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You got engaged! Awesome!
An engagement shoot is a wonderful idea to consider before your wedding. Whether you want to re-create your proposal moment, capture some beautiful photos in a spot that has meaning to you both, or just simply want to get to know your photographer, having an engagement shoot is a fantastic way to express that elated glow you get in the lead up to the aisle.
Now what? Wedding planning can be a daunting task, and sometimes engagement photos can seem like just another thing on the to-do list. But they can actually be an important aspect leading up to (and long after) the big day.
Engagement photos are important, as you can use them for your Save the Date and invitation cards, and it allows you to test-drive your wedding photographer. The latter is more important than you might think—sometimes a sit-down meeting isn’t enough time for you to really get a feel for your photographer, so an engagement session is a great way to get used to your photographer’s shooting style and see their personality.
So, let’s talk strategy. Here are nine tips to make sure that your engagement photos capture your personalities and this monumental time in your lives.
ENGAGEMENT PHOTOSHOOT £400 (included in some wedding photography packages)
The Perfect Setting
Setting the right scene for your engagement shoot is important so think carefully about the location, as it will influence the whole outcome of your shoot.
“I’d suggest choosing a shoot location that’s different to your wedding venue,” suggests Ben. “It could be the place where you got engaged, a spot where you love going for walks or perhaps your favourite park - choose somewhere that has meaning to you both.”
Before the Shoot
Choose your outfits.
Pinterest can come in handy for this. Find colours that complement your skin tones, and try to avoid anything too trendy. Look to Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly for inspiration. This will ensure that your photos stay timeless. If you aren’t sure about an outfit, ask your photographer for their input. Photographers work with many, many different body types and complexions, so they can be a helpful asset. As far as formality, pick something you’ll be comfortable in first and foremost. Your photographer will have you moving around a lot, and, depending on the season, the weather will have an impact on your outfit as well.
Address any personal concerns in advance.
Photographers naturally want you to love your photos. If you tell them ‘I hate having my photo taken because I always look bad,’ that’s a great start. But tell your photographers what bothers you about photos of yourself.
I personally have an issue with the way my neck and chin look in photos because I have a smaller chin. Be specific. You hate a certain tooth? Tell them! Photographers have tips, tricks, and poses that we can use to take the focus away from these features to focus on your best and favourite attributes instead. I have never shot photos of anyone I didn’t consider to be beautiful, so go easy on yourself, too. When I tell people about my chin fear, they always tell me it’s something they’ve never even noticed.
Settle on your (and your photographer’s) ideal location.
If you don’t have a specific location in mind, professional photographers should already know an abundance of beautiful sites that they have ideally shot before. If you have a location that means a lot to you and your fiancé, let them know. Not only will you end up with photos that are beautiful, but you’ll have a unique personal story, too. Note, however, that locations with no shade on a day with the sun beaming down can be a pain in the butt. If your location is fairly open (little shade or indirect light), ask your photographer about the morning and evening ‘golden hour’ times to capture your photos in the most favourable light.
Practice holding a kiss and the ‘almost kiss’ before your session.
We’ll probably ask you to hold a kiss for ten seconds, and we’ll almost always ask for the ‘almost kiss.’ Not sure what that is? Here’s a perfect example from a Hunger Gamesmovie between Katniss and Gale. If you practice these in advance, they’ll feel less awkward in front of the camera.
During the Shoot
Shut out your photographer.
This is a big one for us. Photographers will put you in a pose or position that looks amazing, but then we just have to hope and pray that the love flows naturally between the two of you. This can be really hard for couples. Remember what your teachers and parents told you about giving a presentation in school? Pretend everyone is in their underwear. Just pretend we don’t exist after we get you in position. Be touchy-feely, laugh, snuggle, and just talk. Your photos will end up much more natural, and you’ll be able to see the love there, not just two people striking a pose.
Trust your photographer.
I’ve asked couples to do some pretty strange (but safe) things, and they always end up loving the outcomes. I once asked my brother and his then girlfriend to stand in a murky puddle in the middle of a bunch of trees. They couldn’t picture what I had envisioned, but the photo from this kind of quirky idea turned out to be one of their favourites. Almost every client has given me the “. . . oookay?” look when I ask them to close their eyes. But, as I told one client, “I know it sounds weird, but trust me. This is going to be one of the cutest photos in your gallery.”
After the Shoot
Please be patient.
We want you to have your photos just as much as you want them, but we don’t want to hand you anything but the best. Admittedly, this takes some time. Post-processing is the largest part of the photographer’s job (and the most time-consuming). On an average session, it takes me two to four weeks to edit photos. I make sure to post sneak peeks for couples to share with family and friends while we edit the rest so that the wait isn’t too agonizing.
Give your photographer some love
When you share the photos, refrain from using Instagram filters or Facebook editing. We spend a lot of time trying to get your photos to reflect that same style you chose us for, and filters or extra editing may mislead people who enjoy this style. We also love when you give us photo credit for our work! It helps people recognise our photos and find us in the future.
Engagement photos are one of the few tangible ways to preserve that perfect last sentence in this chapter of your life before you start the next great chapter. Take advantage of these tips to make the most of your engagement shoot.
Keep it Natural
DON’T make eye contact with the camera – “This will make the photos feel more natural and less like you’re acting in a movie."
DO make eye contact with your partner – “The shoot is all about the both of you so you need to connect in order to create a story."
DON’T let your arms just hang – “Hold hands, hug or put your arms round each other."
DO move around – “It’s more natural than freezing in one pose."
DO talk to each other – “Keep it positive and light though – now is not the time to moan about that annoying colleague from work!"
DON’T be afraid of looking silly – “Silliness can make for some great spontaneous photos."
DON’T be too worried about how you look – “This will stop you from enjoying yourself if you’re too fixed on your hair. Besides, the photos can always be edited afterwards."
Consider Props, Pets or a Theme
An engagement shoot is the perfect time for you and your partner to take centre stage, but if you’re a little bit camera shy then you could add props or another element to your photos so take away the intensity.
As for the outfit, it’s best to avoid anything with text, logos, dark colours and clashing patterns. I also encourage brides to accessorise - flower crowns, a pretty hair accessory or even a floppy hat can all add interest and variety to your images.
Some well-timed wedding planning could also work well for your engagement shoot. Many of my brides book their hair and makeup trial for the same day as their engagement session. Most makeup artists and hairdressers will be happy to tone the look down for you before you leave.