Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to present at SNAP Photo Festival as part of the Catalyst team and while teaching about how to break out of traditional gender roles when working with couples was AWESOME, I was blown away by how much I learned from the other teachers and my fellow photographers. (Thanks Wojtek of Voytek London Wedding Photography for the photo of my class! I'm hiding on the far left)
Post-SNAP, one of the things I'm really inspired to push myself further on is engagement/couples' sessions. As someone who hates being photographed myself, I'm excited to start fine-tuning my process in order to create the MOST fun experience -- and the MOST beautiful, true-to-who-you-are photos.
SO as a starting point, I'm sharing my three best engagement/couples' session prep tips. I'm planning to share this article with my future couples so they know what to expect and how to get the most out of our time together, but hopefully it can be helpful to others as well!
THREE TIPS FOR RAD ENGAGEMENT/COUPLES' PHOTOS
1. Plan what you will wear. I'm often asked what a couple should wear for a photo session, and I love to respond with the not-super-helpful "whatever makes you feel fab!" but that is really the most important part. You don't have to worry about "matching" each other, color-wise, but instead try to plan outfits that are comparably fancy (or not-fancy). For example, if one of you is wearing a cocktail dress, the other should avoid a beachy maxi dress. Or if one person is wearing cargo shorts and a polo shirt, the other should go for something more casual than a suit and tie. Other general tips: opt for solid colors whenever possible, avoid logos and items with words on them, and wear comfortable shoes.
2. Fuck expectations. Overwhelmed with the amount of "should"s involved in this process? Guess what: fuck 'em. Are you dying to wear androgynous clothes but think you "should" be more femme/masculine? Fuck it. Do you hate getting bug bites but feel like you "should" do your photos in an epic meadow of wildflowers? Fuck it. In the age of Pinterest and Instagram, there are countless poses and themes to emulate; we're not copying those. Instead, we'll go someplace you like (Art museum? Farm? Cafe? Mountaintop?), and do something you like (Look at art? Milk cows? Drink coffee? Fireside sing-a-long?) and I'll take photos. There's usually some off-roading, some go-stand-over-there-no-wait-over-there-ing, and we'll probably play some silly games. The goal of the session is to capture your relationship in a series of photographs, so the only thing you should be worried about is being yourselves, in love -- not trying to recreate something from the internet or doing what you feel obligated to do.
3. Mentally prepare to get be in front of a camera (and ignore it). My engagement/couples' sessions are designed to feel more like a fun date (albeit with a third wheel) than a cheesy posing experience, so my priority is to help you forget about the camera and enjoy one another. In most cases, that means you'll be squeezing/snuggling/smooching/hand-holding/etc quite a bit, but I promise if you go with the flow and focus on each other, it won't be as awkward as it sounds. Remember: a (consensual) butt grab is always appropriate. If you're extra nervous and are a person who enjoys adult refreshments, it can help to partake--in moderation!--beforehand. If you're more of a meditation person, that also works.
That's it! I'll help you find a good spot, advise on the best time of day, and bring my camera. If you're wearing something that gives you some swagger, not worrying about doing it "right," and focusing on loving each other, you're golden.