10 Tips for Nailing Your Engagement Photos
This sweet couple found me through Instagram, but ironically enough - Mary grew up in Carmel Valley, and knew that she absolutely had to come back home to have her Engagement photos taken! We decided on Ribera Beach since the area has so much variety to offer in the way of landscape and we knew it would make the perfect backdrop to complement the love between these two cuties.
So, without further ado, here are my top 10 tips for planning your engagement session which will assure that you feel comfortable and arrive ready to get some great shots with your fiancé!
Most of my brides ask when they should have their Save the Dates out to keep in mind when scheduling their session. These are typically sent out about 6 months before the wedding day, and you can always send them a little earlier if you’d like! I have a two-week turnaround on engagement session galleries, so my couples don’t have to add too much of a buffer to their 6-month mark.
2. SET THE SCENE
Location is everything, so before heading to your neighborhood park for engagement photos, think about what you really love as a couple and what places reflect that. If you relish over making coffee together and snuggling on the couch with some good ole Netflix, maybe an at-home session is right for you. Are you an adventurous couple who spends your weekends hiking? Take your photos in the forest or mountains, hiking gear in tow. Don’t be afraid to incorporate your favorite activities like riding bikes or taking a canoe down to the lake.
3. SCHEDULE YOUR SESSION AROUND THE SUN
You may have heard that there are certain times of the day that are better for photos and that’s all because of the light! Golden hour, which is that beautiful time of day just before the sun sets is when you want to shoot if you’re looking for that glorious, golden light in your photos. It’s important to be aware of when the sun is going to set (don't worry! I will figure that out for you!) so that you have plenty of time to shoot before the light is gone. The early afternoon may sound like a good time for photos schedule-wise, but keep in mind that the light is much harsher at this time because the sun is directly overhead. Early, early morning light can also be magical, so you may want to consider a sunrise session where you arrive at your location just as the sun starts to rise.
4. WEAR SOMETHING YOU'RE COMFORTABLE IN
You’ve probably read some form of this tip before, but it really is the most important thing. If you choose clothes that are too tight or clingy, you’ll spend your whole session picking at them or covering up. If you choose something you’ve never worn before, you’ll be worried about how you look in it or may discover it’s actually terribly uncomfortable, which can come across in your photos. Choose outfits that make you feel like a million bucks. If you do purchase something new, take it out for a test run, with plenty of time to wash and dry it before your session in case of a spill or other mishap. As much as you consider how your engagement outfits make you feel, think also about how they’ll photograph during your session. For the ladies, I recommend choosing pieces that flow nicely as you move, especially if you’re doing your photos outdoors.
5. PRACTICE BEING A MODEL AHEAD OF TIME!
- Practice fake laughing (tried and proven method!)
- This helps for those that are ‘camera shy’
- It will start as a fake laugh, but I guarantee it will quickly turn into a real smile/laugh which will in turn make your partner naturally smile!
- Practice any shots you may want at home
- This can include some formal shots, lifts or dips
- Take note of posture and practice what to do with awkward hands prior to your shoot
6. PLAN FOR IT TO BE JUST YOU TWO AT YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION
Moms are amazing for bridal sessions, best friends are absolute godsends on wedding days, but for engagement sessions, keep it to just you two. The reason being? I need you to be able to get “in the moment” for us to get the best shots from this session. That means no mom telling you to “pull your top up!” or no best friend egging you on, but just you two, staring into each other’s eyes and being madly in love. I’m a distraction enough, so leave the other ones at home.
7. PREPARING YOUR GROOM
This is the part that all of you brides need to pay attention to! You know your groom better than anyone else and so only you can help prepare him for this shoot. If your fiance’ is completely unaware of this style of photography, he is going to think it’s really strange when I tell you two to “Nuzzle” or get “Nose to nose”. He’s expecting a few pictures smiling at the camera, showing off the ring and that’s it! So it’s your job to explain to him why you love this style of photography and help him know what to expect! I suggest sitting down with him and showing him some poses from your favorite engagement sessions so that he has an idea of what he’s about to experience! :)
8. THINK ABOUT PERSONAL ELEMENTS YOU CAN ADD TO YOUR SESSION
A great way to get a really special and personalized engagement photography session is to add some of your personality into your session. A really easy way to do this is to bring a dog, if you have one – you’ll be so focused on wrangling your dog that you’ll forget to feel nervous! This could also be a blanket that holds a special memory for you (used for your first picnic), or a certain type of food or drink that you both love and want commemorated.
9. SCHEDULE YOURSELF A MANICURE
We’re going to be putting a lot of focus on your hands during this shoot, so make sure that your nails are done, your hands are moisturized, and everything is ready to be highlighted!
10. RELAX AND TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
As you’re preparing for your engagement session, remember that your photographer doesn’t expect you to be a pro at this. I work with normal, everyday couples ALL the time. I can’t speak for all photographers but I tell my couples that it takes a good 20 minutes to warm up at the beginning of their shoot. So relax and don’t be nervous! You’re going to be great at this! Trust your photographer, allow them to be creative and you’ll have an amazing shoot!
Ever wonder what else you can do with those Engagement photos besides a Save the Date? Here are other great ways to use your images: your engagement pictures are perfect for using in a guest book (check out Artifact Uprising for a high-quality but not too expensive option), to print out and frame for decor at your wedding, frame for your new home, or even give as gifts for family (especially around the holidays!)