How to Relax During Your Engagement Photo Session

There are many reasons couples choose not to have an engagement session. Maybe you had a photographer on hand when you proposed or you selected a save the date that doesn’t have photos in the design. Or perhaps you’re trying to stay within your wedding budget. Over the years, though, I’ve found the number one reason couples choose to forgo an engagement session is because they don’t want to be in front of the camera.

Why You Should Schedule an Engagement Session

However, not feeling relaxed when you’re in front of the camera is actually the number one reason why you should have an engagement photo session. Though practice doesn’t always make perfect, it definitely helps you feel more comfortable. An engagement session allows you the chance to practice being in front of the camera, which will make taking photos on your wedding day a breeze!

Another benefit of engagement sessions is that it helps you build trust and rapport with your wedding photographer. Not to mention, it gives you beautiful pictures you can share with friends and family before your wedding day. 

If you’re nervous about being in front of the camera, that’s okay! Today, I’m thrilled to have Ashley of Ashley Gerrity Photography sharing her list of do’s and don’ts to help you feel relaxed and excited about being in front of the camera during your engagement session.

black and white themed engagement photos

Do: Prepare Yourself to Get “Into Character”

Before I was a professional wedding photographer, I studied theatre performance and ran the university’s costume studio. The moment the actors put on their full costumes, the performance took on a whole new dimension. I see the same thing with couples taking their engagement photos. Something amazing happens when they put on a fabulous outfit and have their hair and makeup done. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity to ensure you love the look of your hair and makeup for your wedding day.

fall inspired engagement photo session

Don’t: Force Yourself to be Someone Else

You want your engagement photos to capture the essence of the two of you as a couple. Spending time together in front of the camera helps you feel more confident when the camera starts clicking on your wedding day. This is NOT the time to try something radically different or intensely styled, for the sake of a photo. Make sure you look and feel like yourselves, not somebody else. When your save the dates arrive in your guests’ mailbox, you want them to instantly recognize you and get excited, even before they read all of the details.

modern engagement photo session by Ashley Gerrity Photography

Do: Lean in to the Awkward 

This is the best advice I have for couples (or individuals) when they first get in front of my camera. It can feel incredibly awkward to suddenly have a camera lens pointed in your direction, especially if you’re not used to being in the limelight.

What I’ve found is something magical happens when people feel a little bit awkward. They giggle, laugh, and often look to something, like their partner, for reassurance. It’s the perfect recipe for adorable engagement photos. Don’t be afraid to “lean into the awkward.” Embrace the giggles, joke around, and find your safe place in your fiance’s arms. Through my lens, I see you both looking happy and deeply in love.

couple laughing in a field during their engagement photos

Don’t: Take Yourself Too Seriously 

We want the essence of your relationship shine through the images we take during your engagement photo session. “Leaning into the awkward” makes for truly stunning photographs, but there is one thing that can ruin it all. 

Taking yourself too seriously.

Being completely stoic and frozen makes it harder for us to take beautiful photos of you and your fiance. We’ll do whatever we can to warm you up, joke around and help relax you, but you can’t take yourself too seriously.

Surprisingly enough, taking yourself too seriously seems to be something that men more than women suffer from. We make sure to build rapport with our grooms so they can relax and feel comfortable with us, too. The best thing we can do is remind them to be open to having fun during the engagement photo session.

engagement photo session with couple kissing on the beach

Do: Utilize Active Posing

One of my favorite ways to help our couples relax for photos is to use active posing. Active posing is just another name for doing something together. What’s more natural than holding hands, walking together and laughing? I dare you to hold in your laughter as you dance to the music in your heads while I photograph the results. 

This can also mean heading to an ice skating rink, going to an arcade or chilling at your favorite bar. It feels more relaxing to many people and is an easy way to start your engagement session. Tagging along while you do the things you love to do as a couple makes it easier to forget that I’m there taking pictures. 

engagement photos of couple toasting with beer bottles

Don’t: Just Stand There and Smile

Let’s be honest. Those childhood photos where you were forced to smile through clenched teeth and say cheese when you’re growing up aren’t the most natural. But I do know those types of photos are typically mom’s favorites. So while much of our engagement session includes active posing, we’ll always get a “nice smile for the camera” photo for your mom to put over here mantle. (We may even have a handful for her to choose from!)

Rest assured, you won’t spend your entire engagement session with us walking from one pretty background to another while smiling right at my camera. In fact, I spend most of the time telling you to look at each other and not at me!

philadelphia engagement photo session by Ashley Gerrity Photography

Do: Trust Your Photographer

Trusting your wedding photographer is essential. If you trust your photographer, everything else will fall into place. We’ll be there to guide you through pre-engagement session planning. We can help you figure out what to wear (and what not to wear!), where to take your photos and what the best times for engagement photos are. When you trust your photographer, you’ll start the session feeling more relaxed and ready to have a great time. You’ll be confident that they’ll throw away the in-between shots where you blinked, where the awkwardness actually looked awkward, and where the magic wasn’t quite right.

winter engagement photo session ideas

Ashley Gerrity is a passionate editorial wedding photographer who leads the team at Ashley Gerrity Photography. She is a true romantic at her core and you just might find her tearing up behind the lens during your vows or first dance. 

Her approach to photography is simple: take the time to get to know each and every couple and work with their style to create breathtaking, personal images. She brings together a diverse background in both the visual and performing arts to craft your wedding story through fine art imagery that you will pass on for generations to come.

When she isn’t helping you enjoy every last moment of your wedding day, she is probably snuggling with her two amazing dogs, commuting back & forth between her home in Maryland and our Malvern studio, or whipping up something extravagant in the kitchen.

tips from a professional photographer for feeling relaxed during your engagement photo session

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how to feel relaxed in front of the camera for engagement photos
7 dos and don'ts for feeling relaxed during engagement photos

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Hello, I’m Jenna!


Welcome to the JTE blog, where I share my favorite weddings and insider tips to make your wedding day simply swoon-worthy. Grab a cup of coffee (cream and sugar for me, please) and enjoy a virtual peek into my color-coded planning binder.

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