My first engagement shoot

Amy and Jacob, footbridge, engagement, 2 guys photo, ed spadoniMy daughter approached me a few months ago to ask if I would consider doing an engagement shoot for her best friend Amy as a gift.  I’ve known Amy for ever and was delighted to have the opportunity to do something nice for her and her fiancé Jacob, so of course, I said “yes!”

Now, event photography is something that I have a lot of experience with and if I ever have a second life, that may occupy most of my time. I enjoy capturing celebrations and special moments in people’s lives, whether grand or modest, and sharing the results with them.  So an engagement shoot for these young old friends was a no-brainer.

Until I realized: I not only had  never shot for an engagement, I’d never really even SEEN and engagement portfolio!  At least not knowingly.  So I knew I had some work to do.


Google became my best friend as I looked at countless engagement portfolios, and learned from the professionals that shoots range from casual to formal, in every setting imaginable, with themes and props, and a lot of creativity.  So I needed to learn what was important to the future bride and groom, and then set about planning a shoot that would meet their expectations.

Amy and Jacob, path, engagement, sepia, 2 guys photo, ed spadoni

I invited them to my home so we could talk about what they would like to accomplish, and also showed them some of my wedding, graduation, anniversary and other event photos to give them some ideas and to let them know that I was very interested in making the session as perfect for them as possible.

We discussed a venue, date and time, what props they’d like to have and a few poses that were important to them, (such as a picnic setting on the lawn), and we were set.

Amy and Jacob, picnic, engagement, 2 guys photo, ed spadoni

The next thing was the gear. I planned to use primarily a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 prime to get a narrow depth of field and soft background, a flash and diffuser and a 32” dual sided (white and gold) reflector.  I’d have other lenses with me just in case, but I ended up shooting with the 35mm the whole time.  And I made sure I brought the most important accessory of all, an able-bodied photo assistant, namely my willing daughter, Claire.

Amy and Jacob, overhead, ebgagement, 2 guys photo, ed spadoni

I was familiar with the park they had selected so I started to envision some shots with certain features: winding paths through the park and forest, footbridges, ponds, the picnic, etc.   We planned for a mid to late afternoon shoot in July to capitalize on the warm afternoon light, although that didn’t go exactly as planned.

Amy and Jacob, path, engagement, 2 guys photo, ed spadoni

The shoot

If you’ve ever been the subject of a long photo shoot, where you’re expected to act naturally, look like your having fun, while knowing that these photos will likely be seen by many people, you might be just a little nervous.  In fact, that’s very common.  So we met at the gate of the park as planned, and spent a few minutes talking about their wedding plans, their jobs, the Red Sox, the weather and so on, to make sure everyone was at ease.  Jacob had brought flowers and we had a few other props, so we headed in.

Amy and Jacob, kiss, engagement, 2 guys photo, ed spadoniFor a good portion of the afternoon, the sky was a white veil of clouds high up, which on the one had was great as I didn’t have to worry about dark shadows caused by strong sunlight. On the other hand, as pro photographer Rick Sammon likes to say, “Light illuminates, shadows define”, and I wish we had a little more light to provide better definition.  The reflector helped in those situations.

Amy and Jacob were wonderful to work with.  It was immediately apparent that their love for each other is genuine and deep.  They quickly got into their groove, whether walking arm in arm, or posing sweetly or mugging it up, they needed little coaching from me, and when I suggested a turn of the head or that this would be a good time for a kiss, they happily obliged.

Amy and Jacob, engagement, 2 guys photo, ed spadoni

Amy and Jacob, gate, kiss, engagement, 2 guys photo, ed spadoni


The most frequent edit was to crop but I also selectively sharpened, made minor exposure adjustments and some BW and sepia conversions using Corel PSP4, Nik Color Efex Pro and Topaz BW Effects.

Amy and Jacob, path, walking, engagement, 2 guys photo, ed spadoni

All in all, we had fun and I think Amy and Jacob were pleased.  And I expect to have more opportunities to further refine my skills with a daughter and several nieces!  We’ll keep you posted…

2 guys photo, Amy and Jacob, engagement, 2 guys photo, ed spadoni, reflector


About Ed Spadoni "Thoughts and opinions, resources and experiences… for emerging photographers everywhere."
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13 Responses to My first engagement shoot

  1. Donna McCommon says:

    Ed, these photos are great. I know they are happy with them. You conveyed their love for each other in such a relaxed way. It looks like everybody had fun!

  2. johnjroberts says:

    Thanks, Ed. I’m saving this for reference.

  3. Clanmother says:

    They were very lucky to have your as their photographer! I especially like the black and white!

  4. Mark James says:

    Great info and I’m sure they are thrilled with the work.

  5. Ed Spadoni says:

    Thanks everyone, it was great fun.

  6. Bille Jean says:

    Must have been so much fun Ed. Great group of shots, really well done.

  7. Great work Ed! I think it’s difficult to capture a natural look when subjects know they are being photographed, but you did it in these photos. The black and white are my favorite, but they are all great and show a true naturalness. The work you did getting to know them before you stepped behind the camera shows!

    • Ed Spadoni says:

      Thanks Marisa – yes, I think that putting everyone at ease yields much better results in the end and is probably one of the most important steps in this kind of a shoot.



    Hi Ed, Mom and I just looked at your pictures of Amy and Jacob. You did a fantastic job!   Love, Dad


  9. Rodney says:

    You certainly could have a second career if you want Ed. If I ever get engaged (don’t hold your breath) i will be calling you I think! And thanks for the explanations on your preparation and such. If a friend ever asks me to do something like this, I might be able to help with your suggestions! I hope Amy and Jacob realize how beautiful they look together and that they are now on a famous blog :0).

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