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Shooting couples is like portraiture with an extra dynamic – relationship. Having been trained in television I’ve seen many a director at work cajoling the very essence of a plot out of the actors. Passion to pain all come easily into shot with the right cast and a great director. When I’m shooting pre wedding photographs or weddings themselves the love is not an emotion to be conjured from deep within, it is there right under the surface. It is my job to capture it at it’s most acute and in as natural a way as I can. Let me share with you some of my secrets and techniques. Singapore-boudoir_0015

Because the couples I shoot are in love there is no acting to be done. It is real heartfelt emotion and that comes fairly easily. Do the shots still need directing? Yes absolutely. The process is quite straightforward. I look after the lighting, exposure, backgrounds and the location before I start to direct the action. This process is hands on and it needs to be. The results may look reportage at times but they are all directed. By the way, the backgrounds are nearly always irrelevant. You can shoot pictures like this anywhere.

I shoot close ups to capture love. I take control by bringing the couple together and creating a pose. I speak to them in hushed tones often saying seemingly ridiculous things like “Feel the love” and “Enjoy the moment”. This process is only made possible by having established a good rapport and trust.

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Pictures like these have a magical quality because the couple are in an intimately close proximity and they share each others personal space. The couple exude tenderness and love often without even making eye contact with each other.

There is absolutely no eye contact with the camera in loving close ups like this. It’s all about the couple and not about the photographer.

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Another thing most of these pictures have in common is my subjects heads are tipped towards each other. I use this head position as a visual clue to indicate approval and acceptance.  I then direct an expression to illustrate anything from contentment, to amorous intent. That’s the fun bit – putting a narrative into a picture.

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This level of direction and intervention is not for every photographer but if you have a go you might just love the results as much as I expect your subjects will.

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It is nothing new to say the moment just before the kiss is the one to shoot, not the kiss itself, but it does need saying none the less. Eyes closed is another golden rule for the ‘just about to kiss’ shot.

Next time you head out to photograph a couple think about adding in a few big close ups like these to the mix. It may well take your set of images to another level.

In my next post I’ll show how to shoot a sequence of wide and tight shots of a couple with just one lens. I’ll give you ideas for poses you can shoot with the simplest of equipment. It’s all about the photograph. Stay inspired!

Damien Lovegrove

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Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Really nice post and simple explanations. Some of the couples are more natural than others (the first 2 especially) but the poses and effects are lovely. How close are you to the subject? Great work. Laura

    Reply
    • Thank you Laura for your kind words. I am using a 100 mm macro lens and working from 150cm right down to 75cm for the tighter shots. I usually like to work a little further from my subject and my next lens purchase is likely to be the fabulous Sigma 150mm macro with the all important image stabilisation. In my next article I’ll show how I use just one lens to capture wide/ full length and tight couples images. These more intimate pictures make up just one part of a complete pre wedding or engagement shoot.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
      • I didn’t think you could use a macro lens for portrait work! That’s a piece of learning for me. Thanks

        Reply
        • Hi Laura,

          Macro lenses make excellent portrait lenses. My advice is to use a macro lens between 85mm and 150mm with image stabalisation or vibration reduction. As well as the Nikon 105mm VR macro and the Canon 100mm L macro Sigma make a stunning 150mm macro. Obviously other systems have similar lenses. Sometimes the minimum focus distance of a 70-200mm lens is not quite close enough to capture pictures like these.
          Kindest regards,

          Damien.

          Reply
  2. Wow! I’ve never heard of photographing couples taught like this. Thank you Photofocus for bring new talent to the mix. Mr. Lovegrove has a new fan in me!

    Reply
    • Thank you Jamie, I’m here to share new ideas and picture styles with you guys. This is the first of three features I’m writing on photographing couples. All of them are unique in their own way. Your kind words are very much appreciated.

      Damien.

      Reply
  3. Fabulous tips Damien. I do so admire the way you capture the expressions between the couples. And, I fully agree with your comments about ‘directing the shot’; chancing it to pure reportage/documantary style shooting at a live wedding/engagement session seems far too chancy to me. The trick as you so clearly articulate and demonstrate is to make it look natural.

    David

    Reply
    • Thank you David,

      I tried to shoot a wedding by pure reportage once at the request of the couple but the groom was with his mates and the bride was with her friends for most of the drinks reception. If I had not intervened I’d have been left without a really good bride and groom sequence. Reportage done well is amazing. I’ll leave it to the experts.

      Regards and respect, Damien.

      Reply
  4. Reblogged this on ALIENSDONTSLEEP and commented:
    Nice inspirational article

    Reply

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About damienlovegrove

Creative photographer and lighting guru inspiring and empowering the next generation of photographers with books, blogs, workshops and videos.

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Inspiration, Photography, Portrait, Shooting, Wedding

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