33 Engagement Photo Ideas & Tips from Our Favorite Photographers

Wedding photographers shared their favorite engagement photos — and their top tips and tricks on how to nail your own pre-wedding photography session

Updated 12/17/15

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Engagement photos are the perfect opportunity to get to know your photographer while getting comfortable in front of the camera — not to mention, they're the perfect chance to show off your personality as a couple. While these pre-wedding portrait sessions are supposed to be fun, it's no secret that stepping before a professional camera for the first time often elicits a mixed bag of emotions from both the future bride and groom alike. But here's the scoop all photographers want you to know: in addition to walking away with a seriously stunning collection of portraits (and how often do you really get the chance to pose for gorgeous shots with your guy?), you'll get plenty of face time with the one person you'll spend the majority of your wedding day with.

That's right: when you think about it, your wedding photographer is the person who will be with you from getting ready straight through your reception exit, so getting to know them, feeling sure about their style and personality, and creating a genuine relationship will only result in more beautiful photos on the big day. And giving them the time to get to know you, your best angles, and how you work in front of the camera is invaluable.

But aside from the nitty-gritty, the heart and soul of an engagement photo session is truly about celebrating the beginning of this next chapter of your lives. You'll be married for a long time, but the engagement period typically lasts just about a year, so savor this special time and create tangible reminders of these special moments.

To help you prep for your own engagement photo session, we tapped into our arsenal of pro wedding photographers and asked them for their tips, tricks, and secrets for nailing the best snaps. Here, they share their favorite engagement photos and the details behind the frame.

Erich McVey

"Anthony and Hannah were so much fun to photograph during their engagement shoot on the California coast, styled by the talented Ginny Au. As a couple, they have a natural ease about them, and we worked to bring out the authentic joy and connection within their relationship during the shoot. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage the couple to interact naturally during the shoot, using general overarching direction for movement and action, but then allowing them to go through those motions at their own pace and in their own way. Each couple moves and interacts differently, and giving them the space and flexibility to do so during their engagement shoot cultivates an ease and genuine sense of intimacy that translates beautifully through photos." — Erich McVey

Elizabeth Messina

"Sometimes the moment before is better than anything else. This intimate moment was captured in Santa Barbara on a beautiful, cloudy afternoon." — Elizabeth Messina

Annie McElwain

"Golden light and natural settings, like these rocks, go really well together. I love shooting at the end of the day for the best light, or right at sunrise if any couple is into it. This couple had an effortless intimacy with each other that I really loved capturing." — Annie McElwain

Abby Jiu Photography

"Include your pup! Often, couples have dogs they love and adore, but their wedding venue does not allow animals. An engagement session is a great way to include your furry little one in your professional pictures." — Abby Jiu of Abby Jiu Photography

Alison Conklin Photography

"Samara and Keshar's first date was in Central Park, so when I suggested we get a rowboat and paddle around for a bit they were totally up for it. They had such chemistry together and were complete naturals in front of the camera, so this shot was totally them being them and had little to do with anything I could have ever set up." — Alison Conklin

Jen Huang

"I love this image, not only because I love how beautiful and elegant this couple is, but for the fact that unlike most engagement shoots, this was shot in the fog. It was an incredibly foggy day on Nantucket and I love being able to use the environment to my advantage — even if the weather isn't always cooperating. I love what this image represents: the fact that they are facing the unknown together, which is so utterly and romantic and what an engagement is all about." — Jen Huang

Carmen Santorelli

"I was trying to capture the intimacy between Keli and Nick, so when they leaned into a kiss, I used a close-up filter on my film camera's lens, and I got in as close as I could. This was a beach engagement session, and the light was beautifully diffused near the sunset, which created that glow around them." — Carmen Santorelli

Jessica Burke

"Plan a destination engagement! Nicole and Bryan travel to Hawaii with their family every year. After the proposal, we planned for their engagement session during their annual trip! It was such a beautiful backdrop and a sentimental location to them as well." — Jessica Burke

Michelle Gardella

"Black and white will always have my heart. There is something so timeless about it that always makes my heart beat the hardest." — Michelle Gardella

Rebecca Yale

"This is one of my favorite photos for a few reasons. I love that it feels like a frame from a movie, creating a moment that is both aspirational, but also instantly relatable to any New York woman who has made a trek or two home after a night out with their shoes in their hands. The couple styled the session so well thinking about how their outfits looked from 360 degrees including the little details like the delicate bows on her shoes. To get a shot like this one we had to get up early before the bridge was full of tourists, which would have ruined the photo so I love to use this as an example to show clients that its worth it to have that 5 a.m. wake up call to get the light and the emptiness. Whether you're shooting at an iconic landmark like this or on a beach, its always worth it to get there early (or late depending on the local) and beat the crowds, nothing ruins a photo quite like a tourist in a bright yellow jacket in the back of your photo!" — Rebecca Yale

Ryan Ray

"This image was shot in central California just before sunset. We were walking up this hill and it was windy. The wind played perfectly with Julia's dress and Thomas always makes her laugh. It was a perfect afternoon in an environment where they were comfortable and stood against the beautiful California scenery and light." — Ryan Ray

Lauren Fair

"We adore when our couples chose locations for their engagement sessions that are meaningful for them. For Brandon and Gillian's lifestyle engagement session, we photographed them in their first home, cuddled up drinking coffee and riding bikes around their neighborhood. Sometimes the most simple moments are our absolute favorites." — Lauren and Tim Fair of Lauren Fair Photography

Laura Murray

"Don't forget to get wide shots during engagement photos that capture the beauty that surrounds you. I like to get a mix of close up shots and far away photos." — Laura Murray

Levi Stolove

"The groom grew up going to Fire Island in the summers, and I love fire Island too so when he asked if we could head out there for their engagement shoot I was all set to go. Fire Island immediately relaxes you. We did the shoot with all three of us barefoot — if only I could be barefoot on every shoot I'd be a very happy photographer! I think for the couple and myself because we were in a special place we bonded in a more intimate way. Exploring the Island together, getting to make images in places that had significance to them as a couple was great. I want my shoots to be as meaningful as possible so it felt special for me to get to play with them in a place they already play in regularly. I think the idea of play is a great tip for couples for an engagement shoot, come ready to just be with each other, mess around, have fun. For me an engagement shoot is about connection-the couple connecting to each other and then all three of us getting to know and feel comfortable with each other, oh and have fun!" — Levi Stolove

Matt Edge

"It sounds simple, but always be smiling, flirt with each other, and have fun. The best photos capture real moments when you forget the camera is around and you are genuinely being yourselves." — Matt Edge

Jasmine Star

"It's always fun to bring along props. I view every engagement session like a mainstream shoot — complete with models, props, and scenery. I want every engagement shoot to look like it could be in a magazine, so I encourage clients to bring things to the shoot that reflects their fantastic personalities. Don't hesitate to take anything to a shoot that truly reflects you individually or as a couple." — Jasmine Star

Elizabeth Messina

"For some couples, taking engagement photos can be a little uncomfortable. There are no rules for photos, just be yourself. I love how this photo captures a gentle and shy moment between this quiet and tender couple." — Elizabeth Messina

Erich McVey

"I love this image from Jill and Niraj's engagement shoot in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Spain. The colors in their outfits work so well with the ancient stone buildings of the area. I always encourage my couples to select engagement shoot outfits that are both meaningful to them and work well with the setting we've selected. It makes for incredible photos when a couple's wardrobe helps to connect them with the surrounding environment." — Erich McVey

Lisa Ziesing for Abby Jiu

"I highly recommend hiring a professional makeup artist for your engagement session! Sometimes brides are hesitant to hire someone, because they're worried it might look unnatural. But a talented makeup artist will do just the opposite. He or she will know just how much to apply that looks perfect on camera. Bonus: It feels so nice to get pampered and can bring forth a sense of confidence too!" — Lisa Ziesing for Abby Jiu Photography

Paper Antler

"Back in January 2013, my sister was proposed to at the beach, her favorite setting in the world. Her fiance had arranged for us to be perched nearby on a hill to document the whole scene covertly, ninja-style. This photo was taken moments after she said yes and tackled him to the ground out of excitement. Such pure joy and emotion and she hadn't yet realized we were even there." — Michelle of Paper Antler

Perry Vaile

"Going a little formal doesn't have to be stiff! Sometimes couples think that to 'be themselves' they need to go super casual and it's just not the case. The beauty of a formal gown in the right setting can be captivating!" — Perry Vaile

Michelle Gardella

"You don't have to pose to create traditional portraits! Don't be afraid to find a photographer who can look at your love with an unconventional and creative eye, to tell your story authentically. You deserve fine art!" — Michelle Gardella

Jen Huang

"This image, to me, is all about light — a simple corner in an otherwise opulent chateau lends itself so beautifully to this romantic, secretive pose because of that gorgeous summer ray. It almost looks like the light is heavy with weight. Light is a big part of how I shoot. It's almost the third wheel at my engagements, I love to mix my couples in with different types of gorgeous light." — Jen Huang

Laura Murray Photography

"I often encourage my clients to schedule their session for sunrise or sunset for soft and flattering light. In this photo, the sun was very low on the horizon which helped to avoid the harsh shadows that sometimes occur midday." — Laura Murray of Laura Murray Photography

Matt Edge

"You want to enjoy these photos for years, so keep outfits simple and classic while avoid trends, loud prints, or crazy colors. Don't try to match each other, but choose complimentary colors and styles. It's also a good idea to do something casual and then dress it up with another outfit." — Matt Edge

Annie McElwain

"I simply love a beautiful, honest portrait — one that isn't about the backdrop, the location, or any sort of props. It feels natural and timeless, something I hope they will always find beautiful." — Annie McElwain

Elizabeth Messina

"This sweet engagement photograph is of Alison (of Alison Events) with her husband-to-be in San Francisco. I love how playful and real they are in life and in this image. Engagement photos are an opportunity to completely and utterly be yourselves. There are no rules." — Elizabeth Messina

Alison Conklin

"It was literally the end of the session and we were wrapping up when I saw another couple row in with their canoe. I quickly asked Jennie and Chris if they would be up for hopping in the boat if we could work it out — I think they looked at me like I was a little crazy but agreed! So I asked if we could borrow this couples canoe for a minute and we quickly snapped this photo." — Alison Conklin

Rebecca Yale

"One of my favorite things about engagement sessions is that they can serve as a beautiful slice of life portrait of being young and in love. One of my favorite photographs of my parents is a Polaroid taken of them at a party with their arms thrown around each other and it feels so candid and happy. It shows me what they were like when they were my age and it feels so special to get a glimpse into that time before I was born. I want all of my couples engagement sessions to feel like that, whether they go glamorous or more casual I always want to capture the connection between them and a sense of who they are and how deeply in love they are. I think of every engagement photo as a gem waiting to be discovered by a future generation. I love this photo for the way the bride and groom fit so perfectly together and they both seem so happy to be in each others arms." — Rebecca Yale

Michelle Gardella

"Even though you can't see their faces, this image tells a real, authentic story of 'us' in a simple and sweet way. I love the way they kind of make a hug with their arms, too." — Michelle Gardella

Britt Chudleigh

"Engagement portraits are an opportunity to document where a couple is at a moment in time. I love finding a story or feeling that will help them remember who and where they were at this pivotal time in their lives together. I had such fun with this couple, Courtney and Jonny, who both worked at a gorgeous restaurant called Finca at the time of their engagement session. Photographing them in this space where they were building their careers and spending time together seemed like such a lovely opportunity. Additionally, the couple became engaged in New Orleans and both love the music, food and culture of the area. It felt natural to push this vibe a touch, with subtle wardrobe selections and amazing beignets, chanelling the French Quarter was another way to infuse their photos with sentiment and nostalgia. I hope these photo will always bring them back to this time in their lives." — Britt Chudleigh

Laura Murray

"It is fun when couples incorporate elements that tie into their wedding day when they take engagement photos. This couple was getting married in Mexico, so they brought in a blanket they bought in the town they chose for their wedding." — Laura Murray

Matt Edge

"The engagement session should be a reflection of who they are as a couple, so we always suggest incorporating something personal — walking around their neighborhood, a favorite bar or restaurant, an activity they like doing together, a park or place they spend time, including the dog (or dogs!), the university where they met, and so on." — Matt Edge

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