One of my goals during a couples photo session is to portray the emotional connection between the couple and highlight just what makes their relationship unique. I also strive to give my images an informal and natural lifestyle feel. To this end, I ask my couple to complete a brief questionnaire a few days before the shoot just to get some kind of an idea of their personalities and what they want the images from the shoot to say about their relationship.
My photographic style is very much relaxed and natural, I don’t work in a studio, I never use flash and most of my photo sessions take place outdoors. I’m all for capturing authentic emotions and real moments but how can I achieve that if I pose my subjects?
Do I pose my couples? Sure I do, I never want them hanging around feeling awkward wondering how they should act next . I try to keep them moving all the time, instructing and guiding them, basically bossing them around! I’m super duper bossy, this helps my people to relax because they soon realise they don’t have to invent anything or think up poses because I’ll tell them exactly what to do.
Instead of photographing stiff, static poses, I’ll often guide them into a pose and then tweak it from there, allowing the moment to unfold naturally. For example, I might say, “Face each other chest to chest, Lucy you wrap your arms around his neck, David you grab her around the waist and as he does so, Lucy you lift both your feet off the ground and David now I want you to lift her up and spin her around”, initially they do what I tell them but after that, the pose takes on a life of it’s own and very often leads to laughter and real emotion which makes for some fabulous images.
To initiate other poses, sometimes I’ll play a game I like to call, Let’s Pretend. It could go something like this, “David, let’s pretend you’ve been away for a week on business, you get home and find Lucy out in the garden standing with her back to you and staring wistfully off into the distance, she doesn’t hear as you approach and as soon as you reach her, you wrap your arms around her, snuggle into her neck from behind and kiss her tenderly on the shoulder. Then I want you to whisper something naughty into her ear”. I then document the entire scene from beginning to end, which always results in a variety of beautiful authentic images for their gallery.
Keeping my couples moving is also a great way to help them relax; walking, running, dancing anything to keep their minds off static posing. These first activity type images are more lifestyle and photo journalistic but once we’re all relaxed and my couple are comfortable with me photographing them, I’ll move in closer for the more intimate, tender, romantic types of images. Those lovely sweet and tender captures as well as the sensual, almost kissing ones that make me want to swoon.
I photograph all my sessions at Golden Hour, this means I have to keep things moving as I’m always racing against the sun either rising or setting. As a result, the time flys by and before my couple realises, the shoot is over, we’ve had tons of fun and there was nothing for them to feel nervous about after all.
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
― Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
― Lao Tzu
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“Do you think I’m pretty?
I think you’re beautiful
You are so beautiful, it hurts sometimes.”
― Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy
“Tucker strokes my hair. There’s something so tender about the gesture. It might as well have been him whispering I love you.”
― Cynthia Hand, Hallowed
“I peek up at his features, at the crooked grin I want to savor, at the color in his eyes I’d use to paint a million pictures.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me
“This is what it means to be loved… when someone wants to touch you, to be tender…”
― Banana Yoshimoto, The Lake
“The frankest and freest and privatest product of the human mind and heart is a love letter…”
― Mark Twain
“A touch communicates what can’t be said.”
― Marty Rubin
The images in this post ARE from the super fabulous Mr & Mrs M’s PHOTO session at the gorgeous Equleni Guest Farm NEAR KNYSNA AND Sedgefield.
About the photographer
Moira is a Lifestyle Photographer based in Sedgefield, South Africa.
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