Before the Photoshoot:
Of utmost importance is keeping the day before the session as relaxed and fun as possible. I literally cannot emphasize this enough, because you’re not going to be able to connect as easily or be genuine at the end of an errand-filled, stressful day — or if you haven’t seen each other all day. Depending on when your session is scheduled, try to make sure most of the day is super chill and really relaxed. If you have an intense job, literally schedule time to take it easy! Keep it chill, sleep in, grab lunch or coffee together, get some snuggles in, and take time to talk and relax with each other. That kind of stuff. Check-in with each other. This may seem basic, but give yourself and your partner way more than enough planning, space, time, and consideration. Lay out your clothes the day before. Arrive too early (There’s literally no downside). Make sure you eat beforehand. I sound like a mom but I mean it. Give yourself, and each other, the room to make this an amazing, relaxing, and super fun experience. Compliment each other. Cultivate the warmth and consciously try to stay connected and in a good heart space.
During the Photoshoot:
Try not to think of your couple’s session as a series of super fancy pictures and start to feel stiff about being photographed. I mean, you all will be fancy, because you’re lovely and excellent humans, but the fanciness need not come from clothes or location or posing. Some posing and positioning will be necessary BUT I’ll mainly be pushing you to just be yourselves! Think of any poses I put you in as guidelines or suggestions. They are a good starting place, but how you all relax into them and make them your own is where the magic is. A great trick during the shoot is this: instead of focusing on smiling, or laughing, or feeling sexy (oh la la) try to think of something about your partner that makes you feel that way. Your face will take care of itself if the thoughts and mood are there. If I say smile, for example, don’t give me a “headshots” smile, but instead think of last week when you got tacos at 1 AM, or how they looked holding your sister’s new baby, or how excited you are that they got the promotion they worked for so hard. If you start to feel nervous, bring yourself back with a memory, or a thought about your partner, or something you’re excited about doing with them in the future. Keep yourself present, and in each other’s arms. If you see your partner feeling stiff, you can verbalize these things. Help each other be in the moment. The camera is there — it’s a reality, but it doesn’t need to dominate the space. Stay present with each other above all.
Through the Week:
Try to spend some time noticing things about your partner that you love, or that captivate you, or that you think are so idiosyncratic that only they could possibly be that absurd and excellent. List these, even. Not only is this fun, it will help you during the session. You’ll already have a long list of reasons why you love your partner. They’ll be on the tip of your tongue.
Awkward is Excellent!
This seems obvious, but it can be tough to really commit and be real. I want to experience all those little moments you might otherwise consider “outtakes” — all the silly, spontaneous small stuff that makes your relationship yours. The truest emotion is in the outtakes so never worry that you’re being “too awkward,” or anything like that. With my husband and I, our main speed with each other is awkwardness. It’s like, our major way of connecting. If that’s true for you all, lean into it. Be awkward. Tease each other about it. Be spontaneous. You’re excellent. Your photos will be different than anyone else’s. They’ll be yours. I also encourage you to always look for ways to connect and reconnect. An affirmation, a compliment, a hug, a tickle (if you won’t get murdered for it), inside jokes, total silliness, or just an “I love you” — a little bit goes a long way.
Be yourselves. Yourselves are Awesome.
On Clothes and Style:
I always recommend to people that they think about someone describing them in a book or movie. Where would you be? What would you be wearing? What would your partner be wearing? Like in a book, you can wear clothes to a photoshoot that you wouldn’t necessarily wear to work, per se, but that feel very you, regardless. Ask your partner if there are any pieces in your closet that they feel are extra “you.” For the photos to turn out best, try to match each other subtly, if you can. This could mean keeping to complementary color tones (warm colors with warm, cool with cool, dark with dark, etc.), and another way might be to wear equally contrasting colors or patterns. For example, if you wanted to both wear bright prints or bold colors (thats super awesome, by the way), you might accessorize with a color your partner is wearing, or make sure that it is echoed somewhere on your person. Put on your options, look at what you are both wearing in the mirror, and see if the clothes look like they “go” together. You should look like you belong close to one another.
Tips + Thoughts:
Think about leaving that classic light-colored khaki at home. It tends to signal formality, and your pants will show any dirt, dust, or smudge. Dresses, and skirts are really pretty awesome. The movement that a dress or skirt brings can often take a good photo and make it even better. However, if you’re thinking something shorter, try dancing around, sitting down, etc. in it to make sure you’ll feel comfortable with the movement.
If you’re into style, please don’t hold back from trying fun things. If you’re less sure, neutral and classic is never bad. If you’re trying a patterned shirt, have fun with it, but bring along other options (or a couple) just in case. I’m ALL for a pattern, but ideally, we’d be able to choose from another pattern or something more neutral. While polos and boxy silhouettes are also popular choices, I tend to steer couples away from both of them, unless the piece is totally amazing. Polos tend to feel out of place in many settings and those popular boxy silhouettes for dresses and blouses are generally not quite as flattering in photos.
Lastly, if you want to bring heels, go for it, but make sure you bring along a pair of walking shoes, too. Avoid exercise shoes. Boots, oxfords, loafers, sneakers (ex. Puma, Nike), dress shoes, flats, heels, and sandals are all generally good choices.
Don’t get your hair or bangs cut too close to the session date. If something goes wrong, you probably won’t have time for someone to fix it. The same goes for color — you’ll want to give yourself a decent buffer *just in case* the hair-pocolypse happens. If you are sunburn prone, make sure you don’t linger in the sun too long without sunscreen too close to the session date. I honestly can’t completely fix sunburns or peeling skin. I just can’t. Also, you should really just wear sunscreen in general — even if you think you don’t need it! Take that, skin cancer!! Make sure you’ve clipped your nails and cleaned your ring etc. etc. I can’t fix things like that in photoshop, and hands are really pretty important for cuddling and hand holding and like…face cradling and all that other couple-y stuff.
We may have chatted about it a bit, but think about whether or not you want to take the style of your photoshoot even a little further. Adding a bouquet, boutonniere, floral crown, or even some other unique addition. Just make sure you chat with me about your plans or interests, and I bet with our creative powers combined we can up the ante and put together something a little more complicated, but still full of your unique pizzaz. And I don’t just mean super romantic — a more styled session can be classy, funny, or badass. If you think you want a totally unique look and love stretching your creative wings, I’d love to work on something like that with you.
These are only guidelines
I’ve been both behind and in front of the camera — that’s also how I know that the most important thing about having a couple’s shoot is that you are both comfortable and true to yourselves. Above all, that will be the key to having a darn good time and taking some photos that will highlight your relationship and your personalities.