Welcome to part one of my engagement session series! 

This post will help with posing and it applies even if you're not doing an engagement session ;) Part two has to do with what to wear to your engagement session and part three is covering props and what to bring! For some location inspiration, check out this post

wedding photographer smiling and twirling hair in Pensacola
pensacola wedding photographer holding a camera
pensacola wedding photographer

The first time I was ever professionally photographed


This isn't the first time I've been in front of someone's lens. Once upon a time, when I was 15 (I refuse to do the math on how long ago that's been!), I had professional pictures taken at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a gorgeous ivy covered garden with old, rocky structures. I had the choice between a large "sweet 15s" party or professional pictures. I guess somewhere deep down I've always known exactly what I love, it just took me a while to realize it. 

I had my hair and make up done in the studio. My make up artist applied the most perfect shade of orangey lipstick I have spent a lifetime trying to match. My hair was in ringlets, half up, half down and I was sporting a silver crown.

We started the session in the studio and I can now say I am the proud owner of the typical 80's studio shot. You know, the one where you're looking at your mini self in your hands? Yep, that's the one. 

It was hot and humid that day and I was wearing a white, hugely poofy, Cinderella gown. We walked all over the grounds for two hours, finally stopping when my head swam and I almost fainted. My sweet dad rushed to get me an icy cold, orange Gatorade (because orange is the best flavor). Needless to say, my session ended there and we smushed myself and my gown in the tiny backseat of our green Pontiac. 

wedding photographer in pensacola looking at camera
wedding photographer with tattoos taking a picture in pensacola
wedding photographer taking a picture in pensacola

What I got from my most recent session

I'm happy to say that I didn't almost faint during this session, but I can't say this session started off as being enjoyable. Go easy on Steve ;) he's an awesome trainee - we'll get there! 

There's a thing that happens to women when we're constantly bombarded with gorgeous and highly retouched images of how we should look. The standard of beauty is so unattainably high that it's easy to fall into a self-hating depression where you refuse to ever have your picture taken, or demand that the ones taken are immediately deleted. 

I started there today. And you know what? Most of my female clients start there, too.

I'm happy to say I love these images despite a rough start and I did make it past the self-hate. You can, too! 

Although they're not technically perfect, I got so much more out of this session than just pictures; I got a confidence boost - and this, friends, is one of the huge bonuses of getting professional pictures (or in my case, a talented husband in training! ;))

So, finally, we get to what I learned and 7 tips for getting the best engagement pictures!

  1. My mini session reinforced the need for clear and concise direction and positive feedback. Vague directions confused and frustrated me and when I didn't receive any feedback, I wasn't sure if I was doing it right. I always talk and give feedback because I know it's so important! If you're not getting feedback, ask for it.

  2. Some angles made me feel big. The camera is super unapologetic. Finding the right angles is important because the camera can easily make you look 10 pounds lighter, or 30 pounds heavier than you actually even are. If you're not getting direction, make sure you angle your hips and shoulders just slightly away from the camera and put your weight on your back leg.

  3. In an effort to offset my dislike of most of the initial images we took, Steve started shooting faster with little to no direction, hoping to capture something good. This is not the way to go and left me feeling overwhelmed. When he did eventually slow down to really think of his composition, that helped with my own feelings of unease. Make sure you find a photographer that focuses on composition. 

  4. Be aware of your chin. Unless someone is a size XXS, everyone should be aware of how they're holding their chin. I always tuck my chin back and yea, that's unflattering, yay for me. Stick your chin out and stay aware of it during your session. I don't typically pose in a way that you have to pay attention to that, but others might. 

  5. Carrying a little extra weight on your arms is no big deal. The easiest way to combat this is to stick your hands in your pockets, hold your dress, or otherwise stay conscious of holding your arms just slightly away from your body. The best way to do it is to place your hands on your thighs, slide them up, then tuck your elbows back. 

  6. Fake it till you make it. What I mean by this is that confidence can only be captured if it's shown. By the end of our shoot, I had gotten comfortable being photographed, Steve was better at giving direction and finding angles, and as a result, I was portraying major confidence and the images were way better. If you're not feeling it, fake it anyway. 

  7. Fix your inner dialog. Could you imagine what you would do to someone telling your friend that they're ugly or fat?! And yet, we do that to ourselves! Fix your inner dialog and tell yourself you're beautiful, you're looking awesome, you are rocking your shoot, and you are the definition of confidence. It will show. 
colorful flower wall
pensacola wedding photography
pensacola wedding photographer with tattoos

The most important thing I learned 

These were awesome take aways for me as a photographer and as a future subject. 

However, the single most important thing I took away from this, is that if done right, a session can leave someone feeling ten times more beautiful and loving towards themselves. THIS is my goal going forward and what I will keep in the forefront of my mind as I shoot a session. 

Because when a session is done right and my client leaves feeling loved, beautiful, and confident, I've done the best thing I could do as a photographer. 


I'm Tahiry (Tahiti - Like the island) and I specialize in outdoor weddings for my off-beat couples. The ones that aren't afraid to dance in the rain or walk to the beat of their own drum (while getting some good shots of it, too). Sound like you? Let's connect ❤️