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Loosen Up: How to Get Your Couples to Relax and Look Natural on Camera

Getting one person to look natural on camera is hard enough. Getting two people to look like themselves while being captured on film is a whole new ball game.
The chemistry has to be right.
They both have to be comfortable.
They need to be on the same page–are we looking at the camera or not, people?

But more often than not, the stars don’t align, and you’re left with either one or both subjects of the picture looking uncomfortable and stiff.
This can be troubling as a photographer, because a large chunk of what you do–whether you’re in it for fun or for business–involves more than one person.
Wedding photos.
Save the dates.
Engagement announcements.
Birth announcements.
Christmas cards.

The list of photo opps that involve more than one human is lengthy.
Since that’s the case, you can’t just bring your eye for a good scene and quality lighting to the table–you have to get everyone in front of the camera as relaxed and natural looking as possible.
The subtle skill of getting everyone to loosen up will make the difference between a mediocre picture and one that gets passed around the internet. Let’s explore 4 ways to get your clients to look and feel normal the day of their couple’s shoot.

Need a Place to Start? Get Candid

If you show up to the photo shoot, whether it be at your studio or out in nature, the first thing that you should do is to create opportunities for candid shots. Unless these people are models by trade, a candid photo is a great way to start since it won’t require any posing or posturing.
Tell them to look at each other and have a conversation, talk about their day, or encourage them to tell each other some jokes. Laughter will always show the most genuine smile, so if you can get them laughing, you will probably get some magical moments.
Another great reason to start with some candid shots is to build confidence in the people you’re capturing. Once you collect a good amount of quality pictures, quickly show them the ones that look great.

The guy that was nervous and stiff when he walked in will see that he has a great smile and will be more ready to share it. The girl that was shy at first glance will see that she’s more photogenic than she’d imagined herself to be.
By capturing light moments in a realistic setting, you will get the best of the people you’re shooting and be able to show them that they have every right to feel confident on camera. It’s a win-win.

No Prom Poses. None!

There is nothing that looks more unnatural than the infamous prom pose. There’s no eye contact. There’s no connection. It’s just two people–who in reality have an amazing connection–facing away from each other, staring blankly at the camera.
Sure it’s a popular pose at school dances, but that’s only because the photographer at your prom had so many pictures to take that they had to come up with something to replicate easily.
They didn’t have time to pose and repose each young couple as they stepped up for their shot.
You do, though. Don’t cop out by staging people in this played out pose.

Get Them Moving

The longer you have them standing still, the better their chances are of stiffening up. If you get your subjects walking towards you or away from you as you take their picture, the probability of you capturing their natural posture skyrockets.
If they’re just walking and talking, they don’t have time to think about where their chin should be pointed or how they should stand straighter. The more you lean on natural forms of movement, the less likely it is that you’ll get shots of robots in human form.

Get Out In Nature

If you want your clients to look natural, you might want to give nature a try. A studio can feel overwhelming for someone that isn’t used to getting their picture taken. All of the lights, props, and different angles that they have to worry about might get them stuck in their head instead of being present for the photo shoot.
However, if you take them outside–maybe to a beach, a wooded area, or a park–they will feel more at ease because it’s not as foreign to them. They can just be themselves in a place they’re familiar with rather than trying to find a perfect pose in a studio setting.


No matter if you try one or all of the suggestions listed above, they all have the same theme: make sure the people on the other side of the camera are comfortable. The more you can lend your photo shoot to things or places that they are used to in their everyday life, the more relaxed and natural they will be on camera. Since the majority of the people you shoot won’t have aren’t models, giving them the opportunity to bring their personality to the shoot is the best way to get amazing, natural photos.

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