Engagement Session Critique

Choosing Sides

Don’t leave it to chance when choosing a side for portraits. Start by asking the subject if he or she has a preferred side, and then take an image from each side to see if one looks more flattering than the other. Show the images to the client so that he or she can see both angles and choose a side. Generally, shooting away from the part is more flattering because the hair conceals more of the face; however, this is not always the case. If you as the photographer feel that the subject’s chosen side is not his or her best, you can politely suggest shooting from the other side based on technical aspects. Once the subject has seen the images and chosen a side, do not bring it up again. Doing so will only make it seem as though something is wrong with the chosen side and it may make the subject feel insecure.

Cropping for Print

When deciding on how tight to crop each image, consider the end goal of the image. One end goal is getting the images printed. For this goal, you’ll need to consider the impact each printed product has on the image. When printed and wrapped onto a canvas, for example, images tend to lose a bit of real estate around the edges, sometimes up to a couple inches. This can affect the viewable area of the image and make a decent in-camera crop too tight in print.

Framing the Story

Another end goal is to frame subjects to tell a story. Be sure to shoot each scene to build clusters for wall art and album spreads. One of the best ways to ensure you’ve shot enough to tell a strong story for each scene is to shoot it wide, medium, and tight. Shoot wide for a scene setter, move in closer to capture expressions, and then shoot close up to get the details, from objects like engagement rings to a couple holding hands. If necessary, slow down and try not to rush through a bunch of scenes. It is more beneficial to thoroughly capture each scene than to get a bunch of images from multiple scenes that don’t tell a cohesive story and won’t flow next to one another in an album spread or up on a wall.

Framing your subjects and shooting them from wide, medium, and tight focal lengths represents an important aspect of storytelling, but it’s also important to remember to take the time to perfect the poses and capture the best expressions in each scene.


Finally, to help shoot a scene cohesively, keep the lighting consistent. If you are using flash in a scene, use it throughout. The same holds true for natural light.