Shooting Authentically for Couples
In this world where almost everyone has a camera in their pocket, it can be difficult to get noticed with some of your images. An image can be captured with a cell phone camera very quickly and selfies are common. So if you wanted to promote that you photograph couples (for example), are there ways you could possibly stand out from the thousands of selfie portraits taken almost every day? Is there a way to add images with impact to your growing portfolio?
One of the first things to consider is seeking out an actual couple. Models are fine for most images, but two people who have never met except for your photoshoot may be a difficult time pulling off a BELIEVABLE couples shoot. When the viewer looks at an images, it should be pretty apparent that the couple enjoy being around each other and have a mutual attraction. When images look stiff or overly posed, a viewer could easy scroll directly past them. Almost everyone knows an actual couple, and often they may enjoy some new images.
Are you selling artwork, or are you trying to get into couple photography. Your approach may be radically different. If you were selling artwork, you may create a perfectly staged silhouetted couple embracing which may very well sell to a potential buyer. On the other hand, this may look very artificial to many couples. What about the image above with the girl riding on her boyfriends back. We could have photographed a more intimate image, but in this case the girl almost lost her grip walking though the woods. Both she and her boyfriend are having a spontaneous moment. Although this could be staged, the expressions on their faces would clearly not be the same.
Obvious points of course as with any image would be to consider lighting, composition, as well as what are you trying to portray at the moment. In most cases, you will want both faces reasonably lit unless you are moving for a very dramatic image. Are you trying to a romantic moment or a fun moment. With this said, the images are not always glamour images. If you over edit the image you could easy take away the moment the couple may be experiencing. When composing, consider with some of your images to leave room for copy. A couple may want a message on their image, or you may want to add a message of your own if you are advertising a new service.
Do you have a special location? Sometimes where you shoot is as important as what you are shooting. While your main focus should be on the couple themselves, giving the couple a chance to interact with their environment can result in some very interesting results.
Are model releases necessary? During your promotional shoot for a new service of course you will get a model release from those working for you. During an actual client shoot, if the images are ONLY for the couple, and you DO NOT plan on placing images in your portfolio for advertising, you probably will not need a release. In general however, some form of release is always a good idea. Years after a shoot, if you decide you really like a client's images, you already have the release. Publishing an image for advertising purposes without a release may get you sued. Although not as common, if the couple appear at a recognizable private property, you may also need a property release if you use that image in your advertising.
After the shoot, your clients may well have trouble choosing which images they want to purchase. Sending the couple an online gallery may result in weeks that go by without a word from them even if you send a reminder email. Invite the couple (both of them) to your studio or office, or even their home where you can walk them through the image selection process.
Couples shooting can be fun and rewarding for everyone involved and can lead to repeat customers such as engagement or even wedding images!