February 13, 2023
An engagement session is a couple’s portrait photography session celebrating and announcing this very special time in your life! Typically, engagement sessions are casual and give us a chance to get to know one another without all the pressure of the wedding day. They usually take about 1-2 hours and can be a lot of fun! Where we shoot is entirely up to you. Sometimes couples choose locations where he proposed, others a favorite town or outdoor spot. If you can’t decide, I’ll pick a spot based on the look and feel you want. Since the engagement session will be your first time in front of my camera, I want to help you feel relaxed and as prepared as possible. As a result, I’ve created this little guide to help you get ready for our time together. It includes answers to my clients’ top 10 most frequently asked questions about their engagement sessions and will hopefully give you an overview of what to expect! I’m always here to help with recommendations or ideas if you need them, too.
And here is the updated version of “My Top 10ish Suggestions for a Successful Engagement Session.”
P.S. This applies to couples sessions too. 🙂
This post has been updated now that it’s 2023, not 2017, so I had to add this: the reason I have engagement sessions with all my weddings and why I strongly recommend an engagement session with your wedding photographer is because it gives us a chance to get to know each other! In most cases, I don’t know my clients personally, so this is often the first time we meet and definitely the first time I take your pictures. So if you have questions you want to ask, feel free to write them down! I promise I won’t mind.
After all, I am your shadow on your wedding day, so we should have some sort of bond before the wedding. I feel that it’s better if we start your big day as friends, that way you don’t feel like there is just some stranger behind you while you do your first look. It also helps me too on the day, because I get to experience and be there for the most important moments of your life. It helps me to be invested in you, and experience these moments with you as your friend. Everything is more meaningful and intimate if the people you care for are there with you.
The next thing is that it is that I don’t like to have your wedding day be the first time I photograph you. If I do your engagement images, I get to learn how to pose you, talk to you, prompt you and I even get to know which side you feel is your good side. Then on your wedding day when it comes time to take your bridal photos, we already have it down! Your portraits are then done naturally, and quickly, and they become those portraits you were dreaming about from your Pinterest list.
While shopping for a brand new outfit is something fun and an exciting thing my clients love to do for their engagement sessions, I always emphasize how important it is for their outfits to be
comfortable. If you do decide to get everything brand new (and really, who can blame you!? We all love new things!), make sure you wear it at least once before your shoot to make sure it fits and feels great.
This is especially important for things like shoes, which can cause all kinds of problems if they aren’t broken in properly, especially considering many of the locations we go to are rough and rocky or are involving long walks! I would usually recommend bringing along a second pair of shoes that are comfortable and stable, like sneakers.
Want to try out a couple of looks? Great! I encourage my clients to bring two outfits to their engagement session. Before we begin, I’ll ask you to show me both outfits so I can help plan which one would go best with which backdrops, or terrain, and make a “game plan.” We’ll pause halfway through the session to give you time to change.
Take some time the day before your shoot to get everything together, cleaned, ironed, and steamed! Make sure your accessories are in one place, any wrinkles in your clothing are history, and any stains/spots are busted well before the shoot. Make sure that any additional outfits, blankets, shoes, and anything else you might need or want to bring are where you can find them. In addition, my sessions usually involve quite a bit of walking, so make sure that you bring a comfortable pair of shoes along so your feet don’t die before our session is over! I’ll remind you that your session is coming up a few days beforehand, so you’ll have plenty of time and no excuses not to be well prepared. Being relaxed before your session is key to beautiful, natural images, so if you are anything like me, preparation is crucial! And don’t worry, I’m pretty good at relaxing you if you’re still nervous the day of.
Ladies, this is a big one! I always tell my clients to think very seriously about having hair and makeup professionally styled for their engagement photos. This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for you. Hiring a professional will ensure you look your absolute best on camera, and if you need a recommendation I have a few stylists and artists that would gladly pamper you for your engagement session!
I recommend that my couples wear outfits that complement each other rather than match. What does that mean? Well, try not to wear the exact same colors (you aren’t twins!), but do pick colors that go well together. Match each other’s outfits in terms of formality rather than literal colors and patterns. If one person is wearing a bright, bold pattern, it might be a good idea for the other to wear something a little more toned-down and neutral! Need help? That’s what I’m here for! Never be afraid to send me photos or ask for suggestions! I can help with whatever you need, right down to the shade of nail polish you wear. I have even sent my clients photos of outfits that I have found at different stores to help with ideas, or even an easy option to try on and buy for your session. I have your back through it all.
Big, bold patterns like florals, checkers, sequins, or polka-dots are a no-fail way to ensure your clothing looks amazing on camera. For patterns, the bigger the better, the smaller patterns won’t always be noticed on camera. In the case of the photos below, she chose a pattern, texture, and color that complemented the Arizona sunrise that we were photographing against, and clearly, it made the images even more stunning than if she had chosen the usual outfits or even something with fewer sequins. All these things affect the photos and the outcome so keep that in mind when choosing your outfit!
Accessorizing is fun, looks amazing on camera, and is highly encouraged. Ladies – go for it! Hats, belts, scarves, necklaces, hair scarves, earrings, rings – bring it on! For the guys, try to avoid technology accessories that don’t look, hmm, classy. for instance, the Apple watch is not very pretty, but if you have one of those classic Samsung watches, those look great. Make sure if you do have a smartwatch of some kind, that it looks good. (I can’t tell you how many times a smartwatch has ruined a beautiful image) When it comes to your feet don’t be afraid to try some fun socks or fun shoes. Bright colors, platform sneakers or the classic route, nice dress shoes for the guys, classic pumps for the ladies. If you are going for a theme-type session, for example, a vintage style session, Mary Jane’s, or penny loafers, add a splash of color with some shoes that are maybe pink instead of the usual black and brown. Also! Guys! Always make sure your phone is not always in your pockets! It’s a pain to try to edit a bulky phone out of your pockets! Bring a bag along to make sure you have a place to put your phones, wallets, and any other items you might keep in your pockets.
Ladies – if you’re looking for a dreamy, romantic look in your images, I highly suggest choosing an outfit that’s flowy. Look for long or short romantic dresses or flowy skirts in gauzy fabric that catches the breeze and the light. Heels and delicate jewelry add a perfect, finishing touch!
Everyone has their own unique style, and it’s OK to choose an outfit, location, props, or theme that expresses who you two are! You don’t have to try to look a certain way or match what your friends did for their engagement sessions or what you’ve seen on Pinterest. Just be yourself!
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet so many of my clients get worried about whether they need to know how to pose, look natural, find the right backdrop, and turn into the light a certain way. Well, I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again, RELAX! Those things are all my job! All you have to do is show up looking fabulous, and I’ll take care of the rest. Comfort and natural poses and emotions are what I’m good at! Ask anyone! Promise I won’t let you down!
Well! That’s all I got for today! Per usual, I shall end my post with a GIF!
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