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There's no getting around it – being the subject of an engagement shoot can be downright intimidating. You want the photos to look genuine, with the lighting just right, and everyone's telling you to "act natural." We've had our sights set on this guide for quite some time and couldn't be more excited to share these pro tips with you all – straight from the mouths of some of the most admired photographers in the field. From communicating with your photographer (or hey – a friend with a good eye and an iPhone?) to choosing locations, this guide is your fool-proof tool for getting the most out of your couples shoot.
With Samm Blake
"I always like photographing couples in their normal everyday environment, as it instantly makes them more relaxed being in the safety of their own space. For many of my shoots, I meet the couples at their homes, shoot there for a bit and then head out and photograph around their neighborhood. I also like that the environment we are shooting in tells the story of who these two individuals are. I always love shooting couples in places that mean something to them. It adds more depth to the photographs if they have lovely memories already associated with the place. I love photographs with movement in them, so the shots taken walking from one location to the next always end up being my favorite.
Aileen and Brandon’s shoot (below) is one of my absolute favorites as we spent the afternoon walking around New York going to all places that meant something to them. The bars they went to on their first dates, where the proposal happened, the street they lived on. They told me all the stories along the way and to me, it's what engagement photography should be about."
With Cassandra Zetta
"To help my subjects become more at ease, I always tell them not to look at me, but to stay connected looking at each another. Being in the presence of one’s partner is naturally calming, so by staying centered on their connected energy, the couple will naturally soften."
With Julie Christman
Consider taking a snippet from your everyday lives and turning it into a photoshoot. Doing things that you typically do together or being in a place that you both love will help to achieve authenticity.
"It will also be easier to forget the camera is present when you are engaged in an activity you enjoy such as cooking, dancing or taking the dog for a walk. Authentic emotion is the absolute most important element to me, and what I always aim to capture. If the couple has something to do, an action that feels natural, these moments come easily and the realness becomes evident in the pictures.
This shoot with Gina and Jislain (above) was taken in a loft with great natural light, large windows and plenty of space for the couple to move around. We put on music, and we were in the kitchen so I said, 'How about you chat with each other and if you feel up to it, dance around the kitchen.' Then I stepped back and let them do their thing. Even though dancing around the kitchen seems silly, the best moments came from that playful interaction."
"All of the couples I work with tell me how awkward they feel about having their photograph taken. This is a completely natural feeling. Of course you will feel awkward – we don't normally have a photographer following us around. My best advice is to just accept that you are going to feel a little awkward throughout the shoot. Once you come to accept that feeling, the easier it is to move on, have fun and enjoy yourselves."
With Elizabeth Wells
"I encourage couples to choose locations where they can be part of the larger landscape. I love natural locations with beautiful light. My style of photography thrives in the mountains, desert, and coastal locations so in my opinion, the more adventurous, the better!"
Sunrise and sunset are often viewed as the best times for sessions, as light tends to be softer during those hours. However, lighting throughout the day can present wonderful and varied styles, so don’t feel restricted to just these limited times.
"It's important for everyone involved to know a little bit about what's expected during the shoot. This way, everyone is on the same page before the shoot even starts. More than anything, I want the couple to show up ready to celebrate their love – that’s what engagement and couple shoots are all about."
Need a suggestion for an upcoming couples shoot? You've come to the right place – below is a list of photographers and friends we sing the praises of:
Samm Blake /
Cassandra Zetta /
Julie Christman /
Abi Q /
Logan Cole /
Meghan Sadler /
Ben Sasso /
Kristin Rogers /
Nate & Jaclyn Kaiser /
Benj Haisch /
Olivia Rae James
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