Wedding photographers shared their favorite engagement photos — and their top tips and tricks on how to nail your own pre-wedding photography session.
BY GABRIELLA RELLO
Engagement photos are the perfect opportunity to get to know your photographer while getting comfortable in front of the camera — not to mention, they're the perfect chance to show off your personality as a couple. While these pre-wedding portrait sessions are supposed to be fun, it's no secret that stepping before a professional camera for the first time often elicits a mixed bag of emotions from both the future bride and groom alike. But here's the scoop all photographers want you to know: in addition to walking away with a seriously stunning collection of portraits(and how often do you really get the chance to pose for gorgeous shots with your guy?), you'll get plenty of face time with the one person you'll spend the majority of your wedding day with.
That's right: when you think about it, your wedding photographer is the person who will be with you from getting ready straight through your reception exit, so getting to know them, feeling sure about their style and personality, and creating a genuine relationship will only result in more beautiful photos on the big day. And giving them the time to get to know you, your best angles, and how you work in front of the camera is invaluable.
But aside from the nitty-gritty, the heart and soul of an engagement photo session is truly about celebrating the beginning of this next chapter of your lives. You'll be married for a long time, but the engagement period typically lasts just about a year, so savor this special time and create tangible reminders of these special moments.
To help you prep for your own engagement photo session, we tapped into our arsenal of pro wedding photographers and asked them for their tips, tricks, and secrets for nailing the best snaps. Here, they share their favorite engagement photos and the details behind the frame.
Photo: "Anthony and Hannah were so much fun to photograph during their engagement shoot on the California coast, styled by the talented Ginny Au. As a couple, they have a natural ease about them, and we worked to bring out the authentic joy and connection within their relationship during the shoot. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage the couple to interact naturally during the shoot, using general overarching direction for movement and action, but then allowing them to go through those motions at their own pace and in their own way. Each couple moves and interacts differently, and giving them the space and flexibility to do so during their engagement shoot cultivates an ease and genuine sense of intimacy that translates beautifully through photos." — Erich McVey
Photo: Erich McVey
"Golden light and natural settings, like these rocks, go really well together. I love shooting at the end of the day for the best light, or right at sunrise if any couple is into it. This couple had an effortless intimacy with each other that I really loved capturing." — Annie McElwain
Photo: Annie McElwain
"Samara and Keshar's first date was in Central Park, so when I suggested we get a rowboat and paddle around for a bit they were totally up for it. They had such chemistry together and were complete naturals in front of the camera, so this shot was totally them being them and had little to do with anything I could have ever set up." — Alison Conklin
Photo: Alison Conklin Photography
"I love this image, not only because I love how beautiful and elegant this couple is, but for the fact that unlike most engagement shoots, this was shot in the fog. It was an incredibly foggy day on Nantucket and I love being able to use the environment to my advantage — even if the weather isn't always cooperating. I love what this image represents: the fact that they are facing the unknown together, which is so utterly and romantic and what an engagement is all about." — Jen Huang
Photo: Jen Huang
"I was trying to capture the intimacy between Keli and Nick, so when they leaned into a kiss, I used a close-up filter on my film camera's lens, and I got in as close as I could. This was a beach engagement session, and the light was beautifully diffused near the sunset, which created that glow around them." — Carmen Santorelli
Photo: Carmen Santorelli
"This is one of my favorite photos for a few reasons. I love that it feels like a frame from a movie, creating a moment that is both aspirational, but also instantly relatable to any New York woman who has made a trek or two home after a night out with their shoes in their hands. The couple styled the session so well thinking about how their outfits looked from 360 degrees including the little details like the delicate bows on her shoes. To get a shot like this one we had to get up early before the bridge was full of tourists, which would have ruined the photo so I love to use this as an example to show clients that its worth it to have that 5 a.m. wake up call to get the light and the emptiness. Whether you're shooting at an iconic landmark like this or on a beach, its always worth it to get there early (or late depending on the local) and beat the crowds, nothing ruins a photo quite like a tourist in a bright yellow jacket in the back of your photo!" — Rebecca Yale
Photo: Rebecca Yale
"This image was shot in central California just before sunset. We were walking up this hill and it was windy. The wind played perfectly with Julia's dress and Thomas always makes her laugh. It was a perfect afternoon in an environment where they were comfortable and stood against the beautiful California scenery and light." —Ryan Ray
Photo: Ryan Ray
"We adore when our couples chose locations for their engagement sessions that are meaningful for them. For Brandon and Gillian's lifestyle engagement session, we photographed them in their first home, cuddled up drinking coffee and riding bikes around their neighborhood. Sometimes the most simple moments are our absolute favorites." — Lauren and Tim Fair of Lauren Fair Photography
Photo: Lauren Fair
"The groom grew up going to Fire Island in the summers, and I love fire Island too so when he asked if we could head out there for their engagement shoot I was all set to go. Fire Island immediately relaxes you. We did the shoot with all three of us barefoot — if only I could be barefoot on every shoot I'd be a very happy photographer! I think for the couple and myself because we were in a special place we bonded in a more intimate way. Exploring the Island together, getting to make images in places that had significance to them as a couple was great. I want my shoots to be as meaningful as possible so it felt special for me to get to play with them in a place they already play in regularly. I think the idea of play is a great tip for couples for an engagement shoot, come ready to just be with each other, mess around, have fun. For me an engagement shoot is about connection-the couple connecting to each other and then all three of us getting to know and feel comfortable with each other, oh and have fun!" — Levi Stolove
Photo: Levi Stolove
"It's always fun to bring along props. I view every engagement session like a mainstream shoot — complete with models, props, and scenery. I want every engagement shoot to look like it could be in a magazine, so I encourage clients to bring things to the shoot that reflects their fantastic personalities. Don't hesitate to take anything to a shoot that truly reflects you individually or as a couple." —Jasmine Star
Photo: Jasmine Star
"I love this image from Jill and Niraj's engagement shoot in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Spain. The colors in their outfits work so well with the ancient stone buildings of the area. I always encourage my couples to select engagement shoot outfits that are both meaningful to them and work well with the setting we've selected. It makes for incredible photos when a couple's wardrobe helps to connect them with the surrounding environment." — Erich McVey
Photo: Erich McVey