Adventurous couples portraits on Hogback Mountain in Marquette, Michigan.

Tips For Natural & Emotive Couples Photos

When it comes to photographing couples, one of the biggest goals for me is to capture natural and emotive photos. In this blog post for other wedding and/or portrait photographers, I’m going to share some tips on how you can achieve this style of photography. These tips are perfect for engagement photos, wedding photos, or couples photos of any kind. So whether you’re just starting out in photography, or if you’re looking for ways to take your photos to the next level, read on for some helpful advice!

Get to know them beforehand

When it comes to couples sessions, it’s important to get to know your clients before you start shooting. This way you can get an idea of their energy and how they interact with each other. That way you can quickly make a plan for their session and decide what the energy of the session will be like. Then they’ll have a better experience overall. So take some time to chat with your couples before their session, get to know them, and make sure they’re comfortable with you. It’ll make a world of difference!

Set expectations upfront

Before we start doing pictures, I always give my couples a rundown of what to expect and lay down some ground rules. I let them know that this space is safe, and they don’t need to act a certain way or put on a show or anything. If they feel awkward or goofy, just go with it.

The ultimate goal is for them to really connect with each other and be present in the moment. That’s when the magic happens – when they forget about the camera and just focus on each other, resulting in natural & emotive couples photos. So my last bit of advice to couples before we start is to just relax and be yourselves. The rest will fall into place.

Ask them to connect

One of the best things about being a photographer is getting to witness the love between two people. There is nothing more special than being able to capture the bond between a couple in photos. I always encourage couples to stay connected physically during their photo session. Holding hands, hugging, squeezing, or even dancing are all great ways to stay connected. The more they connect with each other, the better. Physical touch is such an important part of any relationship, and it’s even more important when you’re having your photo taken.

When a couple is physically connected, it shows in the photos. They look happier and more in love.

For nerves, speed it up!

When I see a couple who looks a little nervous during their photo session, I take that as a cue to get them moving! Action shots can help release energy and calm nerves. I’ll do lots of walking hand-in-hand shots, both towards and away from the camera. I’ll vary the speed and the distance between them for variety. I also like to do photos with one person “leading” the other. This often helps to relax the couple and results in some really fun and natural-looking shots.

Then slow it down

I am always on the lookout for new and interesting places to take pictures. I am especially drawn to locations with beautiful scenery and great natural lighting. When I find such a spot, I like to have the couple focus on each other and forget about the camera.

I’ll start by having them snuggle into a hug, but I remind them to keep moving slowly together- whether they sway back and forth or gently caress each other. While they’re doing this I make sure to get lots of different angles, wide shots, close-ups, etc. This allows me to capture the intimate moments between the couple while also taking in the beauty of the surroundings.

No kissing on the lips!

When couples are nervous during a photo session and don’t know what to do, they will often kiss each other. I’m not against kissing by any means, but I’m also not really a fan of “kissing photos”. If you let couples start, you’ll find they just keep doing it over and over and your photos will all be similar. When I think of “natural and emotive”, kissing photos don’t quite make the cut.

I tell couples “no kissing on the lips”. This doesn’t mean they can’t touch or be close to each other. In fact, just the opposite. I want them to be close, touch each other and interact with each other in a way that is comfortable for them. This usually results in more genuine expressions and often leads to some great moments captured in the photos.

Keep hands out of pockets

When I was first starting out as a professional photographer, I learned a posing trick for if a guy doesn’t know what to do with his hands- put them in your pockets with your thumb out. Or if he has one arm wrapped around his partner, the other goes in the pocket. This is one big NO if you’re trying to get emotional, natural-looking photos of couples!

If a guy is standing naturally with his partner and is insanely in love with them, do you think his hand would be in his pocket? Nope- his hands would be on his partner! The more connection there is with the hands and bodies, the more emotional the photos will be. :)

Same-sex couples

If you’re photographing a same-sex couple, these tips for getting natural, emotive photos apply! Gender doesn’t matter at all here. The only thing that matters is that the couple is in love and wants to document this amazing chapter in their lives for all time. Just let them be themselves and interact naturally, and you’ll capture beautiful images that they’ll cherish forever. Also, don’t be afraid to get a little creative with your poses and angles – after all, there’s no one right way to do things when it comes to love!

Positive feedback is important

As a professional photographer, one of the things I always make sure to do is compliment my couples during their photo session. I want them to feel confident and comfortable, and telling them that they look amazing is a great way to do that. I also let them know that the photos are going to be awesome and that they did a great job. This always makes them feel good about themselves and the photos, and it really shows in the final product.

When the session is over, I always tell them again how incredible they were and how excited I am for them to see the photos. This is just one of the many ways I make sure my couples have an amazing experience during their photo session.

And that’s it! These were my top tips for getting natural & emotive photos of couples at engagement sessions and other couples photo sessions. The most important thing is to make sure they have an amazing, unforgettable experience no matter what. If you want to learn more about how I work, ask me about photographer mentoring! I would love to chat with you about photography and answer any questions you may have. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!


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