How to Take Engagement Photos

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  By Jonathan Ma
How to Take Engagement Photos

It’s always a joy to be chosen to take engagement photos for a couple. Unlike most other events in your life, engagement photography is a once in a lifetime event for most people. Because of this, engagement photo sessions are unique and one of a kind. To be a part of this special time in the couples’ life is a privilege and honor for the photographer, and it’s an opportunity to showcase your work and upsell them on an entire wedding package as well. If you have an upcoming engagement shoot for a friend or client, take note of these tips to better prepare and be in the right mindset.

How to Take Engagement Photos

Take the Assignment Seriously

What does this mean? As the wedding photographer, you have responsibilities towards the clients, such as keeping the client informed. The photographer needs to communicate with the clients about what they should expect before, during, and after the engagement session. Determine what the clients’ goals are during the photo shoot. Are there certain images or themes that they are trying to capture? What brought the couple together? What are their common interests and hobbies? Do they prefer to have the photo shoot indoors or outdoors? As the photographer, you’ll want to be fully armed with all of the information you can learn in order to best serve your clients.

Take Time to Get to Know the Couple

As an engagement photographer, you will come across a variety of couples. Some couples come with several ideas for their engagement shoot, while others may have no specific idea in mind.  It is important to take these differences into account when planning an engagement photoshoot and photographing an engaged couple. By taking the time to get to know couples ideas and values, you will in turn get higher quality images that mean more to them. Here are a couple of scenarios when it comes to couples.

 “We are a very outdoorsy couple. We love to hike and camp.  I think taking our engagement photos at this forest preserve with stunning views is 100% representative of us.”

hiking engagement photos

This is ideal, right?! The engagement photo location is set, it’s in a great spot, and the couple has a clear idea of who they are and what they want for their engagement photos. When prepping for their photo session, ask what kind of outfit they will be wearing and if there are key elements of the favorite location they want photographs at.  The more you learn about what they intend to bring and incorporate, the more you will be able to serve them better. Find ways to add in things that mean something to them (example: hiking attire above). They have already hired you and know your work, so add in their own personal touches to give them the extra wow factor.

Have a Variety of Photo Locations in Mind

“Where do you think a good engagement photo location would be? You know best so just let us know where you think we can take some beautiful photos!”.

Here is where it gets difficult.  Maybe you’ve only met with this couple when booking them and only know a couple of basic things about them. It is absolutely wonderful that they have full trust in you to find the perfect spot for their engagement photos. However, you want to incorporate “them” into their images.  In this situation, I would start by asking if they would prefer more rural shoot location or urban downtown backgrounds?  Is there a “favorite spot” they like to spend time together? Do they have anything they want to bring to their session i.e. their puppy, favorite team jerseys, a photograph of them when they first started dating. When asking these basic questions, you will start to get a better sense of who they are. From there, you can work to determine a great spot to take engagement pictures. 

Asking them how they met or how he proposed may also give you a better insight into their relationship.  For example, the guy who incorporates rose petals, candle and champagne into his proposal may tell you he’s a romantic. For the romantic engagement photos, you may decide to include more kissing and intimate shots.  

Take a look at the images below. The upper left couple and I decided to go for a more country/rural look because she worked for an agricultural company.  The bottom left image is a classic black and white photo that was inspired by their dressy attire and chic look. The image on the right was taken after the bride mentioned how much she loved his tattoos.  Listening to your clients and finding out the little details that make them who they are will help produce more meaningful images.

engagement pics ebby l photography


Once the day arrives, it’s important not only to bring your equipment, but also a smile. Engagement sessions can be awkward at first because it’s likely the first time the couple has ever had a photo session dedicated to just the two of them. A photographer’s genuine smile will help them to ease their spirits and be themselves. This is really important because you want to capture their natural emotions and how they feel about each other.

Newly engaged couples will always be visibly in love, and your job as the photographer is to help them feel comfortable enough to display this around you. Show an interest in them and their romance, and they will soon open up to you. A few good places to start are to ask them about how they met and get to know them. During the engagement photo shoot, ask simple questions that can make them smile or blush, such as “Who said I love you first?” One photo idea is to re-enact the proposal, such as in the photo above. Acting is one of the ways the photographer can get the couple to forget that they are being photographed. This is especially true when they are acting out something that has already happened, such as the wedding proposal.

Consider Bringing Props

Another great option is to bring exciting and colorful props, such as balloons or flowers. It’s also not a bad idea to suggest fun couples poses for the couple to try. An example is to have one person jump on the other person’s back, as seen in the picture below. Another idea is to have them both lay down on the grass, while the engagement photographer climbs up high to take an overhead shot. And of course, don’t forget to take pictures of the engagement ring. You can take them separately off hand, on her hand, and even when the engaged couple is holding hands. Mix it up and have fun! Try to keep everyone’s energy high by switching up the location or outfits when you start to run out of ideas.

Let Pinterest Serve as Inspiration, But Don’t Let it Drive All Your Ideas

“I have a bunch of photos on my Pinterest board that I absolutely love and want for my engagement session!”

Pinterest is a great place to find poses and ideas if you find yourself needing some inspiration, but keep in mind, it’s just inspiration: you are in charge of bringing the creativity. Every professional wedding photographer knows that many times it is impossible to perfectly recreate a specific Pinterest image.  When you have this client, value their ideas. Let them know how much you love what they have selected and that you look forward to taking their photos. Let them know that these ideas are inspiration and that their photos will be a true representation of them rather than a recreated image.  By outlining this, you will then be able to eliminate any stress you may have had from trying to redo that specific Pinterest picture and instead be able to just do your thing! 

canoe engagement picdancing engagement photosairplane engagement pictures

Have Fun!

Last but not least, have fun! When the photographer is tense and anxious on the photo shoot, the couple will certainly notice and it will be hard for them to enjoy their time together. By having fun as the photographer, the clients will feel much more relaxed and even have fun themselves. You can have fun by joking around with the couple.

Make the Most of an Engagement Photo Session

Engagement pictures are a fun way to capture the love your clients have for each other and commemorate their engagement. By following these tips, you can make sure that your photos turn out beautifully and will be cherished memories for years to come.

Happy shooting!


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Jonathan Ma

Jonathan Ma is a freelance writer and professional photographer. He grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest of the United States. The natural beauty that surrounds this area has helped him to learn to appreciate art and photography. Jonathan's favorite styles of photography are nature and sports photography. He enjoys learning and teaching others what he knows.

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