Engagement Photo Poses – Must Have Pictures Your Clients Will Love

This is the third and final article in a mini series of write ups about the engagement shoot. I’m going to showcase 6 very different engagement photo poses here, explain how I shot each of them and why, cover the set up and go over technical considerations too.

I hope you find the info useful…

I mentioned 2 other articles. Click here for my engagement photo tips article on,

  • Preparation
  • Managing clients expectations
  • Pricing advice
  • Presentation
  • Making the most of your time with the couple


click here for my engagement photo ideas post, covering,

  • How to get the classic shots in the bag
  • Adding variety to your shoot
  • Getting creative
  • Making sure your clients enjoy themselves
  • Plus plenty more…

Number 1 – Lie Down And Have A Little Fun

So, first on the list of engagement photography poses, a really nice fun one, very informal, and something you’re definitely not going to get on the day, unless the bride really doesn’t care what happens to her dress.

engagement photo poses

focal length - 200mm; speed - 1/400s; aperature - f/5; ISO - 400

Posing advice

I always do this one myself first, meaning I get on the floor and look pretty. It really helps free up the couple’s inhibitions if you’re prepared to do the same, and of course they can see exactly what you’re after. I ask the girl to lift and cross her feet which adds some depth to the shoot, and makes it a bit more of a fun shot. The girl looks great with one or both hands up to the side of her face, the guy with an arm across her back.

‘Squeeze up tight, even tighter, don’t let her get away, look at each other/stare in to her beautiful blue eyes/tell him how lucky he is to be marrying you.’ And you’ve got the shot.

Sequence ideas

You can ask them to look at each other as here, or the same but one person looks at you, or both at you. All work. A quiet thoughtful moment or a laugh both work. You can also move on to shoot with both of them on their sides and hugging or kissing.

Lighting and technical considerations

As with 95% of the engagement shots I take, I’m using my Canon EF 70-200mm L2.8 lens. Creates beautiful shallow depth of field, along with the fairly large aperture, throwing the background out of focus. Perfect for the splashes of color from the flowers, and to home right in on the couple’s expressions.

I also play safe and set the ISO to 400. Often I could get away with a lower setting without any risk of camera shake, but the picture quality is still great at 400. Plus I shoot fairly quickly, chatting away as I go, so the less things I have to think about at the same time, the better. Typical man, really.

This shot was taken on a cloudy day with nice diffuse light, that models the couples faces really well.

Any alternatives?

On a sunny day, I’d try to find a nice bit of shade, say under a tree on near a building. It’s really important to face the couple in the right direction in this shade though. For a tree, this will generally be facing out towards the edge of the shade, away from the centre of the tree. If you do the opposite, the light will be very unflattering. Can be harder to work out in some situations, and even if you’ve got cloud cover, the sun might be strong enough to give some directional lighting.

For anther option why not ask the couple to lie down just inside a doorway, providing the sun isn’t shining directly at it, for exactly the same effect. Lovely soft lighting again. Works well if the hallway or porch is tiled or has some other nicely textured surface.

And this is a good option in a rain shower. You should still be able to stand in the rain unless it’s really hard. If it’s chucking it down, get inside as well, use a wide angle lens so you can be up close, and then move on to some more shots inside with door and window light.

Extra tip

To work out which part of a shady area is lighter or darker, partly fold the white rear side of a business card so it forms a V shape. Hold this up with the fold vertically facing you, and one side will appear whiter than the other unless the light is completely uniform. Pose the couple facing towards the light.

Number 2 – Walking Towards Camera

A very simple shot to set up, it looks great and it’s easy for the couple – a bit of an ice breaker for early on in the shoot too.

poses for engagement photos

focal length - 200mm; speed - 1/800s; aperature - f/3.5; ISO - 400

Posing advice

I ask the couple to walk along, hands behind each other’s back, or holding hands or with the girl holding on to his arm and pulling him in to her. Sometimes get him to put his hands or his outside hand in his pocket.

I also ask them to look at each other or the out to the side, or past me BUT not at me. I think this shot looks a lot better as them having a walk in the countryside or wherever, but with no reference to the camera at all.

Sequence ideas

When they get a little closer to the camera, I shoot them half length in landscape for a different perspective. I sometimes also switch quickly to my other camera with a wider lens – 17-40mm – and get some of them walking past me with the camera titled a little. I don’t even size up the shot in the viewfinder, often holding the camera up above head height instead. Shot to nothing but you never know.

And why not ask them to stop half was through for a little kiss, or suggest she kisses him on the cheek as they’re walking.

Lighting and technical considerations

Diffuse light on a cloudy day always works but here we’ve got direct sunlight. I’ve asked them to walk away from the sun, so you’ve got nice rim lighting to their hair. I’m actually in the shade of one of those big bushes, so I don’t have to worry about lens flare, but a hood should work just as well unless you’re shooting right in to the sun.

One problem you might encounter here is that the subject will be underexposed, as the camera compensates for the sun. Spot metering can work, as can using a light meter and manual mode, but to be honest, I tend to keep the camera in aperture priority mode, do a quick test shot and see what it looks like the back of my camera. If it’s underexposed, I set the exposure compensation to + 1/3 or +2/3 and TRY!!! to remember to set it back to 0 after the sequence.

Any alternatives?

I mentioned difference things to do with the hands and different place to look. You can get the girl to go up on tiptoes a bit and whisper in his ear too.

If it’s raining and in any event, a colonnade or some other covered archway works. An avenue of trees is just the business too.

And as a final shot to show them, walking off in to the distance is a lovely way to finish the story.

Extra tip

If there is an absolutely perfect location for a walk, say across a bridge but the light is direct and from the side, you’ve got some nasty shadows that may come in to play.

In this case, I’ll position the girl to the side away from the sun, so when she looks over at the guy, her face is modelled by the light. Imperfections aren’t so noticeable at a distance either. This is a bit hit and miss but can actually look really dramatic.

Number 3 – Just The Girl

It’s really important to get some awesome shots of each of the couple on their own, especially the girl. She’ll never be engaged again, it’s a wonderful time of her life, so creating some images that reflect this and show her looking just stunning are a must. Not to mention, she’ll really listen to your advice and suggestions on the wedding day if you can impress her now.

engagement photography poses

focal length - 200mm; speed - 1/500s; aperature - f/3.5; ISO - 400

Posing advice

I really like this pose. Ask your bride to be to face slightly in towards a wall, and put up her hand in front of her. Great if you can work it with the light so she shows off the hand with her engagement ring. Her other hand can be up too or down but hidden from view behind her. Ideally I like her to put her weight on her outside hip – the one away from the wall – to create more of a curve in her body shape.

This isn’t vital though if you’re cropping quite tight, and there’s always a balance with spending too long posing extra little detail and getting the right expression or catching a moment before things get too forced.

Sequence ideas

I’ll often try to get the guy to stand a bit behind my shoulder. You can then get a shot of the girl looking at you, then ask her to look at him. Often, there’s something you can play off to make a little joke, or they’ll just laugh spontaneously because of the situation, and you’ve got a great fun shot to follow up with.

Plus, when they see the photo, they’ll know she was looking at him at the time, so it’s less artificial, it’s about a real moment they shared together.

Lighting and technical considerations

I search for soft diffused light in the shade for this one, and go with a large aperture for that shallow depth of field. The lines of the wood plants in the wall lead you straight to the subject. The wall was actually black, a bit harsh I thought, so I converted the shot to a sepia to soften things down more to my liking.

Any alternatives?

Instead of a wall, railings or a gate work great too.

Extra tip

For a really stunning sexy shot the guy’s going to love, ask the girl to rest her head against the wall and tilt her chin down a little so she’s looking up at you (or get up higher yourself). Ask quietly and softly; it will help get her in the mood too. If it’s not quite coming off, you can try asking her to look down, then up at you again. Helps to keep the look natural. Shoot straight away.

Number 4 – Just The Guy

We cannot leave him out, so it’s important to get some ones of him looking at his best, and certainly a few of him looking well, cool basically.

engagement photos poses

focal length - 78mm; speed - 1/1250s; aperature - f/4; ISO - 400

Posing advice

All the weight is on his outside hip, away from the wall, arms folded and looking slightly over me and past me. OK, bit sterotypical, but that kind of look is a dominant one men use, so works for a guy shot. No need to smile, which most men hate doing as well. I don’t ask the guys to smile much, or to look at camera much either. A spontaneous laugh great, but not a cheesy smile.

Again, lead by example and do the pose yourself if it isn’t coming naturally to them.

And throw in some sunglasses to increase the coolness.

Sequence ideas

As with the photo of the girl on her own, you can ask the guy to look over at her, or get her to come in slightly behind him and kiss his cheek or whisper in to his ear.

With a striking background like this, I’d do a head shot or two as well, with the fencing filling the background completely.

Lighting and technical considerations

He’s in direct sunlight but not facing in to it. You can get away with shadows more with the man, but here sunglasses avoid any problems around the key area of the eyes anyway.

A bit of simple post production for a background like this can make all the difference. Increasing the contrast and saturation, especially of the iron fence, will make the colors that much bolder and alive. In reality, the oranges were much duller.

Any alternatives?

The guy sitting on a bench or step and leaning forward, or leaning against a wall and crossing his arms or with his hands in his pockets. All classic engagement photo pose ideas to make him look the part.

Extra tip

You might want to use Photoshop to remove the blade of grass that stops on his shirt front. It’s not across his face, so I can definitely live with it, but it is a little bit distracting so you could argue it should be removed using the clone stamp. I’ve left it here though to show you… :)

Number 5 – Classic Shot Of Couple

Don’t forget do get some shots that are just plain old classics, lovely portraits of the two of them looking at camera. Very popular always.

engagement picture poses

focal length - 200mm; speed - 1/400s; aperature - f/4; ISO - 250

Posing advice

Start by asking them to get in tight together, on a step here. Often they will pose themselves to a large extent but where they’ve missed a key element, make a gentle suggestion and do it yourself where appropriate too.

Their heads are tilted in slightly towards one another which I love. If you want her to tilt her head, tilt yours the way you want her to go and she’ll copy you easily. Watch out for the hands too. So important that they aren’t hanging limply. Looks fake straight away.

Sequence ideas

She can look over at him or vice versa, engineer a laugh, suggest a kiss. She can put her hand to his cheek as she kisses him, or he can pull her in. He can whisper in her ear, hidden behind her a little. At the same time, you can get a shot of her laughing whilst this time shooting over his shoulder. Loads of options…

Lighting and technical considerations

Lovely spot of shade here, very soft. It was really bright sunny day, but this side of the building on the steps was in shadow. They are looking out at an angle towards the light though. If you look closely, you can see a little more shade on the left of their faces as you look at them. That side was towards the building a little more. It adds a tiny bit more texture and tone to their features.

Any alternatives?

Sitting on a bench or up against a tree has similar posing requirements. If the couple are on a bench, it’s easy to ask the girl to go stand behind him and cross her arms around his chest. Another classic shot.

Extra tip

Where you’ve got grand steps, you’ve often got railings, or a grand doorway or arch. All great spots for more photos, and as they’re in the same location roughly with similar lighting conditions, they will likely link together well. Great for creating a photo montage, set of 3,4 or 6 framed images or an album.

Number 6 – Peaceful And Looking Away

We’ve discussed fun light hearted shots, so it’s nice to contrast these with something a lot more peaceful, something that gives you time to just look at the photograph and live a little bit of the life they are going to share together.

engagement photo pose ideas

focal length - 150mm; speed - 1/3200s; aperature - f/5.6; ISO - 1250

Posing advice

Guy with his arms round the girl, leaning in to her hair, girl leaning back gently. Leaning back means here eyelids are low. Calm thoughtful expressions, enjoying a moment together. Still water in the background reflects this feeling. I’ve cropped in quite tight to simplify things even more.

Sequence ideas

The couple can both look out, they can turn in towards each other, arms low, or she could put her arms round his neck or to this cheek. Another nice option is for him to put his hand to her cheek when they kiss, and she in turn puts her hand on his. It looks lovely.

Lighting and technical considerations

The couple are looking out in to the river, with the bank behind them. You can see the light softly modelling their faces as they look in that direction.

I actually had the ISO here set higher than it needed to be. We’d just been inside in a very dark spot and I hadn’t changed the ISO back. However, the picture quality on a modern Canon or Nikon camera for that matter is excellent these days, even at high ISOs, so the image is just fine.

I do like to keep things simple when I shoot though, and this is partly why. It’s so easy to forget to change a setting when you’re whizzing along between shots and locations, and it’s the reason why I’ve shied away from light meters just as much as I’ve turned away from over posing the subjects. I want to get shots that work technically but that are alive.

Any alternatives?

Of course, when you’re near a bridge, you can do some great walking shots across it too, pause for a kiss, shoot just the girl leaning back on the railings or wall of the bridge. All of those would have you on the bridge too, but you might instead shoot from below, up past and through bushes and trees for a private little moment.

Extra tip

This location is almost identical to the last shot in the sister article I wrote on engagement photos ideas and techniques. A very different pose though. I would really urge you to repose and repose in one location. You get lots of images very quickly and its more fun and dynamic too so everybody enjoys themselves at the same time.

Of course, change the location or outfit slightly as well and you’ve got even more variety.

Anyway, I hope these suggestions for some engagement picture poses you can try out will help you create a well rounded collection of images and a great experience at the same time.

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3 Responses to “Engagement Photo Poses – Must Have Pictures Your Clients Will Love”

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  1. Cassandra says:

    Thank you, this information is priceless. To see your camera readings takes a lot of the guessing out for me. One question. I was taught with natural light out side to use ISO 100. Explain why you use ISO400 on most of your shots.
    Thanks again, I will be practicing with these numbers.

    • Stefan says:

      Hi Cassandra, the lower the ISO the better for picture quality, but at 400 you still get a great image.

      I move quite quickly during a shoot like this, taking lots of different shots in a short space of time, and occasionally might be walking along at the same time, or holding the camera above my head. ISO 400 just gives me more leeway. The camera doesn’t have to be as perfectly still.

      Plus I might move in to a shady spot that really could do with the higher ISO. Rather than having to concentrate on checking and changing camera settings, I can spend more time on composition, watching the light, chatting to the couple and having fun.

      If you are one of those people who can do lots of things at once (not me!) and some of things on auto pilot pretty much, adjust for the lowest possible ISO, but it always slows things down a bit. So I guess it comes down to personal preferences in a way.

      Thanks for your comments. All the best, Stefan

      • Cassandra Dunnings says:

        Yes , I understand and will use this information to help me get creative. I will be inquiring of your professional advice as I get more intouch with creating great pictures.

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