Take Your Own Engagement Photos

I’ve got several friends that do hobby photography, as do I. But you can’t take your own engagement photos. Or can you?

Yes! I say you can and I’ll prove it. After being quoted $250 plus travel money from one such hobby friend, I scoured the internet. I came across this blog post and found the courage to say, “I’m going to take my own engagement photos for free!”

I’d like to share a few valuable tips that would have saved me weeks of time.

  1. First of all, you’re going to need a DSLR camera with a lens or two (It’s a good idea to have a zoom lens along with your regular 18 mm- 50 mm lens), a memory card that can hold about 500 photos (preferably shot in RAW), a tripod and a wireless shutter release remote. An external flash is optional but a great idea. If you have wifi connectivity to your camera, download an app to control your camera with your phone. This eliminates the need for a wireless remote, has a far longer range and so many cool controls. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that so I went with the wireless remote which had a range of 16 feet. This restricted what we could do with our photos drastically.
  2. Set your camera to a two second delay when you click the wireless remote or use the phone control. It gives you time to hide the remote and compose yourself.
  3. The best time to take soft photos is during the Golden Hour. This is generally an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. The sun seems to warm up the picture, create long shadows and perfect backlighting. This is when we took the majority of our pictures. DSC_2351 gimp.png
  4. Put your background out of focus to assure your pictures don’t scream, “I did this myself!” It’s called bokeh and it makes the background blurry and focuses on the couple in the picture. DSC_2097 edited.jpg
  5. Take your photos in a place you often frequent. For us, it was camp. That’s how we met and that’s where you’ll find us 90% of the time. You have a different vibe. So, that cute laying-on-the-grass picture just might not work for you. You don’t even like grass. Or the outdoors. Do what you do often and best.  Remember, these pictures are going to be shared with people who know you.
  6. Limit your location and outfits. Wear clothes that are flattering to your skin tone. Don’t know what are your colors? Check out Cardigan Empire. I love Reachel Bagley.
  7. Your shoot is a story. What are you trying to tell your audience? The photos you present need to flow together. Use a wide, mid and close up shot. A wide shot has your entire body in the frame. A mid shot has about half of your body in it and segways to a more intimate shot. A close up shot has a certain feature take up most of the space, such as hands or feet. DSC_2575 edited.jpg
  8.  Think about the scene you want to portray. Where should the camera be? What angle and height? What does the light look like?  Take shots from different angles. When you put the tripod at an 60 degree angle from you, it will look like a professional took the picture, not a tripod.
  9. Use Pinterest as an idea starter, not as the Holy Grail of engagement photos. If a pose doesn’t work the way you imagined, That’s ok! Move on.
  10. Work as a team. This isn’t just your job. Both of you together can provide ideas and suggestions. Working together is the greatest.
  11. Check your work after every five photos. The lighting might have changed, especially during the Golden Hour. It did for us and we didn’t even think about it. We looked at the first few pictures, thought they looked great and never checked the camera again. It was sad.  As the sun moved higher into the sky, the lighting got darker. Our “perfect” shots ended up way too dark.
  12. You will do the same pose over and over again. It’s going to feel weird. But you don’t have a photographer to catch the perfect shot so just keep smiling and hold that pose until you get the shot you want.
  13. Mark where you are standing. This helps when you have to get up and check the photo. Then you know exactly where to stand every time.
  14. Don’t be surprised when it takes you one hour to take five decent pictures. You are doing the work of the photographer and model. It took us about seven different shoots before we wrapped it up.

Now go out and take your own engagement photos. Show me how they turned out!

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