Since we’re both photographers, we decided to take our own engagement photos in August of last year. We ended up using the photos for our save the date and wedding invitations.
This post is all about sharing that experience so that you can try this yourself!
Gear | What you need
At the very least, you’re going to need a camera and a tripod to take your own engagement photos.
Ideally it would be a DSLR or ILC. Whatever it is, you need to be able to trigger the camera either using a timer or remote.
Here’s the gear that I had on shoot:
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More Gear | Nice to haves
In order to get better results and make things easier for yourself, here’s some additional gear that is helpful:
High quality Lenses (not necessarily expensive)
You could get away with using a 50mm 1.8 in a pinch which just happens to be the least expensive lens in every camera manufacturer’s lineup.
Lenses with large apertures can give you beautiful bokeh (the way the background blurs behind and in front of your subject).
Remote shutter release
Sure you can use the timer delay on your camera and run into the frame, but that can result in a lot of misses.
Using a remote give you the power to control when the image is captured. I used my PocketWizard PlusXs to both trip the shutter and trigger the lighting.
Having some lighting gear on hand will allow you to get beautiful lighting on both of you even when conditions aren’t ideal. We used my Profoto B1 with a Photek Softlighter attached to create soft, beautiful light.
It will take longer to set things up if you have lighting, but it can make a huge difference to the results of your DIY engagement session.
If you don’t already own these items, adding them to your kit may cost you a bit of money – maybe even more than hiring a photographer to take the photos for you. Go for it if you can justify the cost.
Preparing | It’s all about the details
In photography, it’s a combination of details that come together to create a great image. Here’s some of the things you can do beforehand to prepare yourself.
- Get Inspired | Get really clear on the style of photography you want to capture and get ideas by looking online (Pinterest is great for this).
- Find the Perfect Location | Location is one of those things that can really separates great photo from average ones. Take the time to find and even scout potential locations.
- What to wear | Wear things that both show your style, are flattering and will work in the environment/location you’ll be shooting in. To be honest, I wouldn’t say I’m particularly fashionable, but what we wore worked for us.
We found this pine plantation through information online and had to drive an hour to get there.
One of the cool things about shooting at a plantation is that the trees are planted in rows, creating ordered hallways of trees. We used this to enhance the compositions in comparison to shooting in a regular Australian forest.
Looking back, it may have been a better idea to wear a brighter coloured top as my black shirt blends in with the shadows of the forest.
Execution | Make the magic happen
Even with all of your planning, there’s a lot of little details that you’ll need to be aware of when taking your own engagement photos to get optimal results.
- Stay Comfortable | If either of you are physically uncomfortable, the shoot will quickly go downhill.
- Look for Light | Great lighting makes for great pictures so keep your eye of for amazing lighting and make adjustments as it occurs.
- Ideas | Be open to each others ideas and try things that you wouldn’t normally do. If you shut down each others ideas, the vibe of the shoot will be affected, and who knows, maybe that idea will result in a great photo!
- Keep it fun | Not everything is going to go your way, but if you keep things fun you’ll get much better results (in the photos and in your relationship).
- Expression | Facial expressions and body positions are extremely important in creating the emotional connection and meaning in engagement photos.
- Shoot the details | Don’t forget to shoot the smaller more intimate details, just like a professional photographer would.
- Tell a story | Adding shots of parts of the day or location that don’t include either of you will give you options to tell a bigger story with your engagement photos.
- Post processing | Shooting in RAW and then giving your images a tone that fit the feeling you’re going for will add that extra polish.
We decided not to do any retouching on the images as we wanted to keep that authentic feeling.
This is the software I use for 95% of my editing:
(affiliate link – support this site by using this link to start your free trial)
- Don’t get too attached | Remember you’re not trying to win any awards so don’t get upset if the images aren’t quite looking the way you want them to. You can always try again some other time.
Pros & Cons
So how do you decide whether or not to try to take your own engagement photos or hire a professional? Here’s what I learned through my experience.
|DIY Engagement Photos||Hire a Pro|
|Time||It takes time to set up the gear, framing and go through variations to get the shots. If you’re in a rush, hire a pro.||Hiring a pro (not just someone with an SLR) will allow you to get great results in less time.|
|In the moment feedback||There is none. You’re going to do things that you think look good on camera only to find out they don’t. You need to look at the shots as you go and tweak accordingly.||A photographer can give you direction based on what they’re seeing through their lens, making the feedback-result loop much tighter.|
|Angles & Serendipity||You’re not likely to get the same number of angles because of how long it takes to set things up and go through options. Catching serendipitous moments depends on your camera timer or when you hit the shutter button on your remote.||A pro will be able to change things up quickly, get angles that aren’t easily achievable with a tripod and move to catch serendipitous moments as they occur in front of her/him.|
|Challenge||It’s a great opportunity to try something new, and use inspiration to create your own engagement photos. There’s something different about having created something for yourself rather than letting someone else do the work.||There’s no really challenge other than being in front of the camera (which many people find difficult).|
|Cost||.The cost of shooting your own engagement session can be negligible if you already have all the gear you need. The more gear you need to buy or rent may tip the scales in the other direction. If you do buy, you’ll have that gear to use on other shoots.||The cost is much higher, and for good reason. A professional photographer who you connect with can create amazing results that aren’t possible if you do it yourself. But it will cost you!|
Get inspired and give it a go!
I’d love to hear about how it went for you.
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