Engagement Photos - 7 Tips for your Engagement Session

7 Tips for awesome Key West Engagement Photos – The Do’s and Dont’s

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It’s that time of year again – engagement season. I think over the past 3 days I have seen at least 10 of my friends post to their social media that they are engaged!  It’s the time of the year where I have couple’s ask me the same questions and the truth is this blog post is totally being written to answer those questions and more!  Here’s my top 7  list of things to do to make your engagement photos fun and awesome!

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1. BE CLOSE : This entire shoot was taken in one general area. Whether we are on the road, a secluded island, or at beach it wasn’t the location that made the shoot unique. It wasn’t the light, or the way I pressed the button. It wasn’t even the fact that I was able to pose the couple a million different ways that all looked like a perfect pinterest board. What made this shoot special in the fact that these two were willing to be truly close. I start every shoot with the simple statement – “don’t over think it.” I say it at EVERY shoot. The shocking thing is that I’m serious here – DON’T OVER THINK IT! This is about the two of you as a couple, in love. Show the camera why you choose each other to spend the rest of your life together!
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2. BE ACTIVE : I hear all the time from couples that they are drawn to my work because of my natural and candid images.  My response is always the same – I try to do as little “posing” as possible. What makes GREAT engagement photos isn’t the fact that I can tell you where to put your hands or how to hold your chin (cue senior photo memory slideshow). What makes a truly beautiful engagement photo is for you to feel free to have fun and just hang out! There is however a few things I go over at the start of each session, (keep your back arched, keep your eyes either into each other or low, keep your hands busy, keep your feet deliberate, bla bla bla). The reality is that even though I give you a million little rules to cloud up your mind on a shoot the goal is simple. I am giving you tips to HELP you look good, and the flexibility to look natural together! END RESULT? Clever, creative poses that don’t look like poses! (And that I didn’t have to somehow place you in.)The engagement session is probably the most fun the both of you will have together during this season in life. It is a great time where the both of you get to laugh, skip, hold hands and cuddle in front of a camera, and it isn’t weird at all! I do everything I can to make sure you are having the most fun possible! When you’re having fun, that means you are doing the first thing: Being Yourself! Those are the images I look for because those are the moments I want to capture, not just posed pictures.
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3. BE STYLISH : Probably the place every couple starts for their shoot is what they’re going to wear. TOTALLY BACKWARDS. What matters first is where are you going to shoot? What do you want this shoot to look like? THEN you can put together outfits that feel good in that place. That doesn’t mean you need to match your backgrounds. Contrast is a good thing. BUT having an outfit that is perfectly trendy, perfectly RIGHT NOW, gives me a chance to take photos that are equally right now.  Don’t consult pinterest for hours and try to mimic the outfits you see when you search for engagement photos. Once you find the perfect little summer dress, (or whatever), style him too! What makes the styling of ANY engagement shoot is the groom. (WHAT?!?!) No seriously, a sharp dressed dude pulls the look together. Clothes fit well and the style suits him.  Even I can attest that I have to ask a woman’s opinion before I buy and outfit ALWAYS!

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4. BE HAPPY : The greatest photos aren’t when I count to three. You don’t need to spend hours in a mirror practicing the perfect smile! Shocking right? Instead have a glass of wine before your shoot, or just take a few hours before your shoot to grab lunch and hang out! The less stressed you are about how you look the more capable you are to FEEL. My least favorite thing I hear photographers tell their clients is to “laugh”. The fake laugh is the back pocket trick of a photographer who isn’t engaged in their sessions WITH their clients. Instead what matters is catching the REAL emotion that’s happening on the shoot. Occasionally that means I have a running commentary during the entire shoot. Regardless what ties together a GREAT shoot is a couple who’s up for some fun together.
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5. BE WILLING : Sometimes you have to go on a little adventure to get the composition and backdrops you want.  You may have to climb some rocks, walk through a wooded area or go for a long ride.  Remember that any photographer that does this full time is very used to helping you through these obstacles. I can’t tell you how many brides I’ve help carry through fields, how many shoes I’ve put on, how many dresses I’ve carried, and how many bottles of ice water I’ve sprinted back to the car 1/2 mile away to grab. Even though this is our job, nothing spoils it more than a couple who wants the perfect product but isn’t willing. SO – make it fun! Laugh about the walk, make him give you a piggyback, or just relax and enjoy a shoot that ideally comes around once in a lifetime!
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6. BE CUTE : We’ve all seen a few shots like this one.  I asked Heather in this situation to jump into Keith’s arms – no directions, no plan, not even a 1.2.3. and the result was gorgeous. She jumped, arched her back, kicked her dress feet up in the air, and kissed Keith like he had just swept her completely off her feet. Romantic didn’t even begin to describe it.  I didn’t have to describe to her where to put her arms or how to hold her legs. The trick was simple “Guys get close and forget i am here,” GO!” I get it, not ALL couples can just tackle these types of shots. But if you don’t try – you don’t know!
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7. BE HAPPY : I KNOW I KNOW that was number 4! This isn’t about being happy with each other, it’s about being happy with your pictures! Just a few years ago before the invention of Pinterest and photoshop, couples would have been thrilled to get 5 or 6 great shots of them together! Now we’re in a race to give you 40,50,100 engagement photos all with different ideas and concepts at a million locations with 3 or 4 outfits. Keep in mind what your engagement photos are for! A few GREAT shots of you together to remember this part of your life is SO much more important than a 300 photo album on facebook that nobody except for your closest friends will actually look ALL the way through!

Some girls will have their practice run regarding hair, makeup, and nails for the engagement shoot. This helps them feel a little more ‘done-up’ for the shoot and boosts their confidence. We are not saying you should do this AT ALL!! However, what we can say is that in our experience shooting engagement sessions, girls want to feel pretty and confident…and sometimes spending a little extra time getting ready achieves just that. So get all dolled up and go ahead and Treat Yo’ Self (yes this is a Parks & Rec reference)

SO – We want you to jump in with us and help make as many GREAT shots as you can and then just be really excited that you have them!  You should be able to EXPECT great photos from a pro photographer. But what’s different now isn’t just the quality of the photo, it’s the experience of getting the photos taken! Soak up a day in the sun together having fun taking your engagement photos and making those memories.
Engagement photos are one of my favorite parts of my job. I love getting out and just having fun and love how different these shots can be from couple to couple! If you’re one of my couples reading this, you know that I try not to give you too many pointers before hand. Just where to meet me and what all to bring! Bottom line – “DON’T OVERTHINK IT.” Just have fun with it! {Mike}

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