The engagement photo shoot has become a trend lately. Before, the couple only had photos of their wedding ceremony and reception. Engagement photo shoot sessions or e-sessions as they are called are used in invitation, a teaser video for the wedding and for the “save the date” banners to advertise the wedding.
I started out shooting prenup shoots before taking the big step to shooting weddings. Shooting e-sessions was an easier transition for someone like me who was more into portraits than events when I was starting out. So, what do you need to know about shooting prenups or e-sessions? A lot actually, but here are a few things that should be essential to making your first engagement photo shoot a success.
Get to know your client
As with weddings, it would be really important to get to know who you are shooting beforehand. There should be a planning and conceptualization stage. Having a meeting with the couple before the actual shoot would establish what they want to achieve with the e-session. It would also be a good chance to become comfortable with the couple and vice versa.
List down the essentials like the engagement photo ideas, concepts, clothing and the date and time for the shoot. Also get to know who will be doing the hair and makeup for the couple so you can touch base with them before doing the shoot. With the details that you learn from the initial meeting, you can formulate a plan for the engagement photo session. You can also layout your story board in case the couple wants the output in a audio-visual presentation during their wedding.
Use simple poses
One of the biggest mistakes by most photographers starting out shooting prenups is that they think couples are models. Most couples have little to no experience posing in front of the camera. Start off with simple poses that the couple can do without much effort. The poses for couple photo shoots should emphasize not how well they project in front of the camera but the emotion of love and happiness.
Use poses like simple hugs, having faces near each other and holding hands. These are basic and natural that the couple would not have a hard time executing them. You can experiment with poses later on in the shoot when the couple is already having fun.
I am a strobist by nature but I find that shooting ambient light photos are best for engagement sessions. Other than saving time on setups, ambient light photography is much more natural for the couple. Most couples find the large lights and flashes intimidating and may distract them from shoot. If you also do outdoor engagement pictures, moving around with your strobist kit can be taxing.
Use the golden hour during the afternoon to shoot your engagement session if you can. The sunset adds additional drama to the shoot. If you do find yourself needing some extra lighting, use those daylight balanced LED lightbars that are popular now.
Master shooting candid shots
Keep an eye out for candid moments during the engagement photo shoot. Walking from one location to another, the couple might share some moments together that you can capture. I always keep my camera ready for those moments. Most couples let their guard down when they think you are not looking so you can also bait them into those candid moments by looking into your LCD screen for a while but secretly observing what they do. If you can’t capture the candid moment, you can ask them to repeat what they just did as a pose.
Encourage Interaction and have fun
The last and most important tip is to encourage the couple to play around. Direct the general pose but let the couple improvise. The engagement photo shoot would have a more natural feel if you let the couple do what they want and just document it.
Also make the couple laugh and joke around with them. Tease them and make them feel excited about the photo shoot. Compliment and encourage them to make the atmosphere light and happy. When both the photographer and couple are having fun, the results can be magical.
The engagement photo shoot can be an intimidating experience but rewarding experience. I remember feeling very satisfied after seeing the couple in tears while watching an AVP of their own prenup shoot. So remember to have fun and be in the moment with the couple. A fun engagement session will most likely translate to better photos for the couple and an easier time for you as the photographer.