Engagement Photoshoot Tips + Tricks [From A Rookie]

LOCATION: Glenbrook, NV | PHOTOGRAPHER: Juliana Aragon | FLOWERS: Thistle and Honey


Recently, my fiancé and I took our engagement photos with our wedding photographer. Trying to follow the “timeline” for the wedding process [according to The Knot], I was aiming for October [in Glenbrook] to have our photos taken. We weren’t quite able to get the date that I wanted, but as it turns out, we lucked out even more with the roulette date we ended up with. [VENDOR TIP: if you’re in the process of selecting a wedding photographer, I highly suggest going with one who offers engagement photos as part of their whole wedding package. Not only did we not have to pay extra for engagement photos, but we also had the opportunity to get a feel for how our photographer works and what kind of lingo she uses (come the wedding day when we don’t have 3+ hours to kill for photos, knowing our photographer’s likes and dislikes will come in handy to keep the events of the day on schedule)].

When choosing a location for photos, take into account the time of year and the weather that may or may not effect your pictures. Mitch and I totally lucked out with the weather in Tahoe for our photos. Considering it was November in Lake Tahoe, we were actually hot when we started shooting at 1 pm in the straight sun. But the weather could have ended up being stormy and freezing like it was the night before our pictures. We came prepared for anything, and hoped for the best. Always keep an eye on the weather, and when in doubt, consult your photographer ahead of time for outfit and location ideas for the time of year you’re aiming for!

If you plan on having dogs in your photos, be prepared with toys and treats for your photographer to use to lure their interest. Also, be sure to get them plenty of exercise prior to the photoshoot. The more tired your fur babies are, the less inclined they’ll be to act up or squirm around. And don’t set your expectations too high for those photos, especially if you have more than one dog. The chances of getting the photo of your dreams are relatively low when you have that many moving parts. Just be sure to get these pictures out of the way first, so you aren’t frustrated and trying to make it work after 90 or more minutes of already shooting with each other. And remember to stay relaxed and to go with the flow when shooting these photos – there’s only so much you can control when taking pictures with animals! Plus, you may just end up loving one of the silly outtakes.

Using props is a great way to break the ice and add a little dimension and complexion to your photos. When I booked my photographer, she had initially suggested to me that I have a bouquet made for our engagement photos. My initial thought was “no way, not my style,” but then another friend of mine, who took her engagement pictures in Europe and used gelato in some of her photos, said she loved the “prop” because it loosened them up and eased the awkwardness. I did end up having a florist put together a bouquet last minute, and I’m so glad I did. It gave me a place to look when my photographer asked me to, and it was a beautiful complement to the photos without taking away or distracting from my fiancé and I. The dogs were also inadvertently a prop, since we shot with them first and it got us loosened up. I’ve also seen wine or champagne, coffee mugs, mistletoe, signs.. The list goes on! [PROP TIP: if you decide to add a little something extra to your photos, choose something that will be easy to hold on to and won’t get too heavy. As much as I loved my bouquet, it got to be extremely heavy and uncomfortable to hold up in certain poses.]

Be sure to eat a healthy and energy-boosting meal prior to your photoshoot. Believe it or not, posing for pictures when you aren’t accustomed to it is actually exhausting. You’re holding your arms at weird angles for long periods of time, standing or leaning in unnatural positions.. Before you know it, you’re tired! Mitch and I made the mistake of not eating before our shoot, and we both regretted it. I was afraid of bloating and looking like I was going to have a food baby, and we both assumed our shoot would be done in 90 minutes [never assume that the time your photographer tells you will be accurate! We happened to have amazing lighting and a great location and we ended up shooting for an extra two-and-a-half hours!]. Both of our energy levels were depleted by the time we were done. And for the ladies, keep in mind that your photographer won’t pose you in a way that will be unflattering. I was so worried about looking “fat,” but I was forgetting that my photographer is a professional and would not pose me in a way that I would later despise.

When choosing the outfits for your photos, be sure to select options that you will be comfortable in. You will likely do a few sitting photos, but for the most part you will be standing. Shoes that double as cute and comfortable will be a major bonus and you will thank yourself for this later. This also goes for your clothing choices – remember that you will be standing and sitting in unnatural positions, so you’ll want the outfits you choose to be easily moveable, breathable and light. [STYLE TIP: keep your selections timeless, classic and simple. Flannels and plaid are fun for fall, but they can be very busy. Instead, stick to a solid color or a bold statement piece that makes a statement but doesn’t take away from the two of you. As I mentioned before, you can always add flair to your photos by using props. Also, stay away from trendy styles that you will eventually look back on and regret.]

Ladies, be sure to do a hair and make-up trial before the day of your shoot. Whether you’re doing your own or hiring someone to do it, it’s important to get an idea of the look you want ahead of time, especially if you’re worried about your make-up clashing with your outfits. I ended up doing my own because of our location and the time of year, and because I knew I could do just as good of a job as any professional [not to toot my own horn]. I did not do a trial run, however, and I definitely regret it. I did end up liking how my look turned out, but had I done a test day, I probably would have gone a little bit lighter on the eye make-up. Oh well, you live and you learn, and you pass along the knowledge! [BEAUTY TIP: if you want lip color, be sure to find one that stays on! You’re going to be smooching your guy a lot, and you do not want that color coming off of you, nor smudging all over him. Kat Von D and Kylie Cosmetics make some great longwear colors. The only gripe I have is that both really dry out your lips.]

Overall, just remember to have fun! Don’t take the shoot or yourself too seriously. Your photographer is the pro and will direct you the entire time. It really is such a fun and cool experience, and I will personally remember and treasure the time my fiancé and I spent together that day forever. Also, ladies, do something super nice for your guy afterward. I literally don’t know a single dude who actually enjoys the part of the engagement and wedding process that involves picture taking. He was a trooper for you, so send some love and appreciation his direction!

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