If you have a Couple’s session you’d like featured, click here to send us your photos!

f/1.8 lenses vs. f/1.2L lenses


Today’s feature is from Kat Gill.

Kat says:

“These were from Alessandra & Daniel’s Engagement Session. It was shot at sunset in a field in rural Edmonton.”

Kat’s Photography Tip:

Something that really changed the way I shoot and how my photos looked was investing in really, really great lenses. Up until only a few years ago, my main go-to lens was my 50mm f1.8 lens and I thought it was just fine.

That is, until I invested in the 50mm f1.2L and the 85mm f1.2L. These 2 lenses have really blown my mind with their clarity, brightness, and sharpness.

The lower aperture allows me to shoot really wide open (f1.2) and achieve a gorgeous buttery smooth look and super shallow depth of field (giving my images a beautiful bokeh).

My style of photography can best be described as soft and romantic, so shooting with a very shallow depth of field is key for achieving that look.

These lenses also let in the maximum amount of light which means when I’m shooting at twilight after the sun has gone down, or in a room with only a little natural light coming in, I’m able to get some of the most beautiful shots in lower light situations.

These lenses are both from Canon’s professional “L Series” so they’re definitely on the pricier side which means it might be best to save up for them, but if you’re mainly a portrait or wedding photographer, they could be worth that initial big investment.

I use these 2 lenses about 80% of the time when I’m shooting.


Kat used a Canon 5D Mark III (affiliate link) with a Canon 50mm f1.2L lens (affiliate link), a Canon 85mm f1.2L lens (affiliate link), and a Canon 28mm f1.8 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Kat Gill is a Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Wedding and Boudoir photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Gear.

If you’re looking to snag a sweet deal on one of the lenses Kat talks about (or looking to get other new equipment), Adorama carries used and refurbished photography equipment. Check them out here.

Mountain Engagement Session


Today’s feature is from Travis Richardson.

Travis says:

“This is a fun engagement session I did earlier this year. The couple has been following me for while now and know how much I love the mountains and unique locations. We picked a hike that I had yet to try. We got to know each other on the hike and had so much fun at the top.”








Travis used a Canon 5d MKIII (affiliate link) for digital images and Mamiya RZII for his film images. For lenses, he used a 50mm, a 35mm, and a 110mm.

Travis Richardson is a Salt Lake City, Utah Wedding and Portrait photographer.

Seeing Things in a New Light


Today’s feature is from Julie Dessureault.

Julie says:

“Laurie and Nicolas’s story is so touching, beautiful and truthful that I wanted to share it.

Laurie used to be a competitive figure skater, but lately her biggest battle has been with cancer.

Her fiance Nicolas, however, was not a figure skater – until recently.

During the fall and winter, Nicolas secretly started learning how to figure skate. He would practice several times a week, sometimes with coaches, and sometimes alone, keeping it all a secret from their friends and families for months.

His idea? To create a figure skating choreography for his girlfriend that he would use to propose to her.

Nicolas wanted to prove his commitment to Laurie, and prove to her that no matter what, no matter how hard things got and how hard she had to fight, he was committed to her, loving her, and their life together.

Needless to say, she said yes.

Julie’s Photography Tip:

Even though I’ve photographed in Old Montreal a thousand times, I decided on this particular session to look at it as if I’ve never been there before.

I paid close attention to things I may otherwise overlook, and really focused on light, texture, and flection, and using them to my advantage.

This session also took place later in the day and the light was amazing. I made sure to take advantage of that by having my subjects face the sun with their chin up so as to beautifully expose their faces with lovely, Golden-Hour light.


Julie used a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 35mm lens and a Canon 135mm lens to capture these images.

Julie Dessureault is a Montreal Wedding, Portrait and Headshot photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting and Location.

2 Stops Below Camera Meter For Emotion


Today’s feature is from .

Jason Mark says:

“The couple is one of my previous wedding couples. I wanted to have a catch up with them, as well as, work on something a little different. So, I thought they would be perfect. We still went for a pretty stylised look and feel; this style suit both them as a couple, also. I wanted something very close, emotive and to capture them embracing.”

Jason Mark’s Photography Tip Using a Camera Meter:

For this shoot, I was going for a very emotive feel. So, I knew I wanted to underexpose these shots. Some of the images were even shot up to 2 stops under the camera meter reading, which was key in allowing me to bring out the detail in the sky and get that moody feeling I wanted.

Because of this, I chose the Sony A7 as my camera body because it has an amazing dynamic range, which would allow me to effectively pull off the technique I was aiming for.

I also knew I wanted to get closer shots as well as wide, landscape images. For lens choice, I knew the 35mm Zeiss was ideal for this. Which truthfully was rather convenient because at the time this was taken, this was the only lens that I had. (Since then, I have moved on and I am back with Canon and Fuji.)


Jason Mark used a Sony A7 with a 35mm 2.8 Zeiss lens to capture these images.

Jason Mark Harris is a Worldwide Wedding and Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Camera Settings and Lighting.

These are some gorgeous images, something that the client would love to show off. One of the best ways to let your clients do that is to get them their own StickyAlbums mobile-friendly album. The app is loaded onto their mobile device, and you can even put the client’s image on it.

Then every time they click on it and open it up, not only are they easily able to bring up their pictures to show friends and family, but they’re also doing some free advertising for you when they say who their photographer was. Read more about StickyAlbums here.


Sunset Minus 2 Hours For Romantic Pictures

Portrait in Forest

Today’s feature is from Sussie Mellstedt.

People are always looking for romantic pictures for inspiration.  This photographer has a great tips for creating portraits with that edge of romance. With some practice, you can make photos like these, too!

Sussie says:

“I was in a smaller city called Nettuno, 1 hour from Rome in Italy. I wanted to have variety of locations. So, I brought the beautiful couple to a forest, then later into the medieval city and ended the session by the ocean.”

Sussie’s Photography Tip for Romantic Pictures:

The gear that I use is Nikon d800 and the lens is Sigma FineArt 50mm. That’s it.

Less is more. I like to feel free as a photographer, to be able to be present as much as possible in the moment. So I prefer to work with natural light and that’s what I also did in this photo shoot.

I took the photos just a couple of hours before the sunset, in order to get softer and romantic light.

I usually use Pinterest or Belovelyyou to get some inspiration for the poses, but during the photo shoot I try to take it as it comes. Maybe I see something different or find a creative subject that I can play around with.

I also like to think in colours, so I always suggest the colours of the clothes that will suit the location. I’m a big fan of VSCO, it matches my photography style. It’s a filter that you can add either in LR or PS and it adds the film feeling over it.

I would say that the majority of my photos are romantic, dreamy and soft, so that is my goal during the editing process.

Hands in Forest
Legs in Forest
Portrait in the city
Kiss in the city
Jump of joy at beach
Portrait in forest, headshot.SussieMellstedt_7

Sussie used a Adorama Nikon D800 with a Sigma art 50mm lens to capture these romantic pictures.

Sussie Mellstedt is a Stockholm, New York, Rome Weddings, Portrait, Maternity, Fine Art photographer.

Click here for more tips about lighting, editing, and location.

Film images definitely invoke a certain feeling and emotion. But if you’re not comfortable shooting film, don’t worry!  There are tons of amazing film presets and actions out there to help you capture that film feel.

Tips on Seeing the Whole Picture


Today’s feature is from Taylor McCutchan.

Taylor says:

“These photos are from an anniversary session of a couple whose wedding I shot last year. They love exploring and the mountains, so we decided to head to Castle Lake near Mt. Shasta.

I really wanted to focus on intimacy between the couple and compose them in a way that really showed the natural beauty of the area.”

Taylor’s Photography Tip:

The best words of advice I can offer are be aware of your surroundings and focus on not just what’s in front of you. I find a lot of the time when I shoot, I tend to get tunnel vision and just focus on the people standing right in front of me.

When that happens, I step back, take my time, and look at everything around me. From the foreground to the background, to the shadows and how all of these can be tied in together to create a unique photograph.

Don’t be afraid to get weird and try new things. Show movement, play with light, step back, get close, find reflections, make double exposures. Learn the craft and techniques and use those in as many different ways as you can think of. In the end, just have as much fun as possible.


Taylor used a Mamiya 7 medium format (6×7) film camera (affiliate link) and Nikon FM2 35mm film camera with Portra 400(affiliate link) and tri-x 400 (affiliate link) film.

For his Mamiya camera he used an 80mm f/4 lens and for the Nikon he used a 28mm f/2.8 AIS lens. The images were developed and scanned by Indie Film Lab.

Taylor McCutchan is a Redding, California, and National Wedding and Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location.

Taylor did a killer job shooting in film. But if you’re not quite comfortable shooting in film or like the control that digital gives you, there’s some amazing film presets (affiliate link) out there that can help you capture that film look.

Getting Your Images to Stand Out


Today’s feature is from .

Jordan says:

“This session was for a couple who flew out from Texas to visit Seattle and have these photos taken.

When we were talking about location ideas, I asked them where they were willing to go. Their reply was, we will go anywhere, hike anything, we just want to go somewhere epic.

As a photographer, that is my favorite thing to hear from clients.

This session ended up being the longest session I have ever had, because we spent 20 hours together (leaving at 7am and arriving back home at 3am).

All in all, it was one of the best sessions I’ve ever had. It’s always great when clients become good friends afterwards.”

Jordan’s Photography Tip:

I love the outdoors and I love the amazing scenery the pacific northwest has to offer so I began trying to incorporate that into my photos.

It’s a no brainer that an epic location is going to make a photo more appealing to people, so my advice to other photographers would be to get out, explore, and make use of the beautiful nature that is around them.

Yes, it’s much easier in the Pacific Northwest as there is a lot of epic scenery but every state has unique scenery to that area.

I also put a lot of work into my sessions. I do not do 1-2 hour sessions. Instead, I spend around 8-12 hours with a couple (on average) depending on how far we’re driving/hiking.

Having more time during a session can help in many different ways.

First, it generally allows me to plan the shoot around the best times of the day to shoot.

Second, since I’ve been able to spend more time with the couple, when we do begin shooting, they are already comfortable enough with me and we can dive right into it.

With 1-2 hour sessions it can be tough getting couples to open up right away (especially when you’re limited on time). This tremendously helps with posing as well as it’s much easier to pose couples who are comfortable than ones that are nervous.

I tend to have my couples walk around quite a bit as well to loosen them up and capture some genuine moments between them as they walk together.

All in all, I think if photographers want their work to stand out more, they need to go to the places that no one has been to yet. The places less-traveled.

These are the unique photos people like to see because it’s not something they’re used to.


Jordan used a Canon 5D Mark III (affiliate link) and Canon 5D Mark II (affiliate link) with a Canon 35L lens, a Canon 45mm lens, a Canon 50L lens, and a Canon 135L lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Jordan Voth is a Seattle/Tacoma Washington Engagement Portraits and Wedding photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Personality and Location.

Having your images stand out is great, but nowadays if you can’t get people to find your website online you’re pretty much out of luck.

If you’re not on the ball with website SEO, you’ll definitely be missing the boat here. Make sure you have your site SEO optimized (affiliate link) to make sure you’re getting found.


Lenses for Getting Up Close and Personal


Today’s feature is from .

Candice says:

“This session was a special one for me because it’s the first session I did for an up-and-coming e-book I have coming out in February. The couple  just nailed what I want and the look I was trying to achieve.”

Candice’s Photography Tip:

The one tip I can say about this session was don’t be afraid to go outside your box.

I use a 35mm lens because its makes go outside my comfort zone and makes me get personal and close with my subjects.

If you’re afraid, then do it. It’s what makes magic.


Candice used a Nikon D700 (affiliate link) with a 35mm 1.4 Sigma Art (affiliate link) lens to capture these images.

Candice Zugich is a Southern California Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Relations

Getting close to your clients is a great way to see detailed facial expressions. But if you tend to be a bit on the shy side, this can be tough.

Click here (affiliate link) to learn how one photographer got over their shyness in their photography business.


Why Gently Directing Your Clients is Important


Today’s feature is from .

Nikki says:

“David and Erin’s amazing engagement session took place near Lincoln, and I had the honor of visiting the ranch where Erin’s beloved horse live – a place that is both profoundly beautiful and deeply important to both Erin and David.

It never ceases to amaze me, this job of mine – it’s like a key that lets me “in,” like a confidant or a close friend, to some of the most important places and times in peoples’ lives.”

Nikki’s Photography Tip:

I always schedule my portrait shoots to begin a few hours before sunset, to take advantage of the prime light of the day. I love my golden hour…who doesn’t! This couple was easy to work with (and it shows) but even when a couple is really relaxed, I always guide them somewhat in their posing and interactions.

Taking charge (in a positive, easygoing way of course) is really important to the way I interact with my clients at a shoot. I direct them through most of the poses, giving them suggestions and often making changes to their pose/movements once they’ve gotten into it.

Even though it seems counterintuitive, gentle but thoughtful posing is really key to helping my clients relax and be themselves – they feel taken care of, and that they can focus on each other and not have to worry about if something looks “off.”

I love making sure my clients look their absolute best (and I always give them plenty of tips ahead of time to maximize the session). I see this as my job, not my clients’ job – after all, why would I expect my clients to know how to look good in a photo (unless perhaps they are professional models)?

I also love to have couples play little games for me, to get to their natural smiles and flirting expressions. I’ve found some inspiration in the Beloved type of shoot, although I don’t use those techniques at every session. I have quite a list of ideas and games to get them moving, which helps keep the mood happy and affectionate.



Nikki used a Canon 5D Mark II, with a 35L, 50L, 85 and 135L prime lens to capture these images.

Nikki Moore is a Lincoln, Nebraska Wedding and Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction and Lighting.

When you’re out in the countryside like this shoot here, it’s quite obvious you can’t quickly retrieve something you may have left behind.

Make sure you have everything with you when you leave for this type of shoot, and a professional, easy way of carrying it all.


*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.


Urban Engagement Session


Today’s feature is from .

Kari says:

“This engagement session was photographed around the West Village in NYC. The couple wanted to get photos that captured their relationship without feeling too posed or structured.”

Kari’s Photography Tip:

It’s so important for your clients to feel natural while they’re having their photos taken. If clients are uncomfortable or nervous, it comes through in all the photos. Make sure that you spend time talking to your clients so they relax in front of the camera.

Joke with them! Real laughter is beautiful. Have the couple interact while you’re taking their photos.

Even though you’ll have to weed out photos of their mouths open while they’re talking, there are always a few fabulous photos that capture the true nature of the couple’s relationship–and those are the absolute best kind of photos!


Kari used a Canon 5D mark III with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 lens and a Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens to capture these images.

Kari Nichols is a New York, NY Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Personality.

Finding a new location or style of shooting is a great way to mix things up in your every day routine – but don’t forget about post! Try out a new action or preset and switch things up a bit!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.


Unexpected Locations

Christian & Tess

Today’s feature is from .

Damien says:

“This engagement session took place on an island in Sydney Harbour in the middle of a popular art exhibition. This was a great location because there was lots to see and do and the shooting just sort of fell in-between, helping the couple to stay relaxed and have a good time, which really came through in the images.”

Damien’s Photography Tip:

This session was shot late afternoon in the middle of Sydney Harbour at the art biennial. It turned out to be the perfect location because of all of the industrial sheds and machinery, which gave us the opportunity to really play around with the direction of the light and use of color.

Some of the shots (including the last one) were even lit using lighting insulations, which is handy when a flash won’t do!

So don’t be afraid of places you don’t know or have never been – keep an open mind, some places may just surprise you!

Christian & Tess
Christian & Tess
Christian & Tess
Christian & Tess
Christian & Tess
Christian & Tess
Christian & Tess

Damien used a Canon 5D MKII with a Sigma Art 35mm 1.4 and Sigma 85mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Damien Furey is an Australian-Wide Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Engagement Sessions – From Before the Session to After


Today’s tutorial is from Namita Azad.

Engagement sessions is a fun trend that allows couples to share their engagement announcement to their friends and family. This photography tends to be the most fun because the couple is there to have a good time.

Namita says this about engagement sessions:

“Photographing a couple that has just got engaged is possibly the best time you can capture their love. So how do you capture this time in their life in the most candid way? Here’s a rundown of how I run my engagement sessions, from before, during, and after the shoot:


Before the day of the shoot:
1. Meet the couple over a cup of coffee and get to know them. This will make it so you feel less like a stranger to them and more like a friend, therefore helping them feel more comfortable around you.

2. Ask to hear their story! How did he propose? Where was it? What was she wearing? Did she know he was going to do it? Get into the details and learn about your couple’s story.

3. Talk with your couple about locations that are meaningful to them – the more familiar their surroundings are, the more relaxed they’ll be and the more likely they’ll be to act like themselves come the day of the shoot.


Day of the shoot:
1. Get there early and set up your equipment before the couple arrives. That way once the couple gets there, you can move right into shooting without them having to wait on you.

2. The only instruction you should give them is to keep smiling no matter what they do throughout the shoot. Besides that, just let them behave and interact as they normally would – and if you’ve picked locations they’re already comfortable with, this should come fairly easily to them.

3. Encourage them to talk to each other to get the best candid moments. This helps them focus on each other instead of you.

4. Don’t be in their direct line of vision. Be inconspicuous so they feel more comfortable.

5. Show them a picture here and there to make them feel better about how they’re doing – especially for the stiff ones!


After the shoot:
1. Leave the couple on a fun and optimistic note! Even if things didn’t go 100% as planned, the more positive you are the more that will reflect on them and leave them with a positive feeling about the day instead of thinking about what went wrong.

2. When editing, try to maintain the moment in it’s true colors so they remember the day exactly how it was.

3. Give the couple a sneak peak in the first few days. More often than not, they can’t wait to see the entire album, and a sneak peak helps them stay patient and know that you’re working on getting it to them ASAP while also making them excited to see the rest of the images.

4. And finally – stick to your turn around time! Even the most patient of couples can become antsy if you don’t deliver when you said you would.”


Namita used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 24-105mm f/4 lens to capture these images, and Lightroom to edit.

Namita Azad is a Tri-State Wedding, Maternity, Couples, Family, Baby, and Travel photographer.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

5 Tips for Bringing Out Romance in an Engagement Session

embracing couple photographed through flowers

Today’s feature is from Miranda Zynda-Kneeland.

Miranda says:

Angie and Dave had a beautiful evening for their engagement session! We had a lovely time making our way through the gardens, witnessing a woodpecker work its magic on a tree, and discovering a couple of really unique trees along the way.

The two of them have been a couple for over a decade, and we’re excited to have the honor of being their engagement and wedding photographers.”

Miranda’s Photography Tip:

After nearly eight years of photographing people in love, our couples have come to seek us out for our ability to create compelling and romantic images. We’ve learned to take something that can be potentially awkward (public displays of affection in front of a photographer) and make it into a fun and natural experience.

Most people aren’t familiar with what it’s like to have their portrait taken, are camera-shy or are self-conscious about something, and it’s our job as photographers to help them feel great about themselves. Photography can also be such a helpful tool in reigniting that spark for couples and showing them just how great they are together.

It can be a really rewarding and inspirational experience for clients to see that their relationship looks as great as it feels.

Here are our top 5 tips in bringing out the romance in your couples’ portraits:

1. Get to know them. Romance means something different to each couple, so we really like to get to know our clients as best we can. We give each couple a questionnaire to fill out together (after doing such, our clients often report back how much fun it was to complete), and their answers really influence our approach in capturing the two of them.

We learn what drives them, and we can reference it throughout the session to bring out their authentic emotion.

2. Choose a location that’s relevant to them. By learning our couple’s story, what they like to do together, and their style, we are happy to help our couples decide on a location for their shoot that tells something about them. Normally people think about where they should have their photos taken instead of where they could have them done.

We often incorporate a couple’s favorite bar, bench, restaurant, hiking trail, etc. When they’re in a location that sparks positive memories for them, they’re naturally more joyous and affectionate with each other.

3. Compliment them. Because we love getting to know our couples, we also really enjoy discovering what makes them special. By letting them know what a great couple they are during our session, their confidence is boosted and they become even more appreciative of each other. Pretty soon, we don’t even have to ask them to kiss or snuggle!

4. Give them some space. Shooting with a longer focal length, especially in the beginning of the session, will make them more comfortable with being romantic in front of the camera. It also gives them the opportunity to whisper to each other without us hearing them. That means great candid photos!

Starting out further away for some full-body shots and then moving in for the close-ups will help them adapt to being in front of the camera, too.

5. Pay attention to their body language. It’s great to come prepared for a shoot with some posing ideas that you have for your clients, but we also pay attention to how they naturally interact with each other during our session. We use those subtleties throughout the shoot to make our poses more customized and the couple, in turn, more comfortable.

This also ties into tip #4 because when you give a couple some space while you’re setting up a shot, you can observe how they naturally snuggle, joke around, tease, hold hands, etc.

There you have it! Remember to have fun doing what you love, and that will be sure to rub off on your images, too!

walking hand-in-hand alongside giant leaves
bird's eye view
whispering sweet nothings by the white fence
kiss-on-the-cheek close-up

Miranda used a Nikon D700 with a Nikon 35mm lens and a Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens to capture these images.

Miranda Zynda-Kneeland is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin Wedding & Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Personality and Client Direction.

These images are lovely, and one thing clients love to do is show off their lovely images. Make it easy for them, and get your clients to do the marketing for you.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Why Personality Is Important

Ashley and Drew's Milwaukee Engagement Session

Today’s feature is from .

Jake says:

“When I met with this couple we bonded over beer and Milwaukee. Drew is a home brewer, and we ended up talking about beer, life, and Milwaukee more than their actual wedding. That is actually one of the major reasons why they booked me for their wedding.

Fast forward to their engagement session, we knew we wanted some Milwaukee locations and because of the beer connection, we met up at Lakefront Brewery and then headed down to the Lakefront. Beer and Lake Michigan, and two awesome people looking good – who could ask for more?”

Jake’s Photography Tip:

My tip would be: Be Yourself

Be yourself and have fun. That is the cornerstone of my work. Right from the very start of my relationship with these two lovely people, I was just myself. I made a real connection with them right from our first meeting. I connected with them, instead of trying to sell to them. That was the start of our working relationship.

When we met up for their engagement session, they already knew they were in good hands. All I had to do was continue the fun, lighthearted feel through the actual session. So, how do you do that? By being yourself.

I never try to pose people too much, because that is not how I work best. The images always turn out too stiff for me. So I work more fluidly, find good light, joke around, talk a lot, get people as comfortable as I can so I can make an image of them that looks like them.

I work fast and am always thinking of the next image so there is no “dead air”. If we are walking to a new location I am finding out new things about them and relating those things to my own life, as well as letting them know what I am doing and why. I am strengthening the connection with them, which puts them at ease and gives me more freedom to work.

For me, the stronger the connection I can make with the people I am photographing, the better the images end up looking. And I do that simply by not over-thinking things, being myself, and having fun.

Ashley and Drew's Milwaukee Engagement Session
Ashley and Drew's Milwaukee Engagement Session
Ashley and Drew's Milwaukee Engagement Session
Ashley and Drew's Milwaukee Engagement Session
Ashley and Drew's Milwaukee Engagement Session
Ashley and Drew's Milwaukee Engagement Session
Ashley and Drew's Milwaukee Engagement Session

Jake used a Canon 5D MkIII with a Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens, a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens, and a Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens to capture these images.

Jake Rohde is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin Wedding and Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Relations.

 Have a hard time relaxing with your clients? We’re not all chatterboxes, and sometimes it can be hard to relax and open up with your clients – which makes situations like this difficult.

Don’t sweat it though, because you’re definitely not the only one, and there are other photographers out there that have had the same issue and found ways to work around it.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Using Environment to your Advantage


Today’s feature is from .

James says:

“This day was a super sunny day for a couple’s engagement shoot and we took a boat out onto the river in Knaresborough to get something utterly unique.

It was hard not to constantly worry about losing all my kit to the bottom of the riverbed every time one of us moved in the boat, and the cramped conditions made it all the more difficult. But it was all completely worth it!

The scenario was so funny (especially with the bad rowing!), and it was a fun trip out that made it so easy to capture them both enjoying themselves with each other.”

James’s Photography Tip:

My tip is to help keep nervous couples relaxed in front of the camera by enabling them to create their own situations. Being in a boat meant they had something to focus on rather than building up that awkward feeling of being in front of the camera.

It also helped us create something new and unique rather than typical portrait photography. Controlling the light was rarely an issue as there were plenty of overhanging willow trees and bridges offering just the right amount of shade for good lighting – though navigating the boat into that shade was slightly more difficult!



James used a Canon 5d MkIII with a Sigma 35 1.4 lens to capture these images.

James Lester is a Leeds, UK Wedding photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location.

What’s a great add-on for your engagement sessions? Engagement sessions like this one are gorgeous – but what good are the images if they stay on a disc and never get looked at?

Albums are the perfect remedy for this, giving your client a wonderful keepsake of this time in their lives. If you’re not too keen on album creation, don’t worry – there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

When Time of Day and Mother Nature Cooperate


Today’s feature is from Errin Hiltbrand.

Errin says:

“Bill is a pilot and he and Emily fly together. And to be honest, when they first contacted me with the idea I wasn’t sure they were real – It seemed like such an ideal shoot!

But slowly they started sending me photos of the plane and the outfits they wanted to wear via email and we began planning details for the session.

For me, the biggest and most important ingredient for this session is the love these two share. They are very happy and very comfortable with each other and it made things go very smoothly.

The next biggest factor was, of course, the weather. In order to really do this session justice and make good use of the colors and awesome plane, we needed sunshine.

And we lucked out! The only thing that I really wanted to do was ride on the top of the plane while it was moving – but (thankfully) not everything goes as planned in a session.

It sure was fun to come up with ideas and put together this shoot!”

Errin’s Photography Tip:

As I already mentioned, the weather and time of day (and associated lighting) were key elements to this shoot.

We were dependent on Mother Nature for providing us with the soft glowing sunlight at sunset – what’s typically referred to as the Golden Hour.

Turning the airplane around was also must to get the right kind of affects with sunlight we were hoping for.

So when planning an outdoor session, always make sure you’re aware of what time of day you’re planning it for if you want the best, softest, warmest sunlight.




Errin used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 lens and a Canon 85mm 1.2L lens to capture these images.

Errin Hiltbrand is a Madison, Wisconsin Couples and Family photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.



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Using Flash to Light Up the Rain


Today’s feature is from .

Erika says:

“It poured rain for Jason and Diana’s engagement session. The type of rain that you get absolutely drenched in. Luckily, this couple looks just as good wet as they do dry.

In fact, I would venture to say they’d look good in any and all weather conditions. Thanks for toughing it out long enough for that rainbow, Jason and Diana. We can’t wait for your wedding in August.”

Erika’s Photography Tip:

As it was raining and cloudy for the majority of the session, we had to create our own light. We used speed lights to back flash the rain and the foliage around the couple.

Once the rainbow emerged, we took advantage of the nice soft natural light.







Erika used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 24mm 2.8 lens, a Canon 35mm f/1.4 lens, a Canon 85mm 1.2L lens, and a Canon 70-200mm F2.8 lens to capture these images.

Erika Jensen is a Canadian Rockies Wedding, Engagement, and Family portrait photographer. Erika and her partner, Lanny, also put on photography workshops for both wedding and portrait photographers, and you can read about their workshops here.

Need more help with using off-camera flash and flash photography? These images are gorgeous, but wouldn’t be possible without the proper mastery of flash.

To get an awesome hands-on guide for rocking flash photography, check out Simple SLR’s guide just for portrait photographers!



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Wardrobe Ideas from Blue Dandelion Photography


Today’s feature is from .

Courtney says:

“This session was an engagement session Doug shot in Washington DC this past April. The couple is from North Carolina but will be doing a Wisconsin wedding this year!”

Courtney’s Photography Tip:

I always send wardrobe recommendations to the clients so they can dress they’re best! Having a couple or family that dresses well can mean the difference between awesome and “just okay” portraits.

We have even created a style guide to send to our clients before the session, as well as a Pinterest board that they can reference.

So even if you don’t create your own style guide, a Pinterest board with outfit suggestions is still a great way to help your clients prep their wardrobe for the shoot and to make sure they have a finished, put-together look in their final images.


Courtney used a Nikon D800 with a Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens, a Nikon 35mm f/1.4 lens, and a Nikon 58mm f/1.4 lens to capture these images.

Courtney Weittenhiller is a Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Wedding, Newborn, and Portrait photographer, but also does work nationally as well. Courtney and her husband, Doug, also put on workshops for photographers, and you can read more about their workshops on their website here.

Click here to see more tips on Wardrobe.



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Using Wardrobe To Tie It All Together

Ottawa, Major's Hill Park

Today’s feature is from .

Stacey says:

“Even though it was supposed to be spring when these photos were taken, we still had snow here in Ottowa but that didn’t stop this energetic couple from doing their spring engagement shoot.

The groom is of Irish descent, so we decided to take some photos in and around The Heart and Crown Pub (an Irish pub of course), and then headed over to Major’s Hill park and made use of the Ottawa downtown core to come up with these fun, urban-chic shots.”

Stacey’s Photography Tip:

Sometimes we overlook the fact that not everyone knows what “camera ready” should look like. Just because it’s obvious to us, does not mean the client knows what works in front of the camera.

A few times I have had clients show up in much less than their “Sunday best” and the photos did just not look polished.

So my piece of advice is to make sure to discuss location with your clients and what look they are trying to achieve, then plan your wardrobe around it.

If you want your sessions to stand out and your couples to look fabulous and feel fabulous, discuss wardrobe options, give them ideas from something like a Pinterest page or favorite website and make sure they choose something they are comfortable in.

For example:  it makes sense that if you are shooting on a farm to wear casual, but smart, clothes. In the city, you might go for a more urban, polished look.

When I spoke with this bride-to-be, I was  clear that wardrobe is very important to achieve a clean, cohesive look, and that it can really make or break a photo shoot.

We discussed what to wear and definitely what not to wear, such as shirts with words across them, everybody in monochrome colors with matching outfits, etc.

She also told me if the weather was blah she had a great pair of red wellingtons – awesome!

Then, since I knew red boots were going to be part of the shoot, I looked around for other bits of red near our location so I could make those red boots pop and tie everything together.

Overall, this couple didn’t really need too much wardrobe coaching as they came prepared with multiple outfits, hats and accessories.

Discussing your clients needs, brainstorming with them and guiding them about what to wear to a photo shoot, will help the finished product appear polished. Your clients will be comfortable and everyone will be happy with the final outcome.

Snowy spring in the park
On the steps of the Snug pub (heart and crown) Ottawa
Laughter in front of York Street Spa
Making eyes, Ottawa's York Street

Stacey used a Nikon D800 with a Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens and Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Stacey Stewart is a Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Wedding, Engagement, and Boudoir photographer.

See more tips on Wardrobe and Client Direction.



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Nighttime Couples Portraits by Heather Kanillopoolos

Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits streetlight

Today’s feature is from .

Heather says:

“This session was a blast! The couple were so comfortable and cuddly with some simple guidance.

We shot in a small town with a LOT of character, so I decided to use Off-Camera Flash in order to make the most of the gorgeous location and couple – not to mention the gorgeous sunset.

Most of these shots follow a VERY simple setup: one speedlight on a stand, shot through an umbrella at the couple. Another bare flash 6ft behind the couple, angled toward their elbows with very low power, to create a “rim” light.

The silhouette image in this set shows what the ambient looked like without flash (the black and white silhouette was shot with one flash: backlight only).”

Heather’s Photography Tip:

OFC (off-camera flash) is a very important tool to set you apart and give you the freedom to follow your creativity.

In order to start learning off-camera flash, you simply need (1) a flash and (2) something to tell it to fire – such as a trigger/receiver set.

(I personally like the Yongnuo 568EX II flash and the Yongnuo 622c trigger/receivers.)

Once you have your flash and receiver, I recommend the following procedure for putting your gear into practice:

  1. Set a doll or other object on the kitchen table
  2. Meter for the brightest part of the ambient- for example, the window, if there is one.
  3. Take a shot with the flash off. Your window will look great and your subject- the doll- will be way too dark.
  4. Take a guess at a flash power setting. Take the shot with flash.
  5. Check the histogram / back of the camera. Adjust the flash power to taste.
  6. Fire again.
  7. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat.Repeat.

These steps boil down to this basic mantra: “Expose for ambient in camera. Light the subject with the flash.”

While you shoot, keep in mind that the shutter speed effects the ambient but does not effect the flash, whereas the ISO and aperture will effect both the ambient and the flash.

So, for example, if the background is overexposed, drop your exposure in camera. This will mean raising the flash power to match the new settings so that the subject remains well lit.

Or, if your background is underexposed, let in more light by adjusting the shutter speed. This won’t effect the look of the flash at all.

Personally, I always suggest that you get yourself in the habit of using flash Manually (that is, choosing the settings yourself) rather than in ttl/ettl.

After a bit of practice, you’ll know intuitively the ballpark you want the settings in, and you’ll only need to tweak a bit.

Also remember that with most cameras, you must keep your shutter speed below 250 in order to use flash.


Because any faster, and the shutter is opening and closing far too fast to actually “see” the flash at all. And when that happens, you’ll often get a “bar” of black across your shot because the flash only has enough time to light a part of the room by the time the shutter closes.

So, set your camera to 200th of a second, leave it there, and try to use ISO and depth of field alone to manipulate the ambient light, at least while you’re learning.

With a basic knowledge of OCF, you can make a big jump to the next level of photography skill – and your potential clients will notice.

Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits sunset clouds
Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits backlit
Hillsdale Michigan nighttime portraits silhouette
Heather used a Canon 5dmrkiii with a Canon 24-70 2.8 lens, a Canon 85 1.8 lens, and a Canon 135 2.0 lens to capture these images.

Heather Kanillopoolos is a Lansing, Michigan Wedding photographer.

See more tips on Camera Settings, Flash Photography, and Lighting.


Need more help with using flash and speedlight? Check out this great tutorial on flash photography from Simple SLR!



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Casual Couples Portraits by Daniel Cheung


Today’s feature is from .

Daniel says:

“I love the juxtaposition of old and new.” – Lulu tells me when we first meet at Hong Kong’s iconic IFC tower. “I’ve only been here a month but I love this city!”

I nod in agreement. She had taken the words straight from my mouth.

Up until this point, we had never met. Lulu & Keith were total strangers. She was a friend of a friend. Since I was in Hong Kong for a holiday, I wanted to make the most of the trip.

So here we are, at IFC Mall, in Hong Kong.”

Daniel’s Photography Tip:

When I first started out as a photographer, I made the mistake of trying to become my clients’ friend. Three years later, my advice is simple. Don’t put yourself inside the friends-zone.

I find that when I photograph people that I know very well (and are quite ‘chummy’ with), I direct less. I push less. I squeeze less from that couple. I find myself biting my tongue, giving up earlier at a session, and missing out on opportunities right in front of me.

This may seem like a bizarre inverse relationship to you, but through my experience, I produce my best work when I don’t feel the need to protect a friendship. I say the things I need to say. I point to where I need to point. I pose the subjects as I need to.

By all means, be friendly and polite. Have fun and share a laugh. These are the basic interpersonal skills that as a photographer you must master, but do not trap yourself into becoming a client’s best friend.

Maintaining a professional distance between yourself and your subjects ensures that they listen to your directions. You owe it to you clients to produce your best work. After all, they’re paying you for a service, not to be your friend.


Daniel used an Olympus OMD EM1 with a Panasonic 25 f/1.4 lens and an Olympus 75 f/1.8 lens to capture these images.

Daniel Cheung is a Sydney, Australia Couples + Families photographer.

See more tips on Client Relations.



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Dramatic Couples Portraits by Richard Grainger


Today’s feature is from .

Richard says:

“Gavin and Florence wanted a rural and beach shoot. We traveled south just into New South Wales to do this, at a place called Kingscliff, which holds Cabarita Beach. We spent the afternoon traveling around, chatting and exploring the different locations.

The day was dark and gloomy, and it comes off on the images – which I really like.”

Richard’s Photography Tip:

If you want your couple to be relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera, you need to pull out the social skills rather than the photography prowess. It’s very important to form a connection with them if you want them to be relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera.

Many times I will carpool with my clients to the locations, which is a great way to set off the conversations and ultimately start a bonding session.

It quickly makes them feel comfortable around me and most importantly, when I turn up to their wedding day they treat me like a friend rather than someone they are paying.

In the afternoon, this shoot was under a cloudy sky. It was dark and gloomy, and I loved that I could use it to bring out moods in the photos. If I’m shooting into a dark sky, I don’t mind under exposing my images to show the emotion.

If you follow this advice, you’ll form a good connection with their couple, and they will be able to ask for less and get more. The couple will feel comfortable and it will show in the images.

It can be risky underexposing into a dark sky, so it needs to be done so with care. If you can do it, it will up the mood and emotions.




Richard used a Canon 5D3 with a Sigma 35mm, Sigma 85mm, and Canon 45 TSE lens to capture these images.

Richard Grainger is a Brisbane, Australia Wedding photographer.

See more tips on Client Relations.



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Rainy Couples Portraits by Fer Juaristi

Fer Juaristi Wedding Photographer

Today’s feature is from .

Fer says:

“Shooting a session in San Francisco with crazy weather was awesome!

The couple was up for anything. I had a hard time watching trough the viewfinder because of the fog, rain & crazy wind.

I read somewhere that bad weather equals great images so we decided to go for it!”

Fer’s Photography Tip:

The best tip I can give is to never stop shooting & let the couple feel your love for photography!

Ross, the client in these photos, blogged about the experience of being on the other side of the camera.

Here’s what Ross had to say:

“Within minutes of meeting Fer you are already heavily engaged in conversation, laughing and feeling his positive energy radiant from his excitement and passion for his craft. This was our first touch point with his brand without getting to his craft. By the time we got to our first location the weather had taken a turn from bad to worse, though we went for it. Not only did I learn that Fer hadn’t done a session in the rain before, though he gave us the confidence to focus on what the session was about, that being “us” and not the surroundings.

The key points are that as a photographer, social interaction, support and motivation are just as key as your craft which lend itself to the final product. These are also add ons to the brand that you can only experience within the internal process, which add to your hidden brand culture and client excitement.”

You can read more about Ross’s thoughts as a client behind the camera in his blog post here.

Rainy Engagement Shoot in San Francisco
Rainy Engagement Shoot in San Francisco by Fer Juaristi
Rainy Engagement Shoot in San Francisco
Rainy Engagement Shoot in San Francisco by Fer Juaristi
Rainy Engagement Shoot in San Francisco by Fer Juaristi
Rainy Engagement Shoot in San Francisco by Fer Juaristi

Fer used a Nikon DF with a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens to capture these images.

Fer Juaristi is an International Destination wedding photographer.

See more tips on Client Relations.



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Moody Couples Portraits by Stefan Hellberg


Today’s feature is from .

Stefan says:

“Priscilla and Paul are from Hong Kong. They contacted me to document their time in Lucerne, Switzerland. We spent the day visiting some local secret spots and just roaming the streets of Old Town, Lucerne.

When I have couples visiting from far away I try to show them a good time and include some of the hidden spots only the locals know about.”

Stefan’s Photography Tip:

Make friends with your clients. If I haven’t met my clients in person before the session I always leave my cameras on my shoulders for a while. Make conversation and get to know your subjects. I don’t want to be the intimidating guy with a camera. I want them to feel comfortable with me.

Scout your locations in advance. It will make a huge difference, at lease it did for me.

A relaxed relation with your clients is important, as it will show in your imagery if they feel comfortable with you as a person.

Street lovers
Up we go.

On the edge.

Forest lovers.

Stefan used a Nikon D700 and Nikon D800 with a Nikon 35mm f/1.4 lens and Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens to capture these images.

Stefan Hellberg is a Worldwide Wedding and Editorial photographer.

See more tips on Client Relations.


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Lighthearted Couples Portraits by Andy Stenz

Milwaukee Engagement Portraits-01

Today’s feature is from .

Andy says:

“These are from the engagement session I shot for Kelly and David, a wedding couple for 2014.

We shot in a city park in Milwaukee on a beautiful fall day.

Kelly and David both have style (more so than I do) and love to laugh. They are comfortable in front of the camera and aren’t afraid to show their emotions.”

Andy’s Photography Tip:

Engagement sessions are a great chance to let your clients get comfortable with me and the camera; and for me to get comfortable with them.

Each couple is a little different in how they relate to each other, what they find funny, and how they like to express their love physically.

I spend a lot of time observing them and how they interact. I try to stay pretty light-hearted for the first half of the session, until I know I have their trust.

I’ll give them questions about the other person and it’s not always the answer that makes a good photo, it’s the response from the other person. But don’t be too quick to laugh along with them if something is funny, keep your eye behind the camera ready to capture what might be a great laugh.

Being attentive, remaining ready for the reaction, and helping to stir the pot a bit (with questions or invitations from the Beloved Technique, which work well with my personality and my approach to couples) will help prepare you to capture moments that your clients will remember years from now.

One of my favorite comments was when a couple saw their album design from the engagement session and the gal said, “I remember what he was whispering into my ear then to make me laugh.” I don’t know what it was, but it’s a memory for her and the photo enhances that memory and her feelings of being loved.

Milwaukee Engagement Portraits-02

Milwaukee Engagement Portraits-04

Milwaukee Engagement Portraits-05

Milwaukee Engagement Portraits-06

Milwaukee Engagement Portraits-03


Milwaukee Engagement Portraits-07

Andy used a Nikon D3S with a Sigma 35, 50 and 85 (all 1.4) lens to capture these images.

Andy Stenz is a Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin Weddings and Portraits photographer.

See more tips on Client Direction.


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Beautiful Couples Portraits by Natalie Champa Jennings

Sunset portrait

Today’s feature is from .

Natalie says:

“This session is a gorgeous anniversary session in Minneapolis, MN. The couple wanted to celebrate their one year anniversary with a series of outdoor portraits near the Mississippi River – a stunning shoreline dotted with recreational areas and parks throughout Minnesota.”

Natalie’s Photography Tip:

There were a few components that made this session beautiful and successful.

First, the time of day. We shot around sunset on a semi-hazy day which provided the perfect light filter and quality.

Second, the colors the couple decided to wear, along with their props, fit very well with the neutral tones found in nature at sunset.

Third, the couple was very comfortable in front of the camera and took direction easily without showing discomfort. This provided the shoot with a very natural feel.

Depending on what you’re looking for, following this tip should give you a warm relaxed, and natural set of images.

Sunset by river
picnic portrait

Natalie used a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 35mm 1.4L lens and a Sigma 85mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Natalie Champa Jennings is a Minnesota Destination Wedding and Portrait photographer.

See more tips on Lighting and Wardrobe.


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