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Click Love Grow grad Dana Whitley loves couples photography so much, she decided to make the genre the sole focus of her business.
I’d loved all of Dana’s work (especially her photos of her boys… I die!). But in particular, her couples photography always stopped me in my tracks.
So naturally I’ve been chasing after Dana to let us feature one of her sessions! Of course, they’re all so consistently good I could spin around blind folded and pin the tail on any one of of her sessions and it would be amazing!
So, here we go… Dana shares her tips on how to shoot in away that captures the connection of her subjects, and creates authentic and beautiful images.
I strive to capture authentic moments for couples, and their love for each other.
In order to do that, I need to help them to get comfortable enough with me that they will be vulnerable in front of the camera. I also need to get to know them, to understand their relationship dynamic.
Some couples are really silly whilst others are more reserved. Not all couples are going to be comfortable with really intense embraces, and other couples don’t do surprise bear hugs and piggy back rides.
So with that in mind, the first thing I do is to simply chat, and ask general questions. Once I have a good feel for them as a couple, it influences the way I direct and the prompts I use.
I never strictly pose couples or ask them to look at the camera. I will suggest relaxed poses, and resist the urge to micro adjust them. I want them to be comfortable and familiar in the way they hold each other.
I like to keep them moving as much as possible, whether that’s hugging, talking, laughing, walking, running or dancing.
However, for most people, having their portraits taken makes them feel a bit uncomfortable. For that reason I won’t push them into a really emotional moment right away. Instead, I usually start sessions with more active, silly prompts to loosen them up. After this they’re more likely to be vulnerable when you move into trying to draw out those emotive, raw moments.
A few fun, more action based prompts I love to use are:
If you think they’re up for it, ask him to dip her!
Don’t forget the piggy back ride! This will always bring laughter.
Once I feel they’re comfortable, I’ll try quieter poses. For example:
You can vary most of those poses in so many ways:
Related: 20 Poses For Natural Photos
Once I have them in position, I give them a prompt, or just chat with them. Some of the emotive prompts I use are:
After asking a question or prompting the couple, I observe and snap away! A lot of times the moments following their reactions are really sweet and genuine.
I vary my own position to get multiple shots from a single pose/prompt.
I’ll move around them to get the expression from each of my subjects.
I’ll also try different perspectives… if they’re sitting, I’ll shoot down on them from a standing height. It’s a great way to add depth and really convey their connection.
Also, getting a close up and wide shot for every position is a great way to get different looks without even moving them.
I shoot with a Nikon d7200 and for this session I used a 24mm and 85mm.
The wide angle allows me to include large expanses of a beautiful location. If that location was chosen because it’s uniquely special to the couple, it’s particularly important to include it in some shots.
The longer focal length is great as they enable you to step back a little and that’s more conducive for some couples to relax and connect.
As I tend to keep my subjects moving throughout a couples photography session, a fast shutter speed is essential. I never let it drop below 1/250… and preferably faster!
Don’t be afraid to use your ISO to balance exposure.
Related: Embracing High ISO
By the time I took this shot, the sun had gone down and I had to push my ISO to 4000.
I love a shallow depth of field to help them really pop from the background. With that in mind, I typically shoot between 1.8 – 2.8. I dream of a 1.4 lens though!
Beautiful, amiright?! We hope you get a chance to try out some of Dana’s tips for couples photography!
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