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

Horseshoes for luck

too good to miss the irony in this directional sign intended for wedding guests

I do not generally consider myself a lucky person, but I have been very fortunate where wedding photography has been concerned.

a moment of quiet away from the bustle of ceremony, just minutes married

Some stunning brides, idyllic locations and as yet I've never had to battle with torrents of rain or wild disasters disrupting the nuptials (that's the kiss of death right there, eh?)

Maybe it's a coincidence, but the brides I seem to attract are uber-relaxed and unconcerned with pomp and detail. I LOVE this. Frankie, however, took 'carefree' to a whole new level, leaving the lion's share of the wedding planning to groom, Dickie. I have never seen this before but what a refreshing change!

The girl contingent of this wedding party strolling from the parents' field where the Reception was held

It became quickly obvious that by posing detailed questions to bride Frankie about the format of their wedding day, I was on a hiding to nothing, as she deferred one decision after another to the (super)man in her life. I came to see quite early on that Dickie is a real keeper.

This was a wedding without transport, without hotels, without enormous floral displays and without stress, yet it had everything Bohemian summer nuptials should have, and more.

Just a short walk to the church and back for the wedding party and congregation

The bride was walked to the church, just 100 yards from her parents' home, by her dad. After the ceremony, the newlyweds strolled back in the June sunshine, followed by their congregation.

Beautiful summer bride, Frankie, lapping up the last of the sun's rays in her parents' field

The reception was held in a field behind Frankie's parents' house, where a large Yurt awaited. Simple green and white bouquets and olive trees complemented the rustic Italian-themed details, and the bridesmaids got sunburned whilst they mingled with guests seated on hay-bales.

Yurts and hay bales perfected the rustic nature of this relaxed wedding day

My luck endured as this perfect day went without a hitch, and my love for shooting weddings of this type continues to grow.

looking relieved, relaxed and blissful, the bride and groom

Congratulations gorgeous couple.

 

 

A Golden Celebration

A 50th anniversary is sealed with a well earned kiss. What a fantastic way to commemorate such a milestone, with a family photo shoot.

Ann & David have just passed a glorious milestone. 50 years of marriage is not to be sniffed at. 1966 may have been a swinging time, but it was also an era when men and women committed to each other at an early age and chose not to waver. 

Sneaking the whole crew in to a family portrait, we chose the glorious backdrop of Harrogate's RHS Harlow Carr gardens to show off the family

Their joint anniversary gift from their son and daughter was (lucky for me!) a family photo shoot, which we stealthily combined with a pleasant stroll in the country. The whole family, granddaughters included, came along for the ride, in an attempt to create some memories for the next 50 years of the family line to cherish.

Autumn leaves provided an impromptu game of hide and seek for the grandchildren. I have no idea how I found them!

It happens to be the middle of autumn, when the trees are bang in their prime, and my reluctant models took advantage of the leafy excess, going temporarily AWOL in a mischievous attempt to evade my lens. I.m so glad that the whole family was involved in this shoot. The presence of the girls made their grandparents (not naturally comfortable in front of the camera) relax in to our walk, and the results show.

The 5oth anniversary couple take a stroll, watched over by their children and granddaughters.

A golden anniversary is not a common event. Maybe there is a combination of reasons for this. Do couples lack the tenacity to see out the rough times these days, divorce being a common and easily obtained outcome? In the 50s and 60s the only way to escape your parents' home was to get married, and since cohabitation was not an option, perhaps this created a 'forever' mindset? Escaping your parents to marry invariably meant that you were probably only maybe 21 or 22 back then, which differs to the average age of 28 at which couples are marrying right now (I know, I looked it up!) Marrying at 21 certainly gives you a better shot at reaching a 50th anniversary than marrying later in life?

Enjoying the moment, Ella takes to the woods for a series of supermodel poses

Shooting these young lovelies, it's impossible to avoid thinking about what lies ahead for the youngest generation with their not-yet formed relationships. How will life and marriage have changed in the next 50 years? Will it still be the institution we know and cherish? I do hope so. They deserve it.

The smallest member of the bunch takes to the shrubbery to avoid the camera. Ha! Gotcha!

If you want more family photo shoot inspiration, try here. Look out for more autumn shots to follow too!

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Love, reprised in these super sweet wedding images from Hipping Hall, Lake District

Andy & Becky are sweethearts. Any fool can see that.  They sealed their devotion in a wedding ceremony on the idyllic Greek island of Corfu in August of this year. Now home, with the nuptials all complete, they decided to dust off their marital outfits for one final time with a post-wedding photo shoot.

Enjoying the moment, newlyweds Andy & Becky see the funny side of sitting on a bridge with no shoes on for wedding portraits
 

favourite bridal portrait

Thanks to the artistry of local hair and makeup genius Lucy Pearson, bride Becky looked as pretty and youthful as the day she met her beau, with loose blonde curls and a sweet, natural look to her makeup. To complement her understated floral arrangement, Katie at Made in Flowers had created a stunning hair adornment for gorgeous Becky, who wore it with class and elegance. I adore how Becky's bluer-than-blue eyes stand out here against the dark brown wood pile in the background. Wowsers, Andy's a lucky guy!

Bride, Becky, made (even more) beautiful by make-up artist Lucy

venue highlight

Although not quite competing with Corfu, the English weather played nice on this super joyful day and bathed our newlyweds in glorious early autumn sunshine. We took to the fields and gardens around lush Hipping Hall near Kirkby Lonsdale in the southern Lake District, where the grass was long and the sun was helpfully low in the sky, adding an unsolicited breath of romance to our bridal portraits.

A relaxed and cheerful couple took to the fields on a hazy summer day for portraits

the best moments

Pretty much the final shot of the day, when Becky reached up her face and looked at her new husband, moments before a kiss, there was pure, unchecked adulation in her eyes. Marriage is a seriously intense experience, but the joy of re-enacting it purely for photographic pleasure allows a couple the chance to REALLY savour the time in front of the lens and relish in each other's affection. Just look at that smoulder!

The way Becky looks at her new husband here is just heart-wrenchingly gorgeous. This shoot was a reprisal of the wedding vows of this delicious couple who had already been married TWICE, firstly in Corfu then at home with larger friends and family in Blighty. This occasion was an opportunity to take a more relaxed approach to getting some wedding images, a chance to really savour their time together and to compose themselves in to the portraits they wanted to create without the stress of a large audience, or the pressure of a timeline to adhere to. As a result, the truly emotive moments which they created were authentic and unsolicited, meaning naturally tranquil moments and unforced poses. The location for the shoot was lovely Hipping Hall in the Lake District, and the early autumn sun paid us tremendous respect, low in the sky, enabling sun-drenched mementoes for posterity
The late summer sun was just falling behind the trees in Hipping Hall's beautiful gardens as this shot was taken

Little details

Nervous grooms may not always show their apprehension in their faces, but if you know where to look there is inevitably some sign that they are jittery in other body language. Even though Andy had already been married to his gorgeous soulmate twice (yes, TWICE - once in Corfu, once in Blighty!) there was little doubt that he was still feeling daunted by the prospect of reliving the experience for a third time. His hands, never still, were in a constant state of agitation, undermining the calm expression on his handsome face.

A nervous groom, Andy's hands were not still for a moment whilst he waited for his girl
An apprehensive groom recalls how the real wedding day felt as he waits beside his wife's wedding gown for her to be readied

Hand in hand all the way for this adoring couple, who barely lost contact with each other's fingers the entire time we were shooting, across two different locations. Lingering for a while to chat, the bride removed her silvery shoes and dangled her bare feet over the edge of the stream next to what looked like a former mill. Details such as this show the degree of comfort that the newlyweds feel in each other's company, as well as giving off an unceremonious air. This is a couple whose life together will be unpretentious and honest, surely a winning combination with which to begin a marriage.

A peaceful moment as the newlyweds chat and hold hands on the bridge above the stream
The dress falls casually on to the cobbles and Becky clutches her bouquet nervously. The crossed feet say it all about how she is feeling at thsi moment

If you enjoy wedding posts, try some of these. You can find the wedding 'details' which went with this photo shoot by following this link, as well as lots of other lovely stuff.

This shoot was made possible by Aspire Photography Training, who run marvellous courses for professional photographers.