1. Not wearing appropriate clothing
Your engagement photos should be classic. They will be around for a lifetime and the clothing you choose should stand the test of time also. Couples shouldn’t be overly matchy-matchy because it will be perceived that you are trying to hard to match each other. Choose solid colors that harmonize with your partners outfit. White tops are typically a bad idea because they add visual weight to your body. Remember the eye is drawn to the area of greatest contrast, so a white shirt or blouse with slacks or blue jeans will draw the eye to your waistline rather than your face. Sleeveless shirts will make your arms appear larger than they really are so plan accordingly. Solids are generally a better choice than stripes, prints, or plaids.
2. Choosing too many locations
Wanting to have your engagement pictures taken all over town is natural, but unless you are planning a multiple day photo shoot, try to keep it to 2-3 locations. A perfect location will have multiple “looks” within walking distance. Driving from location to location wastes valuable time especially if you are chasing the sun during the magical hour. Most of my engagement sessions last two hours and run until sunset.
3. Choosing a location that is impersonal or generic
A nearby park is convenient and offers many different looks within walking distance, but it is also very generic. Does that particular park has a special place in your heart? If it does, then great, you’ve got your location, but if you choose it because it is convenient you may want to rethink your strategy. Engagement photos are about you. You wear clothes and bring props that reflect your style and personality, the location you choose shouldn’t be any different. Try to choose at least one location that has special meaning to you as a couple. What do the two of you like to do together? What are your interests? What drew you together in the first place? How do you spend your downtime together? These are questions that will help you choose the perfect location. Public locations with lots of people can be quite uncomfortable for many couples. It’s hard to let your guard down and be all kissy/huggy when people are driving by honking their car horns at you. Somewhere off the beaten path makes for more relaxed and natural-looking photos.
4. Using too many or too few props
Props are important. They help break the ice with your photographer and they help define your personality in the photographs. Generic props are fine to use but should be not be used a crutch for every photograph. I encourage you to discuss props with your photographer and find something that is unique to you and your partner.
5. Not allowing enough time
I like to shoot a lot of photos. If I shoot six shots within 60 seconds I can guarantee you that in five of those photos you will be blinking, hair will have blown across you face, your partner will be sneezing, you will be scratching your eye or using your tongue to clean the lipstick off your teeth, but one of them will be perfect. Shooting a lot of photos takes time, so I like to get started 2 hours before sunset and shoot until the sun is out of the sky. Can you do an engagement session in one hour, or half an hour? Sure, but why would you? You’d spend more time getting dressed and putting on makeup then actually standing in front of the camera.