Better engagement photos

One of the biggest concerns my wedding couples come to me with, is worrying their engagement photos will look cheesy or downright cringe. Engagement or pre-wedding photographs are complimentary and included within all my wedding packages, and I’ll be honest, frequently, my couples will admit to ‘dreading’ or ‘not looking forward’ to our time together doing these photos – and I can understand why.

In years gone by we’ve all seen the soft-focus, lovey-dovey style studio photos, in highly unnatural looking poses; fingers locked together under your chin, the camera at a jaunty angle, perma-smile. Us Brits just aren’t used to posing for the camera a lot of the time (though this has changed with the surge in selfie popularity), so we’re naturally already uncomfortable with the thought of it. It’s one thing taking an impromptu snap of yourself with a flattering ‘wacky’ dog filter on it, but quite another when you’re having a stranger shove their lens in your direction whilst you need to convey you’re happier than anyone else on the planet, grinning manically. However, the good news is, your photographs don’t need to be any of these things, not cheesy nor cringey, and I’ll show you how you can achieve lovely, natural gorgeousness with my 5 top tips for non-cringey engagement photos!


1. Stop calling them engagement photos

I suspect by calling them engagement photos, the soft-focus nightmare I mentioned above seeps into your subconscious, and you’re associating the experience with the thought of it being centred around when you got engaged. Again, us Brits are a little bashful about our emotions, so the thought that a whole photography session is focusing on the time you got all soppy with your other half doesn’t fill you with joy. With that in mind, I don’t even call them engagement photos – I call them pre-wedding photos. It may not roll off the tongue as nicely, but I don’t consider them engagement photos because the purpose of them isn’t to photograph the ring (sorry) or re-enact how one of you proposed, it’s a chance for us to get together before the wedding (hence the ‘pre’ bit) and get to know each other with the camera before the big day. It’s kind of like a dry run, so I can see how you interact in front of my lens, and you can see what I’m like behind it, so we all know what we’re doing on the big day. And who doesn’t love a practice to make sure things go well? So quit calling them engagement photos, because that makes people freak out, and start thinking of them as a little practice before the day.


Engagement photos Essex


2. Pick a date, time and location that suits

As you’ll already know, I don’t work out of a studio, so we have to use the Great Outdoors as our backdrop. The beauty of this, is that we can choose just about anywhere to have your pre-wedding photos. I always suggest you pick somewhere you really love or means something to you, as you’ll already feel more comfortable about what we’re doing – and in turn, the more comfortable you’ll feel, the better the photographs will be.

Think about where you’d like to go, and give consideration to the time and date. Is it a place that gets busy with lots of visitors, or it has a closing time? Are there actual nice places to photograph there, or is it fairly limited? These are important questions to consider as it affects the experience. Frequently, my couples choose places which are out of the way, or less busy, so they can feel more comfortable being photographed if there aren’t many people around, which makes total sense to me if that’s your concern.

And the time of day we photograph is just as important, firstly because it determines how busy a place may be, but secondly and most importantly, it’s because of the sun. When photographing, contrary to popular belief, the sun is not our friend. We don’t want it to be crazy sunny. In fact, I’d quite like it to be reasonably overcast, because this gives a nice even light when we’re photographing. So with this in mind, I don’t schedule pre-shoots around or over midday, when the sun is highest and craziest, because it’s the worst time of day for photos. During the summer months, I suggest 3.00pm + for shoots, and if you really want glorious, golden, beautiful light during summer: between 6.30 – 8.30pm is prime time.


Sunset engagement photo



3. Wear normal clothes

Just because you’re being photographed, it doesn’t mean you need to turn up in something you wouldn’t normally wear, because it’s a special occasion. Make sure you wear something you’re comfortable in, that is something you’d usually wear, and something you won’t look back on in years to come and think ‘Why did I wear that?!’ because I’ll tell you what – that’s what I did. When my husband and I had our pre-wedding shoot, I wore something I wouldn’t usually wear as I thought it’d look more feminine (?!) but when the photos came back I was unhappy with how I looked. Not because of the photography, the shots were great, but I realised it just wasn’t me. And now I won’t look at 75% of them because it irritates me. And I haven’t worn that outfit since. *sob*

Also, try to wear brighter or lighter colours for the pre-shoot, because these help make the photos pop. I’m not saying you need to rush out and buy hot pink, or matchy-matchy clothes, but do avoid both of you wearing dark trousers and dark tops, for example. This is more hazardous during winter months as most people have dark winter coats, but outside of winter, just don’t wear dark jeans and a dark top because it looks rubbish in my photos, you dig?



Engagement photos with dog


4. Trust me, I’m a doctor. I mean a photographer.

I’ve done quite a few of these things now, so I’ve got a good idea as to what works well and what doesn’t. I don’t take photos that are out of line with my style or personality. You’re hiring me because you like my photos, so we’ll be taking photos pretty much like the ones you’ve seen previously. The photos happen fairly organically; I give you a little prompt as to what to do, and we see where it leads us. If something isn’t working, like it doesn’t look right (the light, the background etc) then we’ll try something else. And along the way, we’ll just chat for an hour and a half or so, about your wedding, about my wedding, about dogs, about anything you like. All of these jedi mind tricks I employ help make for natural, non-cringe photos.


5. Be yourselves, relax, enjoy. And don’t try to re-create something you’ve seen on Pinterest

This is incredibly important. You wouldn’t be here reading these Top Tips if you weren’t interested in making your pre-wedding shoot a great experience, with some beautiful photos as a result. All you need to do, above everything else, is be yourselves. After all, the reason we’re all getting together to do this gig is because the two of you have decided you like each other best out of everyone, so automatically things are good! During the pre-shoot, all I want you to do is be yourselves, have a chat between you, have a laugh, feel free to poke fun at me or anything else we see, move around, smile, think about when you first met, think ahead to when you can let your hair down at the reception, all that kind of good stuff. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, we’re walking around, taking some photos, nothing crazy. Yes, I will be asking you to hold hands or hug, there will also be a little experimentation with some very low-key poses, normal stuff – no cheese – helping us practice for when you’re in your posh wedding clobber.

It’s easy for me to say relax, chill out, try not to worry about what to do during your pre-shoot, but I absolutely guarantee you’ll go from “We were dreading this” to “That wasn’t too bad actually, I quite enjoyed it” which in Brit language means it was FREAKING EPIC!

And yes, please, don’t come to me with poses you found on Pinterest. Cheers.


Of course, if you have any concerns about doing a pre-wedding shoot, which are included as standard with all my wedding photography packages, just let me know and we can have a chat about it. Above all, your comfort in what we’re doing is paramount. But please believe me when I say they are not anywhere near as scary as you think, and you get a great set of images to keep and cherish.


Winter engagement photo



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