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By Elisha Snow

Unforgettable Relationship Photos

18 photography tips for capturing lasting connections
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Capturing the love and connection between people is one of my favorite things to do as a photographer. I enjoy being able to show the love between a married couple, a bond between siblings, or the limitless adoration a child has for his parents. These are the photos that will be cherished generations from now. These are the photos that give us the chance to essentially freeze time—preserving those meaningful glances, hugs, or kisses.


Whether you shoot professionally or just for your own family, read on for six of my favorite relationship photography techniques, each illustrated by three real-life photo ideas you can try today. You, too, can capture memorable connections through your camera’s lens.

 

Photography Tip #1: Vary the Angle

It’s amazing how simply shooting from a different angle can add to the mood of a relationship photo. Instead of taking the photo straight on, get high above, or way down below. If it’s a child you’re shooting, get down on his level. Even try tilting the camera a bit to give the photo more of a playful feel.
 

photographing couples

Photo Angle #1

Lying down, shot from behind  

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To get this shot, I was lying completely flat on my stomach and focused on their faces. By shooting from “above” their heads I was able to capture the relationship between this newly engaged couple, and create a unique portrait.


 

taking photos of kids

Photo Angle #2

Cheek to cheek, shot from above  

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This is a picture of my son and his cousin, Maura. They positioned their heads like this all on their own, and by standing right over them I was able to get nice, even light on their faces. In order to get this shot, I straddled my son (making sure my camera strap was secure around my neck!) and zoomed in close so that their faces filled the whole frame.


 

little kids photography

Photo Angle #3

Engrossed in their games, shot from above  

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Here is another example of a photo taken from above. I had spent a few minutes taking pictures of these two brothers playing their video games, with me crouched right in front of them. Then I realized how engaging and youthful the photo would be if I stood right over the top of them and shot down. I took two different photos, one with the focus on their heads, and one with the focus on their games. I liked this one best!

 


Photography Tip #2: Freeze the Action

Let your subjects be playful. Have them play a game together, run down the road and back, tell each other a joke, or play the staring game (a favorite of mine, since it almost always ends up in genuine laughter!)
 

candid photography tips

Action Shot #1

Forget about posing and encourage playing 

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To get this shot, I told my two-year-old to run fast and wrestle his Aunt Kellie to the ground. She played along and scooped him up in her arms as she “fell.” I was ready with my camera (while I was flat on the ground as well) to get this adorable and genuinely elated expression.

 

 

tips for photographing couples

Action Shot #2

Invite your subjects to run 

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Here is another shot from the same engagement session from above. I told the couple to run as fast as they could down to the end tree and then run back towards me. I got some great pictures of them running away from me, but this one turned out to be the keeper as they almost tripped over a sprinkler and burst into hysterical giggles.


 

tips for photographing kids

Action Shot #3

Allow your subjects to relax while you continue to click away 

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After about an hour-long photo session with these adorable girls, they had had just about enough and were done with posing and forced smiling. So I simply told them to “play.” Out of the hundreds of shots I got that day, this candid moment produced the most genuine smiles.  

 


Photography Tip #3: Focus on the Details

Just like in any good photo shoot, remember to get the details. If a couple is newly engaged or married, take a picture of their rings. If a mom and child are walking hand in hand, take a picture of their fingers intertwined. If a couple likes to go bowling together, take a picture of their shoes side by side.
 

ideas for photographing couples Detail Shot #1

Zoom in on meaningful details

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This is a picture from a session I did with a newly engaged couple. We spent awhile shooting at different locations and trying a bunch of different poses. As they were sitting together the girl asked me if I would take a picture of their shoes, since they were both wearing Toms and had the cuffs of their pants rolled up. It turned out to be a great detail shot, and one that is quite meaningful to the couple.


 

tips for photographing kids and grandparents Detail Shot #2

Showcase the contrast and connection between generations

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This is one of my most favorite shots ever. This was taken several years ago, when I was just starting to get into photography. I had taken my 12-month-old son to meet his great-grandma for the first time in another state. They immediately connected and this simple detail shot of their hands shows that beautiful connection—it’s a photo I will always cherish!


 

tips for photographing kids

Detail Shot #3

Look down and think creatively to capture fun photos

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While I was taking some photos of parents with their only first baby, the mom pointed out to me that she had purposely painted their toenails the same color and asked if I’d take a picture of their feet together. It turned out to be such a sweet shot, especially with the great texture they were standing on.

 


Photography Tip #4: Avoid Eye Contact  

I always make sure to get the posed, put-your-heads-together-and-smile-for-the-camera shots, but once I get those out of the way, I stop asking for eye contact or saying “look right here!” You’re taking relationship photos, and you’re not going to capture that relationship if your subjects aren’t interacting with each other.

 

photography tips for mother and child

No Eye Contact Shot #1

Let your subjects interact with each other naturally

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So many times during photo shoots I tell the people to “just talk.” Tell each other about your day. Tell the other person how much you love them. Tell them what made you most happy today. Start conversations for them that will evoke happy emotions and I promise you’ll get stellar relationship photos!  

 

 

tips for photographing babies

No Eye Contact Shot #2

Instead of allowing a steady stream of your instructions direct the shot, invite parents to draw out big baby smiles by communicating with their child

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To get this picture I simply told the mom and dad to “talk to their baby.” I told them to do whatever they usually do to get her to smile. As soon as the baby started to smile, the parents got the biggest grins on their faces and I got my perfect shot.


 

tips for photographing babies and families

No Eye Contact Shot #3

The best portraits don’t always include smiles; a kiss packs a powerful emotional reaction

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Having people kiss is another great way to get some nice candid photos without those posed, staring-into-the-camera shots. Have a parent kiss a child on the cheek. Have a groom kiss his new bride on her hand. Have a mom and dad kiss while their children watch. This is a fun way to get some great expressions from the kids!

 

 

Photography Tip #5: Picture Your Pet

There’s something special about the bond between a person and her pet. Something just as deep, but especially unique. To get great people-pet photos I’ll tell them to just play and interact. Have the owner throw a ball for their dog, or have a child stroke a kitten behind its ears. It’s all about the interaction!

 

tips for photographing dogs

Pet Shot #1

Honor the unique bond between dog and owner 

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This girl called me up and told me that one of her dogs was dying from cancer, and didn’t have much longer to live. She asked if I would get some photos of them together and of course I jumped at the opportunity. I love how she has her hands on both of her dogs in this shot, showing the intense connection she has with them. Her dog has since passed on, and she tells me often that these are photos that mean the world to her.


 

taking photos of kids

Pet Shot #2

Focus on how a child interacts with animals for a unique glimpse into his personality  

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This isn’t exactly a pet we keep at our home, but every Easter I dress up my boys and take them to see the bunnies at the home of a friend. They love this tradition—especially my six-year-old who tenderly strokes the bunnies over and over again. It’s so fun to capture these rare tender and gentle moments of my rough-and-tumble son.


 

taking photos of kids and pets

Pet Shot #3

Hugs, kisses, and playful interaction capture the magic relationship between a child and her pet

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This picture alone probably says it all. I don’t feel like this photo is perfectly technically correct, but I love the emotion it conveys. I was taking some photos of this little girl in her room and her dog ran in. She immediately dropped the doll she was playing with and hugged him around the neck. Such a precious moment!

 


Photography Tip #6: Open a Book

In addition to photographing every-day activities, take pictures of parents reading books to their children, or kids reading books to each other. Their faces will light up from the words and pictures in the story and it’s a perfect chance to get everyone to sit still and get in close for some great affectionate photos.
 

photographing children tips

Open a Book #1

Quiet moments translate especially well through the lens 

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This is another picture of the same little girl from the photo above. After taking pictures for about 30 minutes of her playing and running around, her mom opened up a book and she immediately climbed onto her mom’s lap and got lost in the pages of the book. It was such a bonding moment between mother and daughter.


 

digital photography ideas for photographing kids

Open a Book #2

Books can be powerful tools in your camera bag—check out the concentration!

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One day while I was at home I realized that I hadn’t heard from or seen my boys for about 10 minutes. I looked all over the house for them and then finally went outside to find this scene. They had just gotten some new super hero books and found a quiet spot in the yard (along with their buddy from next door) to devour them. I ran as fast as I could to get my camera and shot away. I love the look on my four-year-old’s face as he’s loving every second of Wonder Woman.


 

little kids photography

Open a Book #3

Encourage a love of reading by capturing the enchantment of books with your camera 

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Here’s another example of a quiet moment between mother and daughter as they read a fairy book together. Kids get totally lost in books and their faces shine as they’re taken to a whole other world of fairies, princesses and superheroes. Plus, I was able to experiment with lots of different angles since this active three-year-old was completely still for a full 10 minutes!


 

For nine more great photography techniques to help you capture your most important relationships, head over to Elisha Snow Photography. Also check out the eBook I co-authored with two other professional photographers, Picture Perfect: 129 expert tips for shooting stellar portraits.

 


Elisha Snow is a professional photographer in Farmington, UT, and a very busy mom of three boys. She relishes her time at home, but also enjoys taking time to take photographs for others. When she finds that rare “me” time she likes to sew, cook, browse Pinterest, and shop. Elisha teaches a series of photography classes online at Big Picture Classes, ranging from beginning classes, to intermediate and advanced classes, as well as lessons on post-processing photos using Photoshop.

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