18 Engagement Photo Poses, Ideas & Tips
Looking for some inspiration for your next engagement photo session or couple photo shoot?
This guide features 18 engagement photo poses that are fun, easy, romantic and stylish.
You’ll discover a variety of engagement photo ideas so you can direct your clients with confidence and create something original.
Put all the best engagement poses on the back of your camera, so you can reference them while directing your couples.
(We’ve also included 5 tips to get the most out of your couples before the engagement shoot has even begun.)
The average engagement session is slow-paced and relaxed, allowing lots of room for experimentation – unlike a wedding day!
You can even create a shot list of your favourite photo poses or use something like Together Cards for visual cues.
5 Tips for Before the Engagement Photo Session
Rushing into an engagement photo session without planning is a bad idea, both for the quality of photography and your clients’ experience.
An engagement shoot is like a warmup to the wedding day, so take every opportunity to talk with your couple to let them know what to expect.
In order to make your engagement photo poses look natural, there are a few things that you need to discuss before the engagement shoot.
1. Help the couple relax by explaining the process
The couple has probably never done an engagement shoot before, so it’s important that you explain what will happen.
Help them relax by explaining that they don’t need to do anything that makes them feel awkward or uncomfortable and that you’ll be guiding the whole photo shoot.
You can also explain that unless you’re talking, the couple should focus on each other – hang out, cuddle, kiss, chat – whatever makes them feel comfortable.
Above all, reassure them that they don’t have to know what to do.
2. Find out what makes your couple unique
Ask your clients how they met, what their first date was, what they do on a date these days, what their hobbies are, favourite films, clothes to wear, etc.
With the engagement photos, you’re trying to highlight what makes the couple unique. By asking these questions, you can get a feel for their personalities, and it also gives you something to talk about on the day.
You can ask these questions in a questionnaire or over email to prevent any shyness!
3. Ask them if there’s anything to be aware of
Perhaps the bride-to-be hates her left-side profile. Perhaps the groom-to-be is self-conscious of his height.
You need to be aware of these things so you can create engagement photo poses that highlight their best qualities.
4. Ask them if they’re showy romantics or ‘closet’ romantics… or neither!
A lot of typical engagement photo ideas include kisses and cuddles, but this might not be a true reflection of your couple.
Not everyone likes ‘public displays of affection’, and not every couple is lovey-dovey. Placing them in engagement photo poses that don’t reflect who they really are as a couple is a recipe for disaster.
5. Tell them the couple poses are just a starting point
Your clients usually have no idea if the images shown in the latest engagement photo shoot on your blog have been posed or not. They probably assume everything has happened naturally, which may make them anxious in front of the camera.
Tell the couple that engagement sessions move slowly – to get the best photos, you need to provide some direction, in the form of photo poses.
Let them know that photo poses are just a starting point – you’ll capture the moments after the initial pose and keep things flowing and natural.
18 Engagement Photo Poses & Ideas
When it’s time for the engagement shoot, try and remember a handful of these engagement photo ideas and poses to incorporate with your couple.
1. Leaning on each other
There are many ways to execute this idea. The most traditional is to have one person lean the head on to the other one’s shoulder.
This makes for a very pleasing image, as tilting the head is one of the classic techniques when posing for pictures that suits everyone.
It also conveys the idea of closeness as they are physically supporting each other. After all, isn’t that the spirit of an engagement?
2. Touching foreheads
Another romantic engagement photo pose is to have the couple facing each other with their foreheads touching.
At this point, some couples prefer to close their eyes – which makes for a very intimate moment.
Not everybody likes their profile, though, so this might not be a great fit for everyone. As suggested in tip #3 in the previous section, be mindful of the couple’s preference. Don’t try to force a pose because it sounds good in theory.
Also, if the engaged couples’ heights differ too much, this photo pose can look a bit awkward, with one person stopping too far and the other craning their neck upwards!
In this case, you might attempt the photo with the subjects seated instead, or with their standing position staggered.
3. Almost kissing
An alternative to touching foreheads that allows you to approach the models from an angle other than the profile is to have them almost kissing.
These engagement,ent photo poses create the same feeling of intimacy and might be more comfortable for some couples.
It might take you some extra shots to get one where they look natural – but it’s totally worth it.
The viewer experiences a feeling of anticipation with the couples’ lips hovering near each other, rather than one of ‘completion’ if the subjects are actually kissing. This causes the viewer’s eye to linger for longer.
A hug is always a cute pose for an engagement session, but not all hugs look good on camera. One that is a guaranteed success is an embrace from the back.
Have one person stand behind the other one – usually the tallest one. Then, ask the person to wrap their arms around the partner that’s in front. However, be careful it doesn’t start to look like a maternity shoot – be sure to vary the hand position.
From this basic pose, you can make a few variations to find the perfect shot. The clouple can be facing the camera but not necessarily looking at the camera.
Also, you can change your position to get a different perspective – or ask them to change the posing of the head or the hands.
As with all engagement photo poses, aim for something that captures the subjects when they look genuinely relaxed and in the moment, such as the image above.
5. Looking at the horizon
This photo idea is perfect for a beach engagement, but it can work in other locations too. Have the couple look towards the horizon as if they are thinking of their future together.
They can be holding hands or hugging – it works well in both cases. You can also position yourself behind them or on the side if you prefer that the faces are showing.
Engagement photo poses often have the couples looking at each other, so having them both look out of the frame adds some extra intrigue to the shot.
6. Walking holding hands
Getting some action shots is always a fun idea to make engagement sessions more dynamic. One of the poses that always works well in these situations is to ask them to hold hands and start to walk.
The best way to capture them in the perfect moment is to use burst mode. This way, the camera will keep shooting many pictures per second for as long as you hold the shutter.
The exact amount of photos depends on the frame rate of your camera. However, since walking is not a particularly fast activity, most cameras should deliver a good result.
Try having the couple walk towards you and also walking away to add more variety to your engagement photo ideas.
Walking photos such as this are also a nice lead in to the wedding day when the couple will hold hands and walk towards the photographer for the recessional.
7. Use depth of field creatively
In every engagement shot list, there should be a close-up picture of the ring. Making use of the depth of field is a great way to emphasize it and guide the viewer’s attention to it.
The depth of field depends on three things – the aperture, the distance between you and your subject, and the lens focal length.
Depth of field is important throughout the entire photo session. For example, if you’re doing a full-body portrait, you can blur the background to make the couple stand out.
The example above is one of the many modern engagement photo ideas, whereby one person is further away and in focus, and the other is near the camera, out of focus.
Experiment with your aperture to ensure that the out of focus person’s face isn’t a complete blur, or, alternatively, you can experiment with making them into a completely black silhouette.
8. Pose the hands
One of the most difficult things to pose in any portrait is the hands. You must pay attention to them and direct your subjects on what to do with them.
Avoid having the fingers completely stretched out unnaturally – this is a mistake that tends to happen when showing the engagement ring.
Instead, ask them to relax the hand and have the fingers curve a little bit – maybe place the hand on the partner’s shoulder.
There are many techniques to pose the hands: maybe give them something to do, like caress the partner’s cheek.
Hands and fingers can also convey gentleness or passion – see in the example above, where the girl’s fingers are soft and effeminately caressing her partner’s neck, whereas the guy is grasping the girl’s hair, showing masculine strength and passion.
You can learn more about posing various body parts in our guide to posing people.
9. Mind the background
With any engagement photo ideas you bring to life, it’s important that you pay attention to the background – even though the couple is the main subject.
If the background isn’t particularly beautiful or interesting, you can simply blur it. You can achieve this by using a shallow depth of field (i.e., a low f-number).
If you happen to be in a location that provides for fun and creative engagement photo ideas, make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to incorporate the backdrop.
As for engagement photo ideas at typical tourist attractions (such as the Sydney Opera House above), it may be worth taking an up-close photo of something more unexpected or abstract, where the location isn’t immediately obvious.
10. Introduce a foreground element
As you know, photography is about representing a three-dimensional world on a two-dimension surface. To give the impression of depth and ‘pull-in’ the viewer, you can use different planes.
Usually, you only consider a subject and the background (two planes). If you introduce an element in the foreground, you’re adding one more plane that makes the image richer and more interesting.
For a successful result, you’ll have to make good use of the composition rules. Also, keep an eye on the focal point and the depth of field.
11. Capture the couple’s personality
Not every couple wants to dress up and go out in nature at sunset to have their engagement photos taken.
While some couples are outdoorsy and nature-loving and want their photos in the woods or the beach, others might prefer an urban or industrial setting.
Some couples want to be playful and have a fun session, while others prefer a sweet and intimate shoot. Each couple is different, and you should be able to offer them some engagement photo ideas that suit their personalities.
You’ll know if you’ve nailed this one if your couple decides to use the engagement shoot photos for their save the dates!
(The ‘Save the dates’ are the cards that are typically sent out to wedding guests, and it’s common to use engagement photos as part of their design.)
12. Take some candid photos
Not every good photo needs to be carefully posed—especially an engagement photo where your clients aren’t models, and the situation is about feelings and relationships.
It’s certainly necessary to give the couple some direction and suggest poses to help them out, but you definitely don’t want to be interrupting their natural interaction.
After giving them some guidance, give them some leeway to be themselves and be as romantic or playful as they want to be.
It’s very important that you’re ready to capture those moments with your camera. Candid photos often make for the best engagement shots.
If you don’t know where to start, try directing them into some natural couple poses, then introduce some humour to the situation and see where that takes you – usually, things start to become more natural when people laugh.
13. Capture emotions
When thinking about engagement photo ideas, always keep in mind the spirit of the situation. This session is about two people celebrating a moment in their lives and their relationship; it’s not a regular portrait.
That’s why it’s also important to make them feel comfortable and don’t get too much in the way.
It’s also important when you’re choosing poses and lighting – if they look amazing, but you can’t see the connection between one another, then it doesn’t work as an engagement shot.
Pro tip: one of the really unique engagement photo ideas I’ve seen lately is to tell the guy to whisper into the girl’s ear the reason when he know that she was the only one in the world for him… then capture the intense emotional scene that unfurls after it. This is what the photographer did for the photo shoot above, and there were plenty of tears!
14. Use backlighting
As with any other type of photography, lighting is key to making a good engagement photo. A classic setup for a portrait is backlighting.
You can do this outdoors with natural light or even by introducing some artificial light.
An easy trick is to ask the couple to touch foreheads (as per some of the previous engagement photo ideas), then trigger a speedlight behind them back into their heads.
As in the example above, the results can be almost other-worldly, or like a scene from a sci-fi movie!
(If you’re wondering what camera flash to use, check out our guide.)
Backlighting in general gives a very pleasing effect, and it provides you multiple creative possibilities such as introducing flair or silhouettes (more on this coming up).
15. Try silhouette photography
If you’re looking for engagement photo ideas, you should really try doing some silhouettes. This is a fun and original way to portray a couple.
Since no details of the face or body can be seen with silhouette photography, the subjects are turned into ‘black objects’, which gives you a lot of room to be playful and creative.
To do a silhouette, you need to use backlighting of some kind.
If you’re using natural light, you’ll have to wait until the sun is close to the horizon – so you’ll have to choose a time around sunrise or sunset.
Then, you’ll need to expose the background correctly. This will underexpose your subjects, eliminating all details. You can always fine-tune the effect in post-processing if necessary.
Pro tip: Use live view on your DSLR or the EVF on your mirrorless camera to previsualize the silhouette in the photo before pressing the shitter button.
16. Shoot at golden hour
The golden hour refers to the first hour after sunrise and the last one before sunset. The quality of light is amazing and it’s the preferred time of day for any photographer that shoots outdoors.
Golden Hour is the perfect time to bring your engagement photo ideas to life, as the sunlight is quite diffused. As such, there’s no risk of unflattering hard shadows.
Also, the light has an orange tone that will give your pictures a warm atmosphere – ideal for any engagement photo.
17. Change perspectives
Moving around and changing your point of view will make the session more dynamic, and you’ll have more variety in your photos.
Some couples will be more traditional, and you might not be able to experiment so much – still, you should try different perspectives for your engagement photo poses.
18. Try different light sources
Keep in mind that different lights create a different mood. While the golden hour is classic and romantic, you can use neon or street lights for a couple that wants an urban feel.
Sometimes it’s difficult for couples to express which mood they want in their photos. It can be helpful to ask them to look for inspiration online and show you the images they like.
Pinterest is a great tool for finding inspiration – ask them to create a mood board and share them with you in advance.
Engagement Photo Shoot FAQs
What should you not wear for engagement photos?
Try to avoid flashy colors and busy patterns as they can be distracting. Don’t wear anything uncomfortable or unflattering – otherwise, you’ll suffer through the whole experience and hate the photos.
What colors should you wear for engagement photos?
Wear clothes that compliment you but also showcase your personality. Discuss with the photographer beforehand so you can create a color palette and coordinate your and your partner’s clothes.
Can you take your own engagement photos?
You can, especially if you have some photography equipment and knowledge. It’s hard to match the quality and results of a professional photographer, though.
How much should an engagement shoot cost?
It depends on your location, the duration of the photoshoot and the number of photographs edited, printed and delivered. However, the average price is $200 per hour. Don’t be afraid to ask for quotations from different photographers.
Should I tip my engagement photographer?
It’s not customary to tip the photographer, although this might change in different countries.
Should I wear white for engagement photos?
While you certainly can do it if you want to, most brides-to-be hold off on the white until the wedding photos. If you want the bridal feel without wearing white, you can wear ivory or champagne.
Are engagement photos worth it?
Yes. For one thing – you’ll get a lovely memory for years to come that you can also use for ‘save the date’ cards. It’s also worth it because you can work with the photographer before the wedding. This will make you more comfortable, and you’ll build a better rapport.
How long does an engagement photo shoot last?
Normally they last between one and two hours.
How many photos do you get from an engagement session?
It depends on the photoshoot duration – it can be anything between 20 and 100 finished photos.
I hope you found inspiration in these engagement photo ideas. Most couples get nervous in front of the camera but having someone who confidently guides them makes a big difference.
Hopefully, you can use these tips to make your next shoot fun for you and the couple – after all, it’s an occasion to be celebrating.
If you have any questions or engagement photo ideas of your own you’d like to share, leave a comment below.