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How to Take the Perfect Engagement Photos

California couple Justin Lee and Kelsey Todd make taking engagement photos look easy as pie (and breathtakingly gorgeous). Here, Kelsey offers tips for getting the most out of your pre-wedding pics.

Kelsey Todd and Justin Lee in Joshua Tree

Why would you recommend doing an engagement shoot?

Having your photo taken can be a lot of pressure, but the engagement shoot is a wonderful time to get out all of your nerves. As the day goes on, you become more comfortable and natural. We truly locked into each other as if we were alone. We were pretty vulnerable and ended up with some very intimate and beautiful shots.

couple resting their foreheads together in the kitchen

Walk us through the day.

Our goal was to have fun and make an event out of it. We rented an amazing house that had great vibes, midcentury furniture, and tons of natural light. To start the day we popped Champagne, cranked music, and had a great breakfast. We took photos at the house, then headed to Joshua Tree, where we loved the adventure aspect of it.

couple in casual clothes sits on couch with dog

“Our goal going into the engagement shoot was to make it feel as natural as possible.”

Why did you pick that location?

Joshua Tree has always had a special place in our hearts. There is an extreme energy you get in the desert—we knew right out of the gate that we would have an epic shoot there. From a visual perspective, you can’t beat the sunsets, and the landscape is out of this world.

couple sitting on blanket in Joshua Tree with landscape in background

Do you recommend getting your hair and makeup done?

I highly recommend it if you can. There is something very special and more relaxing if you have a hair and makeup artist on location. Bring inspiration, so they have a jumping-off point.

Kelsey gets her makeup done for the engagement photo shoot

Engagement Photo Shoot Tips

  1. “Don’t overthink your wardrobe. As much as I wanted to buy new things and be extra ‘fancy,’ nothing felt right. Have options, because you never know what may come up.”
  2. “Be creative with your location, shoot for really good juxtapositions, and mix it up with a couple of different scenes. Late afternoon and sunset are the best times of day to shoot.”
  3. “Being comfortable is the hardest part. Be yourself, have an open mind, and the rest will fall in line naturally. Also, choose a photographer you trust and let them do what they do best.”

Photography: Alysse Gafkjen; Makeup: Peggy Busch


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