Engagement Photography Tips and Techniques

The precursor to the actual event, engagement photography is what helps show the couple’s spark with each other and creates widespread awareness of their upcoming wedding. As the photographer, it is important for you to do your research so that the couple’s engagement pictures will be creative, interesting, entertaining, love-struck, and most of all, satisfying for the couple themselves.

engagement photography tips

Photo by sergey mikheev; ISO 100, f/8, 1/1250s.

1. Preview the couple

No, I don’t mean to actually screen the couple before you decide to work with them. (Although in some cases, this might actually be a smart idea.) Get to know who these people are in advance. Meet with them over coffee, for lunch, or just chat a while on the phone. The best way for you to get the engagement photos that this couple wants is to figure out what it is that they actually want. Get a feel for their personality and their chemistry together.

2. Keep them connected

This engagement picture tip basically speaks for itself. Keep the couple connected with each other. Sure, they are going to be somewhat nervous (especially if they are not super comfortable with you just yet), but do your best to keep them into one another. This leads me to my next pointer.

photographing couples

photo by Sean McGrath

3. PDA is Okay (and necessary!)

Because an engagement photo session is completely different from a normal headshot, model, or family photo shoot, you have to remember that the overall theme for these pictures is love. Make the couple comfortable and aware that they should kiss, hug, hold hands, be playful, be silly, and be touchy-feely mushy gushy all they want! It makes the pictures more personal and personable!

4. As always…”Burst mode!”

This seems to be recurring theme in my articles. Definitely make a point to use burst mode while doing engagement photography. The couple will be nervous, so after they do their initial and stiff pose for the camera (thinking they look natural!), they will loosen up, smile, laugh, look at each other. Those are the moments you want to catch more than anything.

5. Location is Crucial

If you have been doing photography, especially engagement photography, for a while, you may know of some great places around your town to take engagement pictures. Prepare yourself with a list of locations and interesting places beforehand that you can suggest to the couple. They most likely will be open and willing to consider anything you have to say! Also, couples frequently travel to other towns for their engagement pictures, so make sure you have tracked down some hot spots that will be aesthetically pleasing.

engagement location

Photo by Stephen Leonardi; ISO 1600, f/3.5, 1/1000s, 70mm.

6. Do Your Research!

The only way for you to actually be as knowledgeable and prepared as you want to be (and want the couple to think you are) is to do your research. As with the previous engagement photo tip, research locations for engagement pictures. Look up creative engagement picture poses that you could suggest to the couple during the shoot. Learn what clothing options will be wise to suggest for them to wear.

7. Clothing Optional (well, not quite)

They might be committed to just one person, but make sure this couple has options! Tell them to bring a few changes of clothes so that you can get some different engagement shots in different locations. You want to give them variety and creativity. Also, let them know what colors not to wear. Examples: white, khakis, light colors, etc. Depending on the background, certain colors and prints may not mesh.

pre-wedding photo clothing

photo by // jonCates

8. Suggest an event shoot

Most couples won’t think of this amazing idea for engagement pictures, so you should suggest it to them! Offer the idea to go along and shoot a date night for the couple. Have them go to the place where they met, their favorite restaurant, or out doing their favorite hobby. Another fabulous engagement photo shoot idea is taking pictures at their engagement party! We just did an engagement shoot like this and the pictures are priceless. Friends, family, and most importantly, the couple, were all included!

9. Shoot in RAW (vs. JPEG)

This helpful hint is especially important when shooting indoors! Shooting in RAW gives you the liberty of having a wider range of exposure adjustments during the editing process. Some may prefer one format over another, but on our engagement photo shoots, we want to make sure we have the most options possible so we can come out with the best engagement pictures possible.

10. Don’t Focus on the Face

This hint sounds ludicrous for engagement pictures, right?! Well, of course you should take pictures of the couple’s faces! But on the flip side, try focusing on things other than just those. Have the bride-to-be lift her foot as if they were kissing, and snap a picture of their shoes from the knee down. Make absolute positive you get that engagement ring in some pictures! Catch her whispering something in his ear. Shoot them from the neck down. All of this is interesting and innovative for the eye.

creative couples photography

photo by Julita B.C.

11. Be vocal (they won’t!)

Finally, one of the most important engagement pictures tips I can give you is to be vocal. Have fun with the couple and suggest poses for them to try. Have general conversation to loosen them up. Tell a few jokes (if you happen to be funny) and create a warm friendly atmosphere. Direct them and they will take direction. Many couples want you to hold their hand along the engagement picture path and lead the way. Take advantage of this power! You have the liberty to come up with something new, creative, and fantastic. They will appreciate this when the editing process is over!

About the Author:
Callie Colleen Smith can provide more information about wedding photography, family pictures, engagement, or modeling headshots. Smith is an assistant photographer who works with Shane Messer and Raychle Searfoss at Shane and Raychle Photography in Nashville, TN and Louisville, KY.

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11 responses to “Engagement Photography Tips and Techniques”

  1. Ethan Mason says:

    You have written very nice blog regarding engagement photography. Your point to point description is easy to understand very basic tips before photography. I am also planning for photo shoots & will follow all the steps described by you.

  2. John David Weddings says:

    Thanks for such amazing tips, this will help us.

  3. Dave says:

    Really helpful tips. Thanks for sharing!

  4. California Photographer says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more on these engagement tips. Especially the one on location! long with wardrobe, location is paramount and truly helps tell the story about the couple! Excellent post!

  5. klp says:

    Hi. Thanks for the tips… really useful as I have an informal shoot (my first, actually!) this weekend. I’m curious though; what lens(es) would you recommend? I currently have a 24-105mm and a 50mm (and could probably get my hands on a 17-85mm) though I shoot with a 20D, so have a crop factor of 1.6…


  6. Lillian Moore says:

    I thought it was interesting that you would have to remind the couple to stay connected. I would that this would be the biggest factor for an engagement photo. Make the couple feel young and cute, that way they will be more willing to just pose even if they feel awkward. Plus, awkward feelings make the best photos. Times were they think no one is watching are the best times to get pictures.

  7. Mary Friday says:

    Thanks so much for the great advice! A couple friends asked me to shoot their engagement photos and I don’t want to disappoint! I’m certain this will help!

  8. Converse Child says:

    Thanks for all the wonderful tips! I am seventeen and my uncle and soon-to-be aunt want me to do their engagement photos! So, later today, that’s what I’ll be doing :) I hope that a Nikon D-60 with my 70-300 mm lens will be good, plus my regular lens…

  9. Mitchel says:

    I myself have done some photography around weddings and debuts, but I am yet to experience an engagement photography. This is a great heads up for photographers out there who want to try covering an engagement. It is indeed important to communicate with the couple. A photographer should know what who and what he would be dealing with, he should know the couple and know their background story so he can properly conceptualize a photo shoot that’s perfect for them. I believe that a photographer should listen to what the couples want and not to dismiss their preference even if it doesn’t fit his ideas. As for me, I will keep on trying to learn more about event photography by reading blogs about photography tips.

  10. Tania says:

    Great tips. I have my first engagement photoshoot coming up soon.

  11. Farrah says:

    Great article. I’m taking engagement photos of two friends next week and I’m a bit nervous because I’ve never done this before. But these tips definitely are helpful, and simple.

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