As an elopement and intimate wedding photographer, capturing raw emotions in couples is the key to creating images that make you feel something when looking back. Capturing the essence of a couple and their love story is best done so authentically. You see the it Instagram bios all the time, right? “Capturing authentic moments,” “documenting love stories,” etc. But this can often be a tough one to nail down as a photographer. I’ve spent years practicing exactly how to invoke the emotion that every couple wants captured. So if you’re a wedding or elopement photographer, I’m here to share 8 ways to invite emotion into couple’s portraits. Through my prompts and practices, I am confident in saying that I’ve created a space for my couples emotions and love to shine.
This might sound simple, but I want to encourage you to slow down and let your couples take in the view. I don’t know about you, but I still remember the first photoshoot I had with my fiancé; we were nervous and only focused on not looking awkward. So try to remember just how intimidating a photoshoot can feel. Give your couples space and time so that their day doesn’t feel like a photoshoot.
By allowing your couples time and freedom to take in the views (wherever they may be), you are proving that they are more than just a face in your viewfinder. You’ll be surprised at the authentic smiles and gazes you’re able to capture when you view them from afar. Those quiet moments that you capture may just become some of your couple’s favorite photos and memories.
Every couple has a unique love story that I guarantee they love to tell. By asking your couples how they met, fell in love, and what makes their relationship special can help them connect with one another and bring out genuine emotions. Similarly to physically giving your couples space to take in the view, it’s important to hold space for their emotions.
And even though I have my couples tell me in a questionnaire all about their love, there really is something about asking them in-person. Maybe one partner gets embarrassed for just how many times they were friend-zoned, or maybe the other remembers the butterflies when they first saw you. Whatever their story is, it will give you a window into how you can help tell their story and what details to focus on. You can focus on the flush that comes over her cheeks, or the twinkle in his eyes during the first look.
Ahh movement. One of the key ways to invite emotion into couple’s portraits is through movement. I’m a firm believer in the whole “never stop moving” mantra when it comes to prompts and posing. Movement can add a dynamic element to your photos and help bring out emotions naturally. Ask your couples to walk, dance, or spin together to capture movements. Personally, my favorite prompt is to have my couples hold one another like it’s really cold outside (even in the heat of summer). You know, when you just snuggle in for warmth? I also love having my couples walk as if they were strolling down the sidewalk on their way to dinner. Whatever prompt you are drawn to, make sure your couples keep moving.
In giving your couple a task to focus on, they will be less focused on their “camera smile” and more focused on the task at hand. So whether it be grazing a charcuterie board or building a sandcastle, your couple will forget that the camera is even there! While I don’t claim to be a fly-on-the-wall, I do like to just let the moment happen authentically. The more at-peace a couple is, the more natural the moment will flow.
Sometimes, it’s the smallest details that evoke the biggest emotions. Focus on the way their fingers intertwine when they hold hands, the way he tucks her hair behind her ear, or the way they walk through the wildflowers. A big thing I like to do is try to capture “b-roll” that will help tell the story of their love and their session. So while I’m not a videographer, I still value the authenticity of the more “b-roll” kinda moments. How was her hair blowing in the wind? How did the mountain look as the sun went down? Was the grass hugging their bodies or dancing in the wind as well?
It’s the oldest trick in the book for a reason! Music has a way of setting the mood. Ask your couple beforehand what kind of music they listen to, who their favorite artists are, or what “their song” is. Hearing something familiar that the couple already loves is a great way to capture their true smiles, nose scrunches, and giggles.
This is where the movement really ties in! I personally prefer prompts over posing, because posing is oftentimes stiff. Rather than saying “stand like this”, I like to give my clients something move interactive. Have partner #1 whisper what they are most excited for on their wedding day. Have the other partner whisper their Chick-fil-A order to the other in their sexiest voice. Get into piggyback position, and try to buck your partner off. Looking for something a little less silly? Walk side-by-side bumping hips. Or have one partner lead the other while looking back. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but if there’s anything you can do to create true emotion, do it!
Another no-brainer, I know. But I want to encourage you to encourage your couples to be themselves. Whether they are sillier than their partner, they make funny faces at one another, or they are quiet, let them be who they are. Never push your couples to do something that doesn’t feel true to who they are. By encouraging authenticity from the get go, your couples will know that they can make every aspect of their photoshoot, wedding, or elopement true to who they are. Are they big Star Wars fans and plan to cut their cake with light sabers? Awesome! Do they bring their pups everywhere they go? Great, bring them a toy or treat!
By using the my top 8 ways to invite emotion into couple’s portraits, you can create a relaxed and emotional atmosphere that allows your couples to connect with one another and create images that truly capture their unique love story.
Looking for more photography tips, business advice, or some inspo? You can BINGE THE BLOG for all of that and more. And as always, you can find me on the ‘Gram (@sydneybreannphoto). Are you ready to wander?