Have you ever been professionally photographed before? Unless you're a model or a celebrity, the answer is: probably not!
There are differences between a nice photo and a professional portrait, and you will be asked to do some things for your photos that might feel strange at the time. The great thing about an engagement shoot is that you can get used to it, and you'll also get the proof that in the pictures you look natural. So many people feel nervous, uneasy or uncomfortable about a photo session, and that's the last thing you need on your wedding day. And even more than that; if you feel uncomfortable it's going to come across in the photos themselves. Getting used to the process and working out all those kinks is going to be really important to feeling relaxed on your wedding day and getting photos that you will treasure.
Getting your engagement photos back is also going to help you visualise your ideas for your actual wedding shoot. You'll get the chance to tell me what you love, but also if there's anything that doesn't look quite right, or if you didn't like one of the photo styles. At the end of the day you'll have an example of how your styles and mine work together, and it will give you a sense of confidence that your wedding photographs are going to be incredible.
As well as the actual photos, spending the day with me will also give you a good idea of what to expect on your wedding day. You'll most likely be spending as much time with me as any of your guests, so it's really important that we click. My aim is to create an atmosphere where you feel calm and confident, whether you're a little introverted or the life of the party.
The best engagement photo shoots are the ones which have been planned out properly. You need to think about when you want your shoot to take place, in relation to your big day. Deciding what you want to use your engagement photos for will help you make that choice.
Make your engagement session part of a relaxing day. Not only does this give you plenty of time for photos without feeling rushed, but starting your day in this mindset helps you feel connected and romantic as you head into the photo shoot. Start your day with brunch or coffee at your favourite spot before heading to the shoot, or end the session with a well-earned drink!
Consider what really inspires the two of you and look for a place that reflects that. The key here is to set the scene for your engagement photos. Try to find a location that is special and unique to you. If you’ve got a favourite spot which you often visit together – like a woodland where you walk your dogs or a cobbled street you dream of living on – you should consider it for the location of your engagement shoot. Think about going back to the place where you first met, or where you got engaged.
It’s true that what you wear has great influence on your mood, and in the way you walk and feel. While it’s only natural for you to want to look fantastic in photos, so wearing something you’re actually comfortable in is key. It’s a nice touch if your session outfits complement each other, whether it’s texture, colour palette or pattern.
It’s easier to forget that there’s a camera around when you have something to do. I love it when engagement photos are full of natural movement, spontaneous laughter, and genuine emotions. Nothing makes it easier to achieve that kind of candidness when you come up with some sort of activity. It also helps to bring out the best in the two of you.
An engagement shoot is the perfect time for you and your partner to take centre stage, but if you’re a little bit camera shy, consider adding props. Bringing along your ring is a fairly obvious one, but don’t stop there. Bring along presents which you have exchanged. If you enjoy making music, bring your guitar for a jam. Pets are a great distraction from nerves, and their unpredictability can make for some gorgeous, natural engagement photos.
Let me get to know you and your story. Tell me how you met, your likes and dislikes, things you like to do together and how you got engaged.
Unlike your wedding photos, engagement photos don’t have to be taken quite so seriously. The aim of them is to capture you guys naturally. Overall, it’s important to let go, enjoy yourself and try to forget the camera is there! After all, how often do you get to do an engagement shoot?
Have a clear idea of what kind of look and feel you might want for your images while still allowing me to be creative. You’ve shared your ideas, settled on a theme and a location, now trust me and enjoy the experience with your partner. Don’t worry about the way you will look in the images – that’s my job. This moment is all about you two as a couple and the more relaxed you feel, the more genuine the photos will be.
If you haven’t spent a lot of time in front of a camera, you may be pretty nervous. Where do we put our hands? Which way do we look? My tip to help you loosen up in front of the camera is to kiss. It’s a great way to help you connect with your partner and bring your focus back to each other. After all, this is what your engagement photos are all about, right?
As you go through, pick a few favourites that you want to use yourselves, but also remember to pick out some shots to discuss with me. That's not just to get some nice feedback but also so I know to try include these sorts of shots on your wedding day. After all, that's what your engagement shoot is for - setting you up for perfect wedding photography. But that doesn't mean your engagement photos aren't fabulous on their own. Couples may base their entire wedding decorations on them, or may get them printed to hang at home.
So here are some ideas of how to use your engagement photos once the shoot is over.
Engagement photos are great for using on save the date cards or even your invites. There's nothing that says “happy couple” quite like a photo of you together.
Large prints of your engagement photos around the venue can be a lovely touch, but you can also use them on signs directing people to the venue or maybe on the table name cards. Favours are also a way you can make use of your engagement photos, and they can actually let you be a little more creative too.
Of course, the most common use of your engagement photos is to have them at home. Small photo frames, multi photo displays or big prints, I've seen every type and style. Or use your individual engagement photos either side of a wedding photo as a sort of triptych. It's a lovely way to celebrate your relationship!