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9 (non-cringeworthy) ideas for your engagement shoot

Engagement shoot water balloons
You said yes, your engagement status update is raking in the ‘likes’ on Facebook and “Have you set a date yet?” is the only question you’ve been asked for the past week. 
But before you plunge headfirst into wedding planning mode, make time for an engagement shoot – not only is it an ideal way to capture this special time of your life, but it’s also a great test run for the big day.

“It’s the perfect opportunity to spend some time together, eliminate some of those pre-wedding nerves and create a great set of images in the process,” says Newcastle-based photographer Matt Streatfeild of Matts Photography. “There are no rules with a couple shoot – we aren’t bound by time, and we can select great locations, themes and ideas that are unique to that couple. It’s a great way to be able to do things that couldn’t be done on the wedding day. The more fun, the better!” 

So with this in mind, we’ve rounded up nine ideas for a fun, quirky engagement shoot from some of Australia's best wedding photographers – no awkward poses required.

1. Get acrobatic.

Why sit when you can flip, turn and tumble? Different shapes and poses can bring great energy to your photos. “I encourage couples to be themselves,” says Sydney photographer Lara Hotz. “I never make anyone do anything they are uncomfortable doing and let the shoot evolve naturally.” Just check you're on a soft surface so the rest of your shoot isn't spent in the emergency room!

2. A (different) day at the beach.

If you love the beach but can't quite face 'casually' strolling along the shoreline in front of all your fellow beachgoers, find somewhere more secluded, like underneath a pier or jetty.  "Put your self-consciousness away and look at your partner and think, 'Oh man, I love this person,' because that’s what I want to photograph," says photographer Paul Bamford from Finch&Oak Wedding Co.

3. Pets definitely allowed.

They're the other love of your life, so make sure your favourite furry friend gets to make a cameo in your shoot. "Dogs are so much fun," says Streatfeild. "They add a third dimension to a shoot, they add a sense of unpredictability and they act as a great ice breaker. Dogs are big parts of peoples families so why not have them photographed? They love the camera!"

4. Child's play.

Yes, you're an adult with responsibilities like work and bills and errands (especially when you're planning a wedding), but that's all the more reason to put the real world aside for a few hours and let your inner seven-year-old come out to play. Costumes, props and art materials like coloured chalk not only mean great photos, but also a LOT of fun creating them! 

5. The great outdoors.

Dramatic landscapes make a fantastic backdrop for engagement shoots, particularly in the early evening. "The best light of any day is as the sun rises and as the sun sets," says Streatfeild. "I schedule my couple shoots mostly in the late afternoon to coincide with the ‘golden hour’, that beautiful hour or so of golden light prior to sunset. Great light creates so many creative opportunities."

6. Don't just stand there.

Engagement shoot roller coaster
Do something! "Some couples find standing around a little daunting, so we try and engage them by giving them an activity or something to do," say Hobart-based photographers Fred and Hannah. "We also find that suggesting some friendly inter-couple rivalry always brings out the cheeky side of even the most shy personalities!"

7. Go for a dip.

This is definitely one for the summer months. When it comes to choosing a location for your shoot, think outside the square - or swimming pool. "Remember that there aren’t any rules with these types of shoots, so you can do whatever you like and your photographer will love you for it," says Streatfeild.

8. Visit your local.

Cafe, pub, shops, laundromat... those places you visit regularly - even to do your washing - can provide a quirky, unexpected backdrop for your shoot. "For all my engagement sessions I always arrange a brainstorming sessions with my clients," says Hotz. "I ask them about their interests and locations that are special to them or have significance."

9. Don't stop the music.

Op shops and record stores are treasure troves for music fans. "If you're both music lovers, visit a thrift shop and hunt for old vinyls," says Streatfeild. "Whatever it may be, choose a theme and location that is uniquely you. In doing so, you’ll be relaxed, happy and your photo shoot will be a blast!"
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