Classic Portrait Ideas for Couples
Technically, shooting couples is much the same as shooting individual portraits. The same rules apply regarding lighting, poses, backgrounds, white balance and exposure metering.
The differences are more artistic than technical, and the composition can be a whole lot more complicated. We’ll look at some of these issues here, but first we’ll run through a few photography ideas and how to find those couple-shooting opportunities.
It’s easy to think in stereotypes, and in this instance you might imagine that portraits of couples will be chocolate-box poses designed for silver-plated frames on window sills. Well, there are many more portrait possibilities than that.
Old married couples aren’t the only candidates for portraiture, and classically romantic shots aren’t the only style. Friends of both sexes can make great couples in the broadest sense, and most people want this kind of memento for their personal albums.
It’s not the obvious kind of shot, maybe, but it’s a type you’ll look back on with great fondness in the future.
Portraits aren’t just records of people’s appearances, after all. They’re a record of the times they lived in, the people they knew and the things they did.
Special occasions are a great time to get portrait shots of friends and couples. You can try to grab a shot or two round a dinner table or in a doorway, but if you’ve got time, try to get your subjects away from the general melee for a few minutes and pose them on their own with a suitable background as a frame.
You should think about taking more photos when visiting relatives, too. Even the cheesy, posed shots have value and interest later on, and if your relatives are amenable, they can give you a lot of portrait practice.
Besides, it’s also always good to take photographs of people you may not see again for a long time.
Again, take the time to do it properly. It only takes five minutes to pose a couple in a sunlit doorway, or relaxing at home – one sitting in a chair, maybe, and the other standing behind.
Meals and parties pose new challenges. The light levels are low, the wine is flowing and everyone’s too busy having a good time to stop and pose. In situations like these you just have to grab what you can.
However, here’s one tip you might find useful: don’t use standard flash, but switch to Slow Sync or Night Portrait mode. This combines the flash with the ambient lighting to preserve the atmosphere, while still rendering your subjects reasonably sharp.
Distract the men!
Subjects in pairs can be very self-conscious about posing for the camera, especially males. So it can be useful to have them engaged in some kind of competitive activity. Not only that, the portrait then becomes a record of the times as well.
Sports and hobbies make great opportunities for portrait photography, especially if you can get the participants to act out the game while you’re shooting.
The best shots may not come when they’re consciously looking at the camera, but when they’re distracted by what they’re doing.
Wait for those moments of triumph or disaster, because they can yield the best expressions – comic dismay on one face, jubilation on the other.
Try to get your subjects in a dialogue and not just staring woodenly at the camera. The relationship between them is going to be just as interesting as their connection with the viewer.
PAGE 1: Classic Portrait Ideas for Individuals
PAGE 2: Classic Portrait Ideas for Men and Women
PAGE 3: Lighting ideas for portraits of men
PAGE 4: Classic Portrait Ideas for Older Subjects
PAGE 5: Classic Portrait Ideas for Couples
PAGE 6: Ideas for Official Portraits
40 More Portrait Ideas: part 2 of our free downloadable posing guide
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