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Keeping it casual

The couple posed for the camera, expressing their affection for each other.

But this $725 photo shoot was not for a wedding but to celebrate their second year of dating, said Mr Hendra Raghani, creative director of Hendra R. Photography,

The couple had no intention of getting married. It was simply a gift from the girl to her boyfriend, both in their teens.

The girl, 17, took a part-time job to pay the full fees of a $300 outdoor photo shoot package and a $425 mini flush-mounted album.

She is one of a growing number of young people willing to pay for what photographers class as casual couple photo shoots - more informal than wedding style-shoots and with no marriage plans in the works.

Mr Raghani, 30, has noticed a significant rise in requests for casual shoots.

"When I started out in 2009, I received about one request every two months. Now, I receive two or three per month," he said.

Out of six couple shoots he does in a month, four will be casual sessions.

"Eighty per cent of our business comes from these casual couple shoots," said 27-year-old Angie Neo, founder of Confetti Peektures.

"These couples have no plans to get married yet, but of course they're all dating with a long-term relationship in mind," she explained.

According to Mr Raghani, some couples take these photos to celebrate their engagement or to complement regular bridal photo packages with something more carefree.

"But most of them are young couples who just want to a document of their dating days," he says. And relationships do not have to be long for couples to consider paying for the shoot.

In her three years heading Confetti Peektures, Ms Neo's youngest client was a 19-year-old girl. She gave her boyfriend a couple shoot as a surprise for his 21st birthday. They had been together for only a few months.

The session lasted an hour, was shot in one outdoor location and resulted in 50 photos. The young woman paid the full cost of $350 from her savings.

But while the shoots may document a relationship, they are not an indicator of longevity. The couple later broke up.

SHOT FIRST, MARRIED LATER

But things look more optimistic for Jason, 29, and his wife Jasmine, 28 (who do not want to reveal their surnames).

In 2011, they engaged Hendra R. Photography for a casual couple photo shoot.

They paid $200 for a 45-minute outdoor photo shoot, taken in the Tanjong Pagar area.

They were a year into their relationship at the time and no marriage plans had been made yet.

"We were intrigued by the photos on Hendra's Facebook. We loved how they captured love subtly," says Jason, a civil servant.

Three years on, they are married. The solemnisation took place just last Tuesday and the happy couple engaged Mr Raghani a second time for a photo shoot.

It is a desire to capture a moment in time that makes these couples go for a shoot with no special occasion attached.

Ms Jasmine Tan and her boyfriend Jun Jie, both 19, have been together since primary school. In 2012, they did a couple photo session, although there was no life event to mark.

Ms Tan said: "We don't really need special occasions to do a photo session because it's for the memory and celebration. We'll definitely do it again in the future."

But why pay that much when a friend could take pictures for free?

For Ms Tan, it was a simple case of valuing "quality and experience since it was meant to celebrate our relationship together" .

But there are other reasons for the trend.

According to Ms Neo, it is simply that casual photo shoots are more affordable than bridal ones.

"For couples with no wedding plans yet, it doesn't make sense to do bridal photo shoots. Casual photo shoots are much cheaper," says Ms Neo. Bridal shoots can cost from $3,000 to $4,000. An overseas shoots can cost more than $6,000.

PULLING OUT THE STOPS

While some are happy to spend hundreds for a local casual shoot, some young couples are willing to go much further.

Miss Claudine Chew and her boyfriend, Mr Goh Jing Jie, both 26, paid $8,000 for an overseas shoot in Los Angeles last December, even though there is no engagement nor wedding on the horizon.

They engaged Lighted Pixels Photography. The package comprised airfare and accommodation for the photographer, professional make-up and an album of their selected photos.

"There was no particular reason for it. It just fit well into our travel itinerary," said Ms Chew, who was on holiday with Mr Goh then.

She and Mr Goh have been together for four years. Although both are sure that they will eventually tie the knot at some point in the future, marriage is not at the forefront of their minds.

Ms Chew feels that the $8,000 was money well spent despite the amount being a "considerable part" of their salaries. Ms Chew is a procurement executive and Mr Goh is a project coordinator.

"It is the quality. I'm sure not all friends can come out with shots like a professional does.

"It was worth it. We have some really nice pictures and we had lots of fun," she said.

These couples have no plans to get married yet, but of course they're all dating with a long-term relationship in mind.

- Ms Angie Neo, founder of Confetti Peektures