I think great photos of people come down to one thing: being real in front of the camera. With portraits, as with all other kinds of photography (landscapes, still life, wildlife, whatever), composition, proper exposure, focus, and company are important. However, technical excellence is really just table stakes. What sets apart the kind of portraiture I want to look at is authenticity. Most of us socially aware humans just know if someone is faking a smile, and it doesn't resonate.
In the following absolutely exquisite photoshoot, I dare you to find one single fake smile. These two are so absolutely in love and comfortable with each other that happiness and authenticity practically oozes from these images. I met these two in person for the first time at their shoot, although we've been talking, FaceTiming, and occasionally Facebook stalking each other for months, so it feels like we've been friends for a while. (They were vacationing in Colorado from Iowa, where Michelle is in medical school and Anne is a teacher, and they'll be getting married here next July.) That's the thing, smiles like these really do come when you're among friends. I should be so lucky to always have this much fun on my photoshoots. Thanks Anne & Shell! I can't WAIT for your wedding.
Also: Yay Supreme Court! We finally have Marriage equality. I'm proud of my country right now.