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Practice with friends: Emily & Teif's couple photoshoot

Welcome back to my blog! In this post, we will talk about how to prepare for your next photoshoot.

I know how hard it can be to get clients and couples for photoshoots. You get stuck in a vicious cycle where you need to grow your portfolio to get clients but you need clients to grow your portfolio.

So one way of practicing, learning, and building up a portfolio that screams "Hey! I am a great couple and wedding photographer" is to practice with your family and friends (keep reading because I will circle back to this later on this post).

Since you now know how to set up your camera in Manual Mode and use it like a pro, the next thing you'll need to practice is directing your subject (a.k.a your brother & sister-in-law or mom & dad... you get the idea). This, in my opinion, is one of the hardest things about becoming a professional photographer because the interaction is completely different.

When you are just beginning you worry about so many things that talking and directing your subject can be almost impossible. The good news is that the more you do it, the easier it is. The bad news is that you need to get out there and mess it up a couple of times because you feel comfortable in that situation. Therefore I will create a different post about directing your subject because there are several points I would like to share with you. Remember to subscribe in the button below so you don't miss that post when it comes out (soon).

Putting aside the directing your subject part, there are a few things that can make your life easier as it will be one less thing to worry about. And as you already know, we are big fans of showing mistakes and failures so you learn from them. So here are my tips for your next couple or engagement photoshoot:


These can make your photoshoot a lot easier! Moodboards can help with pose ideas, angles, colors that go well together, etc. They can help you visualize what you want to achieve during your shoot and gather inspiration so when you arrive, you have a clear vision of what you are going to do.

Example of a moodboard for a photoshoot
Moodboard example

A couple of days before the photoshoot, I go into Pinterest (but you can also use Google Images, Instagram, magazines, whatever you can access) and search for ideas. I type "Couple's photoshoots at the beach" or "posing ideas for...". There are thousands of images, articles and blogs that will help you get an idea of what you are trying to achieve. I normally keep it on my phone (I create a board within Pinterest but you can download the images into your phone as well) so if I'm struggling or running out of ideas, I can check it quickly and keep going. You can also show it to your couple to explain what you are envisioning.

Location and Venue

Some couples and families might have a place in mind when they are booking you, some others might ask you where to go. In either case, research the place and if you can go, it's even better.

Couple during a photoshoot in Christchurch, New Zealand
Emily and Teif in Christchurch

If you can walk around the place and check out how the light is, the colors, and the details, this might give you ideas on what your photos will look like. Having a clear picture (no pun intended) can make your photoshoot a lot easier.


This is very important! Some places (even botanical gardens) require a permit for you to be able to shoot. It looks terrible and very unprofessional if you get caught without a permit in a location that requires it. So please make sure you do your research and apply ahead of time.

Image of a girl putting a stamp on a wedding photoshoot permit
Permits & Paperwork


Now that you know what you want to achieve and where think about what equipment you need. Is it a dark place? Then you might need a speedlight. Or maybe it is the middle of summer and the sun shines so bright that you might need a ND filter. It is all about what your goal is and how to get there.

Person holding a camera overlooking a lake
Camera equipment

Now you are ready! You know where you are going, what you are looking for, and what you are using so let's circle back to practicing with your friends and family.

Knowing your subject and feeling comfortable around each other can be a game changer especially when you are just starting. This does not mean that you shouldn't be getting clients who are not related to you, it just means that if you are a bit shy like me, you might find it beneficial to practice with someone you can be yourself with.

Thankfully for me on this occasion, I knew the couple very well so it made my job a lot easier. I knew if I made a mistake or if I asked them to stay in the same pose for a while, we would just laugh about it and everything would be fine. That took the weight of my shoulders and I was able to relax and enjoy the moment. I felt safe talking to them and letting them know how well they are doing, and how cute they look. These comments brought out some shy smiles which looked amazing in the photos.

Also, since I knew Teif well, I knew I could joke about him being very awkward and unsure of what to do, and where to look. This made Emily laugh so hard that I kept making cheeky comments about it and focused more on Emily's reaction. It's a win-win.

Emily & Teif's couple photoshoot

Emily is a teacher from New Zealand and Teifion is a Welsh engineer. Teif works with me and he has become a close friend. He knew about my passion for photography and asked me if I was willing to do their wedding. I think I didn't even let him finish the question before I said yes!

As I was starting my photography journey, we did several photoshoots just for them to get comfortable with me and for me to practice how to direct them as a couple and individually.

I have to say, this couple's photoshoot was one of the most amazing and funny I have ever done. Thank you so much, Emily and Teif for being such good sports and supporting me every step of the way! A blog post of their wedding day is coming so stay tuned for that!


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