If you’re like me, you’re used to being behind the camera. Most of the photos you take on vacations or weekend getaways are of the sights, food, wildlife, or your significant other. Maybe you’ll even walk away with a picture or two of yourself if your partner decides to steal the camera for a bit.
But what do you never end up with? Pictures of the both of you… together.
Sometimes, selfies just don’t cut it. For the times when you want to truly capture the moment, it’s time to call in a professional.
I recently took a short trip to Quebec City with my boyfriend, Alex, where we had our first couple’s photoshoot. Here is what I learned and what you should keep in mind before your first shoot.
1. Introduce yourself to the photographer before you meet in-person
Is there anything more awkward than standing in front of a complete stranger and trying to “act natural”? Your photoshoot shouldn’t feel like an unpleasant job interview or meeting your partner’s parents for the first time — it should be relaxing and, most importantly, it should be fun. Part of that means getting to know the person who will be shooting your photos beforehand.
I booked our photoshoot through Airbnb experiences and was lucky enough to receive a message from our photographer right away. She asked questions such as “what are your expectations for the photoshoot?” and “who do you want to share these photos with?” which helped her get a general idea of how to plan for the shoot. Even if your photographer doesn’t reach out first, don’t hesitate to get in touch with them to introduce yourself! I even sent our photographer a link to my Instagram so she could see what my boyfriend and I look like, what kind of pictures we typically take, and even what our general style is.
She also suggested we bring a prop or something to interact with during the shoot and included helpful ideas for what to wear, which was quite helpful since we had never done this before!
2. Choose your locations strategically
Our shoot was in Quebec City which means there really aren’t any bad locations. However, our photographer had asked if we wanted to do our photos at Château Frontenac or Quartier Petit Champlain and since we knew the hotel was under construction (plus my boyfriend is an absolute history nerd) we opted for the oldest commercial district in North America — Petit Champlain.
(The best part? We still got some amazing photos with Frontenac behind us!)
When looking for a location to take your photos, try to make it meaningful. Will a gorgeous park make a fantastic backdrop for your shoot? Sure! But does that location really mean anything to you? I knew I wanted to get photos done in Quebec City because it’s my favorite place in the world. However, some of my favorite couple photos I’ve seen online have been at home, where they enjoy spending their time the most, or even a landmark from their hometown. Long story short? Pick a place that will truly make your photos special and unique to you.
3. Wear something comfortable
This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. I took a big risk by buying a brand new dress the day before our shoot and not bringing any back-up outfits in case I hated it. Lucky for me, it paid off. The dress was comfortable and looked fantastic in pictures, but that could have just as easily not been the case.
When my boyfriend asked me what he should wear, I told him, “whatever you are most comfortable in.” Not only does your general comfort matter—things like, don’t wear shoes that will cause blisters and don’t wear pants so tight you can’t breathe—your emotional comfort should be taken into account, too. Things that you don’t feel your best in don’t belong in your photoshoot. You know how sometimes you put on an outfit, look at yourself in the mirror, and think, to steal the word’s of Lizzo, “Damn she the one”? Pick the outfit that makes you feel that good.
I feel like that’s just generally good advice for life, to be honest.
Anyway, I had stuffed a pair of super cute heels into my backpack to change into once we met up with our photographer, but I ended up staying in my flats. I knew that I was more comfortable in them and since it had rained that morning, I didn’t want to risk a fall. Plus, if I had changed into my heels, our photographer wouldn’t have captured this amazing photo of us dancing in the middle of the street! Being comfortable really makes all the difference.
4. Watch the weather but seize the opportunity to kiss in the rain
Since we were only in Quebec for three days (or, really, one full day and two half days when you take travel into consideration) I had been compulsively checking the weather leading up to our trip.
Everything was great! Nice and sunny, perfect temps… until it wasn’t. Suddenly, only two days before our trip, the weather changed. Rain was forecasted for the entirety of our one full day there which was, of course, when I booked the photoshoot for. I was devastated. I considered cancelling. I message our photographer to ask if there was any way we could reschedule for the following morning, thinking maybe we could squeeze it in before we got back on the road to head home.
While our photographer offered to reschedule, she also said, “I thought it might be fun to do the shoot in the rain.” At first, I laughed. How could that possibly be fun?! I thought about how frizzy and awful my hair would look, how our clothes would be splotchy from being wet and we would likely be aggravated about being outside in a cold end-of-the-summer Canadian rain storm. Then I thought, “maybe she’s right…”
We walked down to our meeting spot that next morning as the rain came down. I started having second thoughts. When we met up with our photographer, she had a super cute umbrella in her bag and talked about how people always tend to cancel when it rains and that she was glad we didn’t.
Then, just as we were about to go outside to start the shoot…
it stopped raining.
We still took amazing pictures, even using the umbrella as a prop in a few, except we also got an unexpected benefit — completely empty streets in the Quartier Petit-Champain. An unheard of sight. It was quiet, peaceful, and breathtaking. In the photos, it looks like we own the place.
All thanks to a bit of rain.
What I’m saying here is don’t underestimate the power of “bad” weather on your photoshoot. You may end up with even better pictures than you expected!
5. Be yourself
This one can be the most challenging. After all, it’s probably not normal for you to be followed around by a camera.
And, if it is, you probably don’t need tips from me!
Sure, you’ll likely be stiff at first. That’s why it’s important to let yourself open up. Try to dance those nerves away and focus on your partner instead of the camera!
This tip also carries over to things like makeup. I don’t wear makeup often and when I do it is very subtle. Things like foundation and mascara but never eyeliner or blush (I don’t need it, I’m constantly blushing anyway!) which means that I stuck to this when preparing for our shoot. You want your photos to capture you, don’t you? So, why pretend to be someone else?
6. The in-between photos end up being the best ones
During our shoot, I couldn’t help but get nervous as our photographer rapidly clicked between poses. I hate my “natural” smile and all I could think was, “oh great… there are going to be a bunch of pictures of me laughing like an idiot.”
The secret here is that the poses aren’t always the best photos. The ones in-between the poses are.
Keep it flowing and—sorry to harp on this but it’s really important—have fun!
7. Get. Them. PRINTED.
This one is a tip for after the shoot, but to quote one of my favorite local Massachusetts photographers Ashley Green, “Print your photos!”
You spent money. Your photographer put in hard work. Now it’s time to put them on display.
It’s 2019 and while we’re all used to plastering our selfies and such on the internet, we don’t give prints nearly as much recognition as the deserve! You may be surprised by how much you love looking at your photos while you watch TV or eat dinner. Plus, they’ll make a great talking point when you have guests over.
What are your tips for a couple’s photoshoot?
I want to hear them!
Comment here or message me on Instagram, @AshleyPerssico, to share.