Engagement Image: One shot challenge....

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by david_schilling___chicago__illinois, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. A recent thread asks how many images do photographers deliver a B/G from an engagement shoot. I'm wondering if it's possible to capture the couple's engagement with a final single image. What would be the critical elements and finally, if you can post samples of such images to illustrate those elements. Or, is the experience too complex to capture in a single image?
  2. My engagement shoots usually yield 100+ photos from a 1.5-2-hour shoot. That includes a couple of locations, and changing outfits, if they so desire. The images might go into a wedding guest sign-in book, or their save-the-date cards, or be otherwise incorporated into their wedding. The couples love the variety and choices they have (within reason of course). And the experience is so essential for us to become familiar with each other, before the wedding. I think it is potentially a more complex experience, at least when it's done well, than could, or should, be captured in one image. So I'm not sure why I would only offer one image.
    I suppose some couples might have in their mind that they need 'a photo for the newspaper announcement' and in that case they might only want one image. Those photos are usually pretty standard and kind of boring, though.
  3. David, I think it can be done but few customers want just one.
    one shot:
    Both faces need to look great and be seen equally.
    Call it what you want but there needs to be some kind of emotional, romantic, loving connection in there.
    Well composed.
    I would add correct exposure and color, or at least intentionally managed to go with the mood of the image.
    I think digital has changed things far beyond what those of us working as photographers 15 years ago imagined. We looked at it as a way to free us from thinking about the cost of shooting the next idea we had but couldn't do. Or a way to gain more personal control over the final image. We were concerned about making things look like how they look but better. Some of the new photographers seem completely free of those constraints and make the world look the way they want to according to their artistic vision. Although they seem also to share the same vision for short periods of time then move onto the next.
  4. I think this must be an American thing as I have never heard of couples getting engagement photographs done in the UK.... Unless any UK based photographers would like to correct me.
  5. Steve, I am based in London and I offer them. A few examples on my website:
    I do agree that it is still catching on in the UK, although by now fairly well known. I do sometimes encounter people who have never heard of them, but after explaining what it is about and the benefits involved they are usually keen to go ahead with a shoot themselves.
    Difficult to capture a defining single image I think....
  6. I have shot two engagement shoots where there was one shot that captured everything I wanted and everything the couple expected. These were the circumstances:
    I knew both couples quite well.
    I knew the locations where we shot and knew why the couples wanted the shots taken there.
    Both shoots were scheduled for an hour and a half but both were cut short by rain.
    The shots for both couples happened when there was a tender moment captured while escaping the rain...one was in a coastal cave and the other was under a hotel awning.
    It doesn't happen often, but yes, you can get a single shot that captures everything necessary from an engagement shoot.
    Most of the time I produce 25-36 images for the couple and they choose what they want. No one has ever asked for "all of the images" of which there are usually a hundred or so depending on the day and the location.
  7. I'm not suggesting that one great shot would or should be the way to shoot an engagement session but I think the challenge involved in capturing the engagement in a single signature image would be a worthy endeavor. It's also very common for the B/G to take a single image as an 8x10 or 11x14 to display at the wedding reception and/or to use with a signature matte for guests/relatives to sign.
    Richard can you post one or both of those shots?
  8. in my photoshoots, this is exactly what I try to do. From the first picture to the last I am trying make a single stand-alone image. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I think I don't quite meet up to my own standards and expectations. But that's the idea. To try to find the spark between the couple and try to make it materialize through the camera.
    I think I succeeded in these pictures. I think either could stand alone. But of course it's all subjective.
  9. Very nice images Salvador.
    I don't think anyone goes out to shoot engagement photos without the goal being stand alone images. In fact, I'm not sure what a non-stand alone photo would be. Either it works, or it is deleted ... unless it is a deliberate story-line tryptic or something.
    We all know there are different kinds of clients, some more traditional, and others less so. So, how engagement photos are done may heavily depend on the wedding photography approach that attracted them to you in the first place.
    Many of the clients I attract are not interested in the more traditional romantic and dramatic engagement photos (if they want them at all), and say so right up front. Often, they are far more interested in a professional photographer documenting their pre-married life/places to preserve those memories prior to moving onto a new phase of life.
    With-in an engagement shoot, we always capture a more classic, tighter portrait for possible use as a media announcement ... usually because the Mom's want it. Those are post processed to work in magazine and newspapers, or for web social media ... which are usually reproduced quite small.
    Out of the last 100 weddings I've shot, only 3 wanted a matted sign-in photo. Of the engagement shoots I have done, all of them posted lots of shot to their Facebook page, and a few ordered a sign-in book with images, or scrape-booked the images. Now, many clients are including at least an opening spread into their wedding album ... which they pay extra for. I have also made more print sales from this type of engagement shoot then in past.
    Here is an example of one engagement shoot ... the top image is the one they ordered as a large print because it was indicative of where they lived and reflects their personality, and below it is a spread from their album ... the larger left page image is exactly the spot where they first met.
  10. David --
    I'll see if I can dig them out. I have prints of the shots, but both were shot when I was still shooting Tri-X for B&W. They're both from the same summer so I shouldn't have an issue finding the negatives.
    I'll see if I can come up with them and scan them in.
  11. double post - sorry
  12. I think that is a wonderful idea and really work at making every shot the "only" shot... I like to think through my shots and I am on location only so I am looking for that "one" great place. here is a shot from an engagement - I had 3 locations which we were shooting but this is my shot from this location.
  13. IMHO, the e-shoot can be made out of two main categories.
    - Fun shots that one can put together for slideshow or material for guest books and the requisite facebook posts. Both the photographer and the couple can experiment and try different things.
    - Must-Haves. These are the ones that as many have already posted, portraiture which defines the couple. It must contain the emotion, sentiment and style of the couple culminating in one image. This is the anchor photo(s).
  14. Salvador, I really, really like the image of the couple sitting on the rocks. I think it's very well crafted and as a single image, I think it speaks volumes about the couple and their relationship. Francie, thanks for your contribution but the small area that the couple occupies in the frame seems to me to make them and their relationship a lesser element of the image.
    I'll also admit that I'm disappointed that there wasn't more single images of engagement shots submitted...especially by some of those shooters that often critique images on the forum with comments that suggest that more images should have a strong statement about the moment or the relationship of the contained elements. I've attached a backdrop shot that I took a few years ago that I often consider something of a signature engagement image. I think it contains many of the elements that Shawn discussed in his post.
  15. Can it be done in one shot? Sure! If you know the couple well enough, if you have a specific vision for their image and their concent to pursue it, yes, you can make one truly breathtaking image which will be with them the rest of their lives. What it takes is different for each couple and each vision (apart, of course, from the basics of composition, lighting, focus, etc).
    But, can this be done with the average walk-in couple? I kinda doubt it (without discounting it altogether). The time you'd need to invest in getting to know them, the relaxed attitude they would have to have with you so they can impart useful pieces of information makes it a difficult proposition. Of course, a couple can simply walk in and their looks, their attitude (or whatever) may immediately spark a creative glare within you and you can create something wonderful, but as far as this being a repeatable occurence, I'm kinda skeptical.
  16. David - it is interesting how people view some of my images - I do a pre-consult with all of my clients to find out what their passion is - sometimes we meet at the art muesum and we talk about what they like and what feeling they want from the images. This couple wanted the feeling of "lovers in Paris" - I live in Houston and I can personally tell you it looks nothing like Paris... but after a bit of brainstorming I decided on this location for the "lovers in Paris" feel... so each of my portraits is very personal to my clients as it is coming from them, their passion, their soulful desires.... while I do have those general clients who just want the "standard" type shot - my love it working with clients who together we create a piece of art for their home...
  17. I do think that yes, one photo can capture both of their personalities and their love for each other. However, I don't think that one style of engagement portraits suits all couples, with some photos you get a real sense of who they are while others you only get it marginally as a result of what they are not expressing and the type of photographer they have chosen.
    Francie, as soon as i saw it I immediately thought of Paris (a place i know well) even though I knew it wasnt really. So really well done of achieving the look they wanted.

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