10 hacks to up your Couples Shoot game

Haley and I recently offered a Couples Shoot workshop here in Hamilton. I'd made some notes of what I wanted to share with our attendees so thought I'd share them for those who couldn't make the workshop!





First up: Preparation is key

I've always found that the way you prepare your clients prior to a shoot is equally as important as anything you do on the day. If you can communicate clearly what they can expect and how to prepare in advance, they learn they can trust that you have things in hand and they start to feel comfortable with you right away.


To prep my clients I start with a questionnaire to find out a bit about who they are, and what they want out of the shoot - Are there any 'must have' photos they have in mind?



The most important question I always ask: Have they been photographed before? Clients bring their prior experiences of having been photographed into the shoot, so it's important that I know and understand how they feel about any previous shoots and what they liked or disliked about the resulting images.



I also send out a guide which includes thoughts on what they might wear, what to bring along, and anything they might need to think about before the day. This often answers any questions they have and helps set them up for success before the shoot has even begun!


The day of the shoot


The first five or ten minutes I don’t pick up the camera. For me this time is about information gathering and rapport building. I want them to feel at ease, it gives them the opportunity to banter and chat with me, release their nerves and ensures they feel comfortable with me before I even lift up my camera!


One way to build trust is to let them talk through any apprehensions, take time to reflect their tones, expressions and body language as you gently ease their fears and make them feel confident and heard.



When they're ready I'll move on to what I want the couple to know and understand about the shoot, I call this my posing chat and I have one for every genre. Usually it’s the same thing but I personalise it depending on the age, aesthetics and needs of the couple.

A few hints:

- We want the couples feet to be as close together as possible

- Hands are not allowed to be limp and hang (on camera it looks like you don’t like each other!)

- The person closest to the camera generally appears largest

- You don’t always have to look at the camera

- Relax I will tell you what I want you to do


Then depending on who I'm photographing I may include some specific posing for women e.g how to get a curve through legs and arms , and for those who are conscious of it - How to reduce your size visually ( pushing hips away from camera).

I’ll add anything else in that is relevant to the couples that are in front of me, for example if they're very similar heights and worried about this then I would address it with examples of how we can make this work well for them.


Most couples have a go to pose. It’s something they feel comfortable in, or it’s just something they think they should do. Look out for this - Some people will always look to the camera, some will kiss, some will laugh. Don’t assume just because that’s what they are doing, that it’s what they want, it's often a nervous response!

Give them something they can do, start with something easy, like walking. It's not threatening when they already know they can do it!


Prompts for walking can include:


- Bump hips as you walk forward (this usually ends in laughter)


- Snuggle up like it’s really cold

Once you know what kind of couple they are play to their strengths! Can they move? Do they love to dance? Piggy back?

These shoots often involve pushing your couples out of their comfort zone - Some people are not naturally affectionate but want intimate photos, they need to be walked through how to do this. You can joke, laugh at how awkward it is, whatever. Then tell them to close their eyes and move their foreheads close.


Once you have them set up in a flattering pose, tweak it as you see fit. Making micro changes can make all the difference to refine the image and take it to the next level.



Don't forget though - Don’t be afraid to let something go if it's not working. Sometimes we visualise the perfect set up, but in practice it falls flat. Maybe it doesn't suit the couple, maybe they're not into it.. You can try changing it up a little but if it's still not coming together just shake it off and move on to the next idea. No one gets it right 100% of the time!


Flow posing and prompts - This is one of my go-tos

Using several prompts together will get great movement within your images.


For example I might suggest to my couples in quick succession :


-Grab each other’s hands and spread your arms like an aeroplane


-Wrap your partner up in your arms, make sure to get in close


-Whisper something naughty in your partner's ear


The bonus with flow posing is they don't have too much time to think about what they're doing, it get's them out of their own heads and into the moment.




What are your biggest challenges when it comes to shooting couples? Come join the conversation in our facebook group.


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