I get a lot of photographers asking the same question - and I think it's definitely a good one to have. SO, I created a fine video (see above), or if you're more of a reader, I've created a nice blog post for you of the 5 top things I think it takes to loosen up your couples for their shoot.
1. Ask Questions
This is a great way to break the ice and get them loosened up! Start by getting to know them and asking silly questions like, "Who has the crazier family?", and "Who likes to cook dinner at night?".
This will then distract them from realizing that there is a camera in their face, and will in turn get them focused on answering the question, looking at their fiance/boyfriend/girlfriend. Distraction = good for the first few minutes of shooting!
It also gets them used to hearing the sounds of the shutter! It can be a little intimidating at first hearing a nice fancy camera taking 2182795 photos at once, so asking questions and making them feel like they are more at home, or like they have control, will make them feel lighter about the situation.
2. Get Them Moving!
Okay, this one is a really popular one. BUT it is so dang good!
Getting them moving like running, jumping, playing games, dancing around, not only gets you fantastic photos, but it gets them loose! They won't be standing in one place feeling stiff or awkward, but they will feel more like themselves, like they are just having a fun day with their love. THAT's the good stuff, folks!
A couple of games you could have them play could be having the girl try and escape his arms, playing tag, holding hands and trying to get the other to let go first. There are so many combinations to get them moving like piggy back rides, picking up and twirling, running into each other's arms. You name it (and be super excited about it!), and they will be game. I promise.
3. Hang Out Beforehand
This. This is so important guys. If you aren't already meeting with your couples before you go out and shoot them.... you're doing it wrong.
Not only is it important to invest in them (which means investing time with them!!), but also getting to know them. The more they open up to you or get to know you, the more comfortable they will feel. Not only that, but if you put food in their bellies with a glass of wine or coffee, they will be a couple of happy folks ready to go love on each other!
Happy bellies = happy people. Coffee = LET'S GO. Alcohol = .......yeahhhh baby.
4. Bring Music
Music adds such a cool dynamic, and one that I think has forever changed the way I do shoots! I have a great playlist that you should check out, you can find it here: https://open.spotify.com/user/1258884856/playlist/0DZfu7JKWrYaQZRi7cHomu
Pretty much, think movie moments. That's what's going to sell it for them, make them feel extra comfortable to get intimate, and make them feel incredible. It works every time, folks!
Be sure to also play music for the mood! If you're doing a lot of movement poses that are playful, have an upbeat playlist! For the more romantic poses, use a softer playlist. It's fantastic!
I use a great JBL Clip for my speaker. You can find it here for a mere $44!
5. Take Breaks
This one sounds odd, but it's actually so true.
Couples get exhausted after a couple of hours of being in front of the camera! Not only that, but they get thirsty, hungry, and a little out of breath sometimes (especially for those movement poses!). SO, take those moments to breathe and soak in the location, or breathe and relax.
Bring snacks! Bring water! Bring things that you can offer them if they forget (because they most likely won't think about it). This is especially important if you plan on hiking out to remote locations, in which water is actually vital.
If they are concentrated on how hungry/thirsty/tired they are, they will be distracted in their photos and will get stiff again! We don't want that!!! So be prepared friends for everything!
Be prepared to serve your clients in above and beyond ways that stand out to them, because the more you serve them, the more likely they are going to be on your team and shouting your name to all of their other engaged friends! :)