Engagement Photography Guide

Many couples ask for advice on wardrobe, hair, and makeup for their engagement photos. In this guide, you’ll find our general recommendations on how to look your best in your photos. Please don’t hesitate to consult with us for specific recommendations for your location, personality, and style.

What to Wear for Engagement Photos

Plan on bringing at least two or three different outfits to the shoot, and we can help you decide what will work best.  Don’t worry about changing – we bring a portable changing booth!
Well-fitted clothing typically looks best in photos. Clothes that are too large will make a body look wider, while clothes that are too tight can pinch the body. It is generally best to avoid wearing turtlenecks or capris as they can be unflattering in photos. Additionally, avoid micro miniskirts and tops with short hemlines or bare midriffs to avoid a “wardrobe malfunction” during your shoot.
As a rule, wear solid colors or subtle patterns – bold patterns, large logos, and visible writing can draw attention away from your face. Make sure to coordinate your colors with those of your partner, but don’t wear outfits that exactly match each other. Monochromatic color schemes are easiest to coordinate, but primary or complementary colors also look great and bring energy to the photograph. Colors, and shades of gray and ivory tend to complement most skin tones better than pure black and white.
When choosing color schemes, consider not only what looks best on you, but also what colors match your personality, and what will look best in your location. Finally, make sure to coordinate the formality of your outfits. You wouldn’t want photos with one partner in a suit or formal dress and the other in gym shorts!

Keep accessories classy and minimal. Hats, hair ornaments, and sparkly or costume jewelry can be distracting in photos
For women, fashionable boots, sandals or bare feet look great for casual photos. For men, consider a pair of boat shoes or non-laced dress shoes. Avoid running shoes, white socks, and heavy footwear. If you’re wearing dress shoes or heels, consider bringing a pair of comfortable flip flops or sneakers with you to help get from one shooting location to the next.
Props are a great way to help showcase your personality. Bring props that represent your hobbies and interests. Some props that work well include sunglasses, musical instruments that you play, sporting goods that you use, balloons, “Thank You” or “Save the Date” signs, and your pets!

 Makeup for Engagement Photos

Brides often book hair or makeup appointments as a trial run for the wedding. This can be a great way to get to know your stylist. If you would like help finding a professional hair and/or makeup artist, just give us a call. We work with a couple of local salons and are happy to help make arrangements for you!
If you’d prefer to do your own hair or makeup, we offer the following tips. If this seems like a lot (especially if you prefer a natural look), remember that the camera tends to exaggerate flaws and create artificial ones. Whatever you choose, plan on bringing your makeup to the shoot in case you need to touch anything up.
Skin, the canvas
Before you apply makeup, start with smooth, toned and moisturized skin. If necessary, give yourself a facial or scrub treatment a few days before your photo shoot. This minimizes uneven or artificial-looking makeup application and promotes a healthy, glowing look.
Minimize Shadows
As photos are two-dimensional, the camera can enhance dark, fine lines, and wrinkles, making you look older than you do in person. To compensate, you can use a technique called contouring. Check out this YouTube video by Jaclyn Hill for a tutorial. Contouring can be done before or after your eye makeup. Some women prefer to do their eye makeup first so they don’t accidentally touch their faces and ruin their face makeup while working on their eyes.

  • First, apply moisturizer. Then, apply a foundation that matches your skin tone all over your face. You can combine these two steps by using tinted moisturizer! Next, use concealer over any blemishes.
  • Once you’ve evened out your skin tone, you’re ready to highlight. Apply makeup that is several shades lighter than your skin tone in a triangle pointing down below your eyes, in a line down the front of your nose, and in a triangle pointing up on your forehead, between your eyebrows.
  • Now you’re ready for lowlights. Apply makeup that is several shades darker than you skin tone around your temples, in lines down the sides of your nose, and in triangles below your cheekbones, pointing towards the outer corners of your jawbone.
  • Finally, use a brush or sponge to blend everything together.

Natural Contouring Face Chart - Engagement Photography Guide
We like these tips from beauty blogger Jane Iredale: The inner edge of the brow should line up with the outside of the corresponding nostril (A). The highest point of the arch should be just at the outer edge of the eyeball.
Eyebrows - Engagement Photography Guide
(B) The outer brow should taper off to a point that intersects with an imaginary line drawn from the outer nostril past the outer edge of the eye (C). It sounds complicated but just follow the drawing. Tweeze stray brows outside these areas and use an eyebrow pencil for even more definition. Make sure to shape brows before applying makeup.
Eyes and Lines 
Some great options include:

  • Line upper and lower lids with a smoky colored eyeliner pencil and smudge.
  • Dot liquid eyeliner next to the eyelash base rather than creating a solid line.
  • Use liquid eyeliner on the top eyelid and/or the outer corners of the eyes only.
  • Apply eye shadow above the eyelids and blend to the outer corners of the eyes.
  • To soften lines, lightly wipe the lid and brow area with light pink blush.
  • Use a thickening and lengthening mascara, but don’t go overboard.

Clean up any fallout by rolling a cotton swab under the area, then lightly buff with a dry makeup brush.
It is generally best to avoid harsh lines, very smoky eyes, or the raccoon look, as it makes the eyes look smaller and deeper set.
Most lips benefit from definition, even when lipstick is not generally used. For a natural but polished look, apply lip pencil in a neutral tone, or use one that matches your lip color. Then, apply a light lip gloss or lipstick in a pink or plum shade, depending on your skin tone. Finally, add a small dab of clear lip gloss in the center of your lips and gently rub outward.
As a final step, apply a light dusting of translucent powder over your face to avoid shine and set makeup. Concentrate on the T-zone as necessary, and apply sparingly to lined or dry areas.
Consider getting a fresh blowout or soft curls for your engagement session, but don’t overdo it. If it is going to be windy, go for an updo or pulled-back look to avoid hair blowing in your face. Finally, don’t forget to bring a brush for touch-ups.
Keep it Authentically You
Make sure to try out new hairstyles, makeup colors, and techniques before your photo shoot. Using makeup and techniques that are “tried and true” for who you are will result in images that will stand the test of time.

About Northern Lights Studio

Hi! We’re Bill & Stephanie, New England wedding photographers based in Northern NH. We love photographing weddings because of our passion for helping couples remember one of the most important days of their lives. Northern Lights offers engagement photography, wedding photography, and bridal sessions throughout New England. As wedding photographers, we believe in the value of printing images – so much so that all of our wedding packages include a beautiful signature wedding album.
Did you know that Northern Lights Studio also offers family, maternity, newborn and high school senior photographs through our sister company Stephanie Dupuis Photography?