With yesterday’s official announcement of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s engagement, we decided to focus today’s Photo Tip Tuesday on engagement photography! For photographers, engagement sessions are a great way to get to know your clients before their wedding. For the in love, newly engaged couple, the session not only helps you learn more about your wedding photographer’s style, but also allows you to professionally document your love for years to come. With engagement season in full swing, here are several tips for photographers and couples to capture the perfect engagement photos!
Use easier poses
Photographer: Engagement sessions should always aim for simplicity, particularly when it comes to posing. Have several “go to” poses ready and choose the ones that you know will be flattering and comfortable to the couple. If a client doesn’t seem to be a natural at posing, tell them where to place their hands, how to turn their head, etc. It may feel a bit weird to them, but the images can look amazing! Also, watch their hands to make sure they look natural and not tense. If a couple is posed great in every way – except they have clenched, tense looking hands – it can ruin a picture. Their comfort (or discomfort) will come through in every frame.
Couple: Be vocal with your photographer; there may be a shot you know you & your parents will want to see or a location that has special significance to you as a couple. Make sure the photographer is aware so they can capture your vision. However, know that every shot from Pinterest can’t be replicated (some are composites that take lots of time and post-production). Feel free to choose a few for inspiration, but make your session your own. Who knows, future couples may pin your engagement session!
Bring minimal gear
Photographer: Less is more when it comes to choosing camera gear for an engagement shoot. You won’t need to bring every lens, light and tripod to the session. Even though the engagement shoot is shorter than the wedding day, there is plenty of movement involved, so you won’t want to carry too much heavy gear around. It also may turn off the couple if they have to carry around your bags in addition to any outfit changes they may have. If planned properly, one camera body (with a backup in the car) and 2-3 of your favorite lenses should be enough.
Couple: If you plan on changing clothes throughout your session, make sure to limit yourself to no more than 3 outfits or bring pieces your can mix-and-match. It can be a hassle to carry multiple shoes, dresses and shirts around while still attempting to maintain a fresh look. However, if your are adamant on having a wider variety of wardrobe, try to schedule the session in the photographer’s studio, in your home or bring a friend to carry the clothes; you don’t want to waste valuable time and daylight running back-and-forth to your vehicle. Also, check in advance to see if there’s a place to change clothes if you don’t want passersby to see you.
Change shooting angles
Photographer: Posing may be simple, but the shooting angles don’t have to be. Make sure to always get your base image for a pose, then look for different angles before you move the couple. Think close up & far away for variation. When you have a variety of angles to shoot from, your portfolio becomes more diverse, which will help you attract ideal clients when you share the images.
Couple: If you know your best side or if one of you is self-conscious about a feature (height,, for example) make sure you tell your photographer. Once you make them aware, they can adjust their angles to compliment and enhance your best features!
Use the surroundings
Try shooting through objects and use your surroundings as props. For example, if you find yourself in a field with tall grasses and wildflowers, consider posing the couple in the grass, then position yourself to include some out-of-focus (bokeh) greenery in the foreground of the image. It can help add visual interest to the image.
Finding the perfect lighting
Try to schedule the engagement sessions during your ideal shooting time. For many photographers, that time is “golden hour” (one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset). If you can’t book the engagement session during your ideal shooting time, check the weather for that day and make sure your are ready for the possible lighting conditions; this may come in handy during the wedding. However, don’t try to reinvent the wheel during their session. If you’ve never shot with off-camera flash or have never tried to be a natural light-only photographer, a session with a client is not the time to learn.
Singing (well, shooting) in the rain
Don’t immediately cancel because of inclement weather; overcast skies or even a little sprinkle can provide interesting lighting conditions. Try placing the couple under umbrellas or awnings during the session to show intimacy. Some of the most favored engagement images are those of a backlit couple underneath an umbrella in the rain. However, if the weather has a potential to be dangerous (torrential downpours, lightning, etc.), reschedule. Your safety should come first.
Aim for an album
A popular way to showcase an engagement session is to have it printed as a guest signature book to display at the wedding. An album is something the couple can keep and show their friends & family members, keeping you in mind in case they need a wedding photographer in the future.
If the couple is comfortable with it – and because you are capturing two people who will commit their lives to each other – kissing, hugging and holding hands are all appropriate during the session. However, some couple are not comfortable with these public displays of affection, so make sure to ask first. Also, try to avoid anything the couple would not want to show their future grandchildren.
Engagement sessions are a great way to capture beautiful portraits of people and showcase your signature style. Take moments to have fun with the couple – you are building a rapport and that will pay off on the wedding day! Creating the best poses for the bride and groom can help them relax and provide you with genuine expressions. When you can include your couple’s emotions into the engagement shoot, you will continuously create stunning photos they are sure to love!