In this post, I’ll talk about my transition from traditional couples / engagement photography towards something more real and authentic. For the last few months, I had been wondering why I, as a lifestyle photographer who does photoshoots with couples, had never personally hired anyone to photograph my partner and I. It’s not as if I didn’t believe in how valuable those kinds of photos are, but I realized that the traditional approach to couples photography doesn’t capture real-life moments, which is what I enjoy the most in photography.
In a typical couples photoshoot, the photographer and the couple choose a location, then meet there to take some photos. This started feeling like doing photography just for the sake of photography. It can be great, but I think we’re missing out on something! When the couple looks back at those photos in five years, I don’t want them to think “Remember that time we hired Alex for those photos in the park?”. I want them to think “Remember when we used to go for walks all the time in that park?” That's a huge difference to me and I wanted to find a way to create that shift.
So what I’ve started doing is taking a documentary approach to lifestyle photography. Remember the home movies that your parents used to make? They’re great because they capture real moments. I want to photograph people living real moments (no matter how mundane) instead of moments that are fabricated as part of a performance in front of a camera. In other words, I want to photograph people interacting naturally and capturing things that they would be doing even if a photographer wasn’t there to capture those moments.
What I’m proposing are day-in-the-life documentary photoshoots for couples, where I spend a few hours with you and photograph real life. Think of it as me creating little time capsules that document that period in your life.
There’s always going to be a place for the traditional couples photoshoots. Those allow the photographer to have much more control over the light and posing, and as a result you can create some amazing cinematic portraits (look at Gabe McClintock’s work for example). But the approach I’m proposing removes the pressure of performing and posing for the camera, and at the same time allows real moments to be captured.
I’m really digging this idea and I hope it resonates with you as well. I'll leave you with the stories of the three couples below!
The first couple I photographed was Carlo & Hugo. Every Wednesday, they meet up to cook dinner together and try something new - often from an Ottolenghi recipe book (inevitably delicious).
I then photographed the recently engaged Fabio & Samia moving and unpacking into their first place together. One was a bit more productive than the other.
And finally, I spent a morning with Fiona and Sarah, who were having one of their last brunches at Fiona’s place before she moved away to Toronto. :(