When preparing for a couple photo session I always look for inspiring couple poses and make a list with the ones I like best. Today I want to share with you one of my favorite couples poses list together with some explanations and tips.
Feel free to use this as a base in your couple photo sessions!
1. Show Something They Have in Common
A great idea for your couple’s portrait is to show something they share, like a hobby that they do together. This will change from couple to couple and requires a bit of investigation. You can ask them if they practice any sports together, hobby or passion and suggest them to bring some props to the photo session. Some will be small props such as books or a musical instrument. Other might be bigger, like in the photo below!
2. Hug from Behind. Looking in the Same Direction
Tell your couple to hug and you will get a beautiful portrait. However, there are different types of hugs that convey slightly different feelings. A nice couple pose is a hug from the back. It is nice because they both can look at the same direction, giving to the portrait a subtle sense of togetherness. So tell one of your models to stand behind the other and put the hands around his/her partner. To help them with the gaze, It is always better to give visual instructions (“Look towards the sea, look at the tree…).
3. Bring a Blanket to the Photo Session
A great prop for couple’s photo sessions is a blanket. They are affordable, easy to get (you might even have at home an extra one that you can use) and are very versatile. As in the image below, you can tell the couple to wrap themselves with it. This gives to the photo a warm intimate feeling. The couple can be hugging, facing each other or they can be side by side, sharing the blanket. You can also use it as a cloth to sit on or have a picnic.
4. Capture Them Laughing
A photo of a laughing couple brings a feeling of joy, authenticity, complicity, and tenderness to the viewer. But take care because a fake smile or laugh can ruin your portrait. For that reason, candid photos are working great in this case. I have a little trick for making the couple laugh: Tell them to do something that will surprise them. It can be a simple thing, such as dancing in the middle of the street, running a little, jumping… More than taking photos of the action itself (that can be also nice) wait until they start laughing for the situation they are in at that moment.
5. Composition Rules
Composition rules are totally applicable in couple’s portraits. In fact, they add interest to the image. I would like to clarify here that although they are called rules, I prefer to consider them as guidelines: you use them just when they contribute to the image. Some of the composition “rules” you can apply are the Rule of Thirds, leaving negative space around the couple, leaving space for their gaze, using leading lines that will drive the viewer eyes to them and so on. In fact, any of the general photography “rules” applies to portraits.
6. Tell them to Put Their Foreheads Together
There is something extremely cute in a couple getting so close that they put their foreheads together. It shows the confidence and love they have for each other. Just make sure that they are looking at each other’s eyes to get the full effect. It also helps to have a uniform background to avoid any distractions.
7. Sitting Side by Side
If you want to take a photo of a couple sitting, it is important they get quite close to each other. Some couples might feel strange sitting in an open space such as the one in the image below. In that case, tell them to sit next to a wall or any other place they can lean their back on. To get a natural moment, make the couple interact: tell them to look at each other, get them to tell a joke or explain a funny anecdote that they went through together. You just need to wait to get the candid moment.
8. Focus on the Feet
To take a beautiful couple’s photo you don´t always have to show the model’s faces. You can crop and focus on just some parts of their bodies. The feet are a great option. You need to place the couple close to each other so that the viewer will understand quickly that there is a relationship between the two people in the frame. To take this type of photos you need to get really low, placing the camera almost on the floor.
9. Capture a Surprise
This type of photos require a bit of thought in advance, but the result is totally worth it. The idea is to capture the moment of a surprise: a bouquet of flowers, box of chocolates or even an engagement ring. The moment right before the surprise is especially important because it holds a lot of suspense: as a viewer, you know what is going to happen and this makes the image even more interesting!
10. Kiss on the Forehead
Kisses on the forehead are one of the most adorable kisses because they convey tenderness. You can tell the couple to pose with their foreheads together (number 6 of this list) and then tell one of them to kiss the other. Usually, they close the eyes naturally, but if they don’t, encourage them to do so. Although a full-body photo can also work, I think that a close-up will show better the quality of the moment.
11. Almost a Kiss
Kisses always look great in a photo. But not just the kiss itself is a good subject. The moment right before the kiss holds the beautiful tension of anticipation when you feel butterflies in the belly. You can tell the couple to “almost kiss”. And when they are really close to each other you can take the shots. Something I saw in my photo sessions is that after a while so close they end up kissing and also laughing, so you will have the chance to take some adorable candid photos after the “almost kissing” pose.
12. Walking Holding Hands
Walking holding hands is such a natural thing for a couple that is a great photo to take at the beginning of a photo session, especially if your models are shy. Place yourself a bit far and tell your couple to walk towards you. Remind them to look at each other to get a deeper sense of togetherness to the image. Just make sure they won’t collide with anything in their way!!
13. Cityscape in the Background
This is not always possible, but if you have the chance, take a couple’s portrait with city views in the background. The best option is to go to an elevated viewpoint. When in a viewpoint we usually have the tendency to pose looking at the camera with the city behind us. But I find it more romantic if the couple stands looking at the views and taking their photo from behind. After all, this is what they would have been doing if they were alone.
The typical portrait cropping style is somewhere between the waist and the knees (¾ portrait) or under the shoulders (headshot). However, you can get creative and experiment with other types of cropping. For example, you can focus on the middle part of the body, skipping both the heads and the feet. This type of cropping works better when the couple is doing easily recognizable actions like holding hands or walking together. Don´t crop exactly at the joints (elbows, knees, neck) to avoid the visual effect of chopped limbs.
15. from up to Down
To get some original portraits, change the direction of your camera. A really flattering perspective for portraits is to shoot from up to down. to do that you need to be in a higher place than the couple (you can use stairs, a ladder, a bench, and the likes) or you can tell the couple to get lower (by sitting for example). It is also beautiful to show the face of at least one of them. But this doesn´t mean that they have to look straight to the camera. They can look at each other as in the photo below.
16. Use backlight
Backlight translates into beautiful and romantic portraits. The couple needs to be placed between the camera and the source of light. It is a situation of high light contrast, so it is a bit difficult to set a good exposure. My advice is that you set the camera so that the couple will have a balanced exposure. You might end up with the background a bit over-exposed but this is a price I am willing to pay to see all the details of the couple. To get bright haloes in their hair, place them in front of a dark background (trees are great for this).
Backlight. Photo by Adinavoicu on Pixabay
17. Frame the Couple
An easy way to add interest to a portrait is to frame the couple using objects in the surroundings. You can tell the couple to stand at a door, a gate or a window. You can also frame them in a more subtle way. It helps to imagine that you are a paparazzi and you want to take photos of the couple without them realizing. You can, for example, shoot through bushes (like in the image below). To increase the effect, use a low aperture value and focus on the couple. The idea is that the element that frames them gets blurry because of the shallow depth of field.
You can take a really cute portrait just by having the couple sit side to side and lean on each other while hugging. This portrait works almost anywhere: beach, park, the city, you name it and you can place the camera at the couple’s level (almost on the floor) or take the photo from up to down. Another variation is using a blanket. Just tell the couple to cover themselves with it and you will get a cozy portrait.
19. Leaning on something
Leaning on something is a great resource for all the couples, but especially for those that don´t like posing so much (having a surface close by seems to decrease the discomfort produced by posing). You can use any surface you find around: a wall, rock, even a fence. just make sure that it is stable enough to hold the couple and that it is relatively comfortable to lean on.
Silhouettes are the extreme effect of using backlight. In this case, set the exposure so that the background will be balanced and the couple is completely blacked out. Look for a location with a relatively clear background. To increase the silhouette effect you need a lot of visible sky and few distracting elements. In this case, simple is better.
You can take whole body portraits of the couple holding hands. But as it is one of the most representative gestures of couples, you can also take close-ups that will clearly represent love and connection. Place the couple at enough distance between them so that the arms form a nice angle. Look for a clear background to avoid distracting elements surrounding the hands. If your couple is wearing rings, or they have a nice tattoo, you can include them in the frame because they add a unique touch.
22.Under the Rain
Rain adds a nostalgic feeling to images which work really well with couples. Give your couple just one umbrella for them to share. Having a transparent umbrella is quite handy because you can take photos of them from all the perspectives and they won´t have to move the umbrella around so you can see them. Just make sure to protect your camera (and yourself!) from the rain too!
23. Love Comes in All Ages
Not so young couples are also excellent models for portraits! They represent everlasting love and just looking at them we feel happiness. A tender couple poses work especially well in this case: foreheads together, holding hands, laughing and looking at each other. Close-ups are also a great option because they emphasize the marks of age.
24. Lying down Facing Each Other
To easily change the perspective of your portraits, tell the couple to lie down. There is a lot of possible variation of this couple pose. A classic photo is to have one of the couple lie facing up and the other facing down so that they will face each other. They can just look at each other, get face to face (as in the photo below), kiss, or “almost kiss”. The couple won´t be alone on the floor though. You will also need to get really low to have your camera at their same level. So be ready to get dirty, or bring a blanket to lie on.
25. Lying Down, Upper Perspective
Another beautiful couple pose is to lie on the chest of the other. Here the challenge is how to place yourself in reference to the couple to take the shot straight from up. You need to hold the camera high and/or get higher yourself. If you are indoors you may have a ladder or a chair at hand, but outdoors you will need to use your creativity and look for safe places to climb on: benches, stairs and so on.
26. Walking Away Together
There is something quite romantic in seeing a couple walking together away from you. This photo works even better if you are in a relatively bucolic place, such as a beach during sunset/sunrise or a field. To emphasize the intimacy feeling of the moment, try to have only the couple in the frame. You can try to go to an empty location. But if this option is not possible, play with the perspective until you get a frame with just the couple, or in the worst of the cases, you can use an editing software such as Photoshop to remove people from the background in post-processing.
If you have the chance to take photos of a couple with tattoos, include a close up of the ink work. They are really unique images and in addition, the couple will appreciate having their tattoos in a beautiful photo. Some couples even have matching tattoos. In that case, focus on them too. As tattoos usually have a strong personality by themselves, try to keep the rest of the frame quite simple, to counterbalance.
28. Add Some Reflections
If around your couple you have a reflective surface such as a mirror or calm water, you can get really creative with your shots. Introduce the reflection in your composition. Experiment, try new things and have fun! You can get symmetric images where the couple and the reflection have the same size. Or you can get a more dynamic effect by focusing on the reflection and cropping the couple.
For a photo full of energy, tell your couple to do a piggyback. This is usually a pretty fun thing that will make them laugh. You can take both whole body images and crop close to their faces or arms. As the couple will do sudden movements (and sometimes you can´t predict their direction neither), I recommend you to use fast shutter speeds to freeze the moment properly.
30. Just One Looking at the Camera
The strength of this couple pose is the contrast generated when one of the couple members is looking straight at the camera while the other is clearly not doing so. In this example, they are sitting, but it also works well if they were standing. The person looking at the camera can lean her head on the shoulder or arm of the couple. In this case, it is possible to close the eyes instead of looking at the camera.
31. Leaning on Him
If you want to convey trust and calm in your couple portrait, a way to do it is to tell one partner to lean his/her head on the other´s shoulder. If you are in a place with a nice background, take the photo from their backs while they enjoy the views. This pose works well both sitting and standing.
32. Looking at Each Other
This is a beautiful classic pose. The good thing about it is that it is also one of the easiest for the couples. They just need to stand closely in front of each other and look at the other’s eyes. For a more candid image tell them that they can talk and act as if you were not there. You just need to wait until they relax a little. The pose can be done while they hug or one of them can place the hands on the chest of the other, as you can see in the example.
Tell your couple to dance and let the magic happen! It might be helpful to have some songs on your phone that you can play at any time. Dancing in unexpected places conveys spontaneity and joy. At first, your couple might feel a bit shy, especially if there are people around them. But soon they will start having fun and this is when you will be able to take beautiful candid photos. Set the camera at a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement.
This is the crazy variation of the “Walking” pose (number 12). Place yourself a bit far from the couple, set your camera at a fast shutter speed and tell them to run towards you. Then be ready for anything, that might happen: they might run super fast, hats might fly away, they can start laughing… I recommend you to repeat the running a couple of times to increase the chances to get a good shot.
35. Kiss from behind
One of my favorite kiss poses is this one: one is behind the other and kiss him/her on the cheek. It is cute and you can see the faces of both of them. These poses add a bit of playfulness to the kiss and it is great for shy couples that don´t want to kiss passionately with a camera pointing at them.
36. Lying down
Another variation of lying down is easily achievable by just changing the camera’s perspective. You can start as in pose 25 and place yourself close to the couple´s head. Place your camera as close to the ground as possible and use a small f-number aperture. The purpose is to obtain a narrow depth of field (by using a smaller aperture) in a way that the heads are sharp and the rest of their bodies will be blurry.
37. Get Creative with Artificial Lights
You can get an original portrait by giving the couple some light elements. A beautiful option is to tell them to hold a sparkler. This also comes really handy when taking photos in a dark environment. The couple can be placed in any pose you like as far as they can hold the sparklers far from their bodies (for safety reasons). But as always in couple photography, the closer they get between them, the better!
Most of the couple poses on this list are approachable for any couple, even if they are not used to pose. However, posing is so personal that it is not so rare that a couple doesn´t like a certain pose. In that case, I recommend you to let it go and try a more suitable pose for them. Keep your couple happy and comfortable and you will get the lovely portraits you are looking for! Have a happy shooting!
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