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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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