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5 Tips for a Great Engagement Photoshoot - Shooting / Camera Settings (pt 3)

Hey friends! In this video series we will talk about some of my tips for camera settings and angles during an engagement photoshoot for your wedding couples. In this video I cover tips for using natural and artificial light, how to frame up your different angles, and a few other helpful tips. As a wedding photographer in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area, I always love creating the best experience possible for my couples!

Tip #1 - Wide/Medium/Closeup Rule

Wide - show scenery and location with couple in a simple pose/walking

Medium - Full body verticals, horizontal waist up with background

Closeup- Tight closeup of the engagement ring, items, one person’s face, other details

Tip #2 - Backlighting for Glow

Position the couple between you and the sun so that it is creating a backlight around their figures, especially creating glow in the hair.

Make sure the light isn’t too harsh on them (move into partial shade if needed)

Avoid flaring into your lens (or let it happen for a cool effect!)

Below: Shooting in the direction of the sun to have a nice glow through the leaves, and to create a glowy outline around the couple.

Tip #3 - Find the Light & Off Camera Flash

Always make sure lighting is good wherever you are shooting. A few candid moments in worse light is ok of course, but mostly create scenes around the lighting on the subject and background.

Ex: Trees look great when the sun is behind them, creating a bright glow in the leaves. If you are facing directly towards lit trees, they look ok but just flat and less dimensional.

If it is getting too dark, if you are indoors, or if you just want to be creative with lighting, it can be extremely useful to use an off camera flash. It’s not nearly as intimidating as it might seem and doesn’t require more than 1 speedlight and a hot shoe trigger. You can very easily add an angled light (sort of mimicking the sun at a low angle) to bring more detail and match the background exposure.

Below: Engagement session with Off Camera Flash (just 1 strobe on a lightstand, no diffuser)

Tip #4 - Camera Settings

Shutter Speed: At least 1/250th ideally to avoid motion blur, up to 1/8000 is totally fine if you are in really bright sun. Some blurry shots can be cool, I like playing with the effect in a few images but mostly keep the entire session sharp with a fast shutter.

Aperture: There are great uses for everything across the range from 1.2 to 13+. Open aperture for blurry backgrounds (2.2-2.8 range is ideal for bokeh but more detail on the subjects). Closed aperture closer to f/ 6.3 - 11) to bring more background detail in (great for wide angle shots) and to create more starburst-y sun flares.

ISO: Always best to keep it as low as possible, ideally 100 but cameras these days can typically be at 1000 and still have minimal grain. Honestly though I don’t mind a little bit of natural noise in the image and typically do not add noise reduction (makes skin too plastic-y). However if you are in really bad lighting and literally have no choice, it is worth going as high as you need. Sometimes a space is dark and does not allow flash (or flash would be very disrupting to people nearby) then you may have to be at 6400-20000 iso to get any kind of image. It will be super grainy but it’s better than having no image at all.

Below: Examples of slow shutter speeds for a motion-blur effect, and fast shutter speeds to capture sharp movement.

Tip #5 - Rating Images In-Camera

This is a huge tip to save time later in culling/editing. If you shoot an image that you know is great and you’ll want to include in the gallery, have a way to quickly rate that image 2 or 3 stars in your camera.

I don’t bother with 4 or 5 stars because it’s too many extra taps and don’t really need that many levels. It's super easy to just hit the rating button 2 times for a good keeper image. Similarly, if you have images that you know are bad and won’t be used, quickly rate 1 star.

When you import your images to Lightroom, you can immediately sort by 2 stars and get a quick view of a dozen ore more selected shots. When I do this during a wedding day, I can come home with 100-200 selected images which makes it super easy for me to send a sneak-peek gallery to the couple within 1-2 days.

Thank you so much for taking the time to view my work!

Based in Marlton, NJ within easy range of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York City. My favorite locations are in the pinelands and beaches of South Jersey where I grew up!


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