Monday, July 2, 2007

Eleven Tips for Great Engagement Photos

People ask me to do engagement photos for them all of the time, and I'm happy to do so. When planning your engagement photos, here are a few tips I came up with to make the process go more smoothly and give you better results.

Relax. The best pictures are ones where the couple looks comfortable, like they are enjoying being together. While I can offer suggestions for poses and will coach where necessary, just being yourselves usually gives the best results. Don't pick a time where we are under the gun to get everything finished; this creates undue stress, and it shows.

Clothing. My motto is that basic is best. I suggest solid colors, or even plain white. In most cases it is best to avoid patterns and black. Keeping it basic means the focus of the picture will be you rather than your clothes. Outfits do not need to match, but they should complement one another and have similar styling. Bring at least one change of clothes for some variety. And clothing should stand out from the background – don't wear forest green hoping to stand out from the trees.

Location, location, location. Engagement photos are about you, not where you have your pictures taken. More of the background in the picture means less of you. We want the focus to be on you instead of your environment, so it is probably best to not worry too much about where we take your pictures.

Lighting is everything. The key difference between a professional photo and an amateur photo is lighting. This means that for outdoor pictures we want to avoid the noonday sun's harsh shadows, and stay away from pictures at night. Pictures in the shade, taken on cloudy days and just before sunset are best for natural lighting. While I can use the flash to make up for some deficiencies in lighting, all natural is best.

B&W or Color? If you are considering doing pictures in black and white (or sepia) we need to take picture detail into account more than if we are working in color; fine detail is much more obvious and distracting in black and white. In addition, many colors appear to be identical, and we don't want you to blend into the background. With black and white contrast is key.

Announcement look? If you have an idea of the size and what you want the announcements to look like, let me know and I'll do my best to make the photos work within those requirements.

Let's Take Lots! If we shoot a lot of pictures, you'll have more to pick from, and better likelihood of finding something you like. Plus, you'll have pictures that can be used for other occasions, such as at a reception or photo album. I shoot digitally, so we aren't wasting any film.

Allow Plenty of Time. Not only should you allow plenty of time on the day of your photos, but allow plenty of time afterward for fixing in Photoshop and printing. These things take some time to finish. We shouldn't be taking your pictures days before the announcements need to be sent out. I very much prefer to spend some time tweaking photos for the best possible look.

Information, please. If you have things that you do or don't like about pictures you've had taken in the past let me know and I'll work with it as best as you can. For example, if you like pictures taken from one side vs. the other, or hate your profile, I'd like to know. You know what you like better than I do.

No Catch-22s. I have found that people who don't like having their picture taken have had bad pictures taken in the past, so they get nervous in front of the camera which results in more disliked pictures. If you relax and forget the pictures you have taken in the past, you'll get better results.

Bring a helper. Having an extra set of eyes and hands makes a big difference in how fast we can work and picking up on details that the rest of us might miss.

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