February 7th 2014, Planning your Wedding Photography
Planning Your Wedding Photography: couple portraits
The rest of my Planning Your Wedding Photography series is full of useful hints and tips about how to get the best out of your photography. Do check out my other posts if you haven’t already.
This post is going to be a little bit different though. The way I like to work when photographing couples means that I generally don’t want you to think too much about what will happen in advance of the day.
My main aim, when working with you as a couple, is for you to have an enjoyable, relaxing experience and I really want it to be spontaneous and authentic.
A wedding day can be pretty frantic. You’ve often spent the morning apart and if that’s the case you won’t see each other until the ceremony. The ceremony is the official bit and then straight after that you’re swept along on a wave of people congratulating and hugging you, before I whisk you away to do your family group shots.
The time we spend doing your wedding portraits is often the first chance you get to breathe and to reflect on your experiences up to that point. It’s the first time that you’ll have an opportunity to be on your own and to celebrate the fact that you just got married. Because of that I like to use the couple portrait session to give you time to connect with each other, away from the hustle and bustle of the wedding.
My approach is always to look for the backdrop I want to use first. There are a few things I take into consideration when choosing a portrait location. Both the light and the backdrop have to be right.
I love my couples because they’re usually prepared to follow me across fields, or into industrial estates or through woods to get the shots I want. I am always looking for interesting landscapes or urban backdrops or things to frame the couple with and where people are prepared to spend a bit of extra time on their portraits , we can usually create much more interesting results.
Once I have found the backdrop I’m looking for, I’ll move you into position. I then use simple exercises that involve me asking you both questions and getting you to answer to each other (without me being able to hear!).
Now sometimes when I mention that I’ll be doing some exercises to get them to interact, couples recoil in horror. I get it. Sounds a bit like those awful role play scenarios you’re made to do on training courses, doesn’t it? Either that or I’ll make you gaze longingly into each others eyes while you whisper sweet nothings.
It’s not like that and you don’t have to be a super loved up couple for it to work.
I have had couples playfully exchange insults or gently teasing each other. It’s all about getting you to interact with each other as you would normally and if you’re a super lovey-dovey-whispering-sweet-nothings kind of a couple then great but if you’re not that’s fine too.
I do pose people too, but in a very loose way. If I see a frame or a backdrop that I want to use, I’ll position you within it and tell you what to do. My posing is often very low key though and it involves a lot of hugging and holding hands. I might move you around a bit so that you look your best. I try to keep it simple; nothing too forced.
We all feel vulnerable when we’re being photographed but if you want pictures which represent you, your relationship and they way you show your love for each other then you need to be prepared to show that side of yourself to me and my camera. Be prepared to be silly, be prepared to have fun and be prepared to act the same way that you would if you were alone together. Mostly be prepared to be yourself and for that to be photographed.
The only other thing I need is enough time to focus on the natural interaction between you. 30 – 45 minutes is great. An hour is brilliant but I totally understand that you might not want to interrupt the flow of the day for that long. In any case we can always split the portrait session and pop outside later as the sun is going down or to do some night time shots. 45 minutes might seem like a long time but creativity is a process and I often take my best shot of the day right at the end of the portrait session.
The last thing I need from you is for you to let go. Let go of any thoughts about what’s happening next. Forget about table plans and schedules. Let go of anxiety about speeches or your first dance. Forget about the weather and be prepared to embrace rain or mud. Be prepared to embrace your portrait session fully. The more you do, the better your pictures will be.
Do check out my other articles about wedding photography and planning here.