Ultimate Engagement Photography Guide

couple running through a field engagement photography

Engagement photos are a great way to connect with couples in a lowkey, stress-free environment. They allow you to develop trust with your clients prior to their wedding day and give you the opportunity to try out new techniques and flex your creative muscle. The best way to better yourself as an engagement photographer is to get out there and practice. But to ensure that you get the best photographs and your clients leave satisfied, we’ve created this ultimate engagement photography guide. Here’s everything you need to know.

Get To Know Your Couple

One of the most critical aspects of engagement photoshoots is ensuring that your couples feel comfortable with you. Before the shoot even begins, reach out to them and ask them questions about themselves and what they’re looking for. A few questions can help narrow down logistics like your location options, how long you may need, timelines for any outfit changes, etc. 

Have The Couple Create A Moodboard

Speaking of meeting with your couples, have them put together a mood board using Pinterest or Photoshop. This will help with choosing a location and understanding their style as well as the vibe they’re looking for. If they’re unsure of how to create the perfect mood board, send them this easy to use guide.

No matter what their mood board ends up looking like, it’s important to remind your couples that they stay true to who they are. It’s easy to get swept up in trends we find on the internet, but the last thing anyone wants is to regret their engagement photos because they liked how it looked on Pinterest or Instagram.

Don’t be afraid of leaning on apps like Pinterest for your clients. You can create mood boards with photos from locations that you regularly photograph to share with them, too. You can include photos you have taken in said spots–which is great marketing–and it can be used as a reference for any future clients.

same sex couple posed on sheet in a field

Image by Hugo Coelho

Adopt Natural Posing

Posing is an area that many photographers struggle with. First things first, it’s wise to have a few go-to posing prompts. This will help things flow in case you run into any awkward moments throughout the shoot. 

However, the most game-changing thing that you can do is to adopt an unposed-posed mindset. It might sound confusing but stay with us here. Using prompts to evoke candid poses will help the couple feel comfortable and their comfort will shine through—their portraits will turn out much more natural.

Keep Private Property And Permits In Mind

This may seem like a simple tip but it’s an important one. You may come across clients who request locations at private establishments or areas that need a special permit. Unfortunately, photographers are not always authorized to use these spaces. For example, if your clients are dying to shoot at a local coffee shop–call in advance to confirm this is allowed and verify any essential information, such as fees.

Keep The Talk Positive And Encouraging

As a photographer, it’s your job to capture beautiful photos and keep your couple’s spirits up. Throughout the shoot, try to keep the talk positive and encouraging. Make them laugh as much as possible, and you will have photos that look completely effortless.

Bring The Right Equipment

The camera equipment that you bring can be as minimal or as elaborate as you want it to be. While there is no right or wrong, be mindful of the gear you bring along. If you’re just starting out and only have one 50mm lens, that’s okay. As you progress in your career, you will be able to invest in more pieces that will help you capture high-quality photos.

In the beginning, we suggest having a portrait lens–either 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm. From there, you can build up your inventory. Just be mindful of how much you bring with you. The last thing you want is to lug around a 30-pound backpack and find that you don’t even touch half of the gear during the session—especially if the shoot requires a hike.

Lighting Is Your Friend

Lighting can make or break a photo. Most engagement sessions are taken at golden hour–also known as when the sun is rising or setting. Scheduling shoots with this natural lighting in mind will help you easily capture beautiful photos. We know that lighting isn’t the only thing that makes for a good picture, but it definitely helps! Once you become comfortable with natural lighting, you can play with reflectors and flash during engagement sessions.

Have A Back-Up Plan

Nothing in life ever seems to go as planned. Rather than panic, prepare in advance with a back-up plan. There’s always the possibility that you will run into a closed location, inclement weather, or even other engagement sessions taking place so plan ahead.

On the day of the shoot, keep an eye on the weather. Use sites like The Weather Channel and WeatherBug to regularly monitor conditions on the days leading up to your session. The most important aspect to monitor is hourly conditions on the day of. While the day may start out sunny, be prepared for the chance of evening thunderstorms rolling in. If you have a couple that’s willing to go along with it, rainy engagement photos are seriously epic.

Let The Couple Look At The Photos As You Go

While this may sound like a terrible idea because the images aren’t edited yet, it’s important to let your clients see what you are capturing as you go. Now, this is not to say you should let them see each and every image, but at least for the close-ups and the images that focus on expressions. 

Your goal with an engagement photography session is to make them happy so their opinion matters as you go. You could go through an entire session thinking it’s going smoothly only for them to discover a wardrobe malfunction or that they don’t like that smile. We are our own worst critics so it’s better to take note of their insecurities sooner rather than later.

Move Around

One of the easiest ways to prevent a shoot from feeling stale is to move frequently. Yet so many photographers fixate on getting the perfect shot of one perfect pose. Moving around with your clients allows you to capture different angles and perspectives–even when the couple is holding the same pose.

Try moving backwards so you get a wider shot with more of the background environment and then move forward for a tighter shot. Next, really change things up by moving in a circle around the couple as you shoot for a wide variety of new perspectives.

Get Some Safe Shots

What exactly is a safe shot? We consider safe shots those that are of the couple simply smiling at the camera. Sound boring? We know—but hear us out. These photos aren’t for you, they’re for your clients, their friends, and their families. Although they may not use them for their save the dates, the simple images are great for friends and family of the couple. 

Be Confident

Last, but certainly not least, it’s vital that you remain confident. You’re the professional and this is your shoot. If you haven’t mastered confidence yet, that’s alright. Getting confident behind the camera at an engagement photography shoot comes with experience. You will make mistakes in the process, but that’s okay. Laugh off mistakes and keep learning. Your couples will love their photos if you love what you’re doing.

Ready to take on your next engagement session? Don’t forget to check out this engagement session playlist that will have your clients feeling comfy and relaxed the whole time.

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