Tips for romantic portraits

No matter what type of photography you specialise in or prefer, chances are at some point in your career you will have to or want to photograph real live people. Most photographers find posing people in a way that is both realistic and romantic way to be the most intimidating part about working with real couples. And they are right of course, but there are lots of ways to help yourself when it comes to posing. One of them is to learn and apply these few simple tips for romantic portraits. By no means is this an extensive guide, but it will get you started and keep you on the right track.

The first and most important advice I can give you is this – simplify everything! Simple is always better.

Tips for Romantic Portraits

    • Get to know the couple in advance of the photo shoot. This is crucial for the success of the photo shoot! Ask them about how they met, what their hobbies are and what interests they share, what TV shows they like – just about anything that can give you a better idea of their dynamic and what makes them who they are as a pair.
    • Warm up before the photo shoot. This applies to both you and the couple 🙂 Go get a coffee, talk a bit, don’t start immediately with the shoot. This will make the couple uneasy and they might feel like you don’t really care about them as a couple. I always find that I do my best images around the end of the photo session – I know the couple better, they trust me and feel very comfortable around me.
Tips for Romantic Portraits

Working with harsh light is not always easy, but the results can be interesting. I did this photo during the engagement session of Ana and Daniel in Brussels.

    • Get creative with location and composition. I always ask the couples I photograph if they want to choose the location for the photo shoot. This way they have an option to choose a place they like and where they feel comfortable. Even if it is not the most beautiful location, having them at ease and happy is already half way 🙂
      When left to me, I try to choose a location that I find inspiring. There is nothing wrong with going to the same location again and again, but we as photographers, just like all creatives, can benefit greatly from coming out of our comfort zones.
      Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with your composition and lightning. Get your safe shot, so you know the clients will be happy, but don’t forget to experiment. It is the only way to grow!
Tips for Romantic Portraits

Keep your lightning and backgrounds simple when possible. Don’t forget your main subject is the couple. Ana and Daniel at Mont des Arts during their engagement photo session in Brussels.

    • Keep lightning and backgrounds simple. I always try to book my photo shoots for early in the morning or later in the day to get softer and nicer lightning. This allows me to keep my photo shoots simple and I rarely need to bring additional lightning. There is nothing wrong if you prefer working with flash, but I find that photographing people who have no experience with photography is always easier using ambient / available light. Think of it this way – will you feel comfortable standing in front of a tripod with a big umbrella or soft box?
      Midday harsh light is also something to avoid until you have serious photography experience. Working with harsh light and shadows will leave you with less options for posing and might completely ruin your photo shoot. We live in a country where we can’t really be sure what the weather is quite unpredictable, but I try not to get upset about it. I find that bad weather makes for good photos 🙂
      Keeping the backgrounds simple will help you to put the emphasis on the couple. Not always possible, but when you have the option go for it!
    • Maintain the mood during the entire photo shoot. This is obvious, but still a little reminder. Speak with the couple, make them laugh, ask them questions – whatever makes them feel comfortable! Some people might be nervous from start to finish, it will be harder for you to get good results if you can’t help them relax. Any necessary adjustments should always be voiced as positive suggestions, never as criticism! It may be a good idea to reassure them that they are doing a good job just by telling them that or maybe showing them a photo or two.
Tips for Romantic Portraits

Don’t ask your clients to smile. It is the photographers job to make them feel comfortable and at ease. Melek and Erhan during their engagement photo session in Bruges.

    • Don’t ask your clients to smile. This is obviously a big no-no! Nobody likes to be asked to smile and I am sure you don’t need fake smile in your photos. Instead you make them smile! This is where strong people skills are really useful. If you have spent the time to get to know your couple, talking with them should be easy. If you think they will appreciate it, tell them a joke. Think of a nice funny story from a previous photo shoot and maybe tell that as well. There is nothing better than having your couple in great mood during the photo shoot.
    • Pose your clients in a way you would want to be posed in their place. This is always a good idea. It works quite well for me and I think it might work well for you too. Don’t try to remember poses or copy someone else’s photos, it will be much easier to just pose your couples in a way you like or know that feels comfortable. Do you enjoy hugging your partner in a certain way? Chances are you are not the only one. Do you hold hands with your partner while taking a walk? Try that with the couple as well. See, posing people is easy 😉
Tips for Romantic Portraits

Pose your clients in a way you would want to be posed in their place. Keep it simple and realistic. Emily and James during their engagement session in Ghent.

  • Keep your edited photos realistically looking. Now is the time to remember my first advice – simple is always better. Don’t overdo it with the editing, Instagram filters are a thing of the past. Keep your work consistent. Is editing photos hard for you? Consider outsourcing it. Using a software like Adobe Lightroom will help immensely with your editing workflow and keeping your editing consistent. Working with Lightroom is easy – take a look here!

If you enjoyed this article with tips for romantic portraits please consider sharing it! Thank you in advance! If you like what you see and would like a portrait session like this for yourself you can contact me by clicking here: Photographer in Brussels and lastly if you think you might need further information, please check my photography workshops in Brussels from the menu above!