Skip to main content

Basic Engagement Shots

Lesson 35 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

Basic Engagement Shots

Lesson 35 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

35. Basic Engagement Shots

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

In this lesson on basic engagement shots, Pye Jirsa discusses the importance of setting the correct camera settings, working with different lighting scenarios, and posing the couple in a natural and flattering way. He emphasizes the use of top-down lighting for a more flattering look and provides tips on how to adjust the pose to avoid unflattering highlights or shadows. Jirsa also emphasizes the importance of making the couple feel comfortable and encouraged throughout the shoot.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Posing Guidance for Him


Posing Guidance for Her


Foundational Posing


Posing Touch Points


Couples Body Language


Posing Three Point Check


Posing Tips with Demo


Lesson Info

Basic Engagement Shots

So we're ready to start shooting now. I wanna get my settings all dialed in. We're shooting manual in everything, I wanna dial in my white balance, my exposure, and then what we're gonna do is start working some different shots. We're gonna play with our lighting in this scene. We have beautiful fills coming off these walls, we're gonna work them in and out of the lighting so we have some shots with back lighting and some shots without. And we're gonna see kind of what we like better. Let's go ahead and move into it. Let's go like this guys, what I wanna do first is I wonder if we can't put you guys both in the shade so Alex if you can stand right there and I want you to go, do a V-up guys. Go into the V-up, start with that guy and then, that's really, really nice, we have a nice bit of shade. Now Alex if you come forward a tiny, tiny bit so I get the shade off your shoulder. Yeah let's do that. And I'm gonna keep you a little bit open so we can kind of get this light coming... I'm jus...

t, go into a V-up, stay a little bit more open. She's making those adjustments, 10 minutes of instruction and the rest of the shoot, easy. Right onto, and let's actually do this, let's put you guys in this column, in this little line of shadow there. That way we have a little bit better light coming off that side. And I'm gonna do this is, because this light's coming from bottom up, I want you guys to move this way just a little bit. One thing we didn't talk about too much yesterday or on the foundational side, we did this, we did it already but we didn't specifically say it out loud. Natural light should always come top down, okay? So when you light somebody you always look for that light to come at least at head height but if not, a little bit higher and going down towards them. Bottom up light creates campfire lighting. That's not, again there's no wrong light, right? If we were actually shooting by a campfire and want to simulate a brighter campfire light, I would actually put a flash right behind the campfire and point it up towards the couple. Perfect we've simulated a better campfire light. But that's not a flattering light and that's not what we wanna use when we wanna go for something natural in this kind of a scene. So as we add lights, we're making sure they're coming top down. There's a fill coming up and when that, basically remember when I said that if they stand really close to the column it becomes a main light, it's so powerful that it's coming up, it's basically a primary light in the scene. If that, look at the height of the column compared to them. So that light is coming bottom up on them. So if we push them back, it won't look like it adds much because as you get further from the light source it doesn't necessarily look like it's coming at as extreme of an angle. So we're just making that small adjustment. Perfect, so that way that's not coming bottom up on ya. That's great, okay. Now Alexandra I want you to go, why don't you guys hold hands, beautiful. Now Alexandra I'm gonna have you look down and to this side right here, perfect. Alex I want you to look down and towards her. Perfect just like that, that's fantastic guys. And I'm just gonna get a little reading right now off your skin, so we're just gonna get like a little exposure reading so we can make sure that everything looks solid, in camera. And this looks gorgeous. Perfect. I love that guys, I'm gonna go ahead and back up. And we're just gonna start taking a few shots, okay? So... Notice how my belly is exposed right here. (laughing) Buy longer shirts, note to self. I love that soft smile Alexandra. There you go right there, look down a little bit. Perfect. Shot number one, okay. If they weren't models I would go hey guys, this is our first shot of the entire day, what do you guys think, is this not the best photograph you have of each other so far? Most likely if they've never taken photographs with another professional, that would be the best photograph that they've had with each other so far, right? Get that confidence going right at the beginning of the shoot. And I also wanted to mention did you guys see how I wasn't directing them through my camera? I'm not looking through the camera and directing, this whole time my camera's down. If I'm axing them to do something and I'm, I think I said axing, yeah I'm axing them to do somethin'. I have my camera at my side held down while I'm talking to them, so I'm maintaining that so when, I don't want them to feel like there's a difference between this and this. I want them to be so comfortable that as the camera goes up, they don't even think that the camera's up they just realize that we're you know, it's one big process. Gorgeous. Ah, that's fantastic. Alexandra look right into the camera, right there, chin down a little bit, beautiful. Chin over this way a little bit, perfect. Alex go for a peck on her forehead. Alexandra close the eyes and kind of smile while he's doing that, there you go. I love that, that's so cute. That's so cute, gorgeous. I want you guys both looking into the camera. Let's get that one basic shot of both of you guys looking into the camera. This is for your parents, it's not for you guys, it's for the parents. Tip the heads a little bit towards each other, there you go. And you guys can smile right now at my awkward photographer stance, I'm gonna do this throughout the entire day. It's gonna be a little weird, there you go, I love that. Ooh, my eyes. Your eyes, is it really bright? Yeah. (laughing) Perfect. Oh you went cross eyed on me right there. No I did that on purpose. I know, it's fantastic, that's gonna be our, that's gonna be your new Facebook profile. Pretty much. (laughing) I dig that. Okay let me, ah that's gorgeous. You know that throughout this entire process we're giving them words of encouragement. And you'll hear me constantly saying, even filling the gaps, how awkward is it to take 10 photos of somebody and not say anything while you're actually shooting, right? That's very strange, it's very odd, they're gonna feel like are the photos not coming out good? And even when they're goofing around I'm still praising it. I like goofing around, it's fun, it's gonna, if I were to say no don't do that you know like or, something like that, it shuts down the mood and I wanna keep the levity so I might not love the photo but I do love that they're having a good time while we're taking shoots, or shots. I'm gonna back up a little bit guys just so I can shoot some full length shots in this scene. Let's skip through a little bit, I'm gonna just kind of go to the different shots that we're going. So now we're, we've already now moved back. We're still on I believe a 85, we're still shooting pretty wide open and we're now getting some full length shots, so we're gonna start in close, we're gonna work our way back. We're thinking towards the album, the blog, where we need to have a story, we need to have shots that have negative space, we need to have wide shots, we need to have close shots, we need to have romantic shots, we need to have portraits, we need to have kind of that whole piece, we need to have detail shots and closeups. Now we're focusing on couples throughout this course. So we're not doing a lot of that, but when I do a stylized couple shoot, we do a lot of detail and closeup shots of like the different, the clothing they're wearing, the different accessories and props that we might be using, all that kind of stuff is part of it. Let's go through here. So look at how beautiful that light is by the way, like is that not, like that's so easy. And these are all RAW, if you're at home and seeing these the Creative Live presentation is all RAW directly from camera so you can see the camera settings that we're setting up, they look nice and clean and they're basically ready to go. We'll do a little bit of polishing in Lightroom but that's it. Okay, I'm now incorporating some foreground elements. So we're getting behind the column a little bit. Let's go and see the shot. So this is the weird part, I remember we talked about the contact points to the camera right? It gets weird when they start looking into the camera and you start interjecting foreground elements to give a sense of voyeurism to a shot. The other odd thing about that this and I saw it in camera, we're so late right now that I'm like let's just get shots and move. Do you see her hand? Remember we talked about that in the foundational piece. Is that not weird? That she's holding the wrist kinda right there. It's a little bit odd, and it's a simple correction. What I ended up doing here was just, we had to get a ton of shots and like we're gonna get plenty of shots, I just had her switch the hands into a different pose. So we just moved through and we bring the hands now up. So we just bring it up and change the pose so that she's not grasping his hand like that, okay? We're keeping 'em in that closed pose for a good amount of time, working the pose, changing some small subtle things about it. And look at, remember the spine thing that we talked about? Curve, straight, straight. And we have the foot drop back, that foot is dropped back so we can see she has two legs, she has curve, it adds the curve into the booty. Okay, same stuff. Oh yeah (laughing) this was an awkward moment. Check this out. Lean her back a little bit. I just wanted her, lean her back just a little bit right? (laughing) Look what that, was it that? So I just said, I said something goofy like get those English ways going. Like some, this might not work for a lot of people but in his head he has an idea of what it is to be smooth, right? This isn't my idea of what it is to be smooth, it's his. So watch what he does. (laughing) That's what I'm talking about, wow. That's all I had to say. And then we just bring the camera up and pop a shot and I'm like hey that looks fantastic. It's a little bit like risque, like we have the leg up and stuff, alright. Now I might let the leg drop you know if I were to pose it myself cause it's, this is a little bit like very intimate type of a relax back shot. But it's so him, and it's them. Which is what makes it fantastic. Okay, let's go through here. Now I wanna show you the big difference between what we've done now is push them now into the direct light. So I'll always do this. I'll start them in the shadows, go with the tights, go with like kind of the other stuff, and then I'll move them into the bright light to get a different look basically. So we'll have two different looks in a scene. It takes only like an extra five 10 minutes to do that second set. And they're gonna look dramatically different, so I wanna show you. And if I had to only choose one, I would choose this one, the brighter one and you'll see why. We bring 'em into it. Okay, we set up the poses, this is where we have to be very very careful with poses cause now we're dealing with hard light, right? Let's go right to about here. So we've set 'em up in an open pose, I have her hug under his arm, she's leaning into him, and I'm being extremely careful in watching where these hard highlights are hitting his face. I'm making sure that they're hitting it in a way that looks natural and just, I'm doing just the adjustment of his chin to control that. So we can go for a Rembrandt look, we can go for whatever. What we don't wanna do is we don't wanna have just a light hitting a nose or just a light hitting the forehead or just a light hitting a chin. But I love the way that this looks. And we start guiding her to basically look down at that time. Jesse, go for it. So I just have a question, when you moved the couple into the sunlight, did you have to remeter or did you kind of remeter off of, which of their faces did you remeter off of? Super good question. I'm not using, at that point I've already, I mean I spot metered earlier in the day for that shadow scene, right? At this point I'm not worried too much about spot metering. What I'm worried about is our dynamic range push. Remember what we talked about there? This is all about making sure that the highlights on her hair are not blown, that the skin is not blown. And if there's a little bit of highlights in the hair that are gone, it's okay. But I don't want the majority of it gone. And what's most important is this piece right there, I wanna make sure that's not gone. And we use the highlight alert and the dynamic range push with the histogram to get there. So now we're just using the live view and I'm just looking at the live view. I take a quick shot, look at the highlight alert, make sure it's all good and then we keep on shooting. Because these will indeed look under exposed in camera. They will look under exposed, but you can see the shadows are totally fine, we can lift the shadows very easily in post and have a great shot with this. Keep in mind that those shadows are bright like that because of the positioning of the light, we still have that light coming up from the bottom of the columns and into their faces. Did you guys notice by the way how I'm, for a lot of the shots I'm posing their faces down? You guys notice that? Why do you think we're doing that? Where is the light coming from? The light's coming basically bottom up. We pushed them back a little bit, but if I can pose them with slight chin angles that are down, it looks like it's flat lighting going into the face spacing so we're just working those angles so that we don't have, I don't like the look of like these up shadows basically on a face, so we just kind of angle the faces towards where the light's coming from a little bit. Okay. So here. Your face just so it's like kind of evens out the highlight. There you go. I'm talking through what I'm doing to them, at all times. If I don't have anything that I wanna say specifically I'm just describing what I'm doing. Fantastic, oh I dig the way that looks. Perfect. Spot of light off your nose right there. Perfect. With his chin right there, this is what we wanna avoid. That little tiny spot on the nose, that's odd. Guys come towards me, so chins stay this way, I wanna keep that spot of light off your nose right there. Perfect. Now Alexandra look up to him, beautiful just like that guys. Alex, you're looking... How many of us shoot the girl and forget about the guy? Like look at her, you look at me, that's beautiful. Especially like male photographers, cause as males we're like oh well, we look for beauty right? And we see it so easily in the opposite sex and we're like look at her and you look at me and let's go to another scene. Hmm, I don't wanna see you, look at her again and you look at me again. We do that so much and I'm like man, these poor guys, not only is that awkward that you're like taking a ton of photos of just her basically focused, they're not getting stuff for themselves. I want them to go away and I want them to come away with images that they're proud to show their friends, you know what I mean? Like the cutesy fun shots are great for the girls, but I want the guys to feel like they have some awesome shots to show. I wanna show one thing with the spine in this photo. There's a series of photos here where his spine, do you see this, the crooked shape a little bit? Does it look okay in this shot? I'm gonna say yes, and there's a reason why I'm gonna say it looks okay. Now we talked about defining rules and systems and frame works, but understanding when to break them and understanding when something works. The reason that this works is because when she is in this pose, she's actually pulling down on his arm. And so what it's doing is it's like causing him to lean over and we'll get some shots where he's like basically pulled into her, and his spine is kinda crooked. But it's because she's pulling him in. It's like a very natural, intimate thing that she's doing and so it feels that way in camera. But if that interaction between her and his arm wasn't there, it'd be a very strange pose. Right, we got our shots for him. Usually I like to brush her hair back a little bit more so we can see more of her face a little bit better. And then I usually have, see it right there, we corrected for that so I just had her brush her hair back, and now we can see her face. Okay. Really cool. Here, this is a perfect example of a shot that's not the greatest perfect light. Ah, where'd it go? Right there. See the nose. If it's a great expression I'm gonna deliver it, if it's cool like I mean, why not right? There's, we gotta get in our heads that we teach all these things and we are photographers, but in the end if it's a great photograph, it's a great photograph. And the clients are gonna see the same thing that we are. Simon? So I just had a question on a couple before that. I've had this issue and like I don't see it until afterwards where his ear is like lit up, it wasn't as bad and as noticeable in those ones. Is that something you would try and fix on the scene or is there like a post fix you can show us later? You fix that in the scene by just adjusting the head position, that back lighting you wanna avoid. We call 'em glowbug ears, you wanna avoid the glowbug ears. Cause the ears are so thin the skin on them will actually be semi-transparent when they get back lit so you just change, if you tilt the face a slight bit, one ear isn't gonna get hit with the light going forward and then the other one is back behind the face. So you just tilt a little bit to avoid that. So generally white people have that issue more so than like ethnic couples, just cause of the skin color, darker skin.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Pre-Shoot Videos
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Presets Installation Guide
Gear Guide
Favorite Software
Lightroom Presets

Ratings and Reviews

CPR Photography

I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)

a Creativelive Student

This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!


This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.

Student Work