Currently there’s around one million professional photographers in USA. With the growth of social media, engagement photography has become very popular among couples who are about to tie the knot in a few months time. If you are a photographer just starting out, who is preparing to meet the couple on your first photography project, here is what you should do.
Get to know the couple
Before you start snapping pictures of them together in the Engagement Photography session, it would be ideal if you can get to know them. You will be able to avoid “writers block” if you know what they look for in life by catering each photoshoot to the couple’s tastes. In this introductory session you can discuss what they want, like a personalized theme and how are they planning to dress for it accordingly. Themed shoots have and always will be a lot of fun and a great way to keep the mood light hearted and happy. The general idea is to get to know them and make them feel comfortable.
Help them become connected
As a photographer you have to understand that you almost always need to make the couples feel engaged and connected, (I say almost always because if you are doing a zombie bride to be, you will want her to look a bit disconnected with everything.) Much like you, the couples might be feeling nervous. You do not want this to get reflected in the pictures. Therefore encourage them to show their feelings for each other and then happily click away the pictures.
Use a beautiful location
When undertaking engagement photography for your first time, it would be best to get out of the decorated stuffy interiors and take photographs in a beautiful location. The location here might not be far away, rather somewhere near where you can click beautiful photographs of them and the natural ambience would accentuate their expressions. Ask the couple if they have any certain locations they hold dear, and get there before they do, give yourself an hour to walk the area and figure out lighting before they even get there. The more time they have to wait around for you, the more nervous they get, and the more sweaty they get (making your job harder.) Unless the theme is sports engagement, sweaty people don’t look good for the most part.
Do your homework
Before you meet them, it would be a good idea to read up about various engagement sessions and also picture poses. You could also educate them regarding the clothing that they would need to wear and this would depend on the theme they are selecting. Remember you are the teacher here and they are your students. You wan’t to exude professionalism, even if you need to cram last minute and fake it. The first shoot is always the hardest, but each time you do one it gets easier and easier. The best way to avoid a catastrophic session is to PLAN AHEAD!
Help them select a theme
In order to make your engagement session you can discuss several themes with them like the location of their first date. Once the theme has been finalized you can then discuss or suggest how would they take the pictures and what do they want. The more interactive you make these sessions, the higher level of success you would have. You also won’t have to work as hard trying to figure out what will make them happy. Beware the bridezilla, most of the men don’t really care, or will say they care only to appease their princess. 90% of the time, it’s the girl who calls the shots. If you sense this lopsided dynamic, let the guy win some ground or better yet, do two different photoshoots: one using her ideas, and the other using his. A fun idea is to then do a third photoshoot incorporating elements from both of their sets, this can be a real winner depending on what way you take things.
Do not photograph the face and only the face
Most photographers just focus on the face. But you should be more creative and let each snap have a story about them. A good idea would be to photograph a few photos of the couple sharing an intimate discussion or even a playful gesture of whispering in the ears of each other would make a great personalized snap. Ideally you want to capture those candid moments that show off their chemistry the most. Don’t make things weird and hover like a third wheel. If your session takes place in a picnic, just have them start eating normally and say you need to swap out your batteries. Then sneak around back and take a bunch of shots without them knowing. You would be surprised at how many classic candid shots you can get this way. Another great misdirection tactic is to unleash a puppy in the middle of their picnic!
It would be best if you have a warm up discussion with the couples, discuss your location and the different poses you want to try, start off with a snack and “get your gear ready” and then start clicking the pictures. This is almost always a warm-up exercise, but a mandatory stage required to get them comfortable and talking. It is essential that you have an eye for innovation really seize the moment, click snapshots of these couples in different postures, settings, lightings etc. Crack a few jokes and lighten up the environment in general. This is their day and you want to go out of your way to keep them happy, talking, and looking their best. The more you are able to just shoot the breeze, make smalltalk, chit chat, whatever, the easier it will be to have a successful shoot. At the start, this might be difficult and you can come off as nervous. To avoid this, talk about a subject you really know a lot about, like the features of your camera gear and how it will make them look their best. At the end of the day you are a salesman and somebody selling anything really needs to be able to talk to people. It would make your work easy and the more you get out there and do it, you will be able to develop a process or rhythm.
If you take anything away from this, it’s that the best time to start is 3 years ago, the second best time is now, so get out there and take some photos!