5 Ways to Improve Your Engagement Photography

5 Ways to Improve Your Engagement Photography

If you're a wedding photographer, chances are couples are also asking if you do engagement photos. The answer to this should be “absolutely!” So you’d better get good at them quick, because well-executed engagement sessions will lead to more work. But before you think about weddings, spend some time and find your style shooting couples. Here are five simple ways to improve your engagement photography.

1.) Attention to Detail

You don’t have to be a Photoshop wizard to know how to clean up a photo. Take a few extra minutes to clean things up. Small distractions can make a big impact in a negative way. Perhaps something in the background is causing your eye to focus on that and not on your couple's expressions. The clone tool is a great way to move some pixels around and remove an eye sore. Think about your composition before you shoot. Consider whether or not a particular scene will have you sitting for hours in front of the computer. Maybe shifting your angle could save you hours of time on the back end.

I have circled a few problem areas. You can pinpoint some potential distractions and clean them up in Photoshop.

Notice that I cleaned up all distractions, straightened it out, and warmed the temperature.

2.) Get Creative

I think it is important to have a process. Have several shots in mind that are staples. For example, a few shots that you know the couples will love and that they can definitely use for a save the date. Once you get your hero shots, get a little bit more creative. Shoot some images that utilize negative space. Find some cool lighting and see what happens. Forget traditional rules and compose something that is your own.

3.) Get Off the Beaten Path

Allow your couples to take you to their “special” place. They may want to go somewhere they met, had a special encounter, or the first place they said they loved each other. Even if it’s not the most beautiful location, it will be special to them and they will love the photos no matter what. But you may luck out and discover that it’s an awesome location and one that can potentially be a go-to spot for future shoots.

This couple took me to their favorite place, and now I have a really great location in that area.

4.) Learn to Give Direction

Not every couple is going to be super relaxed. Several won’t know what to do and will freeze up like a deer in headlights. This is OK, it’s our job to give direction and let them know that they look great. Personally, I like to start off by getting some individual shots. It gives me a chance to just chat with them one on one and for them to loosen up a bit. I like to ask a lot of questions, tell jokes, and make fun of myself. This gives them a chance to laugh and it builds trust. I want them to know that I am there to make them look great. Then when you ask them to stand a certain way, they will feel more comfortable and things will go better.

5.) Shoot More

Like anything else, you get better with practice. The more you shoot, the more you share and the more eyes see your photos. If business is a little slow,  I think it is a great idea to shoot sessions for free. Ask your friends or family if they have anyone that wants photos. Chances are they will buy you dinner, or recommend you to their friends. Word of mouth is a freelancers best friend. I recently had a co-worker mention that he was getting married. I replied that I was looking for couples to shoot, and he agreed to let me photograph them. I did it for free and they ended up booking me for their wedding. I truly believe that if you give a little, you’ll get a lot more in return.

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I'd take engagement (and bridal) photos over weddings, any day. By my estimation, I will shoot no more than 3 more weddings. My friend's next year, and then perhaps for my son and my daughter, if they ask.

In the get creative point you put a picture of a miniature couple, that is one of the most used and uncreative things everyone do. I mean, literally everyone. It's like a statement of high end photography now a days. Just put your subject as small as possible and everyone will thing you are so creative and artistic... Come on!