I am mostly taking photos of people that have never (or very rarely) been standing and dancing in front of a camera. That’s why, I always try to make them feel as comfortable and themselves as possible. I know this can be very hard and just “switching off your head” is way easier said than done. Nevertheless, there are a few specific tips an tricks to have a relaxed engagement photo session.
Creating a safe space for the couple to feel free, relaxed and themselves at the photo shoot is one thing. In my opinion, this already starts before we even get to the taking photos part. There are a few things you (as the couple itself and the photographer) can do to already set out the ideal requirements for a personal engagement session.
Keep reading for three of my most favourite things to do in order for you to have a intimate, personal and relaxed engagement photo session.
Connection & Relationship
There are so many possibilities when it comes to your engagement photos. For me, the most important thing is that these photo sessions and photographs actually represent you as individuals and also as a couple. There is so much inspiration and ideas out there for the “perfect” engagement shoot but I think everyone is so unique that it’s so much more than just getting that “perfect” photo.
Before I go and shoot with any of my couples I try to connect on a personal level with them. If that’s either via a zoom call or an in person meeting: I want to get to know them better and I want them to get to know me better. That way, I can connect and form a relationship of trust which means a lot to me.
It’s actually very fascinating to see how the people in front of the camera behave when they can relate and also feel a certain way (in that case it’s a very positive feeling) about the person behind the camera. With that I mean: the photo shoot and with that the photographs turn out more emotional, less posed and filled with so so much love.
For Photographers: Work this into your workflow as much as possible. Work with zoom calls, questionnaires and also meet them for a drink before you go and shoot. This makes the whole atmosphere and work environment for all parties way more relaxed, personal and more fun. Trust me. For the couple: Take the time and use the opportunity to get to know the human being that takes photos of you beforehand. Find out if you’re a match before you book them. Even after that, engage, show and tell them a little bit more about you individually and as a couple. It works wonders I promise you.
Do not invent, work with what you have
There are so many engagement photo shoot ideas and inspiration out there to make this “perfect”. Nevertheless, in my opinion, we should rather go for personal and unique – like every couple is.
I always love to work with what we already have: a couple utterly in love. A past, present and future relationship with many dates, memories, hopes and plans. Work with that – everything we need to create an unique and personal engagement session lies right in front of us.
Questions you (as the couple) can ask yourselves or you (the photographer) ask your couples:
Is there a location/place you feel most comfortable in? A special date spot, where do you go for walks? Or even a place you both always wanted to go but never really got around to doing.
What is your favourite thing to do together? How does a perfect date look for you two? (picnic at the beach; pizza in your garden or wine tasting on your favourite wine farm?)
Are there any traditions you two have in your relationship? Specific food, drink or other details?
What are your go-to songs? Are there songs that you two feel like these are your songs you usually sing and dance to together? (maybe even create a spotify playlist with these songs. Bring speakers to the shoot and play that list.)
All we want is YOU
Stay with me for one last thing because “All that we want is you”. With that I mean that with everything we have worked out so far, we are not going to stop now. When it comes to organising and creating your unique engagement photo session, there’s one last thing.
The outfit and styling.
For that, we are continuing to follow our personal route here. Yes it is a very unique occasion and of course, it also involves a great financial investment because it’s not a one-time thing. But I can guarantee you that if you dress up (and it unfortunately kind of is a dress up) like someone you are not, you will not have the same feelings towards the result.
Do not go crazy or very extra just because it’s a photo shoot.
The engagement photos and the people in these photos will not look and feel like you because truth be told, you weren’t true to yourself. So if in any way possible, stay true to yourself. This includes the outfits and also for the ones that wear makeup and do their hair: less is more – always.
Getting photographed is already a very special feeling and if there’s a chance for you to not feel 100% comfortable in front of the camera, we should not push you even further out of your comfort zone.
In order to create a space for you to feel yourself, comfortable and maybe also a little like a dare devil, let’s try to follow this guide. When it comes to poses & outfits, I love to split the shoot in three parts. Keeping in mind that this only works as long as the time and the location allows it of course.
Chilled vibes – more casual outfits. How you would dress to go out for a walk or a casual meet up with friends.
Nicer vibes – more formal vibes but nothing too fancy. Something you would wear for a nice lunch or dinner with your loved ones or even for a birthday event.
Formal vibes – more formal (whatever that means to you). Here I usually suggest to dress like you are going out for a very nice dinner or drinks at a fancy bar in town with your friends.
When thinking about the outfits you are going to wear: keep in mind where your photo session is going to take place. A beachy, sandy setting will most likely not be ideal for high heals. But if you are thinking of going to a wine farm with a more proper surface, high heels should not be any problem.
Furthermore, think about the weather conditions. We do love wind and what it does to the people and the clothes: it creates more movement and you can play with it a little. Nevertheless, if you do not like your big and wavy dress to fly all around you, rather opt for a more body fitting outfit so you do not have to worry about that.
The shoot itself
Now you have set the perfect requirements for your unique engagement photo session. The poses and photo ideas are still giving you a little stomach ache? Do not worry, there is so much inspiration out there that gives you so many ideas for your photos.
One more thing I want to give you tho: Trust your photographer to pose you correctly and make you feel super comfortable. You have hired them for a reason and I know it was the right decision.
Here are some of the inspiration posts with intimate, beautiful and unique engagement photo poses:
Get the shoot more relaxed by either playing the playlist the couple itself has created with their favourite songs or browse through my personal photo shoot spotify playlists for different moods:
Are you looking for any proposal ideas and inspiration regarding asking your significant other the big question? Use some of these points to work out the right setting, location and props.
It does not have to be a grand happening if that’s not you and your relationship. Important is that you and your partner feel comfortable and not too overwhelmed. This is such an intimate happening – let be what it is without overdoing it.
Nothing can stop you now to deep dive into this adventure. Have fun getting your kick-ass, unique and relaxed engagement photos that scream YOU TWO so much.
Lean back, let it happen, enjoy and HAVE FUN!!
To see more of my favorite styled shoots and real wedding + engagement photos to get some inspiration for yours, you can check out this page!
Hi there friends, I’m Max.
I’m an International Wedding, People, and Lifestyle Photographer based out of Switzerland and South Africa – available for worldwide travel.
Me and my art are a package of a celebration of life, silly dance moves, and stupid jokes (dark humor included).
My photography is a celebration of life, raw emotions, pure happiness, and love—the focus: on you and all the small and big moments.
Part of me and my services is being a part of my client’s journey and everything leading up to their big celebration. I love to openly share some of that experience and knowledge to help you get to your kick-ass event of celebration!
Learn more about me here!