The Engagement Shoot

The Engagement Shoot


One of my favourite services that I offer is that of the engagement shoot. I include an engagement shoot in my wedding package and have gotten rave reviews from all my couples.

My couples love the e-shoot. By the time they’ve gotten around to finding their photographer, many couples have pretty much finished all their wedding plans. All there is left to do it twiddle their thumbs and anxiously wait for the day. The e-shoot gives them something fun to do while they wait and gets them even more excited for their day. They get to practice being photographed together which eases their nerves and helps them get to know me and my shooting style.

I love the e-shoot. It gives my couples a chance to get to know me and my style and eases their nerves about the day and being in front of the camera. It secures their heart that they definitely hired the right photographer because they have fun, they love their photos and they get to know me as a friend, not just as their photographer, as we walk around our locations, laugh and have fun.

Business-wise, the e-shoot is a great opportunity to add more money making potential to your wedding package. Couples can order wallet-sized prints for their invites or save-the-date cards. They can order large mounted prints to display on an easel at the wedding which guests can sign in lieu of a guest book. My personal favourite is the e-shoot guest book. I use ‘the reception book’ template from The Album Cafe to create trendy, clever guest books for the reception. Filled with their e-shoot photos and quirky little questions for their guests, this is an adorable memento of both their happy days combined.

Tips for the e-shoot:

  • When I meet my couples for the first time to talk about their wedding and present my services, I talk about the e-shoot then and there. I talk to these potential clients as if they’ve already hired me. We talk about locations for their e-shoot and about their style. Are they earthy and natural or edgy and urban? I bring the reception book as part of my product line and we talk about the possibilities of the e-shoot.
  • As soon as their deposit is received, we schedule the e-shoot.
  • As much as your clients will allow, style your own shoot. Be an intensive presence in the wardrobe planning and talk to your bride about makeup, wardrobe changes, accessories.
  • When shooting, be mindful of the products you offer. The one I push the most is the reception book so don’t just shoot haphazardly. Think of the progression of your pages and tell the story of their relationship. Take photos of them separately as well because you might want to have a page with questions about her and one with questions about him. So be mindful of the finished product.

Engagement shoots are such a rich, momentous and important service we can offer our wedding clients. It can greatly enhance their overall wedding experience with you and also offer you, the photographer, many great benefits in return.

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Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

Some Older Comments

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  • Yucel December 22, 2010 10:05 am

    Went on an engagement shoot w a wedding photog the other day. Being a glamour photog myself, was not sure how I was going to feeling about weddings. The engagement shoot was a blast.

    Very creative and fun.

    Makes me more interested to branch further into weddings.

  • Kathy Hendrix October 19, 2010 01:39 pm

    Love the first photo. Well-planned but casual looking. There is plenty of light to separate the head from the "horns".

  • Izwan October 8, 2010 12:44 pm

    This note is 100% can help to all wedding photographers

  • Faith Photography by Stephanie Keels October 8, 2010 12:29 pm

    I my self love e-shoots they are so fun . To be able to catch those little moments between the couple that are truly priceless are the best. I always try to shoot to shoot outside the box and go for what the couples personality reflects not the norm. Weddings I also enjoy but I do have to say I really do not like the traditional wedding poses which I recently got through into all though they turned out beautiful they were just not my stable or stamp style of shooting.

  • Professional Wedding Photographer Stamford & Peterborough October 6, 2010 10:21 pm

    As a professional wedding photographer based near Peterborough and Stamford, United Kingdom Im finding that Brides and Grooms are not having engagement shoots.

    I dont know if this is a reflection on the overall econimic climate, or if couples just to want the pre-wedding photos. I find that Im easily able to get most couples to relax, I like to meet with the Bride and Groom at least twice before the wedding to discuss in full the complete wedding package they are going to have, what they expect, discuss fears and concerns about generally getting married.

    So for me engagment pre wedding photography isnt an essential, if your a good photographer you can easily get the shots you need on the day :-)

    Only the other week, I stepped in to shoot a wedding with only 24hrs notice. I had never met the bride and groom before never even spoke with them but had a good day and got some really nice pictures.

  • Grant - gmd photography October 6, 2010 05:10 am

    I love doing engagement shoots. It really does help break the ice with the couple and you have a lot more free range shots to take. You can usually "go all out " opposed to the wedding day where things are more rushed and people are worried about getting their clothes dirty.

    - grant

  • Rich D., Wedding Photography Educator October 5, 2010 02:26 am

    The question many new wedding shooters ask me is how they should capture unposed natural looking engagement session portraits. I suggest to them not to pose couples, and instead get them to intereact.

    Engagement sessions are the best way to build rapport with your clients. You will learn so much about each other. It will help you create better images of them on the wedding day, and they will be excited to work with you since you already made them look wonderful in the e-pics.

    I even receive referrals from clients after their enagement session and before their wedding day. It's a great referral-building marketing tool for wedding photographers.

  • Callista October 4, 2010 03:47 am

    Great piece. I'm starting to do weddings here and there, so these tips are helping quite a bit.

  • photographer leicester October 4, 2010 03:36 am

    I love the sound of an engagement shoot. I've never shot a wedding before as I concentrate on events, corporate and architecture. I'll be sure to include an e-shoot if I ever shoot a wedding tho! Keep up the good work.

  • Karen Stuebing October 4, 2010 03:16 am

    I'm going to take a wild guess here that the "e-shoot" means the engagement shoot? I will never be able to make it to pro. All these terms. All the time eating social media I must join.

    Seriously, I'm actually afraid to ruin somebody's special day. This is just my opinion as a non-pro who might actually hire a pro if I needed one. The background in that first photo is way too busy and I NEED the clone stamp to get rid of those two branches that look like horns coming out if his head.

    I hope I'm not coming off too harsh because I don't mean to and there are a lot of good points in this article.

  • Ilan (@ilanbr) October 4, 2010 02:22 am

    I tried to help my cousin to find a good photographer for her e-shoot. I must say - It's not an easy task.
    It's a very 'cliche' niche and hard to find original photographers, those who want to go a bit further than just plain 'almost kissing/jumping off a bench/sunset' kind of photos.

    I myself never tried to have an e-shoot - - this is the closest I got, trying to be original :D