Engagement Shoots: Inspirational Ideas and Getting to Know Your Wedding Photographer

We spoke to some of our favourite photographers to get their expert advice for planning the perfect engagement shoot

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An engagement shoot is a wonderful idea to consider before your wedding. Whether you want to re-create your proposal moment, capture some beautiful photos in a spot that has meaning to you both, or just simply want to get to know your photographer, having an engagement shoot is a fantastic way to express that elated glow you get in the lead up to the aisle.

It can also be a prime opportunity to experiment with various wedding photography styles, so that you have a clear idea of how you want your photos to look on the big day itself.

To get you feeling inspired, check out these top tips from photographers from across the UK who have captured many stunning engagement shoots.

Romantic engagement shoots

Image credit: Jacob and Pauline Photography

Planning the Shoot

“Firstly, find out if your photographer offers engagement shoots,” recommends Ben from Benjamin Stuart Photography. “Even if they don't offer it as part of their services, you could still ask them if they'd be willing to do this kind of shoot.”

There are many pros to having an engagement shoot. Ben also points out that it’s a great way to find out more about your photographer and their preferred style.

“An engagement shoot could help settle pre-wedding nerves and get you used to being in front of the camera,” he explains. “Not to mention it builds trust with your photographer and gives you an idea of how they will photograph you as a couple.”

Quirky engagement shoot

Image credit: Benjamin Stuart Photography

We also spoke to Dan from Dan Waters Creative, who works closely with couples before their engagement shoot to come up with ideas: "I always like to chat about the session as soon as a couple book me. Planning in advance often means they can choose which season to do the shoot in, especially if they’ve got a long build up to their wedding. I offer suggestions to get the couple excited about the possibilities – it’s fun to bounce around ideas."

Engagement shoots

Image credit: Dan Waters Creative

The Perfect Setting

Setting the right scene for your engagement shoot is important so think carefully about the location, as it will influence the whole outcome of your shoot.

“I’d suggest choosing a shoot location that’s different to your wedding venue,” suggests Ben. “It could be the place where you got engaged, a spot where you love going for walks or perhaps your favourite park - choose somewhere that has meaning to you both.”

City engagement shoot

Image credit: Benjamin Stuart Photography

If you just can’t decide on a location or what kind of shoot you want, why not take inspiration from your wedding theme or colour palette when generating ideas with your photographer? 

Jessica from Jessica Davies Photography explains more: “Think about a location that fits your wedding colour palette and atmosphere. This is a great way of tying the images in with your wedding, especially if you plan to use them for save the date cards.”

Spring engagement shoot

Image credit: Jessica Davies Photography

Choose the Best Time of Day

“Once you have a location in mind, think about the best time of day to do the shoot and whether your surroundings will be busy,” suggests Ben. “The point is to capture photos of you looking as comfortable as possible, not stressed that there are hundreds of people looking at you who will probably end up getting in the way!”

You don’t necessarily have to do the shoot in the middle of the day either. Shooting early in the day when the sun is rising can make for some stunning photos. Likewise if you’re shooting in the afternoon - you could wait for the sun to go down so that your photographer can snap some seriously romantic photos of your silhouettes against the sunset.

“If you are having your session outdoors, most photographers will encourage you to avoid booking for the middle of the day,” suggests Jessica. “When the sun is high it can create harsh shadows which need to be countered with artificial flash.

“Early morning , late afternoon and early evening will often yield soft and flattering light, helping your photographer to create the most beautiful and romantic images.”

Late afternoon engagement shoot

Image credit: Jessica Davies Photography

Consider Travelling

We’re not saying hop on a plane and jet off for a sun soaked engagement shoot (although that would be nice!), but it may be worth putting the miles in if there’s a particular city or place that you want to shoot your engagement shoot in.

“Dan and Phil came all the way from Liverpool to London to do their engagement shoot,” says photographer Natalia Slepokur when describing a recent shoot. “They left their house very early in the morning, but the idea of using water balloons as props kept the excitement going.

“The finished photos were amazing - it was a very fun and proactive shoot. They climbed on trees, played with water balloons and got completely soaked. I was laughing the whole way though - I think we all felt like kids!”

Fun engagement shoot

Image credit: Natalia Slepokur

If you’ve got a holiday planned before the big day or are planning a destination wedding, then you could even consider taking advantage of the new location for your engagement shoot.

If you’re tying the knot abroad and will have time to spend at your destination before the wedding, then do your research to try and track down a reputable photographer for wherever you’re going. Some UK photographers may even be prepared to travel so do some thorough research before you commit to anything.

Canada engagement shoot

Image credit: Benjamin Stuart Photography

Prepare for the Shoot

If the engagement shoot will be the first time you meet your photographer, perhaps go for a drink or have lunch with them beforehand to break the ice. This will also help you feel more relaxed for the shoot.

Don’t forget to plan what you wear in advance too, this gives you time to change your mind if you need to.

“Wear the appropriate clothing and footwear for your shoot location and the time of year,” says Ben. “Complement what your partner is wearing, making sure that you don’t match but don't clash either.”

Autumn engagement shoot

Image credit: Benjamin Stuart Photography

Some well-timed wedding planning could also work well for your engagement shoot, as Jessica suggests: “Many of my brides book their hair and makeup trial for the same day as their engagement session. Most makeup artists and hairdressers will be happy to tone the look down for you before you leave.

“As for the outfit, it’s best to avoid anything with text, logos, dark colours and clashing patterns. I also encourage brides to accessorise - flower crowns, a pretty hair accessory or even a floppy hat can all add interest and variety to your images.”

Capture the Happiness

When the day of the shoot arrives, try to set aside any nerves and instead channel all the excitement that you’ve been building since your engagement.

What could be better than a photograph to capture just how happy you both are? Your wedding is one of the biggest days of your life – use your engagement shoot to freeze this moment of happiness forever.

“I always tell couples to be themselves during engagement shoots,” says Ben. “Allow your emotions to show and if nerves threaten to take over, just remind yourselves that you're getting married!”

Woodland engagement shoot

Image credit: Benjamin Stuart Photography

Consider Props, Pets or a Theme

An engagement shoot is the perfect time for you and your partner to take centre stage, but if you’re a little bit camera shy then you could add props or another element to your photos so take away the intensity.

We spoke to the duo behind Sam and Louise Photography who shared their tips: "Do you or your partner share any hobbies or passions that could be included in the shoot? Having something else to focus on can help couples who are quite nervous or camera shy to relax and have fun. Including pets is always a fantastic way help settle any nerves too!"

If you're including your pet in your engagement shoot, why not bring them to your actual wedding too? If you needed any more convincing, here are 10 amazing pictures of dogs at their owner's weddings.

Engagement shoots with pets

Image credit: Sam and Louise Photography

Stay True to Your Personalities

Don’t be afraid to show it if you and your partner have got a unique sense of style. Just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean that you have to change who you are!

We love this cool and colourful London engagement shoot by Yasmin Anne Photography – everything from the clothes to the graffiti sprawled surroundings shows off this couple’s personalities to perfection.

If you consider yourself an edgy bride, take a look at our edit of alternative wedding dresses.

Edgy engagement shoot

Image credit: Yasmin Anne Photography

Re-enact the Proposal

Another great way to source ideas for your engagement shoot is by pulling inspiration from where it all began – the proposal! If you had a romantic picnic in the park or he spontaneously popped the question while you were walking the dog, re-enacting your proposal is a fun way to get you in the spirit of the engagement shoot.

Who doesn’t love a romantic marriage proposal caught on camera?

Outdoor engagement shoot

Image credit: Natalia Slepokur

Have Fun!

Unlike wedding photos, engagement shoots don’t have to be taken quite so seriously. The aim of them is to capture you both acting naturally as a couple and it’s the perfect chance to have a bit of fun and enjoy some quality time with your other half.

Overall, it’s important to just let go and enjoy yourself as much as possible. After all, how often do you get to do an engagement shoot?

Quirky engagement shoot

Image credit: Natalia Slepokur

Keep it Natural

We know that it’s not the easiest thing to ‘act natural’ when you’ve got a camera in your face, but don’t try to be something you’re not in your engagement shoot or overthink it with your poses. Just keep it relaxed and focus on your partner.

Natalia Slepokur gave us her top seven dos and don’ts for being in front of the camera:

  • DON’T make eye contact with the camera – “This will make the photos feel more natural and less like you’re acting in a movie."
  • DO make eye contact with your partner – “The shoot is all about the both of you so you need to connect in order to create a story."
  • DON’T let your arms just hang – “Hold hands, hug or put your arms round each other."
  • DO move around – “It’s more natural than freezing in one pose."
  • DO talk to each other – “Keep it positive and light though – now is not the time to moan about that annoying colleague from work!"
  • DON’T be afraid of looking silly – “Silliness can make for some great spontaneous photos."
  • DON’T be too worried about how you look – “This will stop you from enjoying yourself if you’re too fixed on your hair. Besides, the photos can always be edited afterwards."

Engagement shoot by fountain

Image credit: Natalia Slepokur

Once you’re engagement shoot is sorted, check out our checklist of wedding photo ideas to get inspiration for your big day.



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