How to Take a Picture of Your Engagement Ring

Congratulations! You’ve hit one of life’s greatest milestones. You’ve found the one, and they’ve popped the big question. We used to just say yes, call our moms and best friends and walk around strategically placing our left hands in precarious situations as a roundabout way to spread the good news. But, living in the digital age as we do, there’s been a few added elements to the post-proposal routine, particularly when it comes to sharing the good news.

Now, you and your intended may already have documented the proposal, either by hiring a low-key photographer to hang out on site during the popping of the question or a full-blown camera crew tasked with getting this special moment YouTube-ready. In any case, you’ll want some understated — or who knows, perhaps more flamboyant — shots of that gorgeous new engagement ring of yours. For better or worse, the selfie has infiltrated every facet of our culture, from the post-gym pat on the back to the #justwokeuplikethis deceptively made-up, no makeup shot. Between all the likes, follows and “duckfaces,” a new yet inevitable selfie has joined the ranks of the hashtagged — the engagement ring selfie.

While its unfortunate name is sure to elicit some moans and groans, taking a picture of your engagement ring after the proposal is something of a new rite of passage, not to mention the best way to spread the news to those you may not have time to call immediately post-proposal. We’ve rounded up a few engagement ring picture ideas, as well as some do’s and don’ts so you can get started on planning that wedding.

Get Your Nails Done

The nails function as a strong supporting cast of characters for that pretty new rock you’re rocking. Consider this post a heads up for all the things you weren’t sure were, you know, a thing.

Among all the beautiful moments, the excitement and accompanying stress, get ready for a whole new world of rituals big and small, paving the road to wedded bliss. Pinterest boasts pages upon pages of ideas for engagement nails that range from pretty, traditional pastels to bold wedding-themed nail art. While you’ll want to pick what works best for your personality, for your engagement shoot, a good rule of thumb is the old “less is more.” You’ll want to pick the nails that best showcase that new bauble of yours, and whether that’s a soft baby pink or an inky dark blue, the shade should be all you.

Get Your Nails Ready

Another factor that comes into play is the condition of your hands. Truth be told, a lot of us don’t really think about these things on the regular — i.e. whether or not our cuticles are in tip-top shape, or if our hands have been properly exfoliated and moisturized. Sure, basic nail care is probably second nature for those of you who frequently pop by the nail salon, if for no other reason than to unwind with a pal or two.

But if you’re not a big manicure gal, or you tend to forget about some of those little beauty details, here are some tips for getting those digits ready for their close-up:

  • Exfoliate — You’re probably in the habit of exfoliating on a regular basis. Those knees and elbows don’t exactly stay smooth when left to their own devices. But when was the last time you really gave your hard-working hands a spa-worthy scrubbing? Try using a sugar- or salt-based scrub to remove dead skin.
  • Clip those cuticles — If you go to a professional manicurist, they’ll take care of this step. If you’re DIY-ing the nail situation — clip those hangnails. They’re an unsightly diversion from the ring, sure to cause secondhand pain. Once you’ve clipped off any stray skin, rub hands with a super-hydrating moisturizer or better yet, cuticle oil.
  • Drink water — Whether you’ve shed an ocean’s worth of happy tears or celebrated with an ocean’s worth of champagne, dehydration takes its toll, even beyond the more noticeable effects like facial tightness, etc. Hit that requisite six to eight glasses — heck, throw in a couple more for good measure — to keep those fingers from looking puffy or like a lizard ran off with your engagement ring.
  • Wear sunscreen — We get that sunscreen is more a preventative measure than an immediate beautifier. But, first of all, you should be wearing sunscreen 24/7 as is — for obvious reasons from skin cancer concerns to avoiding age spots and wrinkles. Hands tend to age more quickly than the rest of the body, so keep ‘em fresh. Plus, come selfie day, you’ll thank us for the reminder after you’ve been in the sun for hours.

Lighting

Take it outside. You’re definitely going to want the real natural lighting, particularly with that beautiful diamond ring of yours. Let the sun work its magic — particularly after around four p.m., as the sun isn’t as harsh as earlier in the day.

However, there are a couple exceptions to this rule: If the proposal took place in the dead of winter, when natural light is scarce and precious, you may need to work some magic indoors. Or if your proposal took place over the holidays, an engagement ring photo with some twinkling holiday lights could be especially gorgeous… but keep the focus on the ring. It should be the main sparkler in this picture. Similarly, if your fiancé proposed by candlelight, or under the stars, save the selfie for the next day. You can always snap a few personal shots for your own photo album.

Consider the Backdrop

This should really go without saying, but we’re putting it out there anyway. First and foremost, pick a clean backdrop. It doesn’t matter if your picture is taken on a plane, train or just your living room sofa — if there’s a stray sock or a bag of Doritos competing for precious real estate, it’ll be challenging for your friends, family and fans to focus on the true star of the show: that sparkly new engagement ring. Admit it, your mom was right — just clean your room.

There's Nowhere Better Than the Great Outdoors

Now that that’s out of the way, what, exactly is the right background for the perfect shot? Here are a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing:  

  • Nature — Whether it’s near sand and surf or against a backdrop of spring’s finest wildflowers, there’s nowhere better than the great outdoors to take that perfect engagement ring shot. If you’re in a particularly gorgeous location, be sure to allocate a generous amount of space to the scene — and don’t forget the caption.
  • Couples shot — We’re not sure why this one isn’t more popular, but it’s a nice shout-out to that special guy or gal that kicked off this whole engagement process. Share the spotlight — after all, you both have much to celebrate.
  • Tourist attraction — Did your fiancé propose at the Eiffel Tower? The Grand Canyon? A favorite camping spot? If so, make sure to get it in the shot. It’s part of your unique love story after all, not to mention a chance to share a part of your special trip with friends and family back home.

Striking That Perfect Pose

Ahh, engagement shoot poses. Visibly staged or natural? That is the question when crafting the perfect pose for your engagement photo. Do you go with stick-straight fingers, prominently displaying the ring? A casual shot of you enjoying a brunch spread, with the ring as a focal point? Or perhaps a sweet shot of you and your new fiancé, where the ring isn’t the focal point, but something of an Easter egg for the viewer.

Okay, you should absolutely try to stand out in a sea of Starbucks cups that say “Mrs.” or “YES.” Or a generic shot of your engagement ring atop spread fingers. Don't be afraid to use meaningful trinkets or souvenirs that represent something special for you and your fiancé. Be yourself. If you hate painting your nails, then don’t do it. Want your beloved golden retriever in the shot? A sweaty shot after your kickball game or a romantic hike? Do it. You’re sure to generate more likes and shares if there’s a pet present, anyhow. What? You know it’s true. Look, if the Starbucks thing is your cup of tea — or uh, coffee — then go for it. Just try to get a barista that has picture-perfect handwriting, or at least gets the spelling right. Or you could just do it yourself.

Getting the Perfect Shot

This will take more than a few tries, but trust us on this one: Patience will pay off big time. It’s what separates the pros from the rest of the pack playing with their iPhones.

  • Play with angles — In general, the most flattering shot isn’t going to be the one that’s literally the most straightforward. Tilt the camera slightly for a more artistic shot that doesn’t highlight each and every pore on your hand.
  • Use a tripod — Ditch the selfie stick and get professional. Even if you’re just using your iPhone, a tripod will make all the difference. We’ll go out on a limb and say your hands are probably pretty shaky anyway, and you’ll want to keep the camera still during a long exposure.

Use a Tripod for a More Professional Look

  • Avoid the flash at all costs — Save this one for another occasion. While turning on the flash can do some pretty cool stuff with a diamond and a bit of creative positioning, it tends to make things look a little more abstract than you want. Leave this one for the artist crowd — you’ll want clarity above all else.
  • Don’t use the zoom — If you want a close-up, move your phone or camera closer to the subject. While it may sound like the obvious choice, the zoom feature tends to make things a bit blurry and pixelated. If you still want to get up close and personal with your ring finger, don’t fret. You can always use Photoshop later.
  • Focus — Autofocus doesn’t promise the quality shot you are looking for. If you’re using an iPhone, all you really need to do to bring the focus back to the ring is tap the screen in the spot where you’d like more clarity. If you’re using a more professional camera than your mobile phone, set the camera up for manual focus.

The Finishing Touches

Okay, you’ve snapped a few, or a few hundred, shots of that fresh, new bling, as well as your beautifully manicured left hand. But there’s still work to be done. Of course you can post your favorite shot to Instagram — #nofilter — but have patience, new fiancée. We’ve listed a few pro tips for taking that selfie to the next level:
  • Cropping — Careful with the digital scissors. Nothing highlights your amateur status quite like a careless crop. Don’t cut off any fingers, and be mindful of where the ring is positioned — smack dab in the center of the frame comes off as a little too obvious.
  • Filters — That beautiful sparkler probably doesn’t need to hide behind an Instagram filter. But, if you need a little more of that sun-kissed glow to set the mood, we won’t tell anyone. Instagram's built-in filters can help play up that diamond sparkle you’re going for.
  • Experiment — You can play with it all, from color and contrast to sharpness, saturation and special effects. Bonus: Knowing there will be a post-production phase alleviates some of the pressure of getting the perfect shot right the first time. Take ‘em all, and know you can change things to your heart’s content.

The I-Don’t’s

Sometimes etiquette gets tossed aside amidst all the excitement. Don’t turn into a bridezilla before the planning begins. Keep yourself in check by remembering a few simple rules:

  • Do not fill your social media channels with an onslaught of pictures of your new bling. Select one or two pictures to share, and that’s it. You are not creating an entire catalog for the jewelry store. We know you’re rolling your eyes at that friend who posted an epic engagement collage.

Just select one or two photos to share.

  • One thing, before you get snapping: Don’t let your family find out about your new fiancé via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Call them before you post. Like all the bests thing in life, sometimes there are things that are best left to the analog. In general, friends and family are supportive, they want the best for you and usually — well, save for some sibling rivalry — they are just as stoked about your big news as you are. Don’t post anything until you’ve told all of your closest pals and your parents the good news. We’ve all been blindsided by a Facebook post — like that social media-savvy cousin of yours who announced her engagement on her timeline before actually telling anyone.
  • Try to rein in the princess fantasy. You may be stoked that it’s your time to shine the second that engagement ring hits the finger, but don’t forget about your fiancé. He's the one that just slipped that sparkler on your finger, after all. It comes off as just a touch selfish if the engagement shot is all about you, right?
  • Expensive ring on that finger? It should go without saying, but don’t emphasize the price. Best-case scenario, you make yourself look bad. Worst-case scenario, you’ve kicked off your engagement by making your new fiancé a bit uncomfortable, while leaving all those Facebook friends with a bad taste in their mouths. Keep it classy.
Ok, you should be riding high and feeling confident. Now that you’re armed with the know-how needed to take the perfect engagement ring shot, get snapping. In any case, enjoy this moment. That’s what engagement photos of all stripes are supposed to represent — happiness and hope for the future. It’s not about having the biggest, brightest, blingiest ring on the block. Got any sweet engagement selfies, perfect proposals or the love story of the century? We’d love to hear it!

Leave a comment