Engagement photos are a great way to prepare yourself to be in front of the camera on your wedding day. But how should you approach the engagement photos themselves?

Engagement photos are a great way to prepare yourself to be in front of the camera on your wedding day. But how should you approach the engagement photos themselves?

At the initial meeting with couples, Benjamin Derkin, chief visual director and principal photographer of Derk's Works Photography, shares that what we know about engagement pictures has changed. "They're not just to send in to the paper anymore," Derkin says. "The purpose is very different. The wedding day is a hyper romanticized version of yourself, but the engagement photos are the short story of who you are."

There are several important factors to discuss and consider when photo planning-one being location. Seek spots with both urban and outdoor options nearby to serve as different backdrops. "I don't put a limit on [the number of locations], but I usually suggest two locations in close proximity to each other," says Hillary Ferguson of Hillary Ferguson Photography.

Most importantly, choose a spot that has significant meaning to you and your soon-to-be spouse. "Locations pair with authenticity," Derkin says. "You can get greenery and sunlight or backlighting at any park. So pick the park that means something to you. It's those subtle things that add significance to photos."

So what should you wear? Avoid overthinking your wardrobe and stick to the basics. "I like couples to wear something timeless or classic with neutral colors and just add pops of colors and/or accessories that won't overshadow them," says Nicole Dixon of Nicole Dixon Photographic. "I want them and their emotions to be the main focus of the images."

If you're planning on swapping out outfits during the session, aim for a casual look and a dressier get-up for variety. "My typical encouragement is to dress in something that's you and you feel comfortable in," Derkin says. "I like to encourage people to start with their favorite outfits, because after the first half dozen pictures you get into your groove. So you'll probably get more quantity of photos in that outfit."

Outfits aren't the only things you need to prepare: Keep in mind any props or items you'd like to incorporate into the photos. If you'd like Fido to be in the shot, Derkin suggests having your pet there for just a short period of time. "With dogs, it's good to introduce them for a few shots," he says. "Then, have someone come and pick them up and take them home so you're not thinking of their well-being instead."

Other prop ideas? Ferguson recalls a couple who wore T-shirts honoring a father who had passed away. Or, build your photos around an activity or something the two of you like to experience together. "Go to the bar and grab a drink or go to the batting cages," Derkin says. "If an engagement shoot is a short story about who you are, why wouldn't you do something that talks about who you are?"

As you begin the photos, use your photographer's cues and ask for suggestions. They've experienced countless engagement sessions, and they'll guide you throughout the process. If you're looking for ways to calm your camera nerves, it can be as simple as spending some time with your soon-to-be spouse. Dixon recommends having lunch or dinner beforehand to be together and relax. But, on the flip side, a little nervousness can yield fun results. "I think the nervous laughter is really cute," Dixon says. "It's more times than not how we start the session. They get their nervous laughter out and it photographs really cute."

Ultimately, you'll get the results you want from your engagement pictures if you remember the whole purpose of the session. "If you're looking for that authentic shoot, fill your brain with the reasons you love the other person, your engagement story, how you met," Derkin says. "Let yourself be mentally consumed by it."