Engagement sessions aren’t just about great portraits of a couple. Photographers usually have a limited amount of time to interact with the couple on the wedding day because of the tight schedule. At engagement sessions, the atmosphere is much more relaxed and this allows the couple to get to know you and be comfortable in front of the lens. Come wedding day, you will enjoy a better rapport with the bride and groom – and your photographs will form a more poignant wedding narrative.

Here are my 5 tips to magnetic engagement sessions:

Seize the Golden Hour

Unlike weddings, you get to arrange the date and time to shoot an engagement session. Seize the opportunity to shoot during the famous golden hour and schedule your session 1-2 hours before sunset. As the sun will be low in the sky, it creates portraits with a soft wash of dramatic warm light (flattering!). The session usually lasts between 1 and 1.5 hours, and during that hour-long session, you can take advantage of opportunities to play with the natural light ranging from direct sunlight to the dramatic backdrop of sunset.

Who Let the Dog Out?

I love it when a couple brings awesome props to spice up the shoot. Whether it is a dog (they are always great fun) or a picnic basket, your subjects will have more fun and feel more comfortable when they are enjoying themselves. The best props are those that have a special meaning for the couple – it could be something they made together or an anniversary gift. This makes for more unique images that showcase the personalities and rapport of the couple. Before the session, you can also suggest props such as balloons, cool sunglasses, bubbles and hats – but let their imagination run wild.

No Prego Shirts, Please!

Prego shirts and white or gray clothing are an absolute no-no. Clothing and style can make a couple portrait really pop. You, as the photographer, need to advise your clients beforehand about what would look best on camera. Generally, they should stick to more form-fitting clothing. The couple’s attire should compliment one another – so always suggest bringing at least one change of clothes so that you have a variety of looks to play with. Ladies should also have their hair and makeup done prior to the shoot. They could always schedule and appointment with a professional or have their wedding day makeup trial on the date of the engagement session.

Take Me Out to the Ball Park

A favorite park, a movie theater, the ball park – pick locations that are significant to the couple. Couples might be nervous, as they are concerned about how they look or how to pose. Take them to locations that are special to them, so they feel more at ease. This also helps you to create images that are consistent to who your clients are. Search for dynamic backgrounds that complement the clothing and personalities of the couple. Don’t stick a conservative couple against a graffiti wall just to get your shot – it won’t resonate with them and you won’t get the best out of your clients.

Be Creative on the Fly

Say it rains, what do you do? Some of my best engagement sessions have been in the rain. When circumstances seem to go against you, think on your feet and you may end up with fresh and innovative shots. Maybe you can start in a glorious indoor location and end the session with some cool outdoor umbrella shots. Push yourself out of the box – maybe the sun’s in the shot, or have the couple lay on the grass. A lot of shots won’t work, but you might just get that magical one.


i really like your life so so much.

Found this post just in time, shooting an unknown location this weekend and nervously looking for some inspiration. Thanks for the post Catherine!

Katherine, that first shot in the city with the umbrella is breathtaking. The picture composition, the motion blue, the pose, everything is just amazing. I love being inspired by others and am always inspired when i come to your site. I love being pushed, and look forward to having a target to shoot for. Im sure Ill be shooting for a long time before I can get a shot that classic. Enjoy the success.


Hello Jon, THank you for your kindness and support. I checked out your site and you do beautiful work. People obviously feel at ease around you. I would argue that you are already capturing “classic”shots; remember – we are our own biggest critics.

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