In my previous post I showed how I capture love. Those tight passionate shots only make up a part of my engagement shoots. Here is the detail of my pre-wedding or engagement portraits process. I have included my business targets in case they are of interest to those of you who shoot weddings for a living. I use just one lens and keep everything simple.

I switch viewpoints from high to low all the time. This adds a dynamic without resorting to tilting the camera. I build my diagonals into the compositions.

The business bit… My aim is to have about 60 or 70 frames to show the client so I find myself taking about 200 photographs in total during the session. I keep approximately 1 in 3 frames to show my clients who usually go on to buy 60 – 70% of what they see. I learned early on in my career not to show too many images. ‘No’ is not a great word to hear too many times in the viewing room. So we show only the best pictures. My client saying “no” more often than “yes” in the viewing room is a clear sign that something is wrong with my photography. “How do we choose? We love them all” is a target phrase. My aim is to produce an album with 40 or so pictures for the couple plus photographs in desk frames for each set of parents and grandparents. Other sales add ons include framed prints for desks at work and a large mounted print that the wedding guests can leave personal messages on.

Every picture here is shot on the 100mm Canon f/2.8 L lens wide open at f/2.8
Cropping eyes is preferable to cropping mouths. It is the mouth we look at to read communication and I favour the mouth as a focus point over the nearest eye.
The picture bottom right is for parents and grandparents. I love the way reflections in the other two pictures are reduced in contrast and tone. I’ll use reflections of some kind in every couples shoot.

The practical bit… I usually have about an hour and a half for the shoot so I have to work efficiently and keep the pace up. I meet my clients at 11am at a coffee shop near the waterfront in Bristol and within half an hour we are on the streets shooting. At 1pm they go to lunch at a local restaurant before heading over to my studio some 30 minutes away to view the photographs on the big screen. I get about 75 minutes back at the studio to weed out my pictures and process the 60 or so picks in Lightroom. Working fast has forced me to get it right in camera. Shooting film for many years in the 1980s and 90s helped in that regard too.

I often work from a long way back to get figures in the landscape shots. Working with a long prime lens keeps me fit. I nearly always avoid sky in my couples pictures. Having an area of highlight at the top of a frame draws the viewers attention up and away from the subject.

Camera kit… I keep my kit to the barest minimum and use just one lens on the camera, If I’m using my Canon 5D2 SLR I fit a 100mm f/2.8L macro. If I’m using my Fujifilm X-Pro1 I use a 60mm f/2.4 macro. The Canon is a better camera/ lens combination to use because the 100mm L lens has fantastic image stabilisation. I shoot both set ups at maximum aperture in manual mode. In my hand I have a camera and lens and in my camera bag I have a Fujifilm X100 camera as my backup, my car keys and wallet.

The top two pictures here are the same pose but shot from opposite sides. This process of cross shooting is a great way to favour each person in turn. I always shoot into the light when there is an option to do so.
Using a long lens exclusively means I get to see very little background in my images even with the full length shots. Bristol is not significant to my couples so I have no reason to feature it in the photo set.

Keeping the kit simple means I can concentrate on creating and capturing definitive moments and not be distracted by the processes of photography.

The photographs… These 36 pictures are from one recent ‘Photographing Couples’ workshop I ran in the UK. If you like a pose or two why not pin them on an inspiration board using Pinterest or drag them to your desktop and add them to an app like Moodboard Pro.

The picture top right is lit with a Speedlight on a stand. I always have a Speedlight with me in case I need to make my own sunlight.
The bottom picture here is lit with my Speedlight too. The railway is part of the Bristol industrial museum and no trains run on the tracks during the week so it is quite safe to play there :) I spend quite a bit of time lying or sitting on the ground on one of my shoots.
I shoot sequences as it is far better to sell three pictures than just one.

Stay inspired! Coming up next is my third and final piece on photographing couples. I’ll share with you some intimate couples boudoir images and the business model behind the new genre. These are perfect for sporting couples who want to celebrate the hard work they put in at the gym in order to look tip top.

Please feel free to comment and ask me questions below or message me on or my site Prophotonut

Damien Lovegrove