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  • Writer's pictureRachel Curry

How To Get Emotion-Filled, Authentic Photos During Couples Sessions

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

We've all been there. A couple books a session then forewarns you that they are "super awkward" and "don't know what to do with their hands." They're super excited to work with you but a bit anxious. Honestly, I think we've all felt that way ourselves. There's just something about a camera being RIGHT THERE staring at you. No pressure, right?! Not everyone is a model. But the good news is: They don't have to be! And that's where you come in...

As, a photographer, your job is to deliver beautiful images, right? Of course. But, another responsibility is making sure your clients feel relaxed, confident and easily able to be themselves during their session. And if they don't, something is super missing, right?!


Here are 6 super basic methods to not only make your clients feel COMFORTABLE AROUND YOU, but to elicit natural reactions that you crave during your couples sessions:

1.) Be their friend: Get to know them WAY before the session

As soon as a couple books with you, say for an engagement shoot, ask a few questions about them such as how they met, why they fell in love, what their hobbies are, and what they do for a living. This will not only help you gain insight on their personalities, but will help them feel comfortable prior to the shoot. People LOVE talking about themselves and sharing stories about their lives, usually. So, ask away! You might even ask what their favorite wine is and surprise them with a bottle of it for them to enjoy post-session (because editing red teeth isn't cute).

Making friends with couples has been one of my favorite parts of being a photographer. Can you say "social butterfly?!" I've developed so many relationships this way, which to me is a total win, win!

2.) Cater To Their Personalities

Immediately upon meeting a couple for a session, I re-introduce myself and ask ALL about their story, allowing them to open up to me. Then, I'll tell my story about why I'm a photographer and the passions behind this business. Once I've formed this connection, I know we'll be more comfortable with each another.

Plus, personalities matter! If one person is super introverted and another is extroverted, that is a major indicator as to how I am going to shoot and what prompts I will request later on in the session. For example, I won't ask a couple who are both a little more reserved to run and body slam each other then fall to the ground laughing. They may not love that idea. However, they might just be up for swaying together and the guy giving the girl a spin in her flowy dress. Ya feel me? Always keep their personalities and comfort zones in mind, and you'll snag some stellar shots.

3.) Give Them Prompts, Not Poses

Ain't nobody want stiff, awkward poses, ammiright? It's pretty obvious when looking at pictures if a photographer asked their couple to do a prompt like, "hold each other and sway" (motion AND emotion!), opposed to a stagnant pose.

So, ask your couples to run toward you or jump into each other's arms. They'll laugh and act totally like themselves during moments like that, and you'll get that RAW, REAL emotion you're looking for. Of course, from time to time, I'll still pose a couple, but I'll make sure they're moving in one way or another whether that's talking to one another, giving each other kisses, or swaying to the music.

BONUS TIP: As you are shooting, COMPLIMENT THE CRAP OUTTA THEM. I make an intentional effort to build my client's confidence by giving them genuine, from the heart compliments. This will help them set aside any insecurities they may be feeling at the moment and help them realize the truth: That they are absolutely beautiful (or handsome) just the way they are!

4.) Bring A Speaker and Play THEIR Favorite Music

SET THE MOOD! Sometimes as photographers, we have to CURATE an experience rather than hope and pray all the stars magically align on their own. So, prior to a session, ask a couple what their favorite genre or band is. Then, get yourself a speaker and play music during the entire session. I have a JBL Clip3 because it easily clips to my Kamrette backpack and I can easily turn it up or down. Plus, it's always with me and it's one less item to lug around. Music makes people happy. It makes them feel confident and romantic. It sets the tone. If you're hoping for a sappy, romantic moment, play something that caters to that feel. This will naturally help a couple relax and gaze into each other's eyes all romantical like... and BOOM!!! There's your moment!!

5.) Be A Total Goof Troop Yourself

Ya'll. To set the tone, when I'm asking a couple to act out a certain prompt - I'll physically SHOW THEM and intentionally act like a COMPLETE LUNATIC. If I say "I want you to run into each other's arms and spin..." I'll act it out and make a total, RADICULUS GOOF TROOP out of myself. I'm sure most clients think I'm a total nut - and that's GOOD. Because then, they'll see that I'm being authentic to myself, and they can be too. It'll make them laugh and realize they don't have to hold anything back. We're here to have good time.

I'm an extrovert by nature. So, this may take some practice if it doesn't come easily. You got this! Give it a shot, and give it time to feel "less awkward." The persistence will pay off.

6.) Help A Sista (or Brotha) Out

I always offer styling advice and a handful of super gorgeous locations to shoot at for each and every client whether they're a couple or not. Post booking, I send every client a link to a Pinterest Inspo Board and a list of locations. This takes a load of stress off their shoulders and lets them know from the get-go that I am on their team to make this an enjoyable experience. They're paying you some pretty pennies for a session. So, I'm always extra attentive and eager to let my clients know I'm committed and willing to help however I can.

I hope these tips helped! Screen shot these tips and review them prior to your couples sessions to be sure to implement them. Then, let me know how it went! Were your shots more candid? Did you notice more emotion and joy was elicited? I'd love to hear your thoughts!!!

And if you have any questions at all, comment below and I'll get back with you!

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