How to take stunning engagement photos without being cheesy

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked me if I could snap some photos for her Save the Date announcement. I was delighted to be asked and quickly started researching poses and ideas for the shoot before it really dawned on me - the pressure! None of us had done this before and as soon as we turned up at the beach, all of us feeling equally excited but nervous, I knew we had to chill out if we were going to achieve the relaxed, fun photos that everyone was after. Most of us don't regularly practice modeling in our spare time, so posing and making people pose in front of the camera can be intimidating, which is a great reason for engaged couples of have a little practice before their big day. Plus, let's be honest. While you might think that engagement shoots are cheesy, there's something very special about capturing this ridiculously exciting time. So how do you avoid the cringe factor? Here's what we learned:

1. Have a little warm up! Get the camera settings ready while you give the couple a chance to get used to having a lens pointed at them and get over the initial awkwardness of "what do I doooooo? Does my smile look stupid? Where do I put my hands?!" Just 5 or 10 minutes will put everyone at ease and give you a chance to figure what poses feel comfortable, which angles work best, and a form a basis for the rest of the shoot to evolve naturally. 

2. Move around. Make the most of light coming from different angles and keep moving to find new backgrounds. Use the breaks while you change locations to chat about what happened during that day / week and capitalize on a funny story to get everyone giggling. 

3. Go with the flow - don't panic if the weather doesn't play ball or you encounter unexpected photo bombers or a dead iguana (true story) - random events could lead to some of the best moments. 

4. Get excited. Because it's exciting. Peeps are ENGAGED and they look so happy! I started bouncing up and down as I was reviewing a few of the pics because (without blowing my own trumpet) even on my camera's little screen the shots were looking pretty magical - and it was amazing how quickly Gill & Mark picked up on my happy vibes and TA-DA beaming, natural smiles radiated through the next series of snaps.

Here's a sneak pic from the session. I mean seriously - how adorable are these guys? Although they've only been dating a year, they are clearly head over heels and they absolutely nailed the whole modeling thing - even when I made them wade ankle deep into the surf and get soaked! They wanted their sunset shoot to reflect their lives in the Cayman Islands - fun and stress free in a beautiful setting - well the evening turned out to be a perfect one and as day turned to night, the blue caribbean sea melted into glittering gold behind them….

Congrats guys - can't wait for the wedding! 

engagement shoot