5 Ways to Get Great Engagement Photos

I am by no means a photography expert, but I am a first-class photo blog-stalker. I have loved photography from childhood, from going through roll after roll of film at summer camp to learning the dark room process in high school. But in college, as I watched my friends start to get married, I stumbled into the evolving world of engagement and wedding photography. It excited me to see the industry changing, since I had no real senior portraits to speak of and always wondered why such milestone events were captured in such a yawn-worthy way. My photo blog obsession started with Julie Roberts, then moved on to (my eventual photographer!) Tony Hoffer expanded to Katelyn JamesTexture Photographics, and too many other blogs to list. I freely admit it – I’m a bit of an addict. Through my nearly ten years of blog-stalking, I have definitely picked up a few pointers, so I might as well share them with those of you who are able to benefit from my photo blog fixation!

photo by Hoffer Photography
photo by Hoffer Photography

1. Communicate a clear vision
Think through your shoot from start to finish. What kind of shots are most important to you? Do you want lots of up close and personal portraits? Do you want lots of wide-angle shots? Talk through your vision through as a couple, and then with your photographer to make sure you are on the same page. While you can probably rely on a great photographer for killer shots regardless of your plan, it will help if you have a general sense of the direction you want to go rather than wandering aimlessly.

photo by Hoffer Photography
photo by Hoffer Photography

2. Pick a location that reflects you
I’ll admit, this was hard for me to choose. Nick and I met in college in Philadelphia, and had spent the majority of our time dating long-distance while he lived in Hoboken and I lived outside of Philly with my parents, and then in Knoxville. While both of us were city people, I couldn’t help but drool a little over those swoon-worthy “field” photos. But just because being in the great outdoors produces pretty images didn’t mean we should drop our everyday lifestyle to find the nearest field. We had to consider what location was most meaningful for us. Ultimately, we decided to stay in Hoboken, where we had spent the majority of our time dating, and the place we knew we would reside for the foreseeable future.

photo by Hoffer Photography
photo by Hoffer Photography

3. Think like an Art Director
If you can, do a walk-through of your location first and take notes. Pay attention to color and especially texture! You can find interesting backgrounds anywhere – an old church, a brick wall, a funky painted door… you just have to look for it. Lighting is also of utmost importance. Shooting in the middle of the day might seem the most convenient, but shooting at dawn or dusk will enable your photographer to utilize natural light to your advantage.

photo by Hoffer Photography
photo by Hoffer Photography

4. Wear contrasting colors
I realize this one may be a matter of personal preference and style, but I believe considering your colors is extremely important to end up with vibrant, eye-catching photos. Start with your own coloring and what colors you know you look good in, and then brush up on the rules of the color wheel. As you are planning your outfits, consider incorporating contrasting or complementary colors into your own attire, and make sure your ensemble coordinates with your fiance’s. I wish I had thought this through more when Nick and I were choosing our clothes! Another important aspect to consider when choosing what to wear is what season you are shooting in. You want to stand out against your background, not blend in. If it’s winter, you can wear anything other than light-colored neutrals. If it’s spring or summer, think about wearing colors on the opposite side of the green spectrum. If it’s fall, wear colors to complement the red and yellow tones of autumn leaves.

photo by Hoffer Photography
photo by Hoffer Photography

5. Relax and Have Fun
Most of all, even if you disregard everything else I’ve said, remember to be yourselves. Try to forget about the “perfect” images you see on other blogs – your shoot is about documenting the two of you being in love and starting your lives together. Don’t focus too much on trying emulate someone else’s photos or recreating a trend just because you thought it looked great – you want your photos to reflect you. And ladies, don’t worry about your angles – you know, the “good side” you always utilize for the photos allowed to see the light of Facebook. A good photographer will help coach you through the whole process, letting you know when to put your hand on your hip or lean back so that it looks natural, and not forced. Enjoy the process and goof off with each other and you will end up with fantastic, frame-worthy photos.

photo by Hoffer Photography
photo by Hoffer Photography

What do you think makes for great engagement photos? Engaged or married friends, what were your favorite shots from your e-shoot and why? What else would you add to the list? I’d love to hear from photographer friends too!

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To see our full e-shoot blog post with the Hoffers, click here.

10 thoughts on “5 Ways to Get Great Engagement Photos

  1. Awww…you guys are too cute! You need to feature more of your photography on your blog! You take some amazing shots (like the famous baptism shot)!!! I also LOVE the engagement photos that LC and Charley took!

    1. Thanks D! Someday if the subject permits you may see more photos on the blog. It’s hard to focus on more than one art form at a time! I loved Lauren and Charley’s e-shoot. It was very “them!”

  2. Darn! I wish I read this just a little earlier.. Brian and I did ours sept 29th and I’m already thinking we picked the wrong clothes lol!! I’ll keep some of these pointers in mind for the big day 🙂

    1. I didn’t know you were getting married! Congratulations 🙂 Honestly, I was worried I picked the “wrong” clothes too because I working a retail job and making beans and didn’t have the money to buy new outfits, I had to get creative with what I had. Looking back, I might have made some different choices, but I still love my photos and the good news is, I can always take more in the future!

  3. Pinterest = Your friend or enemy for engagement shoots!

    It’s OK to create a board to like you say, “communicate a clear vision” , but don’t ask your photographer to emulate a photo you saw on Pinterest! You hired them; TRUST them. Hopefully you’ve looked at enough of their work to fall in love with their style and eye anyway; trust their creative vision! Besides, who wants copycat images from someone else’s photo shoot? Laaame.

    1. Ah, Pinterest. The great expectation setter, fulfiller and crusher of dreams. There is definitely a difference between inspiration and copy-catting. Trusting the person you hired and their work is definitely imperative. If you try to micro-manage the whole process, you probably won’t like the results anyway!

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