How to Take Engagement Photos that You Really Love
May 25, 2018
It is important to me that during our SMP reboot, we are not only celebrating the real weddings of the world but that we are also serving as a resource for couples who are going into this planning journey feeling nervous and perhaps unprepared. So, I love this next post that beloved photographer, Jose Villa, helped me with - how to get what you really want out of your engagement photos. Packed with REAL information on what you can do to prepare and how you can help yourself relax during this early phase that you leave with photos that you love and that you can't wait to show off.

Get Comfortable. Now this could mean comfort in a very physical sense - choosing clothes that you are comfortable in, that you can move in, that make you feel like you - but, it can also mean comfort in a far bigger sense. Choosing a surrounding that you know and feel at home in, having a glass (not three) of wine in a quiet setting before you gear up to shoot, getting your makeup done professionally so you feel gorgeous, asking your photographer - very specifically - to give you ideas on how you can get better shots so that you feel prepared and more at ease. Whatever you need to do to help set the stage for comfort - even in what might feel like an uncomfortable situation - is going to help you feel far more relaxed.

Trust Your Photographer. This is really big, people. If you went through the effort of finding a photographer that you love - whose innate style you love and whose output of imagery you love - trust them. Listen to them. Let them guide you. The more you force poses that you've seen before or try to specifically construct what you want the final outcome to look like, the less room your photographer will have to do what they do best.

So what really makes a good photograph?

"It has to be both emotional and technically right on. You have to be in the right place at the right time, and the easiest way to do that is to be aware of your surroundings. The more you practice, the better you become at anticipating the next moment." --Jose Villa

Find the Light. I have had a million headshots and in-action shots taken of myself. But there is one set that I always go back to. Because the light is spectacular. It's called the Magic Hour and usually happens in the hour before the sun sets, where the world just seems to glow. And so will your skin. And your hair, and your eyes. The right light can soften and perfect everything so the camera doesn't have to work as hard.

Let Your Photographer Be Themselves. Select a photographer whose style you love and DON'T expect them to change that very style to fit some look or feel that you saw on Pinterest. Because it's not going to work. A photographer will always have a personal aesthetic. An approach to color and style and lighting and composition. It's a craft that they have studied and perfected. If you force them out of it and into another style, it's not that they can't do it, it's that the level of artistry will be different. It will feel forced. And it will show in your final photos.

Don't Copy. Don't expect to recreate an image you saw online. This is SO common by the way. It's probably one of the top three complaints from photographers heard round the world. You see an amazing shot of a couple on SMP, the light just so, she's tucking her hair behind her ear and he is gazing at her with pure love in his eyes. Guess what? That was candid. That actually happened. It wasn't artificially created and posed. So if you then try to mimic that look, there is a solid chance that you will be super disappointed in the outcome. It all goes back to trusting your photographer and letting the experience and those amazing shots unfold in a very natural way.

Think About Photo Usage. Consider how you will be using your engagement photos... Your wedding website? Framed in your home? On your save the dates? Convey these ideas to your photographer so that they can shoot with those priorities in mind. So that they know to shoot vertical shots for an invitation. They know to shoot horizontal for your website. Which brings us to...

Share, share, share. Share as much as you can about your wedding with your photographer. The more you share about the wedding itself - the vibe, the venue, the details, the color (even if still just rough ideas) - the more they can guide the shoot in a way that will compliment all of those elements. You will get much more use out of your photos if they fit the look and feel of your wedding details.
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Know your angles. And in this day and age of the selfie, that shouldn't be too hard. In an interview Jose did for Brides Mag, he said ... "Turn toward the center of the frame. Don't drop your chin. Relax your shoulders. Breathe! Got all that! You'll look gorge." Basically everything.

Don't overthink things. "Im really tired of shoots that are over-styled. I’m super over those. It just kind of trashes the whole thing. Keeping it simple and not overdoing things with tons of crap in the picture is better." -- Jose Villa. Because here's the deal. You two have your own totally interesting, emotion filled story to tell. You don't need a ton of props and poses to share that story. Instead, go in with a few funny memories tucked into your pocket, a few words that you've always wanted to say. Talk to each other, laugh with each other, mess with each other and go to that place that you two feel most yourselves - whether it's serious and intense or lighthearted and fun.

Kiss like no one is watching. When all else fails, just make out. Seriously. A good makeout session is the equivalent of three cocktails. It will either heat things up, it will make you die laughing or it will instantly relax you. Probably all of the above. Then the shoot can really begin.
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