1. be confident and clear with instructions
I like couple/engagement photos that are candid, fun, and editorial. Achieving this was easier said than done. How do I get a couple to pose as if they are going to be in a lifestyle magazine, but also have them act/look naturally? It seems counter-intuitive. I spent hours reading blogs and watching youtube videos of how to photograph couples, where to put their hands, which angle is more flattering, how to make it look natural, etc. I even brought a page of my notes so that I can refer to it during the photo shoot. I was still a bit nervous, but having done my homework gave me confidence to walk Nick and Paulina through the various poses I wanted them to do. Of course, it helped that both Nick and Paulina were natural at this! Bottom line: being confident can lead to clearer instructions, and ultimately good photos.
2. "Almost kisses" are just as good as actual kisses.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with full lip-on-lip photos and we had numerous shots of this during this photo session. But just telling the couple to kiss and snap photos of said kissing can sometimes lead to shots that are awkward or appear forced. Almost kisses, on the other hand, appears more natural; it tells a story, it leads to a moment (the kissing), and to me, it looks more romantic. For the shot above, the instruction I gave was: lean in and almost kiss..and then hold it there. In hindsight, I could have been more clear. I also could have just told Nick and Paulina to lean in very, very slowly for a kiss, and proceed to snap photos before their lips touch.
3. be mindful of appendages
This is an issue that I have not just with couple/engagement photography, but with any photography involving people: I always forget their appendages. More specifically, I forget that their fingers/hands exist! Check out this photo (side) of Nick and Paulina. It is a pretty traditional pose/photos; they are close to one another, both are smiling, and Paulina's pose is great with her hands of her hips, showing the engagement ring. What I should have done, however, was tell Nick to put his right hand in his pocket, so that it does not hang in there awkwardly and forgotten. This is not Nick's faults - most guys, including myself, generally don't know what to do with our hands when being photographed. The onus is on the photographer to tell the subject what looks good. It is not a significant mistake in this case, and some may not notice it at all, but it could be the difference between a good and a great photo!
4. Chimping is good!
"Chimping" is a term that photographers use to refer to the act of frequently looking at the back of the camera after every image, or spending too much time reviewing images and not enough time taking photos. Chimping during a couple/engagement photography, however, is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are chimping with the couple you are photographing. Reviewing photos after every pose or every five shots, for example, is a good way to see that your settings are still correct, that lighting hasn't changed, or that the couple is in focus. Chimping with the couple can also allow them to see how they look, whether they need to change something about their poses, whether they are happy with where their hair is, and so on. It is important to note that what looks good to you as a photographer might not necessarily be what your subjects want/like. Chimping provides you with that immediate feedback you need to either correct mistakes or change your approach depending on the couple's preferences. There is nothing worse than seeing all your mistakes during post-editing.
5. I should have stepped back.
I regret not stepping back and taking photos of Nick and Paulina from afar. We have a few shots of them walking away together, but for the most part, their shots were fairly close up. Photos from a distance provides a different perspective of the couple. It can be more candid, it can be more effective at telling a story, they can have a bit of space between them, and again, it is more natural - as if I happen to just stumble upon them during their morning walks! For my next couple photo shoot, I will make sure that this is remedied!
A big thank you to Nick and Paulina for letting me photograph them on this cold, Sunday morning. Kanata's Old Quarry Trail was slippery as hell.