- Ariele Chapman and Erica Whiting are wedding photographers.
- Chapman says she can tell a couple is truly in love when they seem to enjoy each other’s company, laugh together, and when she gets emotional photographing them.
- Whiting finds that if one partner is completely uninterested in taking photos or if they argue at the wedding, it doesn’t bode well for a couple’s future.
- Chapman’s biggest advice for couples taking engagement or wedding photos is “build your partner up, not down.”
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Photographers notice everything.
At weddings or engagement portrait sessions, they pay special attention to the way couples look at each other, observing their playful banter and body language to capture the most authentic moments.
Insider asked two photographers who have worked with many different couples what they notice about relationships as they’re documenting couples’ engagements, weddings, and other occasions.
Ariele Chapman and Erica Whiting both say laughter is key to a solid relationship
With 13 years of experience, Chapman knows photoshoots can be awkward. Most people aren’t used to feeling comfortable with another person photographing the way they interact with their partner. Some poses that turn out beautifully feel a little silly to stay in for extended periods of time.
When couples can overcome the mild discomfort and just focus on having fun together, she says it bodes well for their future.
“When couples laugh a lot during their session, I can also tell how much they enjoy each other’s company,” said Chapman. “Laughing is so important for couples, to jokingly make fun of each other, to not take life too seriously, to just go with it. When I photograph couples and they laugh during the session, it makes me know they are going to last, because they enjoy each other.”
Photographer Erica Whiting agrees, saying that “couples that laugh a lot and go with the flow of their day” will likely live happily together after the big day is over.
At weddings, Whiting also notices when couples make “lots of eye contact and subtle physical contact like hand holding, even when they’re not looking at each other,” and stay near each other during the reception even as they’re socializing with guests and family.
Chapman says the biggest indicator that a couple’s relationship will last is how she feels when she’s behind the camera.
“When I photograph a couple, and I’m tearing up about how in love they are, that is always the best sign when I can tell that this is it, this is their person for life,” she said.
Partners that argue or belittle each other during photo sessions may not live happily ever after
Whiting finds that it’s a bad sign when “one partner is completely uninterested in wedding photos, nor do they have any interest in participating in photos in an effort to compromise or make their partner happy,” or if the couple argues or makes sarcastic, mean comments about each other while she’s taking pictures.
The wedding party and family members can also indicate the chances of a relationship’s success.
“Conflict, tension or arguing among the wedding party or family members can be signs of stressors in the relationship or can cause stress in the relationship later on,” she said.
In her experience with photographing couples, Chapman says compliments from a partner can go a long way.
“The best advice I can give is build your partner up, not down,” she said. “If you are taking photos, and your partner says, ‘I feel bloated, or I don’t feel pretty,’ their partner should give them words of encouragement. They should say, ‘You are beautiful,’ or other words to boost their confidence. I think couples that build each other up are couples that I personally look up to. Not picking at your partner or belittling them is the best way to create a happy environment, [where] everyone is equal. That’s how couples should view themselves, a true team.”
While Chapman says there aren’t tell-tale signs of whether or not a relationship will last since each one is different, there may in fact be one foolproof way to tell.
“I’ve never photographed a couple putting together Ikea furniture, so maybe that’s the best indicator if a marriage will last,” she said.
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- Couples are taking engagement photos at stores like Target and Costco. Here’s why it’s a growing trend.
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- 7 strategies that can make your relationship happier in 10 minutes or less
- THEN AND NOW: 12 high school sweethearts compare prom and wedding photos and share their secrets to making a relationship last