Forget traditional, over-posed photos. Capture your picture-perfect love with flair

Engagement pictures are like a dress rehearsal for the big day. Couples can get comfortable in front of the camera, and photographers get to know their best looks. "It's about learning people's natural laugh, and differentiating between what's polite and what's real," said Benjamin Derkin of Derk's Works Photography in Columbus. Plus, it offers couples a chance to snap a few less-formal shots before their wedding day. But where to do it? Local photographers offer five ideas (and a few favorite spots) to help yield a great engagement shot.

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1. Give it Meaning

Think of places that hold a special memory-your first date, where you got engaged or a usual hangout, such as a park, concert venue or even your neighborhood. "I want them to be emotionally involved in their pictures," Derkin said. Picking a familiar spot, he added, creates a level of comfort-key when many tend to feel awkward being photographed.

SNAPSHOT:Consider incorporating props if you don't have a special setting, suggested Columbus and Miami photographer Amanda Julca. For example, one couple-a photographer and musician-brought an old-fashioned camera for the bride and a guitar for the groom. 2. Create Interest

If there is no one spot that means something to you (or one that will photograph well), think about places that just look cool. "I like to pick visually interesting places," said German Village photographer Jacquelyn Poussot.

SNAPSHOT:Try St. Charles Preparatory School on East Broad Street with its unique architecture, or the Union Station Arch in the Arena District. For a different view of the Short North, Powell photographer Nicole Dixon heads to an orange wall with a bright turquoise door on West Poplar Avenue.
3. Get Active

Feeling a bit camera shy? Try planning a small activity or pick a lively location to keep your mind off of the lens. Grab ice cream, set up a picnic or pop a bottle of bubbly. Julca took one fun, but nervous, couple to the Ohio State Fair. "It let them have fun and play around so they wouldn't feel as uncomfortable," Julca said.

SNAPSHOT:Poussot heads to Yellow Springs, Ohio, about an hour out of town,for its charm. There's a huge sunflower field she'll have couples play around in, and then after stop by Young's Dairy for an old-fashioned ice cream cone. 4. Think Ahead

Poussot had one couple bring a chalkboard to write their wedding date on, and they then used the images as a save-the-date card. "Finding an extra purpose makes it higher value," Poussot explained. Another couple
printed images from their engagement shoot on the back of place cards for an extra personal touch at the reception.

SNAPSHOT:Consider coordinating with your invites so the look of your shootmatches your stationary, Poussot said. For example, try using a piece of foam core to recreate a design image from your invite.
5. Theme It

Still at a loss for a location? Refer to the theme of yourwedding. Is it a garden ceremony? Is it urban? Or rustic? Then consider a spot that will fit that feel. "A couple's whole wedding is based around astyle," Julca said. "Sometimes what works is to think about the style of their wedding and carry that through."

SNAPSHOT:For an urban vibe, try outside The Buggyworks, a simple setting with an old warehouse feel. For garden, head to Inniswood Metro Gardens or the Franklin Park Conservatory. Give it country flair at Bryn Du Mansion in Granville, which offers a barn on the grounds and occasional polo matches
on weekends.