Focus on… photography advice

Ready for your close-up?

Photographer Jennifer Bedlow gives PWM readers a guide on to get the most out of your engagement photos


Engagement shoots are like Marmite: some couples love the idea of an extra photo shoot before their wedding, while others imagine an awkward, cheesy and rather uncomfortable experience they would rather avoid. If you fall into this ‘hater’ camp, I wonder if you have ever considered the advantages of getting in front of the camera before your wedding day?

An engagement shoot, also known as a pre-wedding shoot or an ‘e-session’, is an excellent opportunity for you and your wedding photographer to get to know each other. You should feel more relaxed being photographed on your wedding day knowing that the photographer is no longer a complete stranger. Pre-wedding shoots also provide important information for the photographer, such as which angles or positions work best for you as a couple, and any issues with communication can be clarified. (‘Tilt your head to the left’ can be interpreted in many ways!)

Choose a location for the shoot that means something to you as a couple – where you first met or had your first date, for example. My clients Shams and Robbie (pictured) quickly decided on Greenwich, as this was where Shams proposed to Robbie in front of family and friends, many of whom he had secretly flown in from Robbie’s native Italy.

Engagement shoots are a chance for you to be professionally photographed at a location that simply would not be possible on your wedding day – on a boat, up a tree, in water, at home or even in bed.

If you are feeling at all nervous about your engagement shoot, planning an activity such as bowling or playing a round of golf can help you to forget you are being photographed, relax and be natural.

The best time of day to begin a shoot is around an hour before sunset. This timing will give you some pictures in daylight as well as the ‘golden hour’ (imagine the beautiful golden light seen as the sun begins to set), and some dramatic night time photography.

Alternatively, choose a time that is different to the time of your wedding to add variety to your photographs – ask for a night time shoot if your photographer is only booked until 3pm on your wedding day.

When deciding what to wear, stick to plain rather than patterned clothing and clean, crisp colours. This is because the pattern often cannot be clearly seen in photographs, and instead makes the clothing look a little muddy.

Shams and Robbie chose clothing that complemented each other, and Robbie opted for a blue jumper which made his beautiful blue eyes visually ‘pop’. Also, choose clothing that suits the location and activity – wearing suits or cocktail dresses while up a mountain may not make sense!

Many couples choose to have a change of outfit during the shoot, which can work really well, especially when moving from day to night. Daytime shoots suit more casual clothing, while formal wear often works well after dark. Make sure there is a comfortable place where you can change nearby.

The photographs from your pre-wedding shoot have many practical uses. You can print them on your wedding invitations, use them inside the guestbook at your wedding reception or as postcards for your guests to write messages. The humble engagement shoot turns out to be quite a winner!

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