Guest post by Kate Warch of Kate Marie Photography:
Engagement shoots are extremely popular and trendy these days. These photos can capture a wonderful & exciting time, as a couple takes the first steps towards their future together. As photographers, we want each and every client to feel at ease, allowing their true personalities and relationships to be captured organically.
These photos start the legacy of a new family. Years from now, their children & grandkids can look back at the photos and see how their whole family came to be, all because two people fell in love.
Ideally, if a couple books you for both their engagement shoot and their wedding day, the engagement session is the perfect opportunity to get to know the couple better. If you can make a connection, I guarantee you will get better photos. When you become fast friends with your clients, you can capture more relaxed photos in a fun way.
I always take time towards the beginning of the session to ask questions about how they met, how long they have been together, who picked out the ring, and all the details about their wedding. This usually gets the bride (and the groom!) excited to share information. The more you know about the couple and what they may be looking for, the easier your job will be.
For couples who have never been professionally photographed, an engagement session is the perfect place and time to practice for the big wedding day! I tend to use the same terminology and flow, i.e.: asking them to pose cheek to cheek, now look at each other, now a big smooch, etc. Couples who have worked with me before can anticipate my requests after a little while.
Here are my top 9 tips for having a successful engagement shoot:
1. Make jokes to get them to loosen up and laugh at themselves. To get this to happen, I tend to make awkward jokes, after which they usually end up looking at each other and giggling. I always try to capture their reactions after my corny jokes because it almost always leads to genuine smiles. Telling your clients to whisper “sweet nothings” into each other’s ears usually leads to laughter, too. Try to speak passionately, as well; if you’re excited, the couple’s attitudes will follow.
2. Take control of the session and be confident. Give them direct instructions. Lots of people feel awkward and don’t know how to angle their body to the most flattering stance – it’s your job to communicate effectively and create images you and your clients will be proud of.
3. Be prepared. I tend to look at some of my favorite photographer’s work before heading out. I look for inspiration and get myself thinking about where on location would each pose be best. I usually carry a list for my must-have poses, and then combine it with any the couple may want. I also carry examples of my work right on my phone. If I’m trying to pose clients a certain way and it’s just not working, I show them a sample of another photo and that usually makes it click on how they should stand. It’s always great to have references handy!
4. Bring props. I don’t like to go overboard on props for engagement shoots, but having a blanket or two can add variety to your shoot. I love using these “love” letters below, or simple glasses to capture a toast to their future together.
5. Body connection is key. Always have the couples’ bodies touching. Hands intertwined, sitting very close to each other. The closer their bodies are, the more put-together the photo can look.
6. Encourage the couple to be affectionate. I tell my clients up front that it’s totally cool if they make out in front of me! They usually get a laugh out of that!
7. In a traditional Bride + Groom engagement session scenario, the Bride takes the focus. Although the Groom is very important, much of the attention goes to the Bride. Take notice, and create poses that will capture how special the moment is for the Bride. These photos tend to be the Bride’s favorite prints because they want that adored feeling to be captured.
8. Make a point to capture a variety of images. I try to always get the traditional portraits (you know, those photos that Mom & Dad want to display on their mantel), and then mix in some more editorial style photos. I’m not afraid to cut angles to create a more interesting photo. Clients hire you with the hope of looking amazing in their photos, so why not try to create a scenario where they look like they could be in a magazine.
9. Don’t forget the details. Sure, everyone wants lovely portraits of the couple’s smiling faces, but it’s important to also shoot the small details. Ring shots are some of my favorites & can add a special touch while making a photo collage for digital or print purposes.
If you’re relaxed and having fun during your session, your clients will follow right behind you!
Happy shooting & good luck! Here’s a quick recap: