Engagement Portrait Shoots: 7 Professional Tips to take your Engagement Shoots to the Next Level

Engagement Portrait Shoots: 7 Professional Tips to take your Engagement Shoots to the Next Level


Today portrait photographer Christina N Dickson shares tips on how to shoot engagement portraits. Christina’s work can be found at www.ChristinaNicholePhotography.com.

Shooting engagement portraits are perhaps some of the most enjoyable for photographers. Most often, they are taken before the whirlwind of wedding planning is fully underway, and the couple is still quite enamored with one another. How do you take advantage of this time and produce incredible images? Follow these few steps to achieve real and vibrant engagement portraits.

1. Be involved!

As a photographer, you must keep your people skills sharp. With engagement photos, you have to do your research on the couple you are photographing. What are they like as a couple? What are they like as individuals? What is their wedding going to be like? How did they meet? This is going to affect the way you want to build your images and portray them.

2. Encourage affection!

Rather than posing each shot, ie, “okay, now you kiss her cheek!” encourage your couple to show as much affection as possible. Every couple does certain things to show one another love. If you want to capture them accurately, you will urge this type of interaction.

3. Be observant!

A couple is most natural when they are focusing on one another. Try to direct the shoot by suggesting they talk to one another, telling one another most embarrassing moments, or 5 things they love about each other– topics that will pull out expression, interaction, and affection.

4. Remember that space determines relationship!

If a couple is leaning in for a kiss, or walking arm in arm, you will be able to communicate a message of intimacy. Sometimes you can get sweet shots with contrast and tension in the picture by placing the couple far apart in the frame, but be sure that this is your purpose if your going to do it.

5. Tell a story.

No love story is the same. Find unique traits about the couple, and then pull this out in the creation of your images. If the couple is perfectly at ease with one another because they have been best friends for 10 years, you can create images with a laid back and contented feel. If the couple has had a whirlwind romance after meeting on e-harmony.com, it will be natural to pull out the affection and passion of their relationship

6. Be open to suggestions!

Often times the bride to be will have an idea for a shot she will suggest to you before hand. Other times her fiancé may think of an idea on the spot during the shoot. If you can integrate these ideas into your shooting, you will delight the couple, and possibly find yourself inspired by new ideas.

7. Be personable!

If you get to know your couple, and allow them to fall in love with your personality and style, you have a good chance of booking them for a wedding also. Your job is not only to take good pictures, but also to give them a fabulous time they will remember for the rest of their lives.

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Christina N Dickson is a visionary artist and philanthropist in Portland Oregon. Her work includes wedding photography www.BrideInspired.com and leadership with www.RevMediaBlog.com.

Some Older Comments

  • Marcus Davis October 31, 2012 07:25 am

    Christina, I love your articles! Thank you.

  • Anna October 25, 2012 06:46 am

    Great thoughts and suggestions!

  • ccting October 17, 2012 10:54 am

    Thanks Christina N Dickson...,

    I have been follow every piece of your advice.. and I find your articles extremely helpful to me...


  • Jai Catalano October 17, 2012 09:16 am

    Or you can make the fiance float


  • jay mcintyre August 12, 2011 01:04 am

    I have a new favourite engagement session http://jmphotographyonline.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/chris-and-bonnie-in-love-and-getting-married/
    Not that I don't still love the previous one I shared though.

  • Abha August 5, 2011 08:13 am

    thank you for this! I'm doing my first engagement session for my best friend tomorrow! these tips will definitely help in how I approach shooting them.

  • T. Farnsworth May 24, 2011 04:19 am

    Great article! Weddings are what we do. I always tell them to think about what they want...bring props-things they love & do together...shoot at places that have meaning to them...the more personal interaction, the better the pictures...remember, a portrait should be intimate...get close...the name of the game is to fill the frame...just don't repeat the to my assistants...they hear it enough form me..;) & most importantly-have fun with it, if you are relaxed & upbeat, they will be too.

  • Wedding Photographer Toronto August 17, 2010 01:07 pm

    Christina, you are right on ih everything you mention here. Good connections are very important when shooting couples.

  • LightView August 5, 2010 01:23 am

    Great tips Christina! As Van Gogh, you have to give yourself, especially in art, to reach the top by polishing your style and technique.

  • Chad July 30, 2010 10:34 pm

    I like your attitude. Photography is such a wonderful career and there is no excuse to be anything but happy!!

  • Angie J July 30, 2010 11:07 am

    Great tips! All of which, sad to say, are mistakes I've made but not utilizing them. :)
    @richard skoonberg -regarding Ryan Breziner - um... WOW! I see why you are a fan.. now..I am too!

  • kelly July 30, 2010 05:32 am

    Thanks for the tips and the shared pics .. i'll be taking my first engagement shoot in the next 2 weeks and this sure does help - i was coming here to look for "posing tips" and i got way more - THANKS !

  • patrick-Brighton photographer July 30, 2010 05:00 am

    Thanks for this, revamping our web site and thinking of making more of a "thing" out of the engagement pics. I like doing them as you get to know the couple before the big day and adds "value" to their whole experience. This post has given me the kick I needed to get down and focused on this neglected, but important, aspect of wedding photography. P

  • Teresa July 30, 2010 04:50 am

    Great timing! I've offered to do some photos for my son & his gf later this summer - and I really have no idea what to get started with - so! Thanks!

  • Anna July 29, 2010 02:36 am

    Wow, tips 2 and 3 were great - I always struggled with getting people in love to look "natural", but those were wonderful suggestions.
    Thanks Christina!

  • Photographick Studios July 29, 2010 12:26 am

    Another great tip is to talk about their relationship and their wedding, people love to talk about themselves and it allows them to open up, keep the conversation going and become relaxed. The images come out so much better when the couples are relaxed :)

  • Brittani July 28, 2010 02:32 pm

    Fabulous post!!
    Thanks for the tips!!

  • Julie Bernstein July 28, 2010 01:31 pm

    I agree that shooting engagements is usually a lot more fun and less stressful than shooting weddings!

    I did an engagement shoot in a cemetery once!

  • Richard Skoonberg July 28, 2010 02:11 am

    Great little article. Thanks for posting!

  • Richard Skoonberg July 28, 2010 02:10 am

    I have a favorite photographer on Flickr who does the best darn engagement photography, Ryan Brenizer out of NYC. Here is a link to his stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carpeicthus/

  • Ilan (@ilanbr) July 28, 2010 01:09 am

    Just yesterday I had my (first ever!) engagement shoot.
    The couple had a strange request, a "movie" like theme.
    The result looks like a 'horror movie' theme, imho :)

    I guess this type of photography is not my cup of tea....

  • Jay McIntyre July 28, 2010 12:34 am

    great advice!
    This one is my favourite engagement session to date.

  • Maz July 28, 2010 12:14 am

    I agree with everything you've said. As the photographer you need to share in their emotion, which has got to be more than skin deep- you've all got to be feeling the love! And it is all about the experience. Have fun, and don't let it become a chore. Formal posing not allowed (in my book, anyway:)) Thanks for the post.


  • Julie Gozali July 28, 2010 12:10 am

    I agree especially with point number 3. As an engagement and wedding photographer, I love watching couples focusing on each other and being in their own little world. The balance between the posed and unposed give that extra depth in my story telling...