This photo I took for an engagement shoot for a couple in London prior to shooting their wedding in Australia could potentially be a perfect demonstration of what an engagement photo should be….
So why do I fell this way? What makes a perfect engagement photo?
Photographing couples is all about connection. You can achieve this in many ways but one sure fire winner is interaction. Try to convey feelings between two people. When shooting an engagement or pre-wedding shoot there are very deep and passionate feelings, which makes couple photography so delightful and positive. They come from the love between the couple, of course, and also from the excitement of their upcoming big day and in most cases from the combination of nerves and excitement for a shoot with a pro because it’s likely they’ve never had one.
So why am I proclaiming this shot to be practically perfect? It’s not technically perfect, that’s for sure. It seats the couple on the bottom third trisection, so points for that, but what else is going on in terms of the technical aspects? Well there’s a tiny bit of a leading line, right? You see it? Or is it so small that it’s only working on a subconscious level. See the blue lights in bokeh down on the river bank? That’s it. So this line is bokehed, but it’s there and it’s leading your eye to another element of the photo – the iconic background. This background is also bokehed but it’s clear what it is – it’s Big Ben (or the Queen Elizabeth II Tower if you wanna play that game) and the Houses of Parliament. What’s this adding? I mean to you, the viewer? Is it a sense of familiarity which allows you to connect with the photo? And then on top of that, referring back to the bokeh of this f1.8 photo, there’s a background which is not over cluttered, but it’s definitely a statement background. Make sense? It puts you in a place rather than in a studio or against a plan wall. You know it’s there, you know where you are, but it’s not a distraction to the subject of the photo – love!
So now the couple. What are they showing in this photo? To me they exude love, warmth, connection and seem totally natural and comfortable. The love comes from their interaction but I feel also comes from the environment they’ve found themselves in – one that I’ve deliberately put them in! Golden hour. The sun is setting, the city is slowing down and the sky is warming up and it all adds to a glow for them to be bathed in. There’s no fill light and the street lights aren’t on yet, yet the sun is clearly behind them. I’ve broken every amateur photographers number 1 rule but in using the overcast cloud which is dispersing the light as of the sky is one gigantic diffuser I’ve got them lit evenly and exposed perfectly. Their attire adds to the sense of warmth, quite literally. They’re all wrapped up quite stylishly against the elements and warming themselves up!
And one last point of interest – a sneaky pro tip – when it comes to getting a kiss shot it’s actually the moment just before the kiss which photographs best. More about that in another class!
So there we have it, a #shamelessselfpromotion critique of one of my own photos designed to inform the world of photographers looking to improve their couples photography.
Please do show me your shots and feel free to post any questions over on Facebook or Twitter. All my classes are intended to be no nonsense, no hidden secrets, totally friendly guides to getting your shot. As always, it’s not necessarily the right way but it’s my way!