Do you need an engagement shoot?


The date of the wedding is set, you’ve got your venue, you’re planning umpteen other things and you’ve just booked your photographer. At some point, the question comes up – do we need an engagement shoot? Engagement photography (sometimes called a pre-wedding shoot) is included in my wedding photography package and it’s something I’m asked about regularly. (It’s also something I obviously photograph regularly! If you want a few examples, check out Alex + James’ or Jaclyn + George’s engagement shoots over on the blog.)

People fall into two camps when they first think about whether or not they need an engagement shoot; either they’re immediately up for the idea or they’re hesitant because they hadn’t considered it before. However, nine times out of ten, when I talk through the reasons why I do engagement shoots, it all becomes clear.

But…I’m no good at having my photo taken!

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard this – from friends, family, clients, people on internet forums, you name it – I’d be stinking rich! Very few people ever say that they LOVE having their photo taken. Particularly professionally, by someone with a camera several times bigger than a smart phone. But, as my mum always said to me as a kid, practice really does make perfect. The more you do something, the more you get used to it and the less scary it gets. If you’re a bit camera shy before your wedding day, so much the better to get used to it before the big day arrives. You may even find that when it’s done right, you enjoy it!

We’re having photos at our wedding – do we really need more than that?

Not everyone does want to do an engagement shoot, but those that do find they really enjoy it and discover a whole bunch of other benefits which I’ll go through below. But consider this: this is – very probably – a time in your life where things at moving at a million miles an hour. So many of my couples aren’t just planning weddings; they’re moving house, they’re getting new jobs, their social calendars are packed for months and they’re enjoying life. Taking a moment (really, only an hour or two) out of that diary to capture this moment in time with professional shots is truly worth it. The photos won’t be just for now, they’ll be there for tomorrow as well.

We’ve been engaged for a while now – does it still count?

It really doesn’t matter when we do the shoot. It can be directly after you book me or a month before the wedding. The question of whether or not you need an engagement shoot is less about when and more about why.

engagement shoot couple in park

So, why would we need an engagement shoot?

1. Photos you can use

A fantastic reason that most people forget is that you can use the photos however you want! Some couples have theirs made into prints, some use them on save the dates or invites, some get them printed in signing books and others have used them on their wedding websites. I provide engagement photos normally within a week of the shoot, so they’ll be there for you to use however you want to shortly afterwards.

2. Get to know each other better

I regularly write about the difference it makes for us to all to get to know one another. After all, I’ll probably spend more time with you or near you on your wedding day than any one other person. For me: knowing the significance of a certain person in a speech, or a family member, or what not to photograph as much as what to photograph, can make all the difference. For you: having someone photographing your wedding – who you can truly trust and talk to honestly – makes a huge difference. I never want to be the photographer who abruptly shows up after months of silence and just takes a few snaps. In for a penny, in for a pound!

burton dassett hills scenic engagement shoot

3. Bust those camera nerves

As I mentioned above, getting some practice in can work wonders when it comes to nerves in front of a camera. Real talk: for the first ten minutes or so, it normally feels a little odd. Of course it would do. But, because of the way I work, this is temporary. I don’t bother with forced poses, or styling, or gimmicks, or anything approaching cheesy. I focus on finding a location that works and letting you be you. I’ve photographed couples in the location where they had their first date and I’ve photographed others in places that mean a lot to them. Once we’re there, I provide direction rather than posing and work with what you give me. The rest is easy. By the end of each shoot I do, even the most camera shy couples are having a whale of a time.

4. It’s fun!

If it wasn’t obvious from point (3) – these shoots are fun! We normally meet up first for a drink or a coffee, have a chat to catch up, then go for a wander. These shoots are relaxed, informal and it’s mostly best described as mucking about! Not only does this make it more comfortable for you, it makes it the perfect environment for me to be creative with how I shoot. Win win!

5. A moment in time

You can use the photos, you can get comfortable in front of a camera and you can have a fun afternoon. But, years from now – along with your wedding photos, of course – you’ll also have a snapshot in time of the two of you in that time before you got married. That’s priceless.

do we need an engagement shoot

Final thoughts

So, do you need an engagement shoot? Sometimes, it’s true, they’re not for everyone. And that’s okay. But for those that are interested, it’s a fantastic way to take some great photos, have a really fun time and, of course, to create some fantastic memories. If you’re uncertain or if you’d like to know more, head on over to my contact page and feel free to ask me any questions, big or small.