Couples and Engagement Photography

Learn how to capture the magic and deliver images your couples clients can’t wait to share.

Couples and engagement photography is a lucrative market, so it’s always useful to have a few great photos to include in your portfolio.

Photographing on the idyllic island of Herm in the Channel Islands, Karl shows you a number of useful techniques for couples photography, explaining his camera settings and demonstrating how best to pose couples. He also highlights one of the most important elements in a successful shoot, which other photographers often overlook.

From simple to more creative and technical shots, this portrait photography class provides both information and inspiration.

In this class:

  • Portrait Photography: How to photograph using natural light
  • Portrait photography tips
  • How to photograph couples
  • How to pose couples
  • How to photograph using Servo mode
  • Creative composition for portrait photography
  • The best time of day to photograph
  • General camera settings for outdoor couple photography

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hi Karl, very interesting video. I have 2 questions.
    1. At minute 06:08 where you lock the focus, you took it in one shot, wouldn’t servo mode be better?
    2. At minute 14:40 I see that you are at 1.2 and the pair was in motion. Isn’t it more difficult to have a very open opening in these cases? In this case, did you use one shot or servo?

    1. Hi Thank you.
      1. It depends on the camera and lens. I don’t find the servo on my Canon that good as it will keep searching if the models move or I move etc but it’s not fast enough but mine is an older camera. Some of the new Sony’s are lightning fast and accurate and now have eye tracking making it so easy.
      2. Yes I don’t shoot at 1.2 very often as the DOF is too shallow for a portrait close up but here they are some distance away so the DOF is increased with distance, unfortunately I can’t remember if I used servo or one shot or often I use manual and prefocus at a point and let the subject walk into that point. In the studio I’m often using manual focus as I’m shooting still life, for fashion I if the model is jumping into a specific place for me I use manual focus and prefocus there and if it’s a more general shoot then I use AF single. I mostly shoot on a medium format which doesn’t have servo focus and the focus is quite slow compared to 35mm, the new x1d2 focus is much quicker though and if I’m using the canons on location then I’ll probably use one shot focus just out of habit, on the Sony’s the eye tracking focus is amazing but we use those mostly for video so I don’t know what it’s like on stills. To set your mind at rest not every shot I take is in focus, I don’t think anyone’s is but as the technology gets better the percentage gets better too.

  2. Felice

    Hi Karl
    Very inspiring. Thank you for this course.
    Do you also have a couple shooting course at the studio? Searching on KTE I did not find it.

    1. Hi Felix, not that I can think of but it’s a good idea so I’ll add it to our production list and see what the level of interest is.

  3. Hi Karl!
    Beautiful video!! Thank you!

    Like the comment before me, I too struggle with getting both subjects in focus because I love to shoot with a wide f stop! Can you please explain a bit about “the depth of field running towards the camera and away from the cameras focus point.”?
    One more quick question….when you were photographing the sun flare photos (About 16 minutes into the video) what metering option did you use on the canon?
    As always, I’m grateful for your help!!


    1. Hi Susan, yes when shooting at full open aperture it can be difficult to maintain depth of field. However the depth of field is not only related to the aperture but also the level of magnification, which of course is dictated by the focal length. Therefore you will find that 2.8 on an 80mm lens is different to f2.8 on a 200mm lens. Additionally the focus distance can also have an effect on the effective depth of field. For these shots I was using either the 70-200 with a 1.4 converter, or on it’s own and also the 85mm fixed lens. My apertures were decided based on achieving the best depth of field I could. I do this by using the ‘stop down’ button to preview the DOF and then taking a test shot and checking by zooming in on the preview and then setting the most appropriate aperture based on those tests. When it is very tight it is best to focus at a point between the two subjects so for example if you have one person in front of the other then don’t focus on the front person focus between the two people. Of course I don’t get it right every time especially when the people are moving around so there are many shots that have to be discarded. For your second question if I’m shooting into very strong backlighting then I would switch to spot metering but again I don’t rely on this I just use it to get me in the ballpark and then my settings are in manual so the camera exposure won’t change unless I change my settings or the light changes.

  4. Hi karl,
    for my natural light photography I use Nikon camera d850 with 85 lens. sometimes when me aperture is on 1.4/2.00 around the costumer there is a purple/green circle.
    what’s the reason and what should I do?
    thanks in advanced,

    1. Hi Mor, I don’t know what you mean by a purple/green circle around your subject? It could be chromatic aberration or even flare but without seeing a picture I can’t tell you. Please send us an image to check.

  5. Realmente impresionante el trabajo de dirección y la búsqueda de lugares que trasmitan esa foto que tenias en mente como dicen no es hacer la foto es crearla para tomar lo que imaginas

  6. Karl,
    Bad idea to use a “fake” couple here as a big part this type of work is actually getting the love and emotions between the couple to come thru. Seeing how you would work with an actual customer would be more helpful.

    1. Hi Milton, I’ll keep that in mind although I would add that this also demonstrates how to work with models for effective and saleable couples stock photography. These two guys are friends, her actual partner wasn’t available for the shoot!

      1. I disagree with the other person’s comment. I think they did a GREAT job! Sometimes you will also have couples that just have a different vibe (maybe more serious/ less playful individuals, or just a different type of love/relationship than the typical Hollywood romance) and the activities you had them do helped them relax and be playful so I think this was a very helpful video.

  7. Hi Karl,

    I have a question when shooting more than one subject for example a couple or a family I seem to be perfecting the focus on one person however the rest can come of blurry and soft. do you have any tips for getting all the subject in focus?

    P.S Great video.

    1. Hi Samuel, you have to ensure that you are working with an aperture/depth of field that is sufficient to cover both people. Often a combination of lens choice and distance from couple also has a big part to play in this. If you are struggling you can also try focusing between them (in terms of depth into the shot) and then the depth of field may reach either direction, remember that depth of field runs towards the camera and away from the cameras focus point too.

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