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Quick Reference: Photographing Couples

Lesson 19 from: Portrait Photography Bootcamp

Lindsay Adler

Quick Reference: Photographing Couples

Lesson 19 from: Portrait Photography Bootcamp

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

19. Quick Reference: Photographing Couples

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is portrait photography of couples.


  1. What are some tips for posing couples?

    • Pose them asymmetrically to create a dynamic composition.
    • Ensure that the couple is proportionate to each other in the frame.
    • Tilt their heads together to show connection.
    • Create multiple points of interaction to show love and relationship.
    • Use the technique of "making the rounds" to come up with different poses and variations.
  2. What should be considered when photographing couples with uneven height?

    • Avoid having the taller person hunch down or lean in, as it is not flattering.
    • Use positioning and perspective to even out the height, such as having the shorter person in the foreground or having one person stand on something.
    • Sitting is also a good option, as it can help even out the heights.
  3. What lens choices are recommended for photographing couples?

    • There is no right or wrong lens choice, but it is recommended to use slightly longer lenses with narrower depth of field for outdoor locations.
    • Use fast fixed lenses like 50mm or 85mm, as well as zoom lenses like 24-70mm and 70-200mm, depending on personal style and preferences.
  4. How should focus be considered when photographing couples?

    • If both sets of eyes need to be in focus, use a deeper depth of field or ensure that both eyes are on the same plane.
    • If shooting with a narrow depth of field, decide which person should be in focus and position them accordingly.
    • Be careful with focus when one person is looking straight at the camera.
  5. What should be considered for lighting couples?

    • Ensure that the light source is not too far or too close to one person, as it can create shadows and uneven lighting.
    • Use larger, softer light sources to wrap light around both individuals and provide even lighting.
    • Feather the light to control the direction and avoid lighting up the background too much.
  6. What are some base poses for couples?

    • Facing each other
    • Back-to-back
    • One person behind the other
  7. How can endless variety be achieved in posing couples?

    • Move around the subjects and change camera angles.
    • Vary the hand placement, where their eyes are looking, and the position of their heads.
    • Change lens choice, depth of field, and perspective.
    • Use the technique of "making the rounds" to come up with different poses and variations.
  8. How can posing be adjusted for couples of different heights?

    • Have the taller person step back and lean forward instead of hunching down.
    • Use forced perspective by placing the shorter person in front and the taller person in the back to even out the height.
    • Have one person sit or stand on something to even out the heights.
  9. What are some lighting setups for photographing couples?

    • One light setup with a large umbrella or softbox to provide even lighting on both individuals.
    • Add a second light for rim or hair light to separate the couple from the background.
    • Add a third light to provide more control and pop for the couple.
  10. What are some tips for creating variety in couple poses?

    • Change camera angles, depth of field, and lens choice.
    • Vary hand placement, eye direction, and expressions.
    • Move around the subjects and change perspectives.

Lesson Info

Quick Reference: Photographing Couples

This is your quick reference guide for taking beautiful portraits of couples. Let's talk about some of the considerations that you have for things like lighting, posing, focus, and more. Let's begin with our checklist specifically geared towards posing. We're talking and summarizing a lot about what we've already covered for posing couples, so make sure you check out this segment, the previous segments on posing couples if the stuff is new to you. First, you wanna pose your couples asymmetrically, you don't want them both to be doing the same pose. Like, both of the individuals to have their hands on each other's shoulders, or both on each other's hips. Make it a little bit more asymmetrical and it gives you a more dynamic composition. Secondly, you wanna make sure that your couple is proportionate to one another in the frame. You shouldn't have one person just popping their head out behind the other. It gives a really awkward sense of unbalance. So visually have the couple be drawing ...

similar amount of attention in the frame. Third, don't forget to tilt the heads together. If you're posing and they're tilting their heads away or neutral, there's not really a connection there. When you can tilt the heads together, that is a way that you show connection and communicate the relationship. Now tip number four is to have multiple points of interaction. If you can have eye contacts, hand to the chin, a hand around the back, the more places that they're interacting, the more intertwined and more of a couple that they look. It communicates love and relationship more effectively. And then my last tip was about making the rounds. If you're trying to come up with a lot of ideas for posing and don't quite know where to start, if you have the gentleman stay in one place, and move the woman around him, it gives you a lot of variety and you can add and build upon that. And so my recommendation to you is not that you remember 10 or 15 or 20 different poses, but instead what you want to do, is remember making the rounds. You can have him stay in place, you can have her move around and then, if you see on this slide, there are endless ways to achieve variation. You've got your base pose, you can change that. You can then change where their eyes are looking or where their faces are looking. You can then change the placement of the hands. From there your lens choice is going to change the photograph, and your depth of field. That will change the photo and then also your perspective. You can move her around him, but then you can move around them. And when you do that it opens up so many, many possibilities. So consider that checklist for posing and then when you're looking for different ideas make the rounds and then go around. Change your perspective, change your lens choice. As we've demoed before, you also have to have some considerations when the couple have uneven height. You have to make a few adjustments. First is don't have whoever's taller hunched down or lean in. You see this very, very often and it's not flattering to the person who's taller. Instead, what you want to do is have them separate their legs, step, and lean forward. This will maintain their good posture, but also make them appear significantly shorter. Another approach that you could do for a couple is to place the shorter person in the foreground with the taller person in the background. And because of perspective it's going to start to even out height. So you could have them walking and holding hands. Now the shorter person in the foreground will look taller. And then one other option you have with uneven height couples, of course, you could have someone stand on something, but sitting is a great option because when you sit you can have the taller person sit and then the shorter person pose around them or, often when you sit, the heights even out just a little bit. So consider those things as you're posing. What can you do to even out heights? 'Cause if one person's head is significantly taller than the other, you lose that connection. You want them to be more at a similar level. Let's talk about lens choice. There's not really a right or wrong lens choice. Personally, for me, when I go out on location I prefer to have slightly longer lenses with narrower depth of fields. I like to shoot a lot with an 85 1.2 or 1.8. But when you do this something you have to be careful of is if you are shooting with narrow depth of field, when you have two people in a frame you have to make sure that you're very careful with your focus. What is going to be in focus in the frame? Now if you want both sets of eyes from the couple to be in focus you either need to have a deeper depth of field or you need to make sure both eyes are on the same plane. They're equal distance to your camera's sensor. If one person's behind and you're shooting with a narrow depth of field, one person has to be out of focus. Now if you want to shoot with a little bit more depth and you want to shoot really wide open, that's completely fine, but not both of the couple are going to be able to be in focus. So what you wanna do is you want to make sure that your focus is selected carefully. You don't want someone looking at camera, eyes straight to camera and have their eyes be soft. So instead if, perhaps, someone in the foreground is going to be out of focus, close their eyes or have them cast their eyes down and then you'll be able to shoot at really wide apertures without having to have both of them in focus. So I personally recommend on location trying a fast fixed lens like a 50 1.4, 1.2. An 85 fixed lens. And then also the go to zoom lenses. 24 to 70 2.8 and 70 to 200 2.8. All of these are going to depend on your personal style and preferences. So just make sure that you're going through this checklist of all the things for posing as well as your considerations that you have for focus and then also keep in mind lighting. When you're lighting a couple, be sure that whatever your light source is, is not really far or a lot closer to one of the people than the other. For example, if the couple is standing so that the light is far from the right hand side, be sure that the person in the front isn't casting a shadow on the person in the back because then it really breaks up the image and I can guarantee if it's a portrait and somebody's casting shadow, someone's not going to be happy so you have to be careful with your lighting. This is true in the studio and this is true out on location. Let's talk about our three base poses. These are three go to poses that you can use and then build endless variation upon. The first pose I recommend is when the couple is facing one another. Then I recommend you turn the woman around so that her back is to him. Try some variations of that pose. That'd be pose number two. And then finally move her around so that she's standing behind. These are three different poses that build upon my suggestions for making the round. Facing, turned around, and then move her around behind. Build upon that with all of the different variations I said that you have and you have endless photographs. Let's talk a little bit about lighting, some recommendations I have, specifically for modifiers. You can light with as few or as many lights as you wish when you're photographing a couple, but a lot of times just one light is going to be great. If you're lighting a couple, I typically recommend larger, softer light sources. This is going to allow the light to wrap around both individuals and give them relatively even lighting. In the first lighting set up that we're going to do with one light, I am going to use a large umbrella with diffuser. Umbrellas throw light around a lot so I'm going to get nice even illumination on the couple and also some light on the background so if you only have one light this might be a good option because you'll get a little bit of kick onto that background to separate them out. In our second lighting situation, we are going to use a softbox, a three by four foot. Again, this is a softer, broader light source so it can wrap around both subjects. But a benefit of a softbox is you can feather the light. I can change the direction. I have more control over a softbox than I do with an umbrella and so I can actually angle that softbox so the light, on purpose, doesn't hit the background. I can make it fall darker. But for this second lighting setup we are going to add a second light. I can add a rim light or hair light to the subject to pop them out from the background. And with our third lighting setup we can add a third light. Our main light in this instance is going to be an octabox. In this case it's a three foot octabox. Again, it is a softer light source. It's not quite as large, so you'll have to be careful that it's wrapping around your subjects and not too close to one over the other. If it's really close to one subject and a little bit farther from the other, the exposures and the direction of light on the face will be a little bit different. So I'm gonna start with that octabox and I'm going to use that octabox as the base, soft, flattering light, and then add in my back rim lights and I can use two strip banks in order to pop my subjects out from the background. So we've got our three base poses, we've got our three lighting situations, and then also that checklist of things that you're looking for for both the posing, the variety, as well as considerations for focus. Let's take a look at our first lighting setup and first pose. I'm going to start with them facing one another and I'll show you what I'm looking at. So face one another and put your hand up on his pocket area (laughs) and then wrap your hand, kinda, around his back and your hand on her hip. Okay, so this is just the basic facing each other pose, but I wanna make sure is I wanna tilt heads together. Multiple points of interaction. Closing in negative space. So I've achieved all of those things on my posing checklist. That works great. Let's talk about our lighting. The lighting that I have over here is a large umbrella. What I want to be sure, however, since she is facing an opposite direction of him, having my light far off to the side is probably going to give me uneven lighting patterns on the face. One of them is going to have more shadow than the other which would, of course, be her. So I'm going to show you what that looks like. So I want you turn your head right there, perfect. Good body language, great. So when you look at this shot, the light on his face is beautiful. It's very, very sculpting. But she falls to a lot of shadow. So what I can do is I can bring this main light just a little bit farther to the center of the frame. And it's going to wrap around a little bit more and give them a little bit more even lighting. Perfect. (camera clicking You guys look great. And I'm going through my normal posing checklist to make sure. Hands are soft and believable. Shoulders are relaxed. Long necks. Everything looks great. So that is a very simple setup, but it's something that they're going to be very happy with. And if I want variety, I can start changing those things I suggested. Changing the position of hands. Maybe, could you look back down at her? Just look down. She can look at me. Now smile. Great. And so there's a completely different shot. If I crop in, it's something more. We are going to look at that in action on location. So that is just going to be my base pose number one and my base lighting setup. So let's go to setup number two. We are going to switch over to a three by four foot softbox. Both of these are soft light sources, but I can feather the softbox a little bit more. While we're switching that, let's talk about the placement of my subject. I like to move her around him. So they were facing each other. Now she is going to put her back to him. So do something like that. Great. Perfect. So the problem that I currently will have is that there's not any points of interaction. They're not touching at all. So I wanna figure out some sort of solution for that pose. So what we're going to do is I'm going to have you put your arm on her arm so he's kinda holding her in. Perfect. And now you're going to tilt your heads together and make sure that she doesn't crane up too much. Great. And you're going to turn your head a little farther towards her. Kind of like you're snuzzling in. So that is a nice moment that I see. Something else I could do to increase the amount of interaction is I could take her back arm and raise it up and touch his hand, for example. And if I wanted to, if I want it to be like a warm embrace, he could take his back arm and literally give her, more or less, of a hug. So let me just do that. Something like that. So I could do a shot there and it's all about where I'm cropping. So I will have you drop that back arm. Perfect. And if I want to do more dramatic lighting, this is going to be a setup that will lend itself to dramatic lighting because they're both facing the same direction. Notice, also, that his head is a little bit forward. This is good because, can you lean back just a little bit? If he leans back a tiny bit, if she's, and can you stand up real straight? Notice that he'll have a pretty defined shadow on his face. So what I've been coaching them to do, so they've already been really great through these tutorials, they're kind of following along and already being good for me, is I have him lean forward. So now his face is catching that light. So the light on their face both looks great. Let's take a look at this three by four foot softbox. What's great about this softbox is it's giving me soft light, however, notice how it's feathered across them. I don't have it pointed towards the background. If I point it towards the background, the light on their face is similar, but the background is now lit. In this instance, I want that background to go dark. So we're going to point it so it just, kind of, wraps across them. And these little lips and the way we've angled that light means the light doesn't hit the background. But I know from experience that this sides going to fall to shadow and so they're gonna kind of blend in with the background. So this is why, for this lighting setup, we are going to use two lights and my second light is going to be my strip box back here. It's a one by four foot strip box. And this is going to give him and her a little bit of rim light. And he'll have some definition on his jaw and you'll be able to see him from the background. So that looks great. So that will be pose number two, her back to him and then lighting setup number two, a three by four foot softbox with a one by four strip bank. And also make sure that strip bank isn't too low because the top of their heads might blend in with the background so John's being great back there and raising it up for me because now I'll get both their jaw lines or his jaw line and a little bit of the top of his head so he doesn't blend in. So let me take a look at this pose. Perfect. Great. Really beautiful. (camera clicking) Okay, now look really happy. Like you're into it. Okay, good. Perfect. Could you turn down the power of that light, please, a little bit? And I'm gonna pump this up just a little bit more. Okay. Great. Oh that's an awesome face. Good. (laughs) Good and cuddle in. Great. And now, Tyler, will you look at me just a little bit? Good. (camera clicking) Good. Good. And one more tilt with the head. One more. And now, yep, (camera clicking) kind of smell her ear. (laughs) Perfect. That looks great. So you'll notice he is separated from the background, but both of them can be lit a little bit more dramatically and I can feather the light off so the background goes dark. Let's go to our third setup. Both for lighting and for pose. Okay, so now what I'm going to do is I'm actually going to put her behind him. So I'm gonna bring you closer to this light and we are going to switch to an octabox. Alright, so can you actually just cuddle up behind him even just like that and wrap your arm around the side. Perfect. Now in this instance, she is shorter. And this, actually, if I'm shooting on location and playing with depth of field, this could be completely fine because I could change my angle, come around to the side, and just photograph from over here where, can you turn your head far to the right? I could have him out of focus and her in focus holding him. So you don't always need to have your subjects completely at the same level, but I think in a studio environment when it's more of a traditional portrait, it might look a little strange for her to be shorter. So this is where my apple box comes into play. Okay, great. Alright and now, there you go. Now you can interact. Perfect. So, again, I can create a lot of variety based on where they're looking. I could have him look straight at camera and then you can close your eyes and nuzzle in. That could be one shot. Or I can have him kind of looking back towards her. Great. And I can have them both closing their eyes. Or she can look at camera and smile. So I have a lot of variety. I think that a lot of this posing really shines once you go out on location because you can start to get more variety with your lens choice and your camera angle and your depth of field. But this is going to be a fantastic base pose to build upon and you'll be able to see that variety. So let's create that. And I've got my octabox over here. Again, this is just another example of a soft light source. Because they're both facing the same direction again I could have the light off to the side for a little bit more shadow. I've got the rim light from behind to separate her out so she doesn't blend in and I can add a third light for separation if I want a little bit more pop. So we're going to add one more strip light. And so what that's going to do is it's gonna carve out this side of his face, carve out his jawline, and if he looks a little bit too wide or a little bit too narrow because he's turned to the side, just rotate towards me just a little bit, and now it'll make him a little bit more dominant in the frame. A couple notes about using an octabox or a smaller light source is if I'm going to be photographing them full length probably there'll be a bit of light fall off so the bottom part of their body will be a little bit darker. If I were going to be shooting a lot of full length shots where I want even illumination, I might opt more for that umbrella or three by four, but I know this is just going to be a close up shot. And one other thing to watch out for is if you look at a photograph where you're taking a picture of the couple and let's say, for example, he's much brighter, much brighter exposure than she is, one solution you might have would be to back up your light source just a little bit. This has to do with the inverse square law because if this light is closer to him he's relatively closer to it and so he'll be brighter and the light will fall off to her, but when you back that light off they're pretty much a similar distance which will give me similar exposure. So if you notice a drastic difference in exposure between the two, back your light source up just a little bit. Know, of course, that changing distance of light also changes quality of light. We've talked about that in a previous segment. So let me just take a couple shots here with our three lights. Perfect. (camera clicking) Good and snuzzle in even more. Great. (camera clicking) Good. Now I'm gonna have you close your eyes and you smile at me like look at the lovely lady who's cuddling me. Alright and now I'm gonna have you be serious and kind of look back down that way. Perfect. (camera clicking) Good. And make sure you stick your chin out just a little more. And now look up at me. Good. Beautiful. (camera clicking) And this pose is really great if you're photographing a bride and a groom or an engaged couple because this is her left hand in this instance, so it'd be a good way to showcase an engagement ring. So we've gone and we've shown three different poses. In this case we are able to just move the woman around. Facing, with her back to him, around behind, and then shooting with one light, two light, or three lights. Each time we're using soft light sources of different sizes. Each one is going to give us either more control or less control of the light, more focused light. And be aware that based on how they're posed that's going to change where you place the light. If they're facing the same direction, you could create more shadow and drama, but if they're facing one another, you'll probably have to have your light a little bit flatter. Let's go outside and I'm going to be able to put into practice all of these concepts that I've been talking about to show you the variety that I can create of this couple posing outdoors. We've already looked at posing for couples, we've already looked at lighting, but let's try to bring it all together. And in particular, what I wanna talk about is how to come up with endless varieties in posing, and particularly, endless varieties in the different numbers of shots you can get. And it all starts with having your base poses, but then change your camera angle. Change your depth of field. Change your lens choice. Change exactly where you are moving around the subject. So when you went back and you go ahead and watch our couples posing segment, I talked about making the rounds. And as a quick summary of that, basically for posing to come up with ideas, he stays stationary and then she will move around him and each one creates a different base pose. From that base pose I then can vary the hand placement, where their eyes are looking, where their heads are placed, and we can change all of that and it will take one pose and make it five or six and then I don't need to remember a lot. I just move her from facing him, to turning around, to his side, to behind. But those are the base poses. Now what I wanna add on is me moving around them. And me changing my camera angle and changing lenses and my depth of field. That is going to give me so many different photographs. So this is kind of what I want you to train yourself to do to try to understand that even just a few minutes with a very basic pose I can come up with endless variety. So let's just take a look at how that comes into action. We are going to make the rounds. I am going to move around them as well. That's really nice posing there. Thanks, guys. Will you face him for me? And put your hand up on his shoulder real soft. Great and shoulders together in the back. Tilt the heads together. Okay, so here's our base pose. Making the round number one. And I know that that's one base pose, but then I can vary whether her hand is touching his face. Great, that'll be something different. So I'm going to start these different poses and I am going to move around. So will you keep your hand back on his shoulder again? Okay, we're gonna start with that. And do you mind if I move them just a little bit out of that bright, there's a bright highlight on your shoulder. Will you move just... That should be better. Yes. Perfect, okay, so I'm going to have you right there and tilt your heads together. I am going to get a mid-length crop and this is just a nice portrait. And before I continue, though, can I move your hair on back just a little? Don't wanna lose your face. Alright, so let's get a shot like that. And I'm shooting with an 85. I could also shoot with a 50. It's just a really base pose. Good and smile both of you. Great. (camera clicking) Okay, so that looks good. The next thing that I wanna change is let's change your hand to his face. Okay, and you are going to look at him. And look your chin down a little bit. Alright and chin down even more. Like fake look at him and look more, like, towards his shoulders with your eyes. Okay, so that can be one shot, but I could come around this way, change my perspective, and, will you look at me, Tyler? Perfect. Okay, so he is going to be in focus and I'm going to have her out of focus and that's going to be one shot. So let's see. Perfect. And I'm gonna shoot with my 85 at 2.0. (camera clicking) And now look like you're looking down at her. And now just cast your eyes up at me. Perfect. (camera clicking) Great. So that's one shot. Now rest your head on his shoulder. Just right there. Perfect. And I'm gonna have you turn your head towards her. Just a bit. And you're gonna put your hand soft on his shoulder right there. Great. So that could be one shot. Tyler look at me. Good. Let me get one more shot here. And now look down at her. And don't really look down, just turn your head in towards her. Great and can you lower your shoulder just a little bit. Relax it. Good. And now cast your eyes up at me. Great. Let's get a vertical in here. I'm gonna move in so this is a different crop. (camera clicking) And now serious. Okay, now I'm gonna switch. So really all I've done is moved the hands. I've just moved where they're looking a little bit. I'm gonna come around this way. And now she's gonna be the one in focus. Can I make sure I can see your face through your bangs? Okay so now when I do this shot she's going to be in focus and he's going to be out of focus and I'm actually cropping so that I cut into his face. They really haven't moved at all. I'm just moving around changing my lens choice. Okay, good. (camera clicking) Good and now I'm gonna have you be serious. Now close your eyes. Perfect. (camera clicking) And good. Let me get another shot. (camera clicking) Great now will you kiss her forehead? Okay, they still haven't moved, but I'm just changing it a little bit. And make sure, lower your shoulder a little bit and stick your chin out just a little more. Okay, good, and Tyler close your eyes for me. Good. (camera clicking) Good, let me get one more. And now close your eyes, everybody. Good. Alright, so that's great. And I can go even more extreme. I could get up on a ladder and do that same shot where she looks up at me so her eyes will be nice and big. And so will you kiss her forehead again? So I'm going to get up on a little step ladder and just shoot down and make sure your hair's not in your face. Move my bangs. Good. And that is a totally different picture and I love what it looks like. Can you turn your profile towards me a little bit, Tyler, just a little bit more? Like just your face so you're not really kissing her head, you're just, kind of, putting your head soft there. And then both of you rotate back, that direction. Right there. Good. Okay and look at me. Good. (camera clicking) Great. Now close your eyes again. And will you stick your chin out, Tyler, just a little bit. Right there. Good. (camera clicking) And now eyes up at me. Perfect. So, I mean, I can keep going. That was just a, like, a little taste of that one pose where he turns to kiss her. Where are they facing? Are the eyes opened and closed? Is her hand on his chest or up to his face? And then I moved around, changed my focus, who was being focused on, and changed my height. So let's continue to make the rounds. I'm gonna turn you around. Great. Perfect. Alright so now I'm gonna have you kick your hips back, put your hand up to his face. Great. Relax your shoulder just a bit. Perfect. Okay so you're gonna close your eyes. I'm gonna have you look right at me. And can you tuck your finger so I can't see your thumb? And just real soft on him. Great. Alright, so let's get a shot here. (camera clicking) Good. And can you lower your shoulder just a little bit more? Perfect. And you might need to make yourself a tiny bit shorter for her. Good. Okay, that works. Yeah, you're good. Perfect. Now I'm gonna come up on a step ladder on this side if it's stable. Good. And I'm gonna get a shot and you're gonna keep your eyes closed. And Tyler will you look up at me? Beautiful. Alright. (camera clicking) Now will you turn and kiss her? Alright, on the forehead, good. And I am going to focus on her eyes in this one. (camera clicking) Perfect. And let's see. I can literally just walk around and see if I see any other perspectives. See if there's anything else that I want. And, nope, that looks good to me. So let's switch it up. Will you go around to his side? So wrap your hands around him there. Perfect. Alright. Great. So let's see what kind of shots I can get. Alright, so what I'm gonna have you do is I'm gonna have you look over at her and you're gonna look at me and I know that I want a different perspective so I can grab my little step ladder. And I've been shooting with the 85 the whole time. Alright, so you're just going to look off and you're gonna look up at me. Perfect. Great now glance your eyes up at him. (camera clicking) And now laugh. (woman laughing) That was good. (camera clicking) Okay. (woman laughing) That was good. I like it. Alright, perfect. Those all look great. Okay. And I can, of course, get my regular shot straight on. And I'm gonna have you lean in and kiss her forehead. Okay, just lean in just a bit. Right there is perfect. Like you're whispering into her ear. Like that. Well, maybe not with the mouth that open. (laughs) (camera clicking) Close your eyes. And kiss her forehead. Good. And let me just come over here and get that same shot. Right there. Don't move. And now... Look right there. Yeah, perfect. Alright. Great. And, of course, last one for making the rounds, right behind him looking over the shoulder. And I'm gonna rotate you guys so the cameras can see. Great. So what you're gonna do is you're gonna give him a hug and you're just gonna cuddle in. And let me, do you mind if I move your hair? Please. Okay, great. Just like that. So you're gonna look at me. (camera clicking) Just have you. Okay, now what I'm gonna have you do is you're gonna look at me. I'm gonna move around. You can keep your eyes closed for me. Perfect and you're gonna look right here. And can you make yourself a little shorter? Put one leg back. Oh, that was for him, not you. Yeah, perfect. And wrap your arm around him even more. Like you're like really holding on. Perfect. Great. (camera clicking) Okay, now I'm gonna have you look back at her. Perfect, okay, now let's see. Soften your hands just a little. And then long fingers. Great. And now look up at me just real soft. (camera clicking) Great, oh yeah, flip hair. Perfect. (camera clicking) And so all of these shots I've achieved just by saying, "Okay, let's change that base pose. "Let' move around. "Can I change where they're looking? "Can I change the hand a little bit?" And, in fact, I didn't even change my lens choice that whole time or my aperture. Imagine now I switch and do each of those with a 50, each of those with an 85, some of them at 3.5, some of them at 1.8, and I can have endless variety. So I'm just gonna give you a couple more pointers if you're photographing couples to switch this up, but, I mean, I could have 50 shots probably in about five minutes. 50 completely different shots. So some of the things you wanna keep in mind as well is I'm shooting a lot of these at a narrow depth of field. If I want them to have both, both of them to have their eyes in focus, I need to make sure that their eyes are the same distance from the camera. If one person is farther back and I'm shooting at 1.8 or 2.0, one person will be in focus and the other won't be. So if I want their eyes to both be in focus, say for a portrait that'll go on the wall, maybe not as romantic and artistic, I gotta keep the eyes on the same plane. Now it's okay if one person's eyes are out of focus, but the person whose eyes are out of focus shouldn't be looking straight towards camera. So let me just show you that real quick. Okay, I'm gonna have you back around his shoulder real quick and look at me. Great. And you can just wrap around his arm even. Right, there you go. Perfect. Okay, so right now she is much closer to camera than he is so if I shoot at 1. or 1.6... She, let's shoot 1.6, she is going to have her eyes in focus and he is going to be out of focus. And I think when I look at that it looks a little strange for his eyes not to be sharp. It's okay as a photo, but maybe I'll just have you, can you just close your eyes? And look kind of down towards her. Good and stick your chin out a little more. Good. (camera clicking) Or if I switch and focus on him, will you look right at me? Great. If her eyes are out of focus, I'm gonna try that again. If her eyes go out of focus and she's looking straight on towards camera, that looks a little strange. So to fix that... Will you close your eyes and look down? Great and then I don't have an issue with her eyes being out of focus. So add that to your checklist of if they're looking straight at camera, probably those eyes should be in focus. But it doesn't mean both of their eyes should always be in focus. Alright, couple more tips. If you're photographing a couple of drastically different heights which is going to happen quite often, I have a couple tips and tricks for how you can improve the posing. And let me just grab a different lens. I'm gonna switch over to my 24 to 70 2.8 lens. Alright, so a lot of times what happens is, let's say you're standing behind her and you're really tall. What do you do to become her height? Most people kind of slouch so just kind of give her a hug. Alright, and so they slouch down and their shoulders hunch up and it's not, it doesn't work. So my trick is this: If there's somebody taller behind, I'm gonna have you stand up real straight behind her, great, and take like a foot and a half step back. So he's gonna stand behind and with his outside leg step forward and then instead of bending forward, lean forward. So instead of going like this, go like this. And so it'll cut, like, four, five, six inches off of his height just by taking, ready, instead of going like this to lean forward and get shorter., it's a step and a lean. I still get significantly shorter, but I don't have the really bad posture. So you can try that as a perspective. So let me just show you those two varieties, what it looks like to my camera. Okay, so can you do the hunch forward to her first, the bad one. Good. That is perfect. Nice smile. (laughs) Okay, be hunched one more time. Make your head a little close to hers. Good. Okay now do it the right way. Step in and lean your chest forward even more. Great and maybe take a little more step back. Just a tiny bit. Good. And now chest forward. Great. And I'm gonna have you stand up nice and straight. Perfect. So now... (camera clicking) Their heights have evened out. And actually can you just stand up straight next to her so I can see difference in the height. So bring your, yeah, perfect. So... (camera clicking) If I look at those shots, I was able to make him shorter by probably four or five inches. That's one approach for couples that are uneven size or different height. Another thing would be the person who is shorter, can I have you in the front and hold his hand? Okay, perspective. Forced perspective, kind of like what they do in the movies. If I put her in the front and him in the back in this instance, now, can you look over at her and take a step to the left? Good. And you're just gonna glance, there you go, good. (camera clicking) Now because of perspective they actually will appear to be equal heights so you could do that to bring the two of them together. And of course you can always have them sit. One person sitting on a stool, I could sit somebody on an apple box. Can I have you sit on this apple box real quick? Oh, no, actually that's for him. Make sure that you're stable though. Great and then she can come around to the side here and it will even out height a little bit especially if he's significantly taller. So those are all options you have if you're working with a couple that are drastically different heights. So use this as your quick reference guide because I provided you with lighting setups that are go to for couples. We also talked about some base poses, but in particular making the rounds to come up with different ideas, varying hands and eyes as well as expressions, and then also you moving around and changing your lens choice, your depth of field, and also really just what is the overall attention supposed to be in that photograph? And all of a sudden I have a million different options. So this is your quick guide to photographing couples.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting on Location
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


One of my favorite courses thus far on Creative Live, and definitely well worth the purchase price. Lindsay effectively demystifies many of the critical stumbling blocks to achieving a practical understanding of many critical elements of portrait photography. I would rate this course as being perfect for the advanced photographer - a couple of the concepts might be beyond that of a casual/intermediate photographer, but even they would probably gain a great deal from this course. Her discussion on equipment, in particular was superbly done, and allows one to move forward in beginning to make the right choices to achieve whatever effect one is after in terms of capturing the subject. Finally, the great thing about this course, and the thing which makes it such a great value, is the overall scope of what is being taught. Lindsay covers almost everything imaginable, and does it all in a manner which is enjoyable, and makes the time fly by. There were many, many times during the various days of this course during which Lindsay would share some particularly great tip or technique, and I would think "Insert bookmark here." I don't dole out praise easily (actually left a fairly scathing review on another course here recently) but this course has won me over. Highly, HIGHLY recommended. I'm definitely going to check out her other courses as well.

a Creativelive Student

This is Lindsay's best course to date and believe me, she has given us some good ones already on Creative Live. She hit this one out of the park! She was very well prepared and organized. I could tell that Lindsay put a lot of work into preparation for the class because she just kept giving us great information non stop. There was no down time or wasted moments. All future instructors on Creative Live should be encouraged to watch this course just to see what good instruction looks like. Lindsay has evolved over the past few years and just keeps getting better as time passes. Thank you Lindsay and thank you Creative Live for a job well done! Craig Banton


This class is one of the best investments I have made in my photography business. Lindsay is an excellent teacher. She is a seasoned, yet humble, professional. Unlike some other instructors I have seen on creative live, there isn’t a lot of fluff in her teaching. She sticks to the topics, gets all the information in, but still manages to engage and relate to the audience with real life examples of her own experiences in photography. I have been a professional photographer for several years, but have mostly stuck to natural light. This course gave me the confidence to tackle more advanced lighting setups and expand my capabilities as a photographer. I really appreciate that she doesn’t bash flat lighting, like other lighting videos I have tried to watch. Most portrait clients do not want photographs with dramatic lighting, they want to look their best, and I’m glad that she acknowledges this. This class gives you the information you need to create whatever photos you want to create.

Student Work