Every time we photograph a couple before their wedding, we hope to get at least one funny engagement photo. There are a few reasons why we’re aiming for this (which we’ll get into below). But in short, if we can get one good shot of the spouses-to-be laughing in a genuine way, we’re pretty sure they’re going to be thrilled with their gallery. That was certainly the case for this same-sex couple. These two brides loved pretty much all of the photos from their fall engagement session at Brookside Gardens in suburban Maryland. But this was one of their favorites, because it showed them truly happy in each other’s presence.
Before we get into the reasons why we try to take at least one goofy portrait during every engagement photoshoot, let’s talk quickly about what we even mean with that. Or better yet, what we don’t mean. We don’t mean overly staged, cutesy shots. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those kinds of pictures, of course. But in our opinion, they are too structured to reveal very much about what makes the couple tick.
The kind of funny engagement photo we try to get, by comparison, is something more spontaneous. It shows the couple doing something unplanned. Maybe one is doing something silly. Maybe both are reacting to something silly that’s happening. Either way, one or both is laughing. That’s really the key to great humorous engagement pictures. Laughter shows that each is comfortable with, relaxed around, and in love with the other.
Ok, we kind of already ruined the punchline on this one above. Basically, if funny engagement portraits show genuine moments of laughter, they reveal something special and intimate about the couple and their relationship. The images show them with their guard down and being real with one another. How they are when no one else is around.
There is another, perhaps just as important reason why we always try to take these shots. Getting a couple to laugh is a great way to loosen them up and get them into the flow of their engagement photoshoot. We’re the first ones to admit that posing for engagement photos isn’t easy. Especially if you haven’t had professional portraits taken of you before. It feels weird and awkward, and you’re not always sure how to stand or what to do.
We get that, and we’ve learned a bunch of different techniques for helping you relax. And making you laugh is one of the best ones. It cuts through the tension, gets you loosened up and makes the entire rest of the session better.
There’s a fine line, of course, between using some tricks to induce laughter and staging too-cute “funny” scenarios. And when in doubt, we’ll always fall on the side of keeping things genuine and real. Even though we do pose couples for their engagement portraits, we are at heart documentary photographers. Which means we prioritize moments over staged scenes.
The best outcome for the couple and for us is when we don’t have to do anything at all. When something tickles the spouses-to-be just right, and they start laughing without any prompting from us. And it doesn’t get more genuine than that!
That’s exactly what happened during this same-sex couple’s engagement portrait session in Maryland. Toward the end of their photoshoot at Brookside Gardens (a lovely option for a fall engagement session, by the way), we had the two brides lie down in a grassy area near one of the ponds not far from the gardens’ entrance. To give the shots a more autumn feel and vibe, one of us sprinkled leaves around their faces while the other took pictures. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one leaf landed squarely on the nose of one of the future brides. (What was surprising was that only one hit them in the face!) This got the two of them laughing, of course, and led to one of their favorite pictures of the day.
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