Photographing a Couple

Photographing a couple is a little different than photographing a single person. There are a few more things that you, as the photographer, have to pay attention to. When photographing a single person, you have to make sure you have your subject composited right against your background. When photographing a couple, you have to pay attention to that, as well as how the two people are interacting with each other. Are they close together, or is there distance between them? If there is distance between them, how much? Are both people in focus? This is going to determine the F-stop you use. For example, if your couple is posed in a way that one person is in front of the other, an F-stop like 1.8 or even 4 could cause one person to be in focus while the other is slightly, or more than slightly, out of focus. Are both people evenly lit? Is the shadow of one person being cast onto the other? When shooting a single person, we have to make sure there is nothing in the background that causes a distraction. A common example of this is when there is a tree limb behind your subject, and in the photo, the tree limb looks as if it is growing out of your subject’s head. Well, when photographing a couple, you have to check your background with both people.

Photographing a Couple – Take Safe Shots

One of the things I always do when shooting portraits, or any photos for that matter, is get some safe shots. By safe shots, I mean photos that may be considered standard type shots. They are shots that are easy to compose. For example, a safe shot for a portrait of a single person might be a simple head and shoulders shot with the subject smiling at the camera. When photographing a couple, a simple shot would be having the two people side by side and smiling at the camera. These are standard shots. They look nice and are simple to shoot. Once I get my safe shots, I know I can then experiment because if I don’t get good results by experimenting, I have my safe shots to fall back on.

Photographing a Couple – Tell The Couple’s Story

This is where you can really experiment. If done right, these experimental shots will probably be the best ones. When photographing a couple, try to tell their story. If your couple is a husband and wife, can you tell by looking at the photos? Maybe your couple is a mother and daughter. Shoot some photos that leave no doubt to the viewer that these two people are mother and daughter. Also, when photographing a couple, don’t always go for the beauty shots. Have fun! Let your couple have fun! A lot of times, the photos of couples that people enjoy the most are ones with some humor in them. For example, one of my favorite photos that I’ve recently taken is of a mother and daughter. While the mother is smiling at the camera, the daughter is behind her, making faces! This gives the photo a lot of personality.

Photographing a Couple – Happy Accidents

This really goes for all types of photography, but it especially goes for portraits. Don’t shoot posed shots only! Take some shots between poses. Take some shots when your subject or subjects aren’t expecting it. This is usually when they will be more relaxed. I’ve always though that candid style portraits are more interesting than posed ones. This works very well when photographing a couple. Usually, you will be able to capture moments when the people are interacting with each other. These moments in between shots, or when moving to another location, are when your subjects aren’t expecting a photo to be taken. They are relaxed and natural. Not all of these types of shots will turn out to be good shots. In fact, most of them won’t. But, it’s worth doing because you will get a few that are very good.

Why Photograph Couples

Photographing a couple is very rewarding. The photos capture human interaction. It’s fun to be able to see human emotion between people in a photograph. Sometimes, the emotion can be very moving, like the love and respect shared between a parent and child. Other times, it can be very funny, like making faces at one another or acting silly.

The point of all this is to remember your composition and lighting skills, but don’t forget to have fun with the photos. Shoot some safe shots, but don’t stop there. Allow your subjects to play and interact. Try to capture moments when they are at ease. Give them some ideas to play out, such as silliness, distrust, repulsion, love, disbelief. You’ll be surprised at how much more life and personality your will get when photographing a couple this way.

To see more photos from the photo shoot with Chrissy and Saundra, visit my Chrissy & Saundra gallery page.


I'm Jason, and I have an obsession with photography. I love taking photos, as well as viewing others photos. As I grow and learn, I like to share tips and techniques with others.

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