Engagements are one of life’s sacred milestones. It is, presumably, a once-in-a-lifetime event that is important to document by contracting a professional engagement photographer. Oftentimes this will also be your wedding photographer so it is a good opportunity to get to know him/her. You can think of it as a more casual warm-up to the wedding. It’s a way that you can get comfortable with the way they work, and he/she in turn, will learn the way you interact as a couple and how best to capture you. It’s also an opportunity to get comfortable with posing in preparation for your wedding day.
Many couples use these pictures for printed or online material. They can also be used for before-wedding websites, social media accounts, or on invitations. Or they can serve on your wedding day for brochures, blowups, or on other printed materials, like wedding favors. Most importantly, they will serve as a keepsake for this special time in your life.
Different Types of Engagement Shoots
There are different types of engagement photo shoots, including the actual proposal, and the after-proposal.
Organizing a photo shoot for the actual proposal usually takes a bit more planning and stealthiness. But a proposal photographer can help with the details and logistics of how best to capture this special moment. Maintaining the element of surprise will, of course, be paramount. It may involve hiding out, or just shooting you with a zoom lens from far away. Whatever the plan, the secrecy of it all will add to the build-up and excitement of the day.
Maybe you have already had the proposal and you are simply looking to celebrate and document your life as a newly engaged couple. If this is the case you have a bit more leeway. According to some, engagement photos should be taken within 1-2 months of getting engaged before you get carried away with wedding planning.
Either way, searching for “proposal” or “engagement photographers near me” will help you find someone in your area who can help make your vision come to life. The average cost of engagement photos can vary, depending on where you live and how many hours you require. But expect to pay anywhere from $200-$1,000 for a photo shoot—a fraction of what your wedding day photo costs will be.
Once you’ve decided on your couples’ photographer, you should do a little preparation ahead of time.
We don’t always have control over the weather or the time of day that we can schedule our shoot, but it is an important consideration. Outdoor shoots are a popular choice, with Spring and Fall being perhaps the most popular seasons to work in. Time of day is also extremely important to any kind of outdoor photo shoot. And if you have the luxury to choose it, golden hour, sometimes called “magic hour”, or late afternoon, offers the most flattering light. Early morning light works well too. The rule of thumb is to have your shoot one to two hours before sunset, when the light is soft and glowing. Or if you’re morning people, one to two hours after sunrise is also an excellent choice. It’s best to avoid noon, or midday hours as the light and shadows are too harsh. Also, you will have a difficult time not squinting in all your photos.
Discuss with your photographer the possibility of inclement weather on the day of your shoot. If there is no possibility of rescheduling, don’t despair. You may have to get a little more creative but that may just add to the fun. Using props such as umbrellas (more on that, below) or finding hidden sheltered spots can make for some beautiful shots (and memories!) You can always try moving the venue someplace indoors if all else fails. How about a favorite café or movie house that you like to frequent?
Speaking of locations, scenic spots are always nice but places that hold special meaning to you as a couple is equally important. Do you live in a city? You can choose an urban shoot, visiting some of your favorite places around town. Are there activities that you do together that hold a special place in your heart? Say, you like to go to ballgames…is there a way to incorporate your favorite stadium into your shoot? Maybe there’s a park where you had your first date, or a beach spot you like to go to? If you are at a loss, your photographer will surely have some great recommendations on locations that make for beautiful photos.
Getting in the Right State of Mind
Getting your photos taken doesn’t usually rank high on people’s “favorite things to do list.” It may take more than just being told to, “act natural and be yourselves.” Actually doing an activity together may be just the thing to help you forget there is a camera around tracking your every move. As mentioned, maybe it’s going to your favorite café and having a coffee together. Or strolling through your local farmer’s market, checking out the latest wares. Or maybe it’s just taking a walk through the park, or admiring the sunset. Whatever helps you to be present and in tune with one another, instead of hyper-vigilant that you’re being photographed. Taking some of these candid shots first may help break the ice a bit. Once you get the hang of it and are feeling more comfortable then you can move on to posed shots.
If you can’t take the day off, make sure you take the time to unwind. This is especially helpful if your shoot is planned for right after your workday. Is there time to grab a quick meal or a drink to connect before your shoot? Maybe even invite the photographer along to join you? This might ensure you all have a few moments to share and unwind together before getting in front of the camera. Relaxed people and expressions make for the best images!
Another thing to help you relax may be to use props. A few simple ideas could be balloons, bubbles, flowers, or Champagne and flutes. Do you have a favorite hobby or pastime that you can incorporate? Maybe you play a musical instrument or you love picnics. Do you have a dog that is considered part of the family? Dogs are great at helping to distract and put you at ease.
Dress the Part
Outfits are an important aspect to consider for your engagement shoot. Dressing for the season is a nice idea. A summer dress would work nicely, paired with something like linen pants and a dress shirt for your partner. It’s not necessary to be so matchy-matchy with your partner, but it is a good idea to coordinate your outfits. You want to be sure that you and your partner are on the same page in terms of level of casualness or dressiness. And most importantly, you want to look as if you “go together.” If your partner opts for a little black dress and heels, don’t wear sneakers and your ripped jeans. Your outfits should compliment one another.
It’s a good idea to prepare for your shoot as if you are getting ready for an important event or date night. You may want to spring for professional hair, makeup, and even outfit selection. Styling services are well versed in how to highlight your best features and what looks best on camera.
If you choose to style yourself for the day, keep in mind that makeup should be slightly more pronounced than your usual routine, so that it shows up better on camera. It may also be a good time to schedule your wedding trial makeup session. This way you can ease into your look and be comfortable with it before your wedding day. Also, don’t forget a manicure, as you will probably want photos taken of you.