Tips on how to get that perfect couple shot
Do you sometimes see those perfect pictures on Instagram of two people who look madly in love? Have you ever wondered if they have a photographer following them every step of the way? This article will tell you exactly how to get those pictures yourself (without paying a photographer!)
1. A tripod is your best friend
If you don’t want to rely on other people taking your shots like a photographer or a random stranger, a tripod is the way to go. In the past we’ve asked strangers to take our pictures, but most of them have never taken a picture with a professional camera before, don’t know how to focus or will zoom in or out too much to our liking. A tripod lets you choose exactly what you want to have in frame and how you want your picture to look like. Just set-up your tripod and your camera and you’re good to go. Because we use our tripod so much in all types of conditions (think sand, salt water, …), we have gone through quite a few of them, and personally this aluminium Sirui is our absolute favourite.
Extra tip: when buying a travel tripod, make sure it’s not too heavy, not too big when folded (so much easier when you can put it in your backpack), and make sure it’s a sturdy one like the one we linked above. You don’t want your expensive camera sitting on a flimsy cheap tripod, don’t you?
2. Act natural
The best pictures are the ones which aren’t posed. What we mostly do once the tripod is set up, is put the camera in timelapse mode. Timelapse mode makes our camera take continuous pictures for a certain amount of time every few seconds. You just choose how long the camera takes pictures (we mostly do 2 or 3 minutes) and how many pictures it takes (we often choose 1 picture per second). Once it start taking pictures we just act natural, have fun, play around, hug and kiss and 100% of the time at least 1 of those 120 or 180 pictures will be a good one!
For our Sony camera you can easily download a Timelapse app which will do the trick, but if you don’t have this option on your camera, you can also buy an intervalometer which does the same trick.
3. Make sure the mood is good
We have tried to take pictures many times when the mood wasn’t good and it’s just a waste of time. The pictures will always reflect your mood. For us personally most bad moods are the result of not having enough food, not enough rest or not enough coffee. That’s why we promised each other never to shoot again when we’re lacking at least 2 things of the holy trifecta. So if we go shooting for sunrise and we didn’t have enough sleep we better make sure there’s food and coffee, otherwise the pictures will suck!
4. Get the focus right
Probably the hardest part of getting the perfect shot when using a tripod is getting the focus right. Depending on the camera you use, you’ll have access to different focusing modes on your device. We always use automatic focus mode (try using manual focus when you actually hold the camera and the subject is still) and depending on how much we’ll move we’ll choose a focus area for the camera to focus on.
Getting the focus right when the subject is standing still will be easy: one person (mostly Laura) will take her position in front of the camera while another person (mostly me) will set the focus on her (by using flexible spot focus) and press the shutter so the camera starts taking pictures. I will then join Laura in front of the camera and if we don’t move around too much, the focus will always be on us.
When the subject is moving around a lot, that’s when it gets a little tricky, depending on how good your camera’s autofocus is. Some cameras and lenses can track subjects really well and will get the focus right every single time, others don’t. A great trick to reduce the risk of having your subject out of focus when it moves around a lot is to choose a large focus area. If you go for a large focus area, you’ll generally have two options on most cameras: wide or zone. Wide area focus is the easiest way and is basically automatic: it will determine focus by picking the object that is either closest to the camera, in the center of the frame, or a face if there is one present. The problem with the wide focus is when you have a busy scene or want to use something in the foreground as composition (like the flowers in the pictures here-under, which would be in focus if we would use the wide focus and we would in turn be out of focus.).
That’s where our favourite focus area comes to help: the zone! Zonal focus will still let you choose a large focus area, which is good when moving around, but will only focus on the subject in a certain zone of your image. Because we always try to have our composition made up before taking the shot, we know we’ll want to be in a certain zone of the image either way, so this way of focusing definitely works best for us!
5. Editing is half the trick
While having good camera equipment and working with the right light is very important, the editing of the picture afterwards can make a big difference, too. We always use Adobe Lightroom, which is an application that you can use on your smartphone (for free!) or on your desktop (paid subscription). Laura is the master editor in our relationship and she has learned how to use Lightroom the last couple of years. She also developed her own filters, which makes me (Nicolas) capable of editing too and we now use these filters to edit all our pictures with just one click. It can really turn a mediocre picture in a great one! You can buy our presets here (and they’re 50% off for Black Friday right now!)
6. Don’t care about what other people think
Our last tip for taking those beautiful couple pictures might be the most difficult one of them all. When taking pictures in beautiful places, you often won’t be alone and people will look at you. Don’t let these looks throw you off and just ignore them. In the beginning, when we noticed people were watching us or even worse, taking pictures of us, we just froze and didn’t act natural anymore. We were embarrassed and thought about what others were thinking of us. It wasn’t until our mindsets completely changed that we managed to take better pics in crowded places.