Engagement shoots are offered by many photographers primarily as an opportunity for you to get used to being in front of the camera before your big day and to get to know how your photographer works. They can undoubtedly be very useful for this purpose but they’re more than that, engagement shoots can be a fantastic experience in their own right.
For those of you who are new to the world of wedding photography an engagement shoot (also known as an e-shoot or pre-wed shoot) is a photo-shoot, usually taken out on location somewhere, with just you, your partner and (usually but not always) the photographer who will be photographing your wedding day. Many photographers will include e-shoots in their wedding packages although this is by no means always the case and will often be charged as an optional extra. But if you do decide to have an e-shoot how can you make sure you get the best out of the opportunity? Here are our top tips:
Make it fun. This is a shoot for you and no-one else. There are no grandparents asking for formal shots, no guests demanding your attention, no crazily expensive clothing you’re trying to protect. This is your chance to just have a good time and get some professional photographs of you guys just being you.
Be yourselves. These photos should represent you as a couple. Don’t think about posing or worry about doing something daft, just interact the way you always do – tease each other if that’s you, be all soppy and romantic with each other if that’s you. The more you give your photographer the more they can give you back and the more of your personality they can inject into the way they take your photographs. The magic of engagement photographs is that they reveal how the couple truly are with one another, otherwise it might as well just be any two people posing however the photographer has asked them to.
Suggest some locations that mean something to you both. The very best photographs come when there’s not only a real connection between the couple but when they clearly feel completely at home in their surroundings. Maybe it’s the place you met, maybe the place he proposed, maybe just where you take your dog for a walk. Wherever it is it should be somewhere that feels natural to you.
Wear something you feel comfortable in. Unless you’ve all agreed that you want to go ultra glam for the shoot then you want to choose clothes that you feel good in – something you think makes you look good but also something that you actually enjoy wearing. Smart casual is usually the name of the game on this one, oh and if you are going to wear high heels then make sure you bring some flats too, you never know where you’ll be going and the last thing you want whilst trying to get some relaxed pictures is a stabbing pain in your feet! It may also be sensible to bring some boots with you in case you decide to go somewhere a little more adventurous…
Have an adventure! Let go of your inhibitions and go and have some fun! Listen to the photographer’s ideas and explore your surroundings fully to get the best shots and enjoy yourselves more in the process! This also gives the photographer the opportunity to play around with the shots and try out different angles to help them discover what will work best for you on your wedding day.
Hair and Makeup. As we’ve already said most photographers prefer your engagement shoot to be natural shots of the two of you rather than ultra glam, but if you feel better about yourself and can project more confidence in the photographs when wearing a little makeup and doing something with your hair then go for it. There are no rules for the e-shoot, just don’t overdo it!
Bring a Prop. Aside from trying to smile naturally for the camera the thing most people have problems with when posing for pictures is what to do with their hands. If you’re worried about this or you’re a natural fidgeter then bring something along to keep your hands busy! We’ve had couples bring guitars, picnic baskets, even bicycles to their engagement shoots and aside from keeping your hands occupied they can help to add an extra dimension to the shots.
Bring your pets along! Not all photographers allow pets but they can be a great and very natural addition to the photos, after all this is a shoot all about you guys and if for example you spend lots of time walking your dog then it makes perfect sense for them to be in the shots too! Also if you already have kids many photographers would encourage you to bring them too and make it a full family day out.
Use the engagement shots as part of the wedding. If you’re having professional photos taken of the two of you why not make use of them at the wedding itself? You could use them on your invites, perhaps have a framed photo of you both for guests to sign, have the pictures on display during the reception… there are all kinds of ways to really make use of your pics!
Take the opportunity to really get to know your photographer. They will after all be with you throughout the most important day of your lives and it makes everything easier if you really trust them and enjoy their company on the big day. Talk to them, interact with them, joke around with them, maybe even go for a cup of tea somewhere with them during the shoot. That way you can feel truly relaxed with them on the day.