Engagement Portfolio

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February 26, 2024

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10 tips to prep for your engagement photo session

Preparing for your engagement photography session is an essential step in ensuring memorable and stunning photos that beautifully capture your love story. In this article, I’ll do my best to guide you through the process, offering valuable insights and tips to help you prepare for your upcoming session. From choosing locations to styling outfits, let’s dive into the steps that will make your engagement photos truly exceptional.

biltmore engagement session - jennifer & stefan
  1. Choose the Right Location: Setting the Scene for Romance
    Selecting the perfect location for your engagement photos is crucial in setting the tone and ambiance. From the lush greenery of Duke Gardens to the streets of downtown Raleigh, we have a plethora of stunning backdrops to choose from. We’ll work with you to find a location that resonates with your personalities and love story, ensuring that every shot reflects the magic of your relationship.
  2. Coordinate Your Outfits: Curating Your Couple Style
    Selecting the right outfits is crucial for achieving beautiful engagement photos. Coordinate your outfits with your partner, aiming for a cohesive look that showcases your individual styles while harmonizing together. Opt for clothing that flatters your body types and reflects your personalities. Don’t shy away from incorporating accessories or details that add a touch of personality to your ensemble. You can also incorporate hats and props for you to have fun with on the shoot if you like. Personally, I recommend opting for neutral colours (black works best) or pastels and avoiding big logos and busy patterns like plaids and stripes. But it’s about you guys, not me, so if tartan is your deal, go for it! If you would like to make an outfit change at some point, definitely let your photographer know ahead of time so that they can plan accordingly. 
  3. Hair and Makeup: Get Camera-Ready
    Consider hiring a pro hair and makeup artist for your engagement session. Their expertise will ensure that you both look and feel your best on camera. Professional grooming adds an extra layer of polish to your photos, boosting your confidence and creating a camera-ready look. You can check out my recommended hair & makeup artists here.
  4. Timing is Everything: Capturing the Golden Hour Glow
    Timing plays a crucial role in achieving stunning engagement photos. We recommend scheduling your session during the golden hour, shortly after sunrise or before sunset, to take advantage of the soft, flattering light. This magical time of day adds a warm, romantic glow to your photos, elevating the overall mood and atmosphere of the shoot. I’ll work with you on that and can advise you on the optimal timing based on your chosen location and desired lighting effects. You also might want to schedule a backup date in advance in case weather doesn’t cooperate on the day of the shoot.
  5. Communicate with Your Photographer: Crafting Your Vision Together
    Communication is key to ensuring that your engagement photoshoot exceeds your expectations. We’ll schedule a consultation to discuss your vision, preferences, and any specific ideas you have in mind. Whether you’re dreaming of candid moments in nature or intimate portraits in an urban setting, we’ll collaborate closely with you to bring your vision to life.
  6. Bring Props and Personal Touches: Adding Meaningful Elements
    Incorporating props and personal touches can add depth and storytelling to your engagement photos. Whether it’s a vintage picnic setup, a handwritten love letter, or your furry friend, these elements can infuse your photos with personality and charm. We’ll work together to incorporate meaningful props that reflect your unique love story and create memorable moments.
  7. Relax and Have Fun: Capturing Genuine Emotions
    Relaxation is key to capturing genuine emotions and connections between you and your partner. Our relaxed and friendly approach to photography will put you at ease, allowing your personalities to shine through in every shot. We’ll guide you through poses and prompts that feel natural and authentic, ensuring that your love story is beautifully captured.
  8. Stay Hydrated and Well-Rested: Radiating Energy and Vitality
    Taking care of yourself leading up to the shoot is essential for looking and feeling your best. Make sure to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and avoid excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption. By prioritizing self-care, you’ll arrive at the session feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to create magic in front of the camera.
  9. Practice Posing: Mastering Your Best Angles
    Practicing poses with your partner beforehand can help you feel more confident and comfortable in front of the camera. Experiment with different poses and expressions to discover what feels natural and flattering for both of you. During the session, we’ll provide gentle guidance and direction to capture your best angles and showcase your love in its most authentic form.
  10. Embrace Authenticity & Imperfection: Celebrating Your Unique Connection
    The key to beautiful engagement photos is capturing genuine emotions and moments. It’s normal to feel awkward in front of the camera, especially at the start, so don’t stress about it at all. Relax, be yourself, embrace the awkwardness, have fun with it and laugh about it together. That way you will quickly find you will get into it and enjoy the experience. Let me or your chosen photographer guide you through some natural poses and prompts that bring out your true connection. Laugh, cuddle, and let your love shine through. The more relaxed and authentic you are, the more your personalities will be reflected in the photographs. My shoots are always good fun so definitely go into it knowing we’re going to have a laugh for a couple of hours. The photos will then take care of themselves. 
Engagement Portfolio

Bonus Tip: Including Your Furry Friend
As a dog lover myself, I totally understand the importance of including your furry friend in your engagement photos. However, I have learnt from experience that in order for you and your partner to both be totally relaxed and into each other, it is best to just have your dog join you for a few shots at the start or the end of the session. So if you can have someone bring them in and take them away as needed, that would be the best bet.


Prepping for your engagement photography session with Joe Payne Photography should be easy and stress-free. By following these exclusive tips, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a memorable photoshoot that beautifully captures the essence of your relationship. So, relax, have fun, and let’s create magic together in front of the lens!

duke gardens engagement photography - jessica & calvin

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