You’re engaged! Congratulations! Now it’s time to get engagement photos taken…those beautiful shots of the sunset glowing behind you as you and your new fiancé kiss and embrace each other in a golden wheat field or forest setting. The look of pure romance on both of your faces, almost as if you’re on the cover of the next romantic comedy to release next year. The pure glow and love in your eyes as you stare at one another…gives you goosebumps, it’s as if you’re alone…except…someone is there, directing you, posing you, telling you were to go, how to stand, when to smile or kiss, when to touch her hair, his cheek. SUPER normal, right?
Today, with the popularity of social media, inspirational blogs, Pinterest, Instagram and just the internet in general, Brides and Grooms tend to find themselves in a place where they can be or even feel “expected” to have photography taken of them that fits this perfect magazine photoshoot style. These types of photographs tend to be highly posed, unnatural, or seemingly forced. Photographs of this style have sort of become “the norm”, somewhat generic even. They are obviously gorgeous, and amazing, don’t get me wrong. But, ask yourself, how often do you and your fiancé go strolling in a wheat field at sunset embracing in trendy adorable clothing, perfect hair and makeup and happen to have a vintage chair in the middle of the field waiting for you to sit and pose on?
There are obviously couples out there that have gone through and taken photos like this, that’s why they are out there. I’m sure many couples have no problem fitting into this mold and just being happy go-lucky, while taking romantic shots and being in front of the camera and strangers ready for their close-up. As if it were their calling. I also assume these people tend to be very into sharing photos of themselves on social media and Facebook on a more regular basis, and have no problem sharing their love publicly to everyone they know and even people they don’t.
However, there are people, and I could be assuming this, but my guess is probably men more so than women, that absolutely hate taking pictures of themselves. Especially in a forced posed manner. The idea of being romantic in public, showing their affections for the camera, it can be awkward an unnatural. It’s not what they would ever do on a normal day, so why would they do it now? They aren’t the type to take selfies and post about their morning latte’s from the hip coffee shop down the street, or a shot of their new shoes in the fallen leaves of Fall while walking their French Bulldog. Forcing someone who feels uncomfortable about getting their photo taken that way to take photos with their partner isn’t the right way to go about it. Their partner might be the social media person, that see’s all the trends and wants the trendy engagement shots with their fiancé. Forcing it might end up in arguing, disagreement, fighting, tears, and in the end not very good shots, that most definitely don’t feel romantic or any sense of the couples TRUE feelings for one another. So why force it?
Nothing is wrong with either of these types of personalities. People are different and feel different about being more public than others. Sharing their affections in front of people, being in the spotlight, even being apart of “the norm”. The things is, I see both sides of the spectrum, and though I see both sides and have been on both sides myself, I do have my own take on how to make engagement shoots for a couple more romantic and realistic with the couple involved, and less like they have all of a sudden become models for the trend setting Wedding or Bride magazine as the “perfect couple”.
So, how do you get engagement photos that are meaningful to the couple (both of them) not stressful, awkward, posed, and yet still “Facebook worthy” and won’t make you both feel completely uncomfortable, and won’t make the photographer want to pull their hair out?
- First, talk with your partner. Obviously having great non-wedding photos of the two of you is a great keepsake. But, how do you both feel? Expect there to be some disagreement and possible arguing. You might have an idea of what you want, but your partner might be completely uncomfortable with the idea of showing affection in public, especially in front of a stranger (photographer). Try to listen and come up with solutions instead of forcing them to do something that makes them uncomfortable.
- Don’t take their opinions personally, or assume that because your partner doesn’t want to be public with their affections for you means they don’t love you. Seriously, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you, or they are rethinking the whole marriage thing. It makes them uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with that. Being photographed in this way is different then just randomly giving you a kiss in public. Someone is saying “kiss her on her cheek”. Its forced and awkward sometimes. So if someone already has a bit of an issue with public affections, try to find ways to make them feel comfortable so they cab be themselves. The person you love to be around and spend time with. They might just feel comfortable enough to do shots on their own without being asked. Its up to the photographer to pay attention and capture these candid moments.
- Do things you do on a normal day as a couple. Unless you spend your days rolling around the fields together and in perfect lighting (perhaps you sparkle?), taking shots in fields and in forests, though extremely gorgeous, aren’t really natural, or comfortable places to be in. Have your photographer follow you around where you live, or where you tend to hang out on any given Saturday, like a date.
- Have coffee/pastries at your favorite shop.
- Go to the local Saturday/Farmer’s Market and shop for a few things to make a lunch.
- Go to your/his/her place and make lunch together.
- Walk in the city/town you live in, window shopping or enjoying the sites.
- Take your dog for a walk, maybe play fetch.
- Read books together.
- Watch a movie in the comforts of your own home, or at park showing.
- Sit on the couch and talk.
- Go to the city zoo or a museum.
- Capture the moments of your day together. It will feel less forced and more natural and not posed, if you just have your photographer kind of hide in the shadows taking cool shots in artistic ways of the two of you just being you. Sort of like a day-in-the-life of ______ and ______.
- You can’t avoid that someone else is there. Let’s be honest, your getting photos taken of the two of you. Either way, someone is going to be there, possibly 2 people, besides the two of you. You’ll be hearing the clicking of the camera and probably have some sort of white reflecting screen to help with lighting in some cases. But at least your not forced to kiss or do things in such a way that make it uncomfortable for you. And on top of it you’ll have memories of where you used to hang out and places you loved to go, things you loved to do when you were younger to look back on and share with your kids when you’re older. SO at some level, you’ll have to just pretend they aren’t there, and just focus on who you’re with, and what you’re doing. If you hire a good photographer, it shouldn’t be a problem to capture these candid moments and be yourselves.
Here are some awesome examples that are perfectly candid:
(Photo credits below the images with links to the photographers who captured these shots).
In the end, you’ll capture some natural and really intimate moments that are probably more romantic than any staged kiss or wheat fields. Remember: You’re marrying your partner because you love each other and spending the time you spend with each other doing what YOU DO. So why not capture that. And why not make it more comfortable and a good experience for everyone involved.
I like to leave this with what to me seem’s like the perfect example of what I’m trying to explain in this blog post. Take a look at this couple below, which one of the two shots is the more romantic and intimate shot? Imagine all your photos having that same feel. Natural. Candid. Actions. The most important thing is to compromise, its the first thing you learn in a marriage. In the end you’ll have a keep sake that you’ll be able to cherish forever, and that is real. Be you. Not the trend.