These two. Comfortable, relaxed, and ridiculously lovely.  

I work with Clarisa Monday through Friday. She is our excel extraordinaire, the numbers whiz, the person you call on in the office to do your tax return upon bribing her with some home-baked brownies. (See what I did there Clarisa?) .  She is also sweet, naturally blessed with glorious hair, and the proud owner of a wardrobe to rival Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. I mean, the girl is pretty perfect, and her fiance' Ethan he must have thought so too, because this year he asked her to marry him, and she said yes. 

As soon as I heard, I had to have them in front of my lenses for an engagement shoot. 


There are a few things I like to do when photographing an engagement shoot (or any shoot really) to help my clients relax and ease into the moment, and this time was no exception:  

  • Meet up with the couple at least an hour before the photo shoot for drinks or food to get to know one another.  Because when you haven't met your photographer before and you aren't Cara Delevigne, having a professional camera pointed in your direction is enough to make your gag reflex go into overdrive.  Clarisa had already joked that I was going to have my work cut out for me trying to make them relax, which luckily wasn't true.  From the first moment sitting with them getting coffee, I knew this was going to be an easy shoot. They were so relaxed in each other's company and soon enough forgot I was even there to capture the moment
  • Photograph with a telephoto lens.  This is for a few reasons, but in this case, it was to allow the couple to forget you are present, to relax and enjoy the moment with each other.  This is where you will achieve those beautiful genuine and candid images.  Obviously, you don't want to leave the couple to their own devices completely - that's why they hired you as a professional!  Choose the location to photograph the couple in and make sure you pose them.  At this point I like to ask the couple a question before I run away and become a fly on the wall.  It could be any question and it depends on the look and feel you want the subsequent images to be, but as a general rule, my goal in any couple shoot is to make them remember why they love each other.  So asking questions such as "tell each other about the first time you met her" or "what is your favourite thing about him" will give you those true love moments.  Most likely they will complain and say it's cheesy or awkward, but trust me, it works and once you are not in earshot, they will embrace it. Or they will mock each other completely for being so serious and you will get great laughing shots - and either way you win!
  • Get them moving.  Walking, running, skipping, jumping, dancing.  Then wait.  Yes, you will get many moments in this that you will instantly cull because no one wants a gumpy shot of them mid jump or dancing completely vanilla.  But anyone who skips or jumps on command in their Sunday best cannot help but laugh. Those moments that come at the end of them letting loose is where they finally see each other, and how ridiculous they look are the ones you wait for.  
  • And finally and most importantly, smile. And laugh. And dance vanilla with them. Demonstrate that you are willing to make a fool of yourself and they will let down their guard that much faster.  Vulnerability will produce vulnerability, and at the end of the day you are in control and they will follow your direction whether it's spoken or not.  

Start here, and you will be guaranteed a great shoot.  I used all of these guidelines with Ethan and Clarisa, but then their love for one another was really what made the day special, and the shoot perfect.