Quintessential couple portraits - getting past the awkward

Saudade - nostalgia; the love that remains; a desire to be near someone or something distant....

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I have photographed quite a few couples now, often in wedding attire and high on life and love. What fascinates me most, however, is the first ten minutes of the shoot. Without exception, both parties are feeling self-conscious, looking awkward and generally asking 'what do you want me to do with my hands?'

To be fair, that's a great question. There's nothing worse than a dangly arm or spatula fingers, yet a couple who are thrust in front of the lens for the first time often suddenly lose the ability to snuggle, or even walk. Exit gorgeously relaxed couple, enter Pinnochio and friend.  

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I find that couples who are attracted to my photographs are looking for (and I quote) 'natural shots'. They want their images to reflect the beauty of their romance but they don't want to be 'posed' or have to gaze into each others' eyes in front of 200 wedding guests and the passing postman.

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Let me tell you a story - it relates to my own wedding day and, rather embarrassingly, the making of the very mistake I am now advising against. It was a very informal wedding and even more embarrassingly, it was not my first. (I should emphasise that the shame relates NOT to the fact that I've been married more than once, but to the multiple opportunities I have had to get wedding photos wrong). Our reception party and back garden were littered with close family and friends, where folk mingled and kids played. I asked our photographer for 'natural stuff'. Candid shots of the fun, the chatter, the love, and the sunshine, please. Ask and ye shall receive. All very sound until I received the digital files and realised that my husband and I had spent the entire day separately - wandering, networking and satisfying our guests, resulting in not a single photograph of the two of us together. D'oh.

I can also tell you that (sshh, it's a secret), if you come to me for couple, engagement or wedding photos then you WILL be posed. You WILL be directed and I WILL ask you to gaze occasionally. Creating romantic, organic images of love takes work and orchestration. If I were to pass the buck and leave you to it, we would probably end up with a hot mess of awkward stances and grooms holding brides in half-Nelson headlocks. 

 
 I rest my case.... (click on the photo for a full dose of these fabulous deliberately awkward engagement pics)

I rest my case.... (click on the photo for a full dose of these fabulous deliberately awkward engagement pics)

 

So, think again as you browse those Pinterest boards filled with elegant, atmospheric, love-filled couplegraphs. It is highly unlikely that they were achieved by a photographer who was lucky enough to be recruited by a couple so confident and skilled in front of the camera that they were able to drug, take a day off and let them loose with a command of "just smoulder for me". 

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Once the lens cap comes off and the moment arrives, my advice is simple - take a few deep breaths, look your baby deeply in the eyes, remember how you love him/her, pull them close and follow your photographer's lead. If you got this far because you are a fan of their work, the chances are you are already in very safe hands. Embrace your SAUDADE!

Engagement and couple shoots can be booked independently, or as part of a wedding package. We can shoot pretty much anywhere, but I highly recommend reconnecting with a place that has special meaning for you; it will make all the difference. 

Please get in touch by phone, via email at eyesomephoto@gmail.com or via my social media pages.

Helen x