Sorella Muse Photography: Couples in love

Here is a guest post from my good friend Nicole, owner and author of the company and blog Sorella Muse Photography

Thank you Ashly for featuring me on your awesome blog! I love keeping up with your and Andrew’s adventures and you make me laugh over the most random things (the toaster compromise!)

Ashly asked me why I like to photograph people in love, whether there is pressure to get pictures of couples perfect, and what I love about photography. To me, these are wonderfully intertwined questions that get at the heart of why I love being a photographer, which can be summed up by: photography captures the real = the imperfect = the beautiful. I’ll elaborate!

One of the reasons I decided to become a portrait photographer is that I noticed a trend: most of my friends Facebook profile pictures were ones that I had taken. Now this may seem like an awfully silly thing to base a career choice on, but what I realized is that besides being (hopefully) artfully composed and interesting snapshots, these photos must have captured something real about them, something essential. This was actually a criticism I had received from peers in fine art photography classes: my pictures were too pretty. They were clearly not conceptual or gritty enough to be gallery worthy, which made me think I might as well put my lens cap on and call it a day.

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve since realized that it’s ok that I don’t want my work hung on gallery walls, but in the hallways of my friends’ 20-something apartments. I consider myself a lifestyle photographer with a fine art approach. What does that mean exactly? Well, firstly, that I love candid moments, un-rehearsed, un-posed, in the midst of things, embracing all that is sweet, awkward, goofy, quirky and real. But with a fine art bent, a focus on each individual composition that somehow does justice both to the subject and to my creative vision. Let’s call them fine art snapshots. I try to bring this ethos to how I photograph couples. Two people together create their own couple personality, a unique mixture of their two identities and idiosyncrasies. I think a great portrait of a couple illuminates this new thing created by two people in love, a relationship being an entity that exists where two lives, passions and dreams overlap. Maybe this is an ambitious jumping off point for a portrait, but when they laugh, do they turn inwards towards each other, does she put her hand on his arm, how do they walk together, sit together, how are they together in silence?

Photographing a couple in love is really an honor, because, for a few hours, you are invited into that love, you are given an intimate view of the world they create together. And what’s so exciting of course is that we have this one word, love, which is quite a various thing, which manifests in wildly different and similar ways between different couples. My goal is always to give space to them to let them be themselves. I think this is what the couples I photograph are often most surprised by. They are so used to the annoying micromanagement of cheesy studio photographers that they wait at first for me to pose them like they are taking prom pictures. I know I’ve done a halfway decent job when, even with the lens pointed in their faces, they feel comfortable to sneak back into their own world, to kiss, to giggle, to make silly faces. Shoot, they might be whispering X rated things, or they might simply be saying, isn’t this photo session awkward, look how hilarious she looks jumping around like a fairy, but as long as they have a sense of play, lightness, laughter, joy, I’m happy.

I have had so many great experiences being the second photographer at weddings in the past few months, and I really enjoy watching other photographers work with couples, but the best piece of advice I have gotten from a photographer is to not worry about taking “wedding” photos at weddings, i.e., trying to replicate what can be found on Style Me Pretty and the like, but to take “my” photos at weddings, to believe in the process of developing my own photographic style. So that is exactly what I will be doing this summer. It helps that I’m a pretty fun third wheel.
All photos by taken by Nikki while second shooting for Emily Scannell