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Paul Harris Blog

How to prepare for your first engagement shoot

Engagement shoots act as a brilliant way to introduce yourself and your style of photography to the client. It breaks down that initial barrier in which you have to meet and allows you to focus on what you want to do – and that is to take photos. I have had many meetings with clients in the past and I find that engagement shoots are definitely less awkward than meeting for a coffee.

Assuming that you have therefore booked an engagement shoot there are definitely things to consider.


The weather is not always going to be on your side. Unlike weddings though you can always rearrange the date. Although you are keen to get a wedding booking and therefore want to do the engagement shoot as soon as possible – it would be much better in the long run to have a sunny day as it will be reflected better in the photographs you will be giving the clients to sell yourself

Best Light

Golden hour is always going to be the best time to go on the engagement shoot. This occurs and hour or two either side of sunset and sunrise. In this situation the sun in lower in the sky and creates a soft glow that creates less shadows on your client’s face. This is more dramatic, reduces the appearance of blemishes and also creates less unwanted shadows. If you attempt to take photos at midday the sun will be high in the sky and result in shadows underneath the client’s nose, chin and eyes and may require you to use flash to reduce this appearance.

Selling yourself

One thing you may be thinking too much about is the photographs. Although this is important I believe by the end of the engagement shoot and before you send though the edited photographs the client has probably made up 90% of the decision of if they want to book with you. Therefore, make sure to interact with the client and show how passionate you are about photography and weddings.

Choreograph but make it natural

This is more of a stylistic preference for me, but I like my clients to look natural in my photographs. I may guide them to stand a certain way or look a certain direction but then I will get them to talk to each other and try to make them feel as relaxed as possible since the photographs where they look natural will always make a bigger impact. (Take lots of photos of every set up position so that you don’t miss the shot)


I like to choose a location that has a range of images. I also go to all the locations beforehand in order to understand where I will be taking the images. With all the other variables at play it is crucial that you are able to reduce whatever known items as possible, and this includes the shots you take on the date

Keep it simple

Lastly, an engagement shoot should be relaxed. You don’t need all the equipment you have to take photographs. This is only a taster of the photographs you take for the client. Therefore, take one or two lenses with you that are going to give you enough range of shots – say at 35mm and 85mm, with enough depth of field that if the background doesn’t work you can always blur it out.

These are just a few things I consider before every engagement shoot – I hope this has helped!

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