From your proposal to your wedding day, everything is a representation of you. So why shouldn't your engagement photos be, too? The experts give advice for getting engagement shots that let your personalities shine.

From your proposal to your wedding day, everything is a representation of you. So why shouldn’t your engagement photos be, too? The experts give advice for getting engagement shots that let your personalities shine.

For the recently betrothed, engagement photos are a way to capture pre-wedding bliss and share with friends and family a part of a special love story even before exchanging vows.

For the photographer, these images provide a prenuptial opportunity to learn not only how the couple photographs but also how they wish to tell that story. There’s often more time and flexibility during an engagement shoot than on the wedding day, which allows the couple to truly make these shots their own.

“Nothing beats the engagement shoot,” says Bryce Koechlin of AddVision. With his partner, Koechlin spends two hours shooting engagement photos of their clients. “It’s an intimate shoot. You end up with a lot of really nice portraits. On the wedding day, you just don’t have two hours to get a lot of private portraits.”

To ensure these photos reflect the couple’s personality, Koechlin puts them in charge of choosing the location. He asks them where they met and where they grew up to gauge if there’s a good spot nearby.

Allowing them to pick a place with sentimental value “makes it feel more like [a true representation of] them than shooting at some park they’ve never been to,” Koechlin says.

Ben Barnes of Ben Barnes Photography also encourages his clients to pick the location and gives them little direction as he shoots. He doesn’t ask them to pose, but rather to walk and talk and be as natural as they can be. “I tell them to just be candid with one another,” Barnes says.

This breaks the ice and prevents couples from becoming nervous, which makes photos look stiff.

If a couple has specific ideas for poses or shots, Barnes just goes with it.

“It’s not my place to tell them what to do unless they ask me,” Barnes says. “I never discourage them, even if I think it won’t work.”

Even the outfits are important when trying to keep photos personal.

Barnes tells his clients to wear what is comfortable but recommends avoiding white, black or anything that will clash.

“I advise them to wear things that complement each other,” he says.

Most of Koechlin’s clients want to bring two or more outfits. As long as he’s informed ahead of time, changing outfits mid-shoot is not a problem.

“Try not to go crazy with it, though,” he says. “It’s hard to fit four outfits into a two-hour shoot. We’ve all forgotten before … you really wanted that outfit, but we ran out of time.”

In many ways, the couple is telling their story through the surroundings, says Courtney Mason of Courtney Mason Photography. No location or idea is too strange or silly.

“If it’s important to you, we’ll absolutely do whatever it is,” says Mason, who likes shooting engagement photos in the Short North Arts District. Some of her best photos are taken by “stumbling across cool alleyways you didn’t even realize were there.”

Allowing the soon-to-be-newlyweds to call the shots keeps photos genuine.

“We put them in the driver’s seat initially,” Koechlin says. “Usually when we take that approach, we end up with a shoot that is more like them and shows their personality.” m