These two won my free engagement shoot giveaway with the Wedding Expo, and boy was I happy they did! It never surprises me to hear the usual "we've never done this before" or the "we don't know what to do, you're going to have to direct us", but these two lovebirds had already done a shoot together. Unfortunately it was a very posed shoot where the photographer specifically told them not to smile, which made them feel uncomfortable and stiff, and if you get to know them, smiling and laughing is what they do best. Looking back at their images from this shoot, it is not surprising that they mean nothing to Nikki and Raphael.
Unfortunately there is so much of this today. Photographers are guilty of it and sometimes so are clients. We see thousands of images online of beautiful couples looking so effortlessly glamorous and intimate in that beautiful ocean-side cliff engagement shoot, or the Yosemite mountain shoot where they just look so "boho" and so in love. Of course the temptation is there to want to imitate these photos, striving to achieve that perfect pose where the couple are closed-eyed and holding each other just in the right spots, as the wind blows her hair beautifully across her face and there is just the right amount of focus blur that it creates the perfect romantic image. To get caught up in trying to achieve these "perfect photos" is very sad, because standing in front of my lens was the most quirky, bubbly, sweet, and fun couple, and everything wonderful that makes them who they are, was missed, uncaptured in the shoot they did. No wonder they were scared of the camera!
It's still so weird to me that couples are happily surprised to learn that I am a documentary style photographer - meaning, I do not pose couples. I may give a bit of direction where needed, but I feel it is important to let personalities shine. Is it not just understood that photographs are there purely to capture memories? Not the other way around. If you are posing a couple telling them how to feel in that photo, you are not capturing memories (perhaps hiring models or actors would be a better option). They may produce some nice pics, but I just don't think these photos would be as valuable to the clients. I always tell my couples not to think of it as a shoot, but rather a walk in the forest, a picnic in the park, a hike together - just another outing for which I happen to be with them, sporadically pointing a camera at them. They need to feel comfortable that they can be themselves so that they can create some memories for me to capture.
It is so important to go into every shoot fresh and willing to take in the couple for who they are, get to know them, find out what's important to them, learn their strengths, and make them shine.
All love is beautiful, whether they kiss with their hands on each others necks, or holding each other's hips or even bums.