A couple's engagement is a momentous event and the beginning of a very special time in their relationship as they plan their life together. Many couples choose to commemorate this time with engagement pictures. Whether they are professional portraits or simply meaningful snapshots, engagement photos are a valuable keepsake for any devoted couple
Taking Engagement Pictures
The decision to take engagement portraits is one of the first choices the couple makes as they begin to plan their wedding. Not all couples opt for engagement pictures, particularly individuals who plan on a small, informal wedding or who may have been together for quite some time and accumulated many photographs already. If they do choose to invest in engagement photos, there are several things they need to consider before saying "cheese."
Professional vs. Candid
Many professional photographers offer engagement portrait packages that may include wardrobe changes, different backdrops or locations, and even props. In some cases, these portraits are offered at a substantial discount if the couple reserves the same photographer for their wedding. At the same time, however, professional services can be a significant expense and a potential problem for a young couple whose budget is already stressed by wedding plans. In that case, candid pictures can work just as well to capture the unique and heartfelt moments of the couple's relationship outside a portrait studio.
Candid photos should be taken with care: choose a neutral location where the focus of the image will be on the couple rather than the setting. The couple should wear clothing that contrasts with the surroundings to keep from fading into the background, and the most powerful light source (the sun for outdoor shots) should be behind the camera. With a bit of care, candid engagement pictures can be just as lovely as professional portraits and they are far more cost-effective. Convenience stores and photo-developing departments offer a range of duplication options, even different sizes or ready-made cards for easy use.
Engagement photo poses should always include both the bride- and groom-to-be. While many wedding pictures will focus on each individual as they come together to start their life, engagement photos portray their beginning as a couple. The typical pose is the couple standing or sitting together, facing the camera with their arms around one another or hands on one another's shoulders. For more unusual poses, consider:
- A classic on-bended-knee pose with the groom-to-be "proposing" to his beloved
- Placing the ring on the bride-to-be's finger
- The groom-to-be kissing the bride-to-be's forehead with both their eyes closed
- A playful hug or tasteful kiss
- Posing with meaningful props, such as yearbooks or textbooks for high school or college sweethearts
Ultimately, the poses should reflect two things: the personalities of the two individuals as well as their love and commitment to one another. Other pose options help focus on the engagement ring itself, the symbol of their relationship: the woman's hand on the man's shoulder or chest, for example, in a close-up shot where the ring's glitter can be seen.
A note of caution: avoid embarrassing poses or shots that could be misinterpreted, if seen by family members and friends who are unaware of the silliness of that particular pose. Because engagement pictures may have several uses, it is important to have options available that can serve multiple purposes and appeal to many viewers.
When to Take
Ideally, pictures should be taken soon after the proposal is made and accepted, according to popular engagement tradition. Though many couples have engagements lasting a year or more as they plan their wedding, the first few weeks are the most romantic and magical as they begin to make solid plans. Documenting that time - the joyful smiles, the romantic sparkles in each other's eyes, the spontaneous excitement and affection - is the key to a beautiful engagement picture. Furthermore, the picture should reflect the proposal time period. A spring photograph does not relate to a Christmas proposal, unless the couple chooses to tie it closer to the actual wedding date or to another significant event such as the anniversary of their first date.
Uses for Engagement Portraits
There are several uses for the pictures. They are perfect to enclose in printed engagement announcements, particularly if family members have not met their soon-to-be new member. Many newspapers that print wedding announcements have space for pictures but because the information must be submitted long before the wedding date, no bridal or wedding portraits may be available and an engagement photograph is a splendid substitute. Many couples choose to incorporate their engagement shots into wedding invitations or bridal shower invitations as well, either as enclosures or printed as part of the design. And of course, engagement photographs are the perfect memento of a very special time, either in a photo album, scrapbook, or frame. Even more creative engagement photo ideas include key chains, lockets, and other mementos.
Engagement pictures are the first way many couples document their road to wedded bliss. With careful poses, both professional and candid shots can make suitable engagement photos for a range of uses, including memorabilia, engagement announcements, and newspaper announcements. From the first "yes" to the final "I do," there will be dozens, even hundreds of pictures taken of the happy couple, and engagement portraits are only the start of that romantic album.