Engagement shoots don’t have to be stressful or stuffy or make you feel self-conscious. Really, they’re a great opportunity to learn how to have fun and look natural when being photographed so you’ll feel more at ease and feel more confident during your wedding! Here are some tips for how to feel comfortable and look natural during your engagement shoot so you come out of it feeling grateful you did it.
Photos & Film
THAT PULL YOU IN
Marriage is a once in a lifetime event.
You want this moment in your life to be full of exceptional storytelling and not full of regrets over staying surface level.
We are experts at artistically crafting stories that pull you in. Creating imagery of authentic moments that transport the audience (your friends and family) right into the center of your relationship.
That overwhelming feeling you two feel right now... you want them to feel it too – through photos and film that pull you in.
Tip 1: Choose a Photo Team You Vibe With
If I could only give you one piece of advice, it would be this – find a photo team that you vibe with on a real, soul level to do your wedding and engagement photos. You are going to spend a LOT of time with them on your wedding day, and for your engagement shoot too, so you want to find people you like and who even feel like they would be your friends in real life. This way, instead of feeling stuffy and awkward during your shoots, they can help you keep the mood light and casual. And with a team whose vision you trust, you can focus on each other and on staying in the moment, while we make sure that you both look natural and beautiful. After all this, is about more than just photos – this is an experience you want to always look back on with great memories. Choosing the right team creates the best experience!
Tip 2: Find a Place that Inspires You
Looking for some engagement shoot inspiration? The foundation of a great photoshoot is finding a space that you love.
This can be somewhere that makes you in awe – think of the first time you saw Yosemite in person and how expansive and inspired it made you feel! Choosing an awe-inspiring space lets the landscape and your shared joy do the work of creating gorgeous images for you and takes the pressure off. You just soak it all in and create a day to remember together!
Although anyone who knows me knows I’m a big BIG fan of Yosemite, you don’t have to go all the way out to a state park to find photo-worthy spaces. Somewhere local that is visually interesting, but also inspires you to be calm and present in the moment is perfect. Take this greenhouse! It had different spaces for a variety of photos, and the plants give you something to look at and interact with, as well as a grounding environment. IMO, you can never go wrong by incorporating more nature into your shoot. And if you’re looking for a fun, local engagement shoot location but don’t know where to start, ask your photo team for ideas or check out Peer Space! They have a ton of spaces to rent and can also give advice on great teams to work with – see their write-up featuring us!
Feel free to get creative or cozy too! Sometimes having something fun to interact with like a bed or sport can make you forget completely that there’s a photographer there… more on that in the next tip! We’ve put beds on roofs (check out the full blog here), and created all sorts of engagement shoot spaces that invite couples to just play together and explore a space. If you’re having a good time with your partner, we’ll take care of the camera angles and making you both look good. So just have fun with it and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box or ask for something unique that you want to do!
Tip 3: Give Yourself Something to Do
If you’ve figured out the “where,” now the question becomes “what should we do at our engagement shoot?” And again, it comes back to whatever feels authentic for you! But we recommend, instead of worrying about how to pose, that you choose an activity you both love to do together. It gives you something to focus on and can make your photos more dynamic! This can be as simple as bringing a vintage camera – for example, Shanel and Jakob Owens of Buffnerds Media asked to bring a vintage film camera along to their desert engagement shoot, so of course we said yes!
You could also bring a regular photo camera like Monica and Brad did! Using either type of camera give you an activity that creates scenes to photograph, has fun built-in posing, AND gives the extra benefit of having the session recorded from our vantage point and yours (if you decide to actually take photos with it)! It also keeps your focus on your partner instead of on us! For more photos of their cute shoot, check the blog!
But by far our favorite addition to a photoshoot is DOGS! We have 3 at home and love meeting every pup we can, so we always love it when a couple wants to include their fuzzy friends in their shoot. Not only are they always photogenic, but dogs always take your attention off “posing right” and bring out your real happy face!
Tip 4: Bring Accessories to Play With
While we’re not recommending a whole wardrobe to play Photo Booth-style dress-up, if you’re a fashion person, bringing a fun accessory like a hat or jacket that you can show off and play with can be tons of fun and up your confidence levels! Try a fun hat like Shanel or jacket like Amy and Kevin!
Tip 5: Your Shoot Can Be As Quirky As You Are
I know it’s SO SO corny, but it’s as true for engagement shoots as for anything else – try to just be yourself! If wearing fancy clothes and doing a shoot out in a pretty landscape isn’t really your style, then don’t do it!
So whether your happy place is 7 Eleven….
Or a record store…..
Go for it! If you choose spaces and activities that feel fun, authentic, and meaningful for you, it makes the day so much more fun and makes your real joy together shine in the photos. Think of it as an opportunity to make some fun memories together that you can look back on through the photos, so it doesn’t matter whether you go on an adventure or capture your go-to local spots as long as it brings you joy. We love it when couples come to us with unique engagement shoot ideas, so don’t be afraid to pitch ideas that are as quirky as you are!
Tip 6: Engagement Shoots Aren’t Only For Photos
Consider getting your videographer involved in your shoot as well! Engagement session footage can add beautiful texture and depth to your wedding video and help tell your story as a couple beyond just the structure of a wedding day. It also gives you an extra way to remember the most special moments of your engagement shoot beyond still images. Check out our video section to see what we mean.
Tip 7: Just Have Fun
The through line of all of this is, at the end of the day, just focus on having fun together. Make meaningful memories together. We’ll take care of the rest.
And if you have any more questions or are looking for a Santa Barbara, Orange County, or Los Angeles engagement photographer (or are interested in traveling somewhere new with us!), give us a shout!