How to take Photos for Couples when there is a Language Barrier

Girlfriend walking and leading boyfriend in the desert

I was given the opportunity to take photos for couples who speak different languages. This is super fun and interesting because it can be a bit of a challenge for the both of us, and I love a good challenge. 

I enjoy helping couples stay confident throughout the shoot even if we aren’t speaking the same language. I LOVE working with all types of people, cultures, and ethnicities. Being inclusive as a photographer is incredibly important to me. If the couple is in love and ready to have fun you will have a successful shoot no matter what language they speak!

Cute couples walking through valley of fire holding hands

From personal experience, I wanted to write this article because I know after talking with my couples that don’t speak English as their first language, it can feel overwhelming when trying to book a session with a photographer. 

If you are a photographer reading this – I want to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone. It is super fun to work with different types of couples and expand your horizons.

In this blog post, I will be going over some strategies you can use during your photoshoot to make it successful even if a couple doesn’t speak the same language as you.

Let me Show you How!

The good thing about photography and posing is that you can physically show clients what to do with their bodies. You can show them with your own body or if you have a friend/assistant along with you, you can model what you want the couples to do!

I always come prepared to a session with photos on my phone to show my clients the inspiration behind the poses and this helps them easily move from pose to pose. 

I love using movement and candid moments in my photography to create galleries and tell the full story of the day. Capturing those in-between moments and details (their necklace, watch, or tattoos) can make for a stronger gallery.

If you feel like you aren’t getting enough photos or variety, take some pictures of the landscape and wildlife. Many couples are coming from out of state or internationally for photos and they want to remember the location too. 

Boyfriend kissing girlfriend on the head while seated on the ground
Sweet couple looking out into the sunset in the desert

Bring a Friend

If you are concerned about not understanding your client I would suggest bringing a friend who could translate for you, or asking if they could bring a family member or friend that speaks english to translate. This can be a great way for everyone to understand each other and what you need them to do in order to have the photos turn out really well. It’s always fun to have more people along for a day of photography anyway! The more the merrier!

Couple exploring valley of fire together

Translator Apps and Simple Phrases

Technology is amazing and so one thing you can do is download a translator app ahead of time and use that to convey what you are wanting the couple to do. The apps aren’t always 100% accurate, so if you are up for the challenge I would also try and learn some simple phrases in their language like, “kiss” “walk” “hold-hands” and “nose-to-nose.” This is usually enough to prompt them to do what you need them to.

Leading up to the Session

I am in constant communication leading up to a couple’s session, which is important if there is a language barrier because we will have time to learn about each-other, and they can get a feel for your personality and what to expect on the day of the shoot.

Most browsers easily translate emails for you so this can be a great way to give written directions beforehand and you can send them example galleries to show them the types of poses they can expect to do.

I take the time to talk through different location options, times and what the vibe of their shoot will be. I help walk them through what to wear, set expectations, and how they can best prepare for a session (I even wrote a blog about that here). This will help them be prepared for the day-of the shoot and having everything explained in advance will make the day go smoother for both parties. 

Couple sharing an intimate moment with their heads together in the desert
Couple walking down a dirt road in the valley of fire

A Look at Jane and Williams Session

The couple’s photos throughout this blog are from Jane and Williams’ adventurous couples session! They are from Brazil and barely spoke English. They wanted to do a couples session while they were visiting Las Vegas. I made sure to download a translator app ahead of time and gave it my best shot to learn a few simple phrases in Portuguese.

I was super lucky because a good friend of mine who speaks Spanish was in town. Spanish and Portuguese are fairly similar so I asked my friend to come along and translate for us! With a lot of body language, charades and some translation we had an incredible session! 

Close-up photo of couple looking at each other
Girlfriend sitting on boyfriend's lap in valley of fire during couples photoshoot

Client Love

“Becca dear what joy these photos brought, I just have a lot to thank you for giving so much and in such a short time! You are amazing, we are completely delighted, thank you so much! And it will be a great pleasure to have you here in Brazil someday to show you beautiful places and the many different foods we have here, we are waiting for you!”

Couple cuddled up in the desert
couple running down road in desert in las vegas

I love taking photos for couples of all backgrounds and would like to include more diversity in my portfolio. So if you are ready to chat about your session, I am happy to help you plan an amazing shoot. Reach out and let’s talk about how I can be a part of your day.  

If we sound like a great fit – contact me here to start planning your session.

Want to see the full gallery from Jane and William’s photoshoot session click here

Couple sitting together on the ground in the desert