Binh Trinh and his wedding photography packages with bride and groom walking at HIwinui Estate

12 Tips On How to Achieve The Best Engagement and Wedding Photos

a stunning photo of a couple in their elopement

Your wedding and engagement photos are two of the most precious things you can have - providing the memories that you will look back on for years to come, so it’s only natural to worry about your engagement and wedding photos turning out to be less than perfect. Although with a meticulous plan and tips from your photographer creating beautiful memories can become easier that even the most camera-shy couples can be happy with. In this article, we share with you 15 tips on how to achieve the best engagement and wedding photos.

Find the perfect photographer for you 

the bride with her stunning dress and bridal bouquet

Start looking for a wedding photographer early - about a year before your wedding. Ask other recently married couples for recommendations and search on Instagram, portfolios of photographers, and real wedding blogs whose photography style inspires you (3,5).

Professional wedding photographers are one of the most important investments you will make for your special day. These photos will be treasured forever, and your amateur photographer friend isn’t just gonna cut it. Your wedding dress and wedding photographer are the two things that you should go all out on in terms of budget. 

Practice your poses in advance 

a newly married couple kissing

Professional photographers will notice your body language and chemistry between you as a couple. Sometimes the best photos in an engagement or wedding shoot are natural and candid, but every now and then your photographer will introduce a pose or a look that they know will look good on you (1,3). But it is also good to come prepared, so in the meantime, you should practice good posture, try on some poses, and practice your smile before your shoot. Look for your best angle! When it comes to having great wedding photos, experts suggest that you face your photographer at a slight angle and hold your neck upward to show confidence and avoid double chins. And don’t forget about your hands! You shouldn’t just put them awkwardly at the sides, rather hold your partner or grab a bouquet. Your photographer will know when to direct and when to let things naturally take its course and stand back. Each couple has a unique chemistry and will also react differently with different poses.

Pick the best spots in your venue 

If you have the time, you can visit your venue with your photographer to pick out the best and aesthetic spots. It really helps to know in advance when you want to shoot next - it saves a lot of time and energy (1,2). There will be some changes to your photoshoot session during the day itself - this is quite natural - but it helps to have a plan you can follow. You should also work with a rainy day plan as a backup. Experienced photographers won’t be fazed by weather and see a rainy day as an obstacle, but rather they will see this as an opportunity to get dramatic pictures. You might look forward to a bright and sunny day, but a rainy day is also an opportunity!

Consider hiring a professional hair and makeup artist 

a bride doing her own makeup

If you feel confident enough with your hair and makeup, then you can skip this tip and move one to the next one. But if you have never done hair and makeup before or not very confident with your hair and makeup skills, or you aren’t really sure what to do then you might want to consider hiring a professional hair and makeup stylist (1,3,4,5,6). As with your wedding photographer, a professional hair and makeup artist will help you get those picture-perfect looks and create stunning photos. Your makeup will have to be heavier than usual, including the eyelashes and eyebrows - photos require more saturated looks. 

If you want to look in your absolute best, try doing a trial run before your engagement shoot or your wedding day so you can make necessary tweaks before it’s too late! Here are some tips from a photographer’s point of view. Bring a camera to your hair and makeup trial, this will make sure that your makeup will look good on camera - some makeups are not very receptive to cameras and some are too receptive and can reflect light that causes your face to look white on film. Your makeup should last throughout an entire session or your entire wedding. It would be a disaster if you find out on your wedding day that your makeup is gone after a few hours into the ceremony. Inquire your hair and makeup artist about wear-proof makeups, touch-ups, and other things you might need to keep your look going for an entire day. It is very important to anticipate these things and be prepared rather than dealing with them once they present themselves.

Pick a time with the best light 

a golden hour engagement shoot

Having the best light during a photoshoot is perhaps one of the most vital elements in creating the perfect photos. You may have heard that there are specific times of the day that are best for taking photos because of the light - you guessed it right! We are referring to the Golden Hours. The golden hour is typically during sunrise and sunset where the sun offers the best light. When we say ‘best light’ we mean a soft and flattering light that makes you look prettier and accents your best features. The worst light is generally at midday where the sun is directly above you - this is considered to be the worst light because it casts dark shadows, creates dark circles around your eyes, and is generally unflattering for you (2,3,5,6)

Be prepared to get a bit dirty 

If you choose to have an adventure and take your photoshoot session outdoors then you have said goodbye to the perfectly curated gardens and studios in a typical photo shoot session. When you choose to go outside and explore the best places for a photoshoot, this means that your dress will most probably get dirty. The dirtier the dress the more fun an engagement shoot gets. But it’s not about getting your dress dirty on purpose, that would be reckless and foolish. It’s about having fun exploring places without being conscious of getting a bit of dirt here and there. 

Get a dress you are comfortable moving in 

We all have been to that regular wedding where you’ve seen a bride who is not comfortable with her wedding dress, can barely move in it, and is clearly not having a good time. You really do not want to be in that dress. What you want should be something comfortable to wear for your engagement shoot or your elopement (2,5)

This is true especially if you opt for an adventure themed elopement or engagement shoot - you will be hiking, climbing over stuff, running (in some cases), and are generally moving around a lot. So it is highly important when choosing a wedding dress, you ask yourself questions like ‘Can I move comfortably in this?’, ‘Is this dress too tight?’, or ‘Is this dress durable for an outdoor shoot?’. The next thing you might want to consider after getting your dress is footwear. As we’ve said you will need to hike and explore places and high heels aren’t going to help you with that. You can always bring your heels for when you find a flat stable surface.

Bring your emergency makeup kit 

Creating perfect wedding photos means that you also have to look perfect throughout the day. And with all the running around all day, you will definitely need some touch ups. It’s more than likely that your hair and make up will be done by a professional, but it’s important to also bring your emergency makeup kit with you. We aren’t saying that your hair and makeup artist should follow you around during the shoot to make sure that you are always picture perfect, instead, you can ask someone for help - your maid of honor or your best friend perhaps - to bring your kit. Your kit should have at least some Q-tips, blotting papers, lip gloss, lipstick, bobby pins, waterproof mascara, and eyeliner. So whether you have a loose strand of hair or you’ve smeared your lipstick, your makeup kit can easily fix it and make you camera ready at all times.

Know what you want 

What poses or shots do you have in mind? Wedding photographers know that there is a general list of photos and moments that need to be captured. But do you have any other specific images that you would like to be captured? You should discuss it with your photographer for them to prepare for that photo beforehand. If you are shy or forgot to ask your wedding photographer about it don’t worry! Wedding photographers always ask whether there are any shots you want to be taken. For example, is there any special heirloom that you want to be photographed or a special place that you and your partner have? Maybe you saw a cute pose online that you want to recreate? Your wedding photographer will be glad to help you achieve those perfect wedding photos.

Start early 

We can’t emphasize this enough - be sure to start early! You might hit some snag along the way - things like traffic, delays, hair and makeup artist emergencies, technical problems. So we recommend that you start at least an hour early ahead of your schedule. This is especially true if you are looking to have a sunrise or sunset photoshoot session. Arriving early is always better than being late. You will be less stressed and your session can start ahead or on time (2,3,4). And more time means more photos!

Trust your photographer’s instincts

Be confident in your photographer’s abilities. If they suggest one area over another or one pose over another - it’s because they can imagine these things and how they would perfectly suit you. Even if they deviate slightly from what you have discussed, do not be upset because you will be surprised how these deviations can mesmerize you. But if your heart is really set on following a list with places and poses that are not really picture-perfect, your photographer should be able to make that happen no matter what. 

Be yourself, be confident, and have fun 

an intimate shoot of a couple

Always enjoy and be in the moment! Being photographed all day may seem exhausting, but if you have the perfect photographer for you, you won’t even notice the hours passing by. And try not to worry about the small stuff. Always remember that the best photos come from you being relaxed and happy. Sometimes couples do not realize that they wear their emotions on their faces, and it shows in their pictures (1,3,4,6). Allow your photographer to do their job and keep you on schedule, to direct people and to know which images will look best - remember that this is why you hired them in the first place. Do not constantly look for your photographer - this will only prevent capturing moments like you glancing at your partner, laughing with your friend, or crying in the arms of your parents. Your wedding photographer should worry about capturing these moments - not you.