Guide: How to Have an Amazing Engagement Photo Shoot
Make the best of your engagement session with tips, advice, ideas and inspiration
Every couple that is planning their wedding should consider an engagement photo shoot to commemorate this super exciting time in life. In our own experience, wedding planning can sometimes be a little hectic and even stressful, and an engagement session can be a much needed way to relax and enjoy this special time together.
Like a lot of things, engagement shoots are really what you make of them. They can also be influenced heavily by your photographer, who can either make the experience really awkward or a ton of fun!
In this post, we're going to cover how you can have an amazing engagement photo shoot - pulling on the tips, advice, and ideas we've given our past couples. Throughout, we'll be adding in a ton of engagement session inspiration as well. By the end, we promise you'll love what an engagement shoot can offer you!
Understand "why" an engagement photo shoot is a good idea
We've photographed hundreds of engagement shoots over the years, and have boiled down the reason why they are great into a couple of key things:
1). Engagement sessions are good for getting to meet your wedding photographer and see how they work with you. Most of the time, couples have engagement pictures included in their wedding photography packages. As a result, this turns out to be a great opportunity to get to meet and experience being photographed by them before your big day. From feedback we've heard from our past couples, they've consistently expressed feeling much more comfortable and confident in front of the camera when their wedding day rolled around. This is huge - especially for couples who may be a little camera shy!
2). Engagement shoots can be treated as a "date night". Turning your engagement session into more of an experience as a couple can make it all the more special. We suggest when you schedule your engagement photos to plan some things to do afterwards like grabbing a bite to eat or watching a movie. A great photo session can feel like a fun outing, instead of just a chore you have to do.
3). The photos from an engagement session can be memorable in their own way. At their best, engagement pictures end up being great to look back on years down the line when paired with your wedding photos. This has been our experience as a married couple ourselves, every time we look back on our wedding, we're really remembering this entire period of our life between when Chris proposed and we actually got married.
We'll get into more suggestions, but great ways to make engagement photos more memorable for you is to make them more personal, and sometimes a little more dramatic with epic locations.
WHAT TO WEAR for your engagement pics
So here's one of the funnest questions to answer!
1). Wear comfortable clothing. When you feel comfy in your clothes, you're going to feel more confident when having your photos taken. You can choose to wear clothes you normally do. Or, if you want to buy something special for these photos, be sure to give yourself enough time to try it on and wear it in.
2). You don't usually want to match, but wear complimentary colors. Wearing matching outfits can sometimes cause you to blur together, so we suggest wearing colors and outfits that compliment each other instead. Sometimes, one person will wear more neutral colors (like black, white, grey, or earthy tones like brown/tan), while the other will wear more colorful clothing. Other times, you may want to just choose real complimentary colors based on color theory (you can use this Color Wheel to see some examples).
3). Having at least one vivid color can make you pop! Wearing something with a more saturated color can look really incredible. In many photo editing styles, we're able to accentuate these colors to a really dramatic effect. We regularly see couples put on vivid red, orange, yellow, and blues - and it's consistently amazing.
4). Unique materials and textures can add a lot, too. Velvet, satin, suede - these are just a couple different materials that can elevate the look of your engagement photos.
5). Bring along a second outfit. Most engagement photographers will allow you to change into a second outfit. A lot of times, couples will choose to do an outfit that is more casual, and another one that is a little more dressy. This can make for some great contrast in your gallery and give you plenty of options for photos.
How to not feel awkward during engagement photos
For couples who are also pet parents, your engagement photo shoot is a great time to get some photos with them! We're a little partial since we grew up with pets and currently have 2 cats (PK aka "Pretty Kitty" and Sheldon).
Our only suggestion with pets is to not include them in your entire shoot, or have a friend come along to help watch them so you're able to be freed up and not have to worry about paying attention to them constantly while you're trying to get photos.
Include your fur babies in some shots
It's 100% normal to feel a little anxiety about having your engagement photos taken. Despite everyone having a cell phone camera on them, most people aren't actually regularly having pictures taken.
In our opinion, the feeling of being "awkward" should go away within a few minutes of getting started with your photographer. A professional photographer will be able to help you feel more at ease, comfortable, and confident in front of the camera. One of the best parts about taking pictures as a couple is that you can actually interact with each other, which will absolutely help you feel much better being photographed. With us, it's as if the camera isn't even there.
Where to have an engagement session
The most important thing to figure out when it comes to your engagement shoot location is what kind of vibe you want.
• Do you want city vibes?
• Or something more natural?
• Maybe something more specific like a certain restaurant, in home, at an amusement park, or something really epic?
This choice will help you narrow down some locations. If you're being assisted with finding a location, this can also help your partner or photographer to help scout for the perfect place, too.
Some great places to consider:
• State or National Parks. These often will have awesome natural areas with tall grass, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, mountains, and more.
• Local Parks. Your own local park can sometimes be a hidden gem for photos.
• Restaurants. We've photographed couples at coffee shops, bars, and other places where you'd normally go for a bite to eat. Some places hold a special place for couples and adds a really personal touch to the photos. Other places just have a really cool "look" that's hard to find anywhere else.
• Amusement Parks. For amusement park enthusiasts, an engagement session at one of these parks is definitely unique, maybe even a little chaotic, but also very cool for the right couples!
• Beach. A sunrise or sunset session at the beach? Love it!!
• In your city or town. Your city is often filled with a ton of great places to stop for photos. From brick alleys to wall art and unique architecture, it's the perfect vibe just for you!
• Your Home. In home sessions are all the rage these days, because what better way to remember your engagement than by being at the place you feel most comfortable!
Make your engagement photo shoot personal
Engagement photos are made extra special when you can let down your guard (even just a little bit!) and make them more personal. This can be as simple as including locations you like spending time at already or activities you enjoy doing together. Sometimes during our engagement sessions, we may also ask you to share things together (if you're comfy with it) to get you interacting and reflecting together - for the couples willing to be open together in this moment, it can result in amazing photos as you react (sometimes with strong emotions).
A few ways to add personal touches to your engagement photo shoot:
• If you play a guitar, bring it and include it
• Have an in home session and do things like playing games and cooking
• Incorporate the things you like doing together - reading books? playing a sport? nerding out over a video game or board game?
• Go explore somewhere new (if that's your style)
• Visit your favorite coffee shop or restaurant
Engagement photo shoot - frequently asked questions
We've put together a list of common questions we get asked about engagement photo shoots.
Q: What should I do with my hands?
A: One big suggestion we always give couples is to be connected with each other at all times. When it comes to your hands, holding each other is always a great starting point. In some poses, we might ask you to put your hands up to the other persons face, or around them in a different way. Sometimes, you'll even just be holding hands. In all cases, keeping connected is the rule to live by.
Should we include signs and/or props in our shoot?
A: In our opinion, if these are things you'd like to include - bring them along! We would suggest to not get too carried away as these things can sometimes distract from your connection with one another, but having an engagement sign or something can be cute for a couple of pics.
Can we include our dog/cat/child/etc. in some photos?
A: Absolutely! Keep in mind, some photographers may not allow these things as it starts to shift the session from being just engagement photos to more of a family photo arrangement. For us, we don't mind at all.
Where should we have our engagement photos taken?
A: If you're not sure where to go for your photos, ask your photographer for some suggestions to get started. If you can narrow down a specific vibe or mood you'd like, that can really help to find the perfect location. Another way to approach choosing a location is thinking about some places that are meaningful to you, or activities you like doing together. For example, some couples like having their sessions right at home - and we can capture awesome pictures of them just hanging out together. Other couples are big fans of the outdoors and hiking, so going to a new trail for some pics in the woods is an awesome match for them. The sky is the limit!
What time of year is best for engagement pictures?
A: Every season offers something different - it really comes down to personal preference. In Pennsylvania, the Spring and Fall months tend to be particularly popular thanks to the blooming flowers and changing foliage.
When using engagement pics for save-the-dates, how far in advance should I have my session?
A: You should plan to send your save-the-date invitations out about 6 months before your wedding day. For couples hosting a week day wedding, you may want to consider sending them an additional 1-2 months in advance as it often requires more for your guests to make arrangements to be there. You should plan to have your session 7-9 months before your wedding day (at least) so your photographer has enough time to get them back to you.
In this guide, we walked you through the steps you'll need to take in order to choose a wedding photographer for your big day. It's a big decision, but one we know you'll be able to make a little easier with all of this info in front of you!
Engagement photo Outfit inspiration
Personalized Engagement Shoot inspiration pics
Engagement shoot photos with pets - inspo
Engagement shoot photos At different locations - inspiration