How to prepare for an engagement shoot


The question of how to prepare for an engagement shoot comes up so often, I decided to put together a handy blog post for anyone and everyone interested. I’ve previously written about how to decide if you want one, and I’ve blogged plenty of the shoots I’ve done with my awesome couples. Similar questions come up, and I’ve always got similar answers – so here they all are!

Prepare for an engagement shoot – before you go


When you prepare for an engagement shoot, it’s really important to consider where you go. The backdrop and surroundings have as much of an impact on how the photos will look as the style of the photographer you work with. There are a whole bunch of things to consider, but some key questions to ask are:

  • ‘Is there somewhere that means a lot to us that we can go back to?’ Perhaps a park you always went to, a cafe you really love, somewhere you went for an early date, or a neighbourhood that just resonates with you.
  • ‘Do we mind if there are other people there?’ Some locations are by their very nature busier than others. Some are quiet and deserted. Having been a london wedding photographer for some time, I know a whole bunch of cool places including some that are super hidden. Just ask!
  • Are there any permits needed for photography there? It might be that your favourite spot in the whole wide world is a restaurant on top of a skyscraper. Places like that often need permits for any kind of photography – but let me know! I’ll look into making it happen for you 🙂
  • ‘You know what…it would be really cool to get some photos in THIS place!’ Go ahead and choose somewhere really cool and totally different

What to wear

This is by far the biggest question that I get asked. And, although it’s important, it’s quite simple to prepare for an engagement shoot by wearing whatever makes you feel awesome. There’s a happy medium to be struck, for sure. That is, don’t wear your Sunday best but also don’t wear those tracky bottoms you reserve for all those Netflix binges of Master of None. (You know the ones I mean. (Side note: how awesome is Aziz Ansari?)) ‘Smart casual’ is probably too restrictive and clunky a term, so just wear whatever makes you look and feel good. Matching what you wear can look a bit cheesy, but also being completely different can look odd as well. The bottom line? If you head out that day and both stop in front of the mirror to say ‘hey, we look damn good together’, that’s when you know you’ve nailed it.

Practice run

Quite often, brides to be will see if it’s possible to do a practice run of hair and/or make up to prepare for their engagement shoot. Many of mine do, and I always advise leaving enough time in between any appointment and the shoot itself. It’s not uncommon for such appointments to run over a little bit, so make sure to leave plenty of time in between.

During the shoot

Take it easy and have fun!

Because it’s always a great chance to catch up, we’ll always meet up for a coffee or a drink before the shoot itself. Then, when we do go shoot, it’s super informal. I bring very little kit with me and it’s just the three of us out and about wherever we’ve chosen. The best remedy to any nerves is to just let loose and try to make one another laugh! I don’t do any kind of ‘formal’ posing or anything like that because I believe it can make things look stilted. Instead, I provide cues and direction that allow you to be you and for us to take some amazing photos.

Props…don’t bother

Some blogs on this topic recommend bringing props along. Although this is fine for some, my view is that this is more hassle than it’s worth. Engagement shoots are about the two of you together. This means I’m looking for those moments between you that, when photographed, create amazing memories. If we’re mucking about trying to get a prop to work correctly it can really distract from the goal: creating lasting, amazing images of the two of you together.


After the shoot

Make an occasion of it

Engagement shoots are all about the two of you, so why not take the opportunity to keep that going! Many shoots I do see the couple head off for dinner together or to spend the rest of the day doing something together. Why not seize the chance to make the most of it?

Use the photos!

One of the obvious benefits of having an engagement shoot is that you get photos afterwards! And you can use them howver you want. Many of my couples buy prints through my client gallery, others have used them to create signing books for the wedding day. Some even use them on save the dates, invitations or even wedding websites. The options are endless. If you’ve got an idea for how to use them, feel free to ask me about it.


Final thoughts

At the end of the day, an engagement shoot is all about the two of you. It’s about having fun and coming away from it all with amazing photos. With a little bit of forethought, this is super easy to do. Engagement shoots are super fun and I always come away from them with a smile on my face and, the best part of it is, they’re currently included in my wedding package. If you’ve just gotten engaged or you’re planning your wedding photography, why not get in touch and we can plan an engagement shoot together!

I hope this blog post has helped you to prepare for your engagement shoot. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll be sure to reply to you as soon as I can 🙂