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How To Get Candid Reactions During Your Couples Photo Sessions

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I’ve gotten at least seven messages in the last two days on how I get such candid couples photos. I mean, that’s huge right? I feel like it’s the most commonly asked question in photography FB groups, (aside from how much to charge.) Lol!

But the truth is, I didn’t always take photos like this.

I used to pose my couples stiffly, (which hey, there can still be a time and a place for that,) BUT I realized that the wild, happy, playful, genuine stuff- that’s what matches my personality. That’s who I am.

I’m “unprofessional,” wild, spontaneous, and super in love with love; so my experience with my clients should reflect the same.

I get messages all the time from my clients about how FUN my photoshoots are, how they made them fall more in love with their husband (and even pups,) and how it didn’t even feel like a photoshoot- and that’s just the way it should be.

So, I’m gonna break this process down for you guy; because it’s just that, a process.





See, in order to have a couple that’s engaging with me and giving me the candid reactions I need, they have to be a certain “type” of couple, and in order to get that type of couple, I have to make sure I’m attracting and repelling, and in order to attract and repel – I have to be speaking to my ideal clients in all of my brand messaging.

If those terms I just mentioned are a bit confusing to you, no worries! Here’s a quick run-down of what each one means:

* Ideal client – think of this as your dream client. The client that you’d literally trip if they actually paid you money to do what you love for them. The client that you would clone and only work with them for the rest of your LIFE if you could.

* Attract/repel – this is a term used often in marketing, meaning to attract (bring in) your ideal client, and repel (send off) the ones you don’t want. This helps you to never have another “nightmare” client, again!

* Speaking to your ideal client – once you’ve decided who your ideal client is, you want to speak to them in all your messaging. For instance, my ideal couple clients are adventurous, faith-based couples who love God’s creation, love, and all that life has to offer. They’re optimistic, outgoing, silly, and love to crack each other up. They also love to eat. A lot.

(Basically, my ideal clients would be myself and my hubs LOL, so I make sure to include us, and what we love, on my social accounts and on my website regularly!)


So in order for you to get those candid couples photos, it really starts with making sure that fun, easy-going, adventurous, laid-back couple knows they’re your kinda peeps from the get-go.

Those are the type of couples that need to be hiring me, and I make that really obvious. If I didn’t have that part down- I wouldn’t be as likely to get the killer cute reactions I get during my sessions!

So as long as this serves as the basis of your biz, then getting candid couples photos is gonna be a breeze for ya! ??

Now that you’ve gotten the foundation down, here’s the nitty-gritty stuff. My top tips for getting candid couples photos are as follows:

1.  It’s all in the prep

2. Play music

3. Prompt ’em, don’t pose ’em

4. Let loose

5. Watch your words



Ready to dive in, friend? Let’s do it.


1.   It’s all in the prep.

You have to do some prep work in order to get those jaw-dropping, candid, authentic reactions. You can’t just assume for your clients to arrive- and you immediately pop a camera in front of them, start snapping, and make magic. That’s not how this works.

Instead, you should be super proactive on making sure they’re ridiculously comfortable before they ever show up to their session. For me, that looks like being really chill and conversational across the board for communication, from my inquiry form on my website to the last email prepping them for their session; and errrrrythang in between.

In short, drop the professionalism.

Message them like you would your best friend, with slang and memes and all dat.

You want to be answering every question they could have (before they can ask it,) and easing all their nerves and insecurities beforehand. Let’s be honest, getting your photos taken period is nerve-wracking. (I know it is for me!) So we’ve got to be overly sensitive to their needs/wants/insecurities so they don’t even have a chance to do any stressin’ or get awkward on you.

Put in the work in the prep, and when they arrive on the day of their session, they’ll be saying, “OMG I feel like we’re best friends already,” before they even get a chance to hug you.  ?


2. Play music.

I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Music (along with you,) sets the tone for the session; which means you can make it a fun experience, or a tense one. I use Spotify, and have a playlist specifically designed for couples shoots.

If you’re on Spotify, you can totally snag it HERE, and play it at your next sesh! I promise you’ll see a difference immediately in your couples willingness to get a lil’ funky! ??

I bring along a Bose Mini Soundlink to every session, and its changed the game for me. Basically, if I want my sessions to feel like my couples are in a music video… I’m gonna need music. LOL.


3. Prompt ’em, don’t pose ’em.

You’ve likely heard of this; giving your couples prompts instead of posing them. It’s not just something people say for fun, this stuff WORKS. There are so many different resources out there for fun prompts you can give your couples, but here’s one my favs- along with the type of images it usually yields!

I usually start out by saying something along the lines of:

“Okay, so we’re gonna do a lil’ role play. (We all laugh because it’s a slightly inappropriate term to use, I totally do that on purpose, LOL.) Then I give them a scenario:

“Okay, so (insert female spouses’ name here) is super drunk… you’re leaving the bar, and trying to corral her in the car. All she can talk about is wanting to keep dancing, and chicken nuggets. So you’re just playing along like “yeah, okay – I promise we’re going to get chicken nuggets right now. Just come with me,” meanwhile she’s literally stumbling everywhere and laughing, and you’re (the male spouse) having to literally support her up ?

The results…? ? *drum roll*

jessica-vickers-photography-education jessica-vickers-photography-education jessica-vickers-photography-education




jessica-vickers-photography-education jessica-vickers-photography-education jessica-vickers-photography-education jessica-vickers-photography-education

And yes, right before/after you give them the prompt, let them know they’re gonna feel ridiculous. Let them know it’s gonna feel awkward as HECK, but to embrace it and trust your vision.

I promise it’s worth it to put yourself on the line to potentially be seen as nuts, in order to get these kinda candid couples photos. ??


3. Let loose.

If ya didn’t notice with those prompts, I ask quiiiiiite a bit of my couples when they shoot with me. So, that means I have to make sure to be 10x stupider than I’m asking them to be. ?

I’m not kidding ya’ll. I am SO ridiculous when I’m working with my couples. Like, all over the place crazy and flying around and making them think, “okay this girl is nuts – her work shows she knows what she’s talking about – sooooo we’re just gonna roll with it.” ???‍♀️

But it just makes sense, doesn’t it?

If you’re asking these wild, funny things of your couples; you can’t say it with a serious face and then just let the awkward silence set in and let them be like, “yeah okay uhhhhh.” ?

If I need my girl to do a bold, confident walk while holding her man’s hand, I’m boutta act it out like Annie on the plane in that Bridesmaids scene… yeeeeeah you remember… ?

I could list a billion examples, but just hear me out.  It works, promise. ?


4. Watch your words.

I know, I just told ya to let loose and be crazy…

But, when you give your subjects a pose or a prompt, be mindful of how you do it. Try not to say anything like “no, not like that,” because it’ll kill the vibe of the prompt/moment.

Instead, say something like, “omg perfect… wait hang on try this, this may work better”… all while laughing and staying SUPER positive, so you can correct what you need to; but are making it more of your idea to do so, not because of something they did wrong.

I’ve been working with seniors for years, and I remember when I first started shooting them, I had actually said the words “no do this,” (or something like that,) during one of my shoots. As soon as I said that, my senior immediately shut down, and her confidence level was toooootally different than what it had been. She had that wow-factor, feelin’ beautiful vibe going on, and then she lost it as soon as I made that correction. ?

So just be mindful of that. Basically, treat your clients as if they could do nothing wrong. Let them know they’re KILLING it at everything you’re telling them to do, (even if you decide you need to go in a new direction with a pose/location/prompt.)

Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to killer candid couples photos at your next session. ?

Got any q’s for me? Drop ’em below, and I’ll be sure to pop in and answer ’em best I can! ?


If you need help with building, growing, and/or systemizing your photography business, reach out and book a free strategy call with me. 😉 


Wanna stick around and stay learnin’? I knew I liked ya. ?

Feel free to binge on these blog posts, or pin ’em on Pinterest for later! ??

If you’re short on time, follow me on Pinterest – and you’ll get these kinda tips delivered straight to your feed! You know… when you’re scrollin’ through Pinterest with coffee in hand, ready to take on the day… or, procrastinate.

Whatevs. Pinterest biz sesh, anybody!? ??    3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Photography Business


Read the Comments +

  1. Alex

    December 22nd, 2018 at 9:21 am

    I just love you! Thank you!!!

  2. Jessica Vickers

    December 23rd, 2018 at 4:08 am

    Ahhhh and I love YOU precious one!!! Thank you for reading and always supporting! Wild how you were my first senior college client… and here you are chasing your photography dreams! Upwards and onwards, friend!! Xoxoxo <3

  3. Marcy

    December 25th, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    LOVEEEE THIS! Thank you so much for the tips!! Can’t wait to use these at my next session!!! 🙂

  4. Jessica Vickers

    December 28th, 2018 at 4:35 am

    Awwwh, GIRL! Thank you SO much for letting me know!! I’m so pumped for you to use them! Come back and lemme know how they went!! ?

  5. 5 Tips For Sharper Photos | Education |

    May 14th, 2019 at 10:07 am

    […] How To Get Candid Reactions During Your Couples Photo Sessions » […]

  6. Katelyn

    August 12th, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Oh. My. STARS!!!! You are a blessing!! I have always had the toughest time posing couples this way but not no mo! ? I absolutely love your posts and thank you for the helpful tips!!

  7. Jessica Vickers

    August 13th, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Awwwh Katelyn!! I’m SO glad you loved it!! Yes, these tips are a surefire way to getcha on the path to KILLIN it during your sessions!! So stoked for you girl!!! ? And thank you SO MUCH!! You just made my day!! Xoxo, Jess

  8. Best Of The JVP Blog | For Photographers |

    April 30th, 2021 at 11:33 am

    […] How To Get Candid Reactions From Your Couples Photo Sessions – In here, I’m sharing all about how I’m able to get such candid reactions when I shoot couples. (This post actually went viral on Pinterest, so that’s why it’s toppin’ the charts over here!) […]

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