By Scott Umstattd
Engagement Photo Ideas: Whether you use props, a unique setting or matching outfits, there's always something fun you can come up with for capturing the perfect set of engagement photos.
While it's important to bring a little something extra to any wedding engagement photo shoot, you, as the photographer, should never forget that the props or the background will always play a secondary role. Every picture you take should place focus on the couple and not the cool car your friend let you borrow.
Here are some engagement photo ideas....
Above: For those of us who live in rural areas nothing beats an old pick up truck as a premiere engagement photo idea. If you live in a metro area an old truck may still make lots of sense but maybe you need to use a classic car instead of a truck. Then again, unless you are Jay Leno and have access to a fleet of classic rides you may be at the mercy of what is available to you.
If you don't have a classic car or truck or if none of your friends have one you can still find a sweet ride to add some spice to your engagement photos. For example, on one photo shoot (not the one above) my wife and I knew of an old truck at a mechanics shop. We asked the owner of the shop who owned the old white truck parked in his parking lot. He gave us the guy's name and we called him to ask if we could use his truck. Oftentimes, these individuals have great pride in their ride and may be more than willing to allow you to use their pride and joy in a photo shoot.
As with anything (including engagement photo ideas) no harm can come from asking.
Above: As a wedding photographer you are limited by your surroundings. While it may be ideal to go to Venice to take engagement photos in their romantic gondolas, budgets and time restraints may mean that a trip to Venice will only be a dream.
Again, if you have friends, families or access to something similar you can create an image that rivals the romance of Venice.
For the shot above, the couple had their own little boat. We drove to a nearby lake to take a series of pictures both on the water and on the shore.
The close confines of a small boat help to tell the story that the couple is "in this together". It is symbolic of the commitment they are making. When thinking through your engagement photo ideas keep in mind the story that is being told. Adding a little extra to their surroundings helps to do this.
Above: Part of what a wedding couple expects from their photographer is ideas. If you know your area you can share with them many of your engagement photo ideas; ideas that they would have never considered because they were unaware of a romantic location.
For this shoot, I was able to get permission (again, simply by asking) to take pictures at this old barn. I'm always looking for new places to do these kinds of photo shoots.
As you drive or walk around your community keep an eye out for areas that have a romantic appeal. It may be years before you get a chance to actually do a shoot there, but knowing the possibilities will not only help you create unique pictures it will give the couple increased confidence in your ability to provide them with the special qualities they are looking for in their engagement photos.
As with classic cars and trucks, old buildings bring a charm that cannot be achieved with today's modern designs.
To be a step ahead in this whole process visit the romantic sites that you find and take some practice pictures so that you are not learning while your couple is posing.
Some other reasons to pre-visit these sites is to determine how the sun will help or hinder you in this process. You don't want to get to an amazing site with your couple only to discover that the sun has become your enemy and not your friend.
As a wedding photographer you have to be a step or two ahead of everything that you are asking your couple to do. Avoid surprises by scouting locations to make sure you can provide the best pictures.
Above: Every couple is different. Some will be willing to do unusual things. Some will want to keep it simple. In the end, the couple is always right in however they choose to portray themselves to the world.
For this picture the couple came to me with a clear idea of what they wanted. The photo of Diego and Frida is special to this couple and they wanted to recreate this painting.
There is an endless supply of paintings and photos that can be recreated. By offering your couple these types of engagement photo ideas you are letting them know that you have experience and that you are willing to think outside of the box to give them pictures that uniquely represent their relationship.
Above: If you don't have a Scrabble game get one. Using the letters in the game to spell out their names or whatever phrases align with their relationship gives you a quick and easy way to personalize this special day.
Another tool you should have in your engagement photos ideas tool chest is sidewalk chalk. With these colored chalks you can use words of draw images on the ground that help to symbolize their commitment to one another.
Some couples will come to you with very specific ideas that they want to create. Other couples will come to you and expect you to think everything through for them. If the couple knows what they want it is your job to make that happen for them. But if the couple is looking for engagement photo ideas and you are not able to offer any, you may very well lose their business.
Be prepared. Do the leg work ahead of time. Don't wait until you are hired to begin thinking. As a wedding photographer you need to come to the table with ideas and flexibility. In the end, the photos are not about you. They are about the couple and what they want.
No matter how much work you do to find great locations or great props, never let your desire to show the props and background interfere with the fact that the pictures are about the people and not the cool things and places you have found.