Your engagement photo shoot will be – hopefully – a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But that can also mean a lot of pressure to capture the excitement and the romance of your relationship. If you're uncomfortable or inexperienced with being in front of a camera, here are some tips for getting more beautiful and natural-looking photographs.

Joke Around

If you're working with professional engagement photographers, they will probably do their best to put you at ease. But you and your future bride or groom can also help with this. You know what sort of sense of humor your significant other has, so be playful with them. Joke around between shots, and don't be afraid to goof off a little bit. Not only will this make you more relaxed, but you never know when the photographer might be able to grab a memorable shot of the two of you being informal and silly.

Shake It Out

If you feel yourself getting stiff while posing, take a second to shake out your whole body. This just forces your muscles to flex and relax – you may have seen actors do this before going on stage.

Find Something To Do With Your Hands

Couples being photographed have one nice advantage over singles – you can always find something to do with your hands. When people pose, they often stiffen up, and this is most noticeable in the face, posture, and hands. Holding hands with your partner is a nice, romantic touch, but it also helps you look more natural rather than worrying about what to do with your hands.

Romantic photographs where one partner caresses the other's face are another option for using your hands. And photos with props can also work well for this – holding flowers, balloons, or showing off something decorative can all make for interesting photos.

Ask For Direction

If you have a professional photographer, they will be able to give you a lot of guidance in posing and looking natural. If you're ever unsure about how to pose, just ask them. One of the best ways to figure out how to pose is to see it, so don't be afraid to ask your photographer to demonstrate what they want you to do.

Practice Beforehand

Many people find smiling for photographs difficult – especially smiling for a large number of photographs. If you're not comfortable with your smile, set aside a few minutes each day to practice it in front of the mirror. It will feel awkward at first, but if you keep at it, you can be much more comfortable with your smile by the time of the photo shoot. Try holding your head higher, extending your neck, smiling with an open or a closed mouth – this is a great chance to experiment and figure out what you like about your looks.

Be Confident

Of course, this is easier said than done. But the more you can do to feel good about yourself, the better you'll do in the shoot. If this means psyching yourself up in the mirror beforehand, go for it! If it means having a stiff drink beforehand…well, as long as you don't go crazy, it's not necessarily a bad idea.

And just as your confidence is important, so is your partner's. So be sure to tell them what you like about how they look, too. After all, confidence can be contagious!