3 Tips for Perfect Engagement Photos

If you’re like most couples, planning your engagement shoot can be super nerve-wracking. Fear not! Here are three tips for perfect engagement photos!

perfect engagement photos

Engagement shoots are super important, for a few reasons:

Get comfortable in front of the camera : Unless you’re a seasoned model, looking natural in front of the camera can feel… unnatural. Your engagement shoot is a great way to practice and get comfortable being photographed, so you’re confident and worry-free on your wedding day.

Get to know your photographer : Your engagement shoot is also a great way to get to know your photographer. The familiarity between you will make your wedding day that much more enjoyable.

Reconnect with your partner : Life is hectic, especially when you’re planning a wedding. Your engagement shoot is a chance to set all that stuff aside and focus on you and your partner.

Make photos you can’t make on your wedding day : While your wedding day will be a celebration of your love with your family and friends, it wont’ allow for a lot of leeway in terms of location and timing for photos. Your engagement shoot gives you and your photographer the chance to create a creative photoshoot from the ground up–from location to wardrobe to timing.

Three Tips for Perfect Engagement Photos

While it may seem daunting, planning your engagement shoot is not that hard–and it’s fun! Here are four tips for perfect engagement photos!

First things first, embrace the moment! Easier said than done, I know. But, it’s so important to remember this special time in your lives and really be present in each moment.

Those hands you’re holding as you stroll along the beach? Hold them a little tighter. Those laughs you’re sharing during your funny engagement photos? Remember that bad joke your partner whispered in your ear. And that kiss at sunset? Hold it just that much longer.

Embracing the moment will result in truly perfect engagement photos.

Pick Great Locations

Selecting the right locations is arguably the most important factor for perfect engagement photos.

In my opinion, location drives everything. It guides wardrobe choices as well as the look and feel of the images.

Since my engagement sessions last around two hours, we can shoot in multiple locations during that time. I prefer spots with contrasting scenery (ex: something urban followed by something natural) in order to get a bunch of different looks during the session.

Best Locations for Perfect Engagement Photos

Beaches : Living in San Diego, Orange County or Los Angeles, beach engagement photos are a no-brainer. The gorgeous light and open space make this a common shooting location. But not all beaches are equal! Some beaches tend to be wide open with lots of gorgeous sandstone bluffs. There are also beaches with gorgeous rock structures, tidepools, and lots of nooks and crannies.

Parks : Often overlooked but never short on beauty, backcountry areas make for amazing engagement photo locations. Open spaces, big skies, cool trails and centuries-old trees are some of the things that await! In Southern California, Caspers Wilderness State Park and Malibu Creek State Park are two of my favorites!

Urban Areas : At first glance, you might think, “Really?” Trust me, there are serious gems in downtown and urban areas! Large murals make for amazing backdrops, as do hills on city streets. You can also find gorgeous shafts of light that pop up out of nowhere!

Interesting Architecture : Buildings and gardens with interesting designs can be wonderful places for engagement photos. Lines and symmetry always make great elements to incorporate into engagement photos. A few of my local favorites include Balboa Park and the Griffith Observatory.

Cool Restaurants and Bars : Have a coffee shop, cool restaurant or bar that’s an important part of your relationship? Let’s shoot there! Colorful dive bars and well-designed restaurants have amazing elements that can be incorporated into the images. Plus, starting the shoot off with a cocktail can really help sometimes!

Colorful, Airy Interiors : Last but not least, I really enjoy shooting inside buildings with colorful, well-thought-out interiors. Boutique hotels and dedicated event spaces–like the Carondelet House–are strong places to consider!

Make Your Wardrobe a Priority

When it comes to planning an engagement shoot, “What should we wear?” is by far the most common question I’m asked.

As you know, clothing is a very personal choice. One person’s formal can be another person’s casual. Rather than get into specific do’s and don’ts, I’m going to present some wardrobe ideas engagement photos outfits that can make perfect engagement photos.

Black Tie : Steeped in elegance, a black-tie ensemble can really make a shoot magical. Black-tie wardrobe requires a little more forethought and effort, but the work is really worth it. This wardrobe tends to be timeless, so there’s less worry that the images will look dated in a few years.

Semi-Formal : By far the most popular choice among my couples is a semi-formal wardrobe. For men, a tailored suit; for women, a cocktail dress. With LGBTQ couples, suits and dresses of a similar cut look amazing!

Relaxed : Do you prefer jeans and a t-shirt? Awesome! I love when couples choose a casual wardrobe for their engagement session. Casual clothing is perfect for that adventure engagement shoot that involves lots of walking or hiking. It also gives us a little more flexibility with posing, since couples aren’t so concerned about getting dirty!

Best Sites for Engagement Photo Wardrobe

Looking for wardrobe ideas for perfect engagement photos? One of my favorite sites for putting together looks quickly is Thread. Here are a few others:

Follow Your Photographer’s Lead on Posing

Or, to paraphrase a scene from one of my favorite movies, “What do I do with my hands?”

In my opinion, there are no such things as incorrect engagement photos poses. However, there are small, nuanced things couples can do to get perfect engagement photos!

Your Silhouette : The first thing I look for in a couple’s pose is the silhouette–the outline of their bodies–they create in any given pose. To create an attractive silhouette, feet should be staggered for both partners. Shoulders should be back and there should be a nice line in the back. Heads should be close to emphasize romantic connection.

Arm and Hand Placement : Proper hand placement can make all the difference in an image. For men, avoid the dreaded “dead arm” than hangs to your camera-side. Instead, put it in your pocket or on your partner’s hip, lower back, or elbow. For women, put your hand on your partner’s chest, caress their cheek, or rest your arms on your partner’s shoulders.

couple embracing on lifeguard tower at sunset on ponto beach engagement session carlsbad

Facial Expression : Facial expressions tell the complete story of an image. Whether it’s a smile, a laugh, or a longing gaze, be cognizant of how you’re looking at your partner.

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