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Engagement Portraits

engagement photos
Fun outdoor portrait.

Engagement portraits are a classy and elegant way to commemorate a couple's commitment, but they are more than just pretty pictures. Professional portraits, if done properly, can serve several important functions as the couple makes their way to the altar.

Types of Engagement Portraits

There are several types of portraits an engaged couple can choose from. Which option they ultimately select should be based on their personalities, budget, timing, and how they choose to celebrate their engagement rather than assumptions about requirements or outdated traditions. Portrait styles include:

  • Formal Studio Portraits: These are the familiar shots of a happy couple in classic poses against a neutral or stylized background.
  • Formal Location Portraits: Rapidly becoming a favorite option for many couples, these on-site photos may be taken at a park, scenic spot, the couple's home, or other sentimental location.
  • Enhanced Portraits: These portraits are perfect for scrapbooks or other commemorative uses and include dual exposure images, sepia tones, colorized photos, and other digital effects used to create romantic, sentimental images.

Portraits or Pictures?

Upon learning about the different options professional photographers offer, many couples wonder what the difference is between portraits and standard engagement pictures. While pictures may be done professionally, they are usually less expensive and may be in a mass market studio rather than set up through an individual session. Pictures may also be candid, fun shots, while portraits are inevitably posed and are frequently enhanced, if only to remove red-eye, blemishes, or alter the focus or lighting of the image for a more pleasing effect. Engagement portraits are more expensive and take longer to arrange than most pictures, but when documenting a once-in-a-lifetime period of a couple's relationship, the expense may be well worth it.

Portrait Dos

When setting up a session for portraits, the engaged couple should…

  • Inquire about discounts for booking the same photographer for bridal portraits and wedding photos.
  • Choose a location or backdrop that will not detract from the couple and their delight in one another.
  • Opt for a symbolic location if possible, such as the same location where the proposal occurred.
  • Wear coordinated clothing to present a dignified, unified picture.
  • Have the engagement ring cleaned to enhance its glitter in the camera's eye.
  • Order extra photographs for possible use in thank you notes, invitations, or for other wedding-related items.

Portrait Don'ts

Going overboard with portraits can quickly destroy a couple's budget, long before the intensive wedding planning begins. For the best portraits…

  • Do not focus on the individuals. The portraits are to celebrate the couple, and this is not the time to include solo pictures.
  • Do not take pictures solely of the engagement ring. Ring pictures are a classic wedding image, particularly after the wedding bands have been added.
  • Avoid adding trendy or faddish props. These portraits will be the first in a long succession of images commemorating the impending nuptials, and they should be simple enough to stand the test of time.

Engagement Portraits as a Wedding Planning Tool

For many couples, portraits may seem like an unnecessary expense, but they can actually be used to great effect when coordinating with wedding planning. Many photographers will offer discounts for couples who use them for engagement, bridal, and wedding portraits, making the expense far less than it may initially seem. Furthermore, engagement portraits are a fantastic opportunity for couples to personally investigate the skills and professionalism of a photographer they are considering for their wedding. Portraits are also a chance to try out various poses that may be suitable for either bridal or wedding shots, giving the couple plenty of time to make adjustments if the poses don't work out as they'd anticipated.

Do We Need Portraits?

With the average cost of a wedding exceeding $20,000, many couples question whether they need engagement portraits at all. Indeed, with sophisticated digital cameras and home photo editing and printing capabilities, it is entirely possible for a couple to create their own beautiful portraits for a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional. On the other hand, professional portraits give the couple the opportunity to indulge in their relationship and seek the advice of an experienced photographer, both of which can help them relax and plan their wedding with less stress and aggravation. Whether or not a couple chooses to take professional portraits, however, is a decision that should be made based on their finances, personal preferences, and desire. The resulting pictures - professional or amateur - will last through a lifetime of love and commitment, and can serve to remind the couple why they embarked on this journey together in the first place.

Engagement Portraits