As photographers, we are always on an epic quest for learning and growth as artists, because we want to offer our clients our very best. So what does that look like for us? Well, lots of practice (our dog, Arroyo, is always a willing subject thankfully); lots of nerdy late-night conversations about aperture, lenses, and adobe lightroom; and for me, as a newer photographer, lots of YouTube watching. One of my favorite things to do is just go down the rabbit hole of YouTube tutorials and demos and learn about what's going on with all the other photographers in the world. They share insights about how they've improved, tips to make the editing process more streamlined, and lots of super cute ideas for posing and locations.
What I didn't expect to stumble upon in my usual YouTube-ing yesterday, was Pinterest! Now, trust me, I'm just as guilty as you are (brides) for surfing Pinterest for hours on end, looking at all the cute couples and dreaming about my own future engagement session one day! As a photographer, my biggest recommendation to you is to start pinning the one's that speak to you and your relationship. I've talked to a lot of couples who are shy about adding props to their engagement session because it seems cheesy. But in all honesty, props make for great pictures and can really help show your personality. Think about it this way, why do you hang art on your walls at home?: To add aesthetic and reflect something about who you are! That's exactly what a prop does in your engagement shoot, too. It's not cheesy, it just adds personality.
So, here are 5 props that we've used in our engagement sessions, and a parallel Pinterest version to demonstrate different ways to work with a prop theme. Remember, Pinterest is a great place to get ideas to start a brainstorm, but add some originality to that idea and make it your own. Chances are, once you share your idea with your photographer, they will have 100 different ways to incorporate it into a great shot.
1) Balloons & Chalkboards
On the left, you see Gaby holding a bunch of balloons in the colors they've chosen to wear for their engagement session. But, these aren't just any plain old balloons, they also added the silver hearts at the top and lots of curly cute ribbons to add sweetness. Balloons add an element of youth, so Gaby & JC made sure to dress them up to say "engagement session" rather than "5 year old's birthday party." You also see JC holding a chalkboard with their wedding date written on it. This is a nice touch to add for "Save the Dates" or for the cover of an engagement photo album. Click the image to see the rest of their engagement highlights.
On the right, you see a couple found on Pinterest via Style Me Pretty, holding a chalkboard with their wedding date. The photo shoot was inspired by the Pixar movie, Up, so balloons played a huge roll in their session. Both balloons and chalkboards add an element of playfulness, youth, and fun. Click the image to see the rest of the photo shoot.
We LOVE the idea of incorporating your pets into your engagement shoot. After all, they are part of the family! Your pet may not always be with you, so this is a great way to hold onto the memories you had with your pet in the earlier stages of your relationship together. For John & I, our pets are a huge part of our lives and have defined much of our experiences together as a couple. On the left, you see Isaac & Glory, a Love Springs couple, with an understated dog shot. On the right, you'll see the Pinterest version, with adorable signs that you can actually buy on Etsy (click through the picture to go to Etsy) & Click on Isaac and Glory to see the rest of their engagement highlights.
Different frames can create very different looks. In this particular engagement photo, Kristy and Jeremy were going for a rustic look. So, they chose a frame crafted from reclaimed wood. This worked particularly well with their fall photo shoot, and showed their personalities as a laid-back couple. Using rustic elements is a great idea if your wedding will also be rustic, or if you're taking your engagement photos in a natural setting. The same idea could be applied with a more modern or vintage frame for a photo shoot in an urban setting, pictured on the right via Pinterest.
Michael and Jessica wanted to incorporate a romantic picnic into their engagement session. It turned out that the blanket itself was a great prop, too! We had them lay down on the blanket, and John stood overhead to capture this shot. A blanket is a great way to add a sense of comfort, relaxation, and warmth to your engagement photos, especially if it's a chilly day. On the right, you see a Pinterest couple getting snuggly under the blanket in a snowy scene. We love blankets for Fall and Winter shoots!
5) Planes, Trains and...Buses...
So it might be difficult to acquire a school bus for your engagement session, but if you have one in right in your path, you might as well get on it! It's always a great idea to incorporate surprise props and elements along the way during your engagement session. Sometimes the unplanned props are the best props! Another thing to consider: do you have an awesome car that you love? A private jet? Have you always wanted to take a helicopter ride? Well, now is an excellent opportunity to incorporate a vehicle you love or an adventure you've always wanted to have and capture those moments!
Please share your awesome engagement shoot prop ideas below, and feel free to click through our Gallery for more inspiration!