As a wedding photographer, I use my camera to make a living… but it wasn’t always this way. I thought it might be helpful to share some tips on how to take great photo’s (regardless of the type of camera you have) so that when your engagement party rolls around… if you haven’t hired a professional to document it for you, you can still get some killer photos! I am a huge believer in celebrating this time in your lives (you’re about to marry your best friend in the whole world… that is the best reason to party that I can think of!!) so let’s make sure you also get some of those memories from your engagement party documented for the future!
** Before the party, approach a friend that enjoys taking photos and assign them as your ‘photographer’ for the night, forward these tips to them and then all you need to focus on is having fun and dancing up a storm on the dance floor! **
1. Let there be light!
Light is super important – the strength and direction of the light will make a BIG difference to your pictures. When taking photos, look for any light source that can provide light to your subjects faces… table lamps, ceiling lighting, festoon bulbs etc. If there isn’t much light at the party, you may need to use the flash that is on the camera. If it is adjustable, angle the flash to point towards the ceiling so that the light from the flash can bounce and provide a softer result, instead of pointing it straight at your subjects faces! If it isn’t adjustable, you should be able to decrease how powerful the flash is (check out the manual for your camera) so it’s not so intense.
Here is a frame from a 21st birthday party, where the girls are under a ceiling light. A little bit of flash was also used, but the flash’s power was turned down, so it was a lot softer & more natural.
*When you are organising your engagement party, keep in mind that the more light sources there are, the better your photos will be*
Before taking a photo, think of how it will look in the frame (also known as composition). There are some simple little notes to remember when taking your photos:
– Place the main subject of the photo off centre, creating more visual interest (fancy term: this is known as the rule of thirds)
– If taking a group photo with the engaged couple, ensure that they are in the middle of the group with an equal number of guests on each side.
– If it is a large group of people, have the guests stand on an angle, with one shoulder forward (as below). This will make the group photo appear ‘cleaner’ and more organised. Also, ensure that you take at least 2-3 frames when taking group photos, as you can guarantee that people will be blinking in at least 1 of them!
3. Unleash your inner spy!
Sometimes the best photos are the ones that are taken without you knowing about it… why? Because they capture you naturally. No fake smiles. No camera shyness. Just you. Happy. Laughing. Smiling. You. Make sure when taking photos, that you take a step back, use the zoom that is on your camera and bring out the ‘spy’ within by taking plenty of candid photos. This will also make sure that all of the guests at the party are photographed, as well as the bride & groom to be. Looking back at the photos, I can guarantee that the engaged couple want to see photos of all their guests having a blast, just as much as they want some photos of themselves…
4. Details, details, details
Always keep in mind when photographing the engagement party, that all the details that the engaged couple have spent time & money on, should be photographed. This means that when the couple are looking back at the gallery, they can see a complete picture of what the night looked like, as well as who was there! I always do this first when I arrive at a party or reception, that way it is untouched by the guests… You can imagine this candy bar didn’t stay like this for long:
5. Don’t just ‘Say Cheese’
As the ‘photographer’ it is your job to make sure that your subjects look the very best that they can in the photos! Before you lift the camera up to your eye, make sure that shirts are tucked in, ties are straight, bra straps aren’t showing and hair is fixed… this way, you will get a photo that not only you are proud of, but your subjects are too!
Pro note: Sometimes guys don’t know where to put their hands in photos, it always looks better if they are in their pockets – instead of just dangling around in the frame. For girls, a hand on their hip always works a treat!
I hope this helps you get some amazing photos from your engagement party!!
p.s need some more advice when it comes to your Wedding Day? Check out the related blog posts below…