that feeling on anyone, because at the time I wanted to pull my hair out and call it quits. However time is a good teacher, and with a lot of patience I began to discover how to create those joyful, authentic, and adventurous images that I SO craved to produce. That’s why today I’m sharing my top “Four Tips for Creating Authentic Portraits of Real-Life Couples.” (YAY!) I hope this one leaves you inspired and hopeful. Here We GO!

  • Start Slow

In my early years I would jump into an engagement photo session with BIG ambitions. I’d be equipped with my paper print out of inspiration for the shoot, and the first thing I would do is try and “recreate” those moments from the photos. Well guess what, I’d usually fall flat on my face, and immediately feel discouraged. (NOT GOOD!) What I began to realize however was that, I was expecting a lot from my subjects, without me doing any of the work of “warming them up.” What do I mean by that?!? Let’s look at it this way, you don’t (or at least you shouldn’t) jump straight a workout without stretching first. We’ve found that it is important for us to use the first half-hour of a session to get our couples comfortable and excited about the images we’re creating. For us that looks like talking with the couple, asking intentional questions about them, and by starting off with more simplistic poses. From there we begin to find what looks really natural on them, and it often leads to really authentic moments being captured.

  • Keep em’ moving

Being in front of the camera doesn’t feel very natural for a lot of people, (US INCLUDED) Most folks come into a session expecting to feel at least a little awkward and maybe not like themselves. As a photographer one of the ways you can relief that tension for people is by keeping them moving. We use walking and “stepping into” poses as a way of creating moments that look real. Strolling hand-in-hand together is an activity that most couples have experienced outside of a photoshoot, and giving them an “activity” they’ve experience before allows for them to feel relaxed because it’s familiar. And that is always good.


  • Environment is Key

Placing your subjects in an environment that feels “like them” can help create that freedom and authenticity that’s so beautiful. This one requires some forethought, however aid your clients in finding a location that is either significant to them or feels like them. A couple who loves strolling through the city drinking coffee is going to feel more at home in that type of environment then they would hiking to the top of a mountain (and visa-versa.) Keep in mind that if you are shooting in a location that has lots of other people present, that it’s best to try and draw the couple away from the crowd, so that they feel more “at home” during their session. There’s nothing like a bunch of strangers watching you to make you feel uncomfortable. 😉


  • Give Space for that Magic to Happen

Be an observer of your clients. Mentally “take in” how they naturally interact when the camera is down. Balance the line of giving too many instructions and not enough, and look for those “in-between moments” that are always happening. Some of my favorite images have been taken, just as I was about to tell a couple to do sometime else, or while we were walking from one location to the next. As you become an observer of people you’ll be able to more naturally anticipate when a really sweet moment is going to happen, and you’ll be ready.

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