There are plenty of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Sharing a candlelit dinner, exchanging gifts, or travelling to a romantic getaway are some popular examples. However, if you’re looking to do something more unique, consider a Valentine’s Day photoshoot. 

Photos have the unique ability to transport us through time. They can both contain and evoke intense emotion, reminding us of everything we felt in a specific moment.  An intimate portrait of you and your significant other will forever remind you how you felt about each other at the moment the picture was taken. After all, there’s a reason most couples have a photoshoot on their wedding day.

However, you don’t need to hire a professional photographer for a Valentine’s Day photoshoot. Your wedding is an extremely special occasion. It makes sense to hire someone you can trust and rely on to capture the day. Valentine’s Day, on the other hand, happens every year.

A Valentine’s Day photoshoot is a special activity you can do as a couple. While you’ll hopefully get some nice photos out of it, it also provides an opportunity for you to have some fun together. We’ve listed everything you need to plan your own shoot below.


A couple using a camera in the woods
Photo by Taisiia Stupak

If you’re already a budding photographer, you likely have a camera you can use. For novices, we recommend investing in a beginner digital camera like the Sony a6000, or one of these great cameras under $1000.  Assuming you’re taking portraits, you’ll also want to use a lens with a longer focal length. A focal length between 50mm and 100mm is ideal for portraits. We recommend using an 85mm prime lens.

A simpler, more affordable option is using an instant camera like the Instax SQ1 or Mini 11. Instant cameras are already instilled with a sense of nostalgic romance. They make a great Valentine’s Day gift, even if you don’t plan on having a full photoshoot.

If you don’t own a camera, you could also use a smartphone. Most phones released in the past 10 years have decent built-in cameras. You don’t need a high-priced camera to capture a nice photo. Although, it may take more creative effort on your part to make the shoot feel special.

You also shouldn’t rely on finding a passerby to serve as your photographer. Even if you do find a willing participant, there’s no guarantee they’ll capture the photos you want. Additionally, giving orders to a stranger is not exactly conducive to romance. Two’s company, but three’s a crowd.

If you can, use a camera with a self timer. You could also team up with another couple to take photos of each other.

Gimbal or Tripod

The DJI OM 4 Smartphone Gimbal
Courtesy of DJI

Whatever type of camera you use, you’ll need something to stabilize it. Self portraits can be endearing, but holding the camera yourself limits your options in terms of framing. You may also struggle to be emotionally present if you’re focused on holding the camera steady while pressing the shutter button.

If you have a camera with a self timer, we recommend using a tripod. You’ll have the flexibility to take photos of varying sizes, from scenic wide shots to intimate close-ups. The type of tripod you use depends on your camera, but there are models available at various price points. The Koah Aphelion Professional 6-Feet Tripod is a good quality low-cost option.

If you’re using a smartphone, you could use a selfie stick or smartphone gimbal. A smartphone gimbal like the DJI OM 4 will allow you to comfortably operate your phone camera and keep it steady while you and your significant other pose for the photo. You can hold it out in front of you or use it as a miniature tripod.

Setting & Props

Photo by Jonathan Borba

It will be challenging to make a photoshoot in your living room feel romantic. Try to find a remote, peaceful location. Outdoor options like a park, beach, or winery are classic photoshoot locales. Pack a picnic for added romance.

Alternatively, go somewhere that has personal significance for your relationship. You could shoot at the place where you first met, or photograph yourselves doing an activity you both enjoy.

You could also rent out a studio space. This will make the shoot feel more like a special occasion. Of course, a studio is a bare, cold space. It won’t be a problem if you’re taking close, intimate portraits. However, if you want wider photos, you’ll need some props to make your photos pop.

Balloons, flowers, and blankets are classic scenery fillers for a romance-themed shoot. The color red also has a long association with Valentine’s day. You could use red props, a red backdrop, or even just wear something with red tones. Use at your own discretion, while remembering that subtlety is a valuable quality in photography.

The ultimate prop for a Valentine’s Day photoshoot is an engagement ring. If you plan to pop the question at your photoshoot, be sure to check out our interview with proposal photography pro, Ash Morgan. If you’re in New York City, you should also read our post about romantic spots around the city for an engagement shoot.

Tell a Story

Photo by Artyom Kabajev

Like most art mediums, photography is a form of storytelling. The most compelling couple photos tells a story about their relationship. That’s why wedding photographers often like to get to know their clients before the big day. They want to learn more about the couple so they can weave their story into the photos they take.

When you’re planning your own photoshoot, you should do the same thing. Think about what you want the photos to convey, what story you want to tell. Arguably, this is the most important step in planning your shoot, as it will inform where and what you photograph.

What About Singles?

If you’re single on Valentine’s Day, there’s no reason why you can’t still have a photoshoot. Team up with another single and have fun taking photos of each other. Alternatively, spend some quality time with yourself. Given the proliferation of dating apps, you may even snap a picture you can use to help you meet someone.

That’s everything you need to plan your own Valentine’s Day photoshoot.  If you post your photos on Instagram, please tag us (@focuscamera) so we can see how they turn out.


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