Photographers told us how to take the perfect photo of your engagement ring

I can remember every minute detail of the moment I got engaged, right down to the smell of freshly cut grass and lake water. Once the disbelief had subsided, I had three very distinct thoughts: “I’ve found my person for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to be married. Ooh, I can’t wait to show off my ring on Facebook!”  

He popped the question in December, which, little did I know, was right in the middle of proposal season. Between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, an estimated 38% of couples get engaged—and 43% of millennials feel that Valentine’s Day is the ideal day for a special proposal. Considering it’s February 12th, we should all brace ourselves for the potential onslaught of engagement announcements on our various social media platforms this week.

No matter how you choose to present the good news, you can almost bet that the ring will command the bulk of the attention. How can it not? Regardless of the size or cost, the ring shines—literally—as a promise of everlasting love. But before you post your newest jewel, consider this: you only get to break the major milestone news once. There are ways to optimize The Post before making the announcement, beginning with prepping the ring for its close-up.

“The first thing I’d suggest is to clean it,” Toronto-based photographer Kat Rizza tells HelloGiggles. “I would soak it for 20 to 30 minutes in a bowl of warm water and white vinegar and then scrub a little with a dry toothbrush. You could also use dish soap instead of vinegar. Right before taking a close-up ring shot, I would polish off any dust or fingerprints with an eyeglass cleaning cloth. Works like a charm!”

And then there’s the matter of the hand that’ll be taking center stage. “One thing that makes me cringe is dirt under the nails,” Rizza added. “Try to be aware of that when you’re taking pics of your hands and of course, moisturize!”

So once your ring and hands are camera-ready, is it time to snap and post? Maybe, but it wouldn’t hurt to consider your lighting. Natural sunlight or a poorly executed flash can make all the difference between a photo that seems to freeze time and one that gets lost in a quick scroll-by.

“If you’re taking a photo at night after the sun has set, try to avoid using the standard flash on your phone or camera to light the image,” advises Kaitlin Cooper, a photographer in San Diego. “This will cause the photo to be flat and won’t do your ring justice. Depending on the flash intensity, it may completely blow out your ring if the light is too bright. If you can’t wait to take the photo during the daytime with natural light, look for an indoor location with decent artificial light to properly cast light on your bling.”

For some, the mere idea of this much preparation may feel a little overwhelming. That’s why choosing to exercise just a little more patience and saving the big reveal for a formal engagement portrait is a good option (for those who are financially able). For Rizza, simply being aware of your hand placement and movement can elevate a picture from good to great. “It might sound funny, but awareness of your hand and finger placements really helps a lot,” she explained. “I’ll boldly say they’re a crucial element in great portrait photography. Emphatic and expressive hands really help push the story further.”

In the end, how and if you choose to share your good news is ultimately your decision. Whether you decide to stage the perfect reveal, post a video of yourself happily sobbing into the camera, or just keep it to yourself altogether, your moment belongs to you and the lucky person with whom you’ll be sharing your life. There are more than a few ways to make your major announcement special, should you choose to do so.

Here’s some more valuable insight from a few professionals who capture special moments for a living:

On the most common misstep seen in engagement announcements on social media

“One mistake that I see over and over again are people who either close their hand into a fist, or extend their fingers stiff. Neither make your hand look good, so try to keep your fingers relaxed when you take the photo.”

— Nina Larsen Reed, Larsen Photo Co.

“The most common mistake I see is people trying to reenact surprise. Either take (or have somebody take) a picture of the actual moment or shoot something else creatively afterwards. Faking it doesn’t work.”

— Moritz Schmittat, Moritz Schmittat Photography

On helping your photographer get the best picture of your rock

“Just like the rest of the shoot, communication is key here. It’s important to tell your photographer the story behind the ring and the proposal so that they have a better understanding of your story as the couple. The more details, the better. If you want to use this picture of your ring during the wedding somehow (like at a gift table) make sure to tell your photographer what your colors are for the big day, and maybe some insight into the theme for the celebration. That way your photographer can include colors or style into the photo to match what the day will look like. And finally, do make sure to get your ring cleaned beforehand!”

— Jenna Cryomans, JCPhotography

“Absolutely make sure to specifically request a ring shot from your photographer! There are a lot of times when I include them, but not every session. If that’s something you really want, let the photographer know you trust them to take pictures of the ring and allow them to be creative. They are going to be seeing things that you aren’t, that’s why you hired them to be behind the lens.”

— Sarah Naselli, Sarah Naselli Photography

On interesting poses you can try (and ones you can leave behind)

“An overrated and overused pose when showing off the ring is to have the couple hold their hands extended out in the foreground while they kiss in the background. While this does showcase the ring, it is a cheesy and outdated pose. Instead, try shooting the ring from above while you and your fiancé(e) are holding hands and sitting cross-legged towards one another. This gives a unique angle and perspective that is more visually interesting than a standard ring photo.”

— Kaitlin Cooper

“After 200 weddings, I still, and will always, love photos of people playing with their rings shortly after they put them on for the first time. It always happens—everyone does it! To me it looks like a very personal moment of reflection, symbolizing the newlywed getting used to their new normal.”

—Kat Rizza