How to Create Once-In-A-Lifetime Elopement Images with Sirjana Singh and Benjamin Lane, Tinted Photography
Elopement has had a bad rap in times past. The idea of running away from family and getting married in secret was bound to ruffle some feathers. But in the last decade or so, the idea of eloping has grown in popularity and has begun to stake a claim on the mainstream wedding market and in the hearts of couples everywhere. This is because it’s no longer about running away, but about giving the power back to the couple in love and allowing them to celebrate their wedding and create memories in a way that speaks to them. As elopement photographers, it’s our role not only to deliver great photographs, but to understand our couple’s “why” and to help facilitate and plan an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience on their big day.
For us, it’s about empathy. As artists, we believe many things go into creating beautiful, unique work, but being empathic with our fellow humans is the only way to truly understand and grow the way we create art. That’s what photography is to us. It’s getting to know and learn about life from some of the most energetic, gifted, and spirited souls our planet has. What we do enriches our lives and our marriages daily. So we’ve put a lot of thought into creating an experience for our couples that will reflect this enrichment in our art and give our couples the once-in-a-lifetime photographs that they deserve. We call these “adventurous elopements.”
What is an elopement to Tinted Photography? It’s just not about trekking to an incredible spot in the golden hour and taking some photos. Because really, where’s the adventure in that? We want our couples to be exploring and discovering new incredible places together, forging plenty of unforgettable memories and exciting connotations well before they say their vows. We discuss with them what they would like out of their photos and we plan a surprise itinerary based on their needs and personalities. By keeping the exact locations a mystery for them, they get to explore some breathtaking places for the first time together, without having Googled everything before they arrive! The secret to creating once-in-a-lifetime elopement images lies not in the way you use your camera, but in the way your couple is feeling on their day.
Experience is everything
Without positive memories to match their beautiful photos, even the most out-of-this-world images will fail to elicit “warm fuzzies” from your couple as the years go by. So how do we do it?
Let’s say right here that there is no one way to create once-in-a-lifetime elopement images for your couple. But here’s what we’ve learned over the past couple of years as travelling photographers.
Book couples you vibe with and not just anyone who likes your work. This is as important for them as it is for you. If you have a couple who gets you, the whole process is smoother, less stressful and more creative. Having a natural dialogue means you can freely set expectations, discuss ideas, and ask them to do crazy fun stuff on the day without sounding overbearing. We talk to prospective couples and are upfront and chatty about our process from day one.
If a couple comes along who you gel with that wants to do something potentially outside your comfort zone, like an underwater session or a starlight shoot, jump at the opportunity. Occasionally you’ll get a couple who will challenge you and revolutionise the way you work moving forward; we call these our “Branch Couples” because they make us branch out in a new direction. These couples are the reason why we now only photograph 4 or 5 traditional weddings a year, and the rest of our calendar is filled with elopements and adventure sessions the world over.
Plan ahead in detail
Odds are you have more experience with photoshoots than your couple does, so educate them leading up to their shoot. We discuss everything from what to wear to hair and makeup to footwear to timelines to travel plans. Our goal is to take the stress off their shoulders early on. By sweating the small stuff, it means they won’t have to, and we’ll have a couple who shows up looking dapper and feeling cool, calm, and ready to get married.
Have a plan for the day and scout your locations ahead of time
Even if we are shooting on the other side of the world, we will have planned and researched the area using GoogleMaps, Instagram, blogs, and our network of amazing friends and colleagues we have been happily building over the years. We’ll arrive a couple of days before the shoot to scout locations in person. Think about the needs of your particular couple. Are they fit hikers who love backcountry huts and incredible rocky vistas or do they prefer to stroll along country lanes and visit cafes together?
Think about the light and the weather
The majority of our elopements last at least two days, so we create our itinerary around the time of day and the weather we might encounter leading up to their vows in the hour or so before sunset.
Let your couple know that this is a team effort, and they will get more out of their time with you if they chime in with ideas and keep an open mind. People often ask us how we have a different style for each of our couples, and that’s the answer. We let the couple bring their unique charm, and we foster it. Our final product is alway art we’ve co-created with our couples.
Remind your couple that this is a day to celebrate
The photos are just a happy side effect. Help them realise their marriage without feeling like it was an event just for the camera. It’s not as easy as it sounds for an eloping couple as you are there ostensibly to prove what took place that day. We try to make sure they know what we’ll be doing and when. We’ll let them know, for instance, that in the morning we will be standing back as photojournalists and capturing them getting ready. Then in the afternoon, we may be more hands-on and create some stunning editorial pieces for them before we step back again and give them some space for their ceremony.
Lead the way
Make your couple feel confident and comfortable being themselves on this (let’s face it) less-than-usual day together. We’re lucky that working as a husband and wife means we can normalise PDA for our couples and lead by example. If we’re happy to walk along a narrow path in the mountains then more than likely they will be too. If we’re open about our feelings and start to gripe about how hard a steep climb is, they will feel more comfortable speaking up if they feel out of their depth. So much of what makes an elopement session “once-in-a-lifetime” comes back to experience. If the couple’s experience is positive, you are going to create better work, period.
However long you’ve been a photographer. Whoever you like to photograph. Whether you’re based at home or a different Airbnb each night. No matter how proficient you are with f-stops, focus modes and Adobe Lightroom. The one thing that will get you better photos is the people whose story you’re telling. Remember to be empathetic, not just with your couples but in all walks of life. To capture love with feeling in your camera – we believe it helps to understand the thousands of ways it can be expressed. Treat every couple as a learning opportunity. Support and try to understand their connection so you can bring that knowledge with you on your next adventure. That’s how we grow as humans and create award-winning, once-in-a-lifetime elopement images whenever we adventure out with a new couple.