Engagement Photography Tips for Pros and Amateurs

September 21

8 min. to read

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Shooting engagement

photos for a friend or client should be fun for everyone involved.

Check out these 11 tips for successful pre-wedding photography.

An engagement photo session is a great opportunity, whether you’re a wedding photographer or just a friend. For the professional, it’s a great way to get to know your new clients before the big day. For amateurs, it’s a chance to have a good time and reward both you and your friends with some great memories. In this post, we’ll give you a few pointers to help you make the most of an engagement shoot.

Don’t Pack a Lot of Gear

This kind of photo shoot should be fast, fun and informal as well as mobile. You may want to cover several locations. Don’t bog yourself down with all your photo gear. Carry a couple of zoom lenses to cover a good range of focal lengths. Consider a monopod rather than a tripod.  You can make adjustments in Luminar after the shoot, so don’t’ worry about a lot of filters other than those you use to protect your lenses.

Do Pack the Essentials

While you’re lightening the load, don’t ditch the important stuff. Make sure you’ve got spare batteries for all your equipment and plenty of formatted memory cards. Lightweight rain gear and towels for you, your subjects and your gear just might save the day. Traveling light doesn’t mean setting yourself up for disaster.

Have a Planning Session

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The day before the shoot, take just a few minutes to find out what the couple would like to include. Listen carefully to their suggestions and make some of your own. You can then map out the best routes to locations, times of day, etc. and be better prepared for everything.

Take Charge

Once the plan is in place and you’re ready to start, don’t look to the couple for guidance – be the guide. There will be things they’ll want to do. That’s what the planning session was for. Making it happen easily and keeping everyone relaxed and happy is your job, so step up and do it.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should be bossy or pushy. The fact is, most people will look to the photographer for instruction. Confidence and quick thinking on your part will ease the pressure on them and help things go smoothly.

Minimize Posing

Overthinking poses is tedious, time-consuming and a deterrent to a good time. Let your subjects enjoy themselves and time your shots for the right moments. Yes, there will be times when you’ll need to offer advice to avoid double chins, unwanted shadows, and the like. Make them comfortable, offer your advice as friendly banter and the shots will present themselves.

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Grab Lots of Candid Photos

The shots you take when your subjects don’t know or aren’t expecting them are often some of the best in the session. Keep shooting while you’re traveling between locations, when your clients are simply looking around or fixing hair, etc. Don’t forget the bloopers! Even in a formal setting, a spontaneous expression or comical moment is priceless.

Plan for the Golden Hour

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Try to arrange the trip to the best location when you’ve got that magical, post-dawn or pre-sunset light. The weather will be a factor, of course, but being in the right place during those times is the only way to take advantage of some incredible lighting.

If you miss it, make a point of getting some shots that would have worked well, anyway. Why? Because there’s an amazing Golden Hour Filter in Luminar than can make those images look like the lighting was there. Imagine the delight of your customers when you surprise them with it!

Play with the Point of View

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Camera angles and lens-to-subject distance can have a tremendous impact on a portrait photo. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Put your subjects above you and shoot up. Stand on a high spot and shoot down. Get everyone (including yourself) down on their bellies. Move in close with the wide-angle. Use a little bit of forced perspective. Let your imagination and theirs run wild.

Composition is Important

Don’t forget to compose your shots just because they’re casual and fun. You’re not out to grab snapshots, but to capture memories that the couple will treasure just as much as their wedding photos. Keep the rules of composition in mind and make them work for you.

Shoot More than you Need

Keep shooting. This is one instance where a surplus of images might be a real bonus. You might even want to set your camera shutter to continuous or burst mode. Once you and your subjects “warm up”, the action should be fast and you’ll want to be sure to capture the right moments. Taking too many photos will let you be ruthless with your culling, not to mention increasing the chances of some good “outtakes”.

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Give Processing your Best Effort

Your finished images for this session deserve as much care in processing as the wedding photos. If you’ve been hired for the big event, this will be your first opportunity to show the couple your best work. Make it count.


An engagement shoot should be fun for everyone involved. Keep good photography practices in mind, but keep the atmosphere relaxed and happy. Good planning, people skills and and self-confidence will help ensure a successful outcome.

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