how to: tips for taking the best engagement photos
i talk about it all of the time, but having your photo taken can be…uncomfortable, to say the least. it’s especially tough if you’re going to be in front of a stranger (me), with a partner who may or may not be as stoked to take photos as you, not to mention the crazy high expectations that are set from picture perfect styled shoots that usually involve models and pricey outfits. we all want to take the best engagement photos, but what’s the recipe for the best photos?
i can definitely tell you what you don’t need to take the best engagement photos. you don’t need to be a model to have photos that you love and don’t mind looking at and saying, “damnnnn we look good.” you also don’t need to have had any experience in front of a camera (most of the couples i hang with have never had photos taken before!) i’ve photographed countless couples of every personality type, introverts and extroverts, gay couples, straight couples, couples from all over the world and couples from right here in utah. after spending all of this time with couples i’ve gathered some of my favorite tips for taking the best engagement photos, no matter who you are. let me know what you think in the comments below! xo
1. make it special
engagement photos don’t happen every day. this is a special occasion, so treat it as such. buy your favorite bottle of wine, plan to go to a yummy restaurant after your session, maybe go for a hike together that afternoon before your session (but wear sunscreen!) so you can just spend some quality time with your person. this is your chance to finally get to wear that dress or that hat that you’ve had forever or always wanted a reason to buy.
you can also make the time taking photos special. does one of you love to play the guitar? bring it. do you guys love charcuterie and picnics? let’s pack one. are your dogs your children (ours are), then they have to be there, too. we can make this time whatever you want it to be, but you have to be willing to communicate with your photographer about what makes you guys tick. i now send out a pre-couples shoot questionnaire that helps me get to know couples even better. the more we can build trust between us, the better your photos will be. and just to be clear, to me “better” or “good” in reference to your photos means they represent you, your love, your connection.
2. get out of your head
erase whatever idea you might have about your photos, because 9 times out of 10 you’re crafting those ideas around people who don’t look like you; people who don’t act like you, who don’t have your story, who aren’t YOU. what i love so much about getting to celebrate couples in this way is learning about how everyone is different, every couple loves in a different way, shows affection and appreciation in a different way. embrace that. embrace you guys.
typically my favorite photos happen later in our session because that’s when you usually let your guard down and become comfortable with each other. when i’ve had photos taken with casey in the past i try and completely lock in to him, totally ignoring the fact that there’s someone there photographing us. we talk and laugh and play like we normally would when no one is looking, and those are often some of my favorites. get out of your head. soak up this precious time together, and celebrate each other.
i know this seems so silly, but i have a mild obsession with skincare and if i’ve learned anything it’s that most of us are mildly (if not severely) dehydrated most of the time. add in the stress of travel, arriving in moab where we’re at 4,500 feet it’s incredibly dry, and you are sleep deprived. that’s a recipe for not looking like your best self. drink a lot of water the few days before your session, like half your bodyweight in ounces every day. you’ll glow, you’ll feel better, and you’ll love your time together in front of the camera even more.
4. slow it all down
this one is huge for me personally, especially as a creative. slow. it. down. one of my peeves is to rush through things. i like to be early to everything, and i like to be able to take the time with you two to really, truly create. to take the time to get to know each other a little better so i can create the best possible photos for you. so what does that mean? it means, if at all possible, don’t drive 6 hours straight to your session. give yourself more than 10 minutes to get ready. i know this isn’t always possible, and i’ve definitely had kickass sessions with couples who didn’t have a ton of time, but if you’re able to, try and plan ahead so that you’re not feeling rushed at all. this sort of goes with tip #1, too. if you’re rushed, you’re probably not able to make the rest of this day very special. give yourself time. this is a big investment, enjoy every minute of it.
5. trust your photographer
there’s a reason you chose your photographer. maybe you were drawn to their style, their personality, the way they talk about their couples, or where they are located. whatever it was that drew you to them, you paid them a good chunk of your money to capture photos of you two. now it’s time to hand over the reigns, relax, and let them lead the way. i am always learning and will forever be a student of this process, but after over 5 years in business i’ve learned a thing or two about how to position couples, how to get you guys comfortable in front of the camera, and how to make this whole experience one you’ll always remember. if it’s me you’ve chosen, hell ya, i got you. if it’s another pro, trust them fully. let them guide you through poses and embrace their direction and their vision. we’re in this for you. xo
i sincerely hope these tips to take the best engagement photos helped ease your nerves a bit. overall, remember to just enjoy the time you get to spend together, drop your preconceived notions of what you hoped the experience to be. all we need is your love and a place you love.