Engagement Photography

by Susan Sienko (iPhotography Student)

When my friend Cindy asked if I would capture her daughter, Bailey’s, engagement photos I was both flattered…and terrified.

Firstly, I tend to shoot portraiture in a studio environment. It’s arranged through the Meetup app I use. Given the fact, lighting is set up by the organizer and we use professional models, it isn’t too difficult to get great shots.

Furthermore, engagement photography, under natural light, however, was going to be a different story, which is why I wanted to share my experiences with the rest of iPhotography.

The first thing I learnt was that your average person has no idea how to pose a live subject, nevermind two! It’s up to you, as the photographer, to guide them.

Susan Sienko Copyright 2020
Susan Sienko Copyright 2020
Susan Sienko Copyright 2020
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Engagement Photography Research Tips

Search online and choose a variety of poses. (Include headshots, full length, ¾ length etc.)
Download them to your phone to use as a handy reference on location.
Show them to your client. It will help them relax and give them a concrete idea of what you are shooting for.
• Pay attention to every detail and SLOW DOWN!
• Use the images as a guide to get started. Once everyone is warmed up and relaxed don’t be afraid to experiment!

Do you want more help about how to pose and direct your subjects? Then check out the iPhotography wedding photography guide for further tips.

Susan Sienko Copyright 2020
Susan Sienko Copyright 2020

Location! Location! Location!

Fortunately, in this instance, I don’t have to worry about scouting a location. Cindy invited me to shoot on their property, so that was one less thing to consider. Otherwise, you will definitely need to research a suitable location beforehand.

Either way, here are some useful tips I’ve picked along the way…

Take a walk around the property and make a note of the various spots where you wish to shoot.
• It looks unprofessional and wastes everyone’s time if you don’t have specific areas scouted out in advance.
Know the rules. Some venues have strict policies regarding photography. You may have to gain permission in advance and pay a fee. Others may not allow the use of a tripod. Know before you go.
Find the light. Depending on the time of day you may have to shoot in open shade. Keep this in mind when researching.

Editing My Engagement Photographs

Now I’ve finished Bailey’s engagement shoot, it’s time to fire up the computer and start editing.

I’ll start off by importing my photos into Lightroom I flag all the ‘keepers’. I chose this image (below) to demonstrate that, with a good hand at editing, you can enhance a good shot into something special.

Susan Sienko Engagement Photography Copyright 2020

Technical Settings: Canon 5D Mkiii @ 100mm Macro. ISO 100, 1/250th, F2.8.

Where to Begin

Firstly, the two things I look at – composition and exposure. As long as they aren’t too far off in-camera, you can work wonders in post-processing. It goes without saying one should always try to get it right in camera but hey, stuff happens!

I feel this photo really tells the couple’s story by conveying their happiness. 

I’ve had people question my use of a macro lens for portraiture. But I love the sharpness! Though I may have to touch up a subject’s skin for headshots (because it does amplify every pore), I use PortraitPro editing software for that.

It does a beautiful job of smoothing skin, without giving it that fake airbrushed look.

lightroom screen capture engagement susan sienko


Secondly, the composition, however, I felt was too centred for my taste and it’s slightly underexposed. Let’s see what can be done to improve it…

  • Initially, (in Lightroom) I created a virtual copy by right-clicking on the photo and choosing “create virtual copy”

This allows freedom to edit while leaving the original image untouched.

creating virtual copy engagement photography susan sienko lightroom

Add Preset

  • To lighten things up and give it that dreamy quality I used the “soft mist” preset.
creating virtual copy engagement photography susan sienko lightroom


  • I adjusted the composition by using the cropping tool. This really should have been done in-camera, but I missed the mark.
creating virtual copy engagement photography susan sienko lightroom

Fine Details

  • Use the spot removal tool to eliminate the lint on the subject’s shirt.
creating virtual copy engagement photography susan sienko lightroom


  • Finally, if you like, add your watermark upon exporting, and voila! Pour yourself a glass of wine and congratulate yourself on a job well done!
creating virtual copy engagement photography susan sienko lightroom

iPhotography Tutors Say…

“Thank you so much to Susan for her creative insight on editing engagement photographs. If Susan has inspired you to try out similar retouching techniques then let us know and share your photos in the iPhotography gallery.”

If you would like to share your photography experiences, then why not consider writing a photo guide like Susan? Use our dedicated ‘Write for Us’ page to get started.

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