Nail your surrender session & couple portraits
If I had a penny for every time someone said to me before a couple session “we’re camera shy” or “we’re not very photogenic” I’d be rich. Super rich! The other thing I hear a lot is “I suppose couple sessions are easier when the people you’re photographing are good looking”.
I don’t believe in any of that. Yes, some people are more naturally photogenic or move better in front of the camera, but I’m not interested in that. A couple session – or as I call it, surrender session – is about photographing who you really are as a couple.
(If you don’t know what a surrender session is, you can read more about it on this blogpost.In essence, it’s whenever it’s just the two of you and me – this can be an engagement session, a pre-wedding shoot, a couple session or a post-wedding photoshoot.)
Everyone can look good in photos as long as they’re comfortable, and it’s my job to make you comfortable. You might still cringe at some of the photos – it’s like hearing your own voice, we all cringe at that because we’re not used to seeing ourselves other than in the mirror. But hopefully, amongst all the photos from the couple session, there will be loads that capture the emotion and the essence of two people who love each other and you will see the beauty in yourself.
It might be the photo where you’re laughing wholeheartedly because of something the other one said, or it might be the photo where you’re about to kiss. It could be that moment when you’re looking into each other’s eyes and the whole world disappears – that’s why I love couple sessions so much!
Take me, for example. I’m definitely uncomfortable in front of the camera – like REALLY uncomfortable so I do know what it’s like, and there are a few things I don’t like about myself – my smile is crooked, my face is too round, my arms are too big… – but I love my wedding photos and I love the photos from the couple sessions Stephen and I have had.
That’s all well and good, but so far I’ve only talked about me and what I’ll be doing as a photographer in your couple session. So what can you do, as a couple, to nail your couple portraits? It’s very simple and yet quite hard: let me in.
And this works with any photographer – assuming you choose a photographer who’s work you love and who you trust, of course. You’ve done the hard bit: you’ve looked at loads of websites, compared styles, prices, etc. and you’ve made up your mind. Now you just need to let the photographer do his/her thing. We all work in different ways and there’s no right or wrong but one thing goes for all of us: we need to be trusted in order to create with freedom. (This is also a really good reason to have an engagement session – so we can build that trust together.)
Another thing you can do is plan the day so that you’re not running around. Take a deep breath, make sure you’re present. You might’ve not heard of mindfulness or maybe it’s not up your street and you think it’s all too hippie dippy, but it’s so important to be present. I can work my ass off trying to make you comfortable and to get you in the mood, but if you’re thinking about the bills, the invitations that haven’t been sent out or the dentist’s appointment, it will show on the photos. True stuff.
There’s no time like the present so be here, now, fully.
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Hi, I'm Manon - documentary wedding photographer capturing love stories in Brighton, London and destination weddings worldwide.
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