Sometimes it’s not enough to have just another “hugging by a rosebush” engagement album. Your relationship is beyond typical, so your photo shoot needs to be, too. You want something that stands out. You want a photo that catches the attention of everyone who sees it on your mantle or opens the envelope to reveal your Save the Date. The perfect engagement photo is a celebration of what makes the two of you special.
Recreating a famous picture is a fun way to turn your engagement photos into conversation pieces. Whereas a traditional engagement photo garners a few “awws,” mimicking the style of a famous picture gives both of you a chance to show some personality. Using an instantly recognizable image puts you and your sweetheart in the limelight.
Figure out what famous picture appeals the most to you. Consider the symbolism behind the picture you copy. What best conveys your type of relationship? Are you more playful, more serious, more romantic, or do you just love making each other laugh? The picture you copy will let everyone who sees it instantly know what type of couple you are.
The Post-War Kiss in Times Square
Fashion your engagement photo after one of the most famous kisses of all time. Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo of a nurse and sailor celebrating the end of World War II graced the cover of Life and remains the magazine’s most popular image to date.
You don’t have to travel to New York City to get this shot, but if you live near Times Square, posing in the same location definitely helps. The romance of the photo is more about the atmosphere than the details, however. Concentrate on getting the iconic pose just right; the angle of the bride’s back, the grasp of the groom’s hand, and the ankle lifted just so.
Visit thrift stores and scour online shops until you find a retro sailor’s uniform and nurse’s outfit. If you can’t match the outfits in the photo exactly, concentrate on matching the length of the hem and sleeves on a white dress from any decade. Don’t get hung up on color; any fabric with a dark tone can be used for the sailor’s uniform.
If you can find a photographer who shoots with black and white film, make it a priority. As good as digital cameras are, there’s something soulful in the grain of real film that can’t be captured by electronic means. On the other hand, if you’re working with digital photos, you can take as many as you need in order to be sure the shot captured just right. There are many editing tricks that a gifted photographer can do after the fact to give your photo a near-film feel. Keep the saturation down and the contrast high, and add a bit of grain for an authentic texture.
You won’t be able to duplicate the background exactly even if you do visit Times Square, so if you’re looking for alternate locations just look for a street with tall buildings and passersby. They won’t be in period wear, sure, but they’ll still have the looks of celebration when they see you and your sweetie recreating the kiss.
The Album Cover for Abbey Road
Perhaps the Beatles’ most iconic image, the album cover for Abbey Road features the four musicians striding through the street crossing by Abbey Road Studios. Hailed by many fans as the Beatles’ greatest album, the cover photo has become an instantly-recognizable symbol of music, peace, and love.
While the original Abbey Road is in London, zebra style (black and white striped) street intersections abound in the United States. Even if the road isn’t striped, the Abbey Road cover is recognizable enough that you don’t need every detail to be perfect in order to be identifiable. In fact, you can even add more bridesmaids or groomsmen and still achieve the Beatles effect.
The most important detail in this photo is that everyone is captured in the act of walking. As you’re shooting, call out, “left, right, left, right” in a rhythm so everyone in the shot can be certain that their legs are outstretched at the same time.
If you want a more intimate pose for just the two of you, but you still want something in keeping with your Beatles-themed wedding, bring a few actual Beatles albums and stage a shot where you’re kissing behind the open cover.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Even though the iconic shot from The Wizard of Oz involves Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion, you don’t have to include more than two people for the picture to be recognizable. Pulling off this shot requires a little bit of Photoshop know-how. Since actual roads made of yellow bricks are hard to find, just use any road or brick path with greenery on both sides. Then, with a steady hand, select the road in Photoshop and use the hue and color balance options to color it yellow. Ask your photographer whether this is included in the session fee.
If fine-tuning the photo in post-production isn’t your idea of a good time, you can always cut around your figures and place yourselves directly into a screen shot from the movie. It may look a little cartoony, but if you’re going for a Wizard of Oz wedding theme, it will get your guests in the mood as soon as they see it.
However you choose to create the background, set the scene by dressing the part. You don’t have to get the costumes exactly right. You’re not recreating the movie, after all. Instead, evoke the feeling of the scene with small accents. The bride can wear blue and put her hair in two ponytails like Dorothy. The groom can choose his favorite character and wear accents; colorful clothing patches for Scarecrow, a silver suit for Tin Man, and so on. Even wearing normal formal wear is enough, if your arms are linked and you’re skipping along. Don’t forget to include your pet as Toto!
The Spider-Man Kiss
Appeal to your inner superhero with a shot mimicking the famous “Spider-Man kiss.” In this romantic scene, Peter Parker kisses Mary Jane while he’s hanging upside down in his Spider-Man costume. The pouring rain makes this scene even more heart-melting, but you can skip the waterworks if you want to keep your makeup intact.
Grooms, don’t worry if you’re not extremely flexible. Achieving this shot doesn’t require climbing any tall buildings. There are several ways to get the upside-down effect without actually hanging from your toes. For a standing pose, bend from the waist and keep your legs out of the shot. While the bride kneels in front of you, turn your head to the side and kiss her. With some clever framing, it will look like you’re hanging entirely upside-down.
Another way to achieve the upside-down look is for the groom to lie on top of a table and hang his head over the side. The bride kneels by the edge of the table and kisses him. A clever photographer can frame the shot so no part of the table shows in the final photo.
The third way to fake an upside-down effect is for both of you to lie on your sides. If neither of you has long hair, draping fabric, or loose jewelry that will give away your position in relation to gravity, it will work.
No matter how you orient yourselves for the kiss, keep the background plain and keep the lighting bright. Draping a white sheet in the background is a good way to highlight your kiss without distracting household furniture taking away from the mood.
Even though the pose may feel awkward, keep a sense of humor and feel free to giggle. Encourage your photographer to keep snapping–you may end up with a few treasured candids as well as your primary photo. Either way, you’ll come away from a successful engagement shoot feeling like two superheroes.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.