The "less-than-photogenic" couple's guide to engagement pictures

May 23 | Guest post by Linzmat
Look at this adorable engagement photo of Tribe member Linzmat and her future hubs! Photo by Anna Kraft.

…Well, it's done. And it was FUN.

My future husband and I got our engagement pics done on the BEAUTIFUL campus of the University of Oklahoma and around Norman, Oklahoma. Oddly enough, that area doesn't mean anything special to us per se, but the campus has the iconic red phone booths that DO mean something to us. And they have a gorgeous pool hall where we got some great pics taken as well.

This shoot was a source of some apprehension for both my future husband and I before it happened. We don't consider ourselves to be particularly photogenic, individually or as a couple, and have never particularly enjoyed having our photos taken.

That said, our engagement shoot was kind of a blast. Here's how we made it so:

1. Find a photographer you love and trust, and be honest and open with them

Our photographer had a very hands-off style except for every once in a while. She put us in a beautiful location, gave us a couple of pointers, and then practically disappeared while she was taking pictures and we just did our thing.

2. Don't think of the session as a photo shoot

Think of it as a date that happens to have a photographer. Before we met up with our photographer, we went out to breakfast. We met her at a coffee shop and just basically went for a walk around a beautiful location.

3. If you have some shots that are really important to you, let your photographer know

I emailed our girl some great pictures my future husband and I that I loved the style and feel of, and a couple of them that we definitely wanted of us. A good photographer will appreciate a little guidance from you. After all, she works for you, not the other way around.

4. Bring props that are important to you

We brought books, our pool cues, and a photo frame of our wedding date.

5. Go to your element

We went to a pool hall and a college campus. Those are both places we love and places we feel at home. If your element is inside your own home, shoots at home are great too!

6. Wear something that makes you feel awesome

I changed my outfit three times the morning of because when I looked at myself in the mirror, I didn't see me. I saw me in a top I wouldn't normally wear, or in jewelry I'd never worn. I changed into a favorite top that I feel like a million bucks in, and brought my favorite little black (okay, blue) dress. And I was so happy I did. My future husband is most comfortable in a sweater and jeans, so he wore his favorite of both and brought a button-down and slacks (his work uniform and another favorite look).

Any other tips you can think of?

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  1. And most importantly: don't let being a less-than-photogenic couple stop you from taking engagement photos! Book a session. Just do it.

    I'm the sort of person that would miss out on this great opportunity to get stellar photos of myself and my SO due to being all self-conscious and shizz, but ya know what? You'll be so so glad you got them done.

    I think engagement photos are WAY more important than wedding photos–yeah, I said it. You're way more likely to use your engagement photos for stuff, and they're actually much better to have around the house than a bunch of stuffy wedding photos. Even though your wedding should ideally be YOU, engagement photos are DEFINITELY going to reflect who you are and what you're like on the day to day, even if you do gussy up a bit.

    28 agree
    • I definitely agree! You're wedding photos are important and will be oh-so-beautiful… but your engagement photos are YOU! These are going to be the ones you want to see and share with people once the novelty of the wedding wears off.

      4 agree
    • Agreed.

      I didn't realise until I started making our wedding website how few photos we have of us as a couple. And even fewer we could use – most are random snaps from Christmas, family holidays etc. where we're in the middle of something. Great memories but not the type of thing you can frame or even use as a profile picture on Facebook.

      An engagement shoot would be the perfect oppertunity to rectify that.

      5 agree
  2. If you and your fiance/e are camera shy, try reminding each other that you look awesome mid-shoot. Nothing like some love from the person who loves you to make you feel better. 🙂

    I hate having my picture taken and am one of the least photogenic people I know… but I still enjoyed the hell out of a boudoir shoot last year, in large part because there were so many pictures taken I stopped being self-conscious, and I had a really great photographer and friends telling me honestly what looked good vs. awkward. Don't be afraid to ask for a little reassurance!

    7 agree
  3. if there is something you are self concious about or a feature you wish to downplay please tell your photographer so they will be aware of it. These are great tips, especially regarding being in a location that is special to you and you are at home in. Whisper sweet nothings into your partner's ear….shock them, make them giggle…the reactions will look awesome captured and put each other at ease.

    5 agree
    • I think whispering sweet nothings and dirty jokes in each other's ears was the only way my guy and I made it through our engagement photo shoot. We're both super ultra camera-shy, and were dreading it. Instead, we made it really fun with a lot of laughter, and the pics came out better for it.

      10 agree
  4. I was really uncomfortable setting up an engagement shoot until I read this article. We're totally going to do it now, and I'm really excited 🙂 *cheesy infomercial jingle* THANKS, OFFBEAT BRIDE!

    13 agree
  5. I cringe a the thought of formal engagement pics, so while we're up in Idaho next weekend, we're just going to find some pretty place and let his mom take a few pics of us. It's less scary that way, not to mention cheaper.

    2 agree
    • We did this and it worked great. When my folks were in town we went out to the beach, I gave a few directional pointers, then mom took a handful of pictures of us. There are several we framed for the wedding…and still have up around the house.

      2 agree
  6. Thank you x a million for this! I just booked a new photographer who has an engagement session included in her package and I was excited until I realized that meant MORE pictures to take, and then I had a panic attack. The pointers will def come in handy!

    1 agrees
  7. I had zero desire to do an engagement shoot but it came with the number of hours we needed. Wow! I am so glad we did it. I hate having my picture taken but our photographer was great and let us be our goofy selves and made the experience fun. We've only seen a "sneak peek" but we're both psyched for the final product.

    1 agrees
  8. This comes at a pretty good time for me, although I kinda wish I had read it a month or so ago:) We kept putting off our engagement pictures because we had both gained weight and it came time where we just had to do it or the time would pass and we wouldn't have any photo's to represent the romance. I'm really glad we did, it's who we are and you can tell we're in love in them and that's pretty much all that counts! Hooray for just doing it!

    5 agree
  9. I never did engagement photos. I don't regret it. I am less than photogenic and so is the hubby and the wedding photos were awkward enough, and thankfully only lasted a few minutes. I will agree with the poster about getting a great photographer that you trust and it will be better. I just don't see the point of engagement photos I guess.

    6 agree
  10. As a photographer, I should add that the most photogenic thing to photograph is love, no matter what the people in question look like. If you're smiling and happy, you'll be more photogenic than a self-conscious and awkward supermodel. True story.

    28 agree
  11. OMG thank you so much for posting this! I literally logged on this morning to type a forum/post question about engagement photos and what to expect/do/ask etc. This is awesome!

    We also consider ourselves less than photogenic, and I admit while I am excited about some great engagement pics, we are not really posey people, and I am pretty sure we'll take all the advice you put out there.
    Thank you thank you thank you!!

    2 agree
  12. it can be a good idea to have photos done where there is something to do, that way you're focused on your activity rather than being photographed. go to a carnival, a farmer's market, or doing your favorite shared activity, even if it's walking through a shopping mall. toy store pics – yay!

    6 agree
  13. Talk to eachother! I love having my picture taken and my husband hates it. Our awesome photographer told me to get him into a conversation, and it totally worked. We have lovely engagement photos that include shots of us really smiling and laughing – even my camerashy husband.

    2 agree
  14. An engagement shoot will also make your wedding photos better, because you'll be more comfortable with the photographer and they will have an idea of what you like and how to help you relax.

    Find a photographer who won't put a strict time limit on your engagement shoot. It might take more than an hour to relax, start having fun, and find good locations and lighting.

    3 agree
    • These are beautiful. You both look so happy and in love and it really shines through.

      2 agree
    • Wow! I'm not sure how you decided you were not photogenic, because I thought your pictures were awesome! Your smile is radiant and the way he looks at you is amazing. Your love definitely shines through!! Congratulations on your pics, your wedding and your marriage. Thank you so much for your article and for sharing. GREAT JOB! Tammy

      5 agree
  15. Thank you so much for posting this! These are some great tips 🙂

    1 agrees
  16. This is amazing and so true! We were never going to do engagement photos until our photographer asked if she could do them for free to expand her portfolio. But she was awesome and came up with some fun ideas and I didn't feel awkward once.

    1 agrees
  17. Great tips and I loved seeing your photos. I love the library idea! The sure way to get my man to relax and embrace the photo shoot will be to put him somewhere he's comfortable smiley already!

  18. The engagement session was included in the package we bought for wedding photos!

    And we have used them for framed photos for the moms, save the dates, return address labels, etc….

  19. Beautiful photos! (I checked out the flickr set–awesome!)
    I wish we had gotten engagement photos. Fortunately, we already knew and were comfortable with the photographer, but still. I had so many fun ideas for favorite places, fun outfits, etc–and never got to make that happen. We've talked about doing another photo shoot, though–just have to find the occasion, I guess. (Photog is a family member who lives 5 hours away!)

    1 agrees
  20. My fiancee does not like to have his pictures taken- we talked to the photographer and did a 1930's themed shoot in our hometown. My biggest piece of advice is to think outside of the box- engagement photos are meant to be fun, not cookie cutter. Make sure you are comfortable with your photographer and are able to have a good line of communication with them.

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