The day is here! Your first session for engagement pictures! Now that you’ve got your date, venue and photographer we get to celebrate! This summer I’ve had over 10 engagement sessions in the last few weeks alone, and I’ve decided to put pen to paper and get all my little tips, tricks, dos and don’ts into one place for you. Some may think this is just a nice extra that comes with your wedding package, but this is actually a really IMPORTANT part of the process! Not only is it the beginning of getting to know you all as a couple, but you get to know me too. The way that I work, interact, how we work together- all of it makes a big impact for the wedding day and expediting that timeline. For most clients, this is your first professional photography experience together, so I’ve come up with 10 tips from me to you. So here it is, 10 ways that to prepare so you ROCK your engagement session!
1. But really, what do we wear? THE OUTFITS
Jeans, tulle skirts, cut off shorts, flip flops, heals… seriously, the best part is- this session time is totally catered to you all. What do you love? Most couples have two outfits, one casual and one that is dressier. Sometimes even a third is totally fine with our time! The BEST advice I can give about outfit selection would be to try to coordinate with each other instead of exactly matching. Despite the common misconception, patterns don’t bother me and usually work (if your guy is like mine and wants to bust out the plaid mountain man button down- go for it) but I do recommend staying away from graphics- they can be very distracting. Bold jewelry, scarves, colored shoes and accents like that photograph really well, so bring it on! Make sure you look like YOU and feel comfortable! (And girls, if you’re helping with outfits… please make sure your guy feels great in what you choose for him. Nothing kills confidence like clothes that he hates or that don’t fit him well.)
2. So when and where does all of this happen? TIMING & LOCATIONS
I encourage at least 3-6 months before your wedding day. You may want to use these images for save the dates, invites, signing pieces at your reception- so having them in advance can be really useful! It’s often a fun announcement as well.
The best time of day to shoot portrait sessions is usually two hours before sunset or two hours after sunrise. If you’re a morning person, awesome. We can make it work, but generally I shoot during weekday evenings, as my weekends are primarily booked with weddings followed by wedding recovery. As far as locations go, this is where I love to get personal! If you have a place that’s special to you or a look you really like, let’s go for it. Are you book worms? Awesome, let’s head to Half Price Books! Is coffee your thing? Great, local coffee shop it is! I have shot in places such as a book store, farms, school campuses, river fronts, city streets and of course parks and nature preserves. We usually choose 2 locations within close proximity so you can have a couple of great looks for your session.
3. So this is like 20 minutes, right? Wrong! PREPARE YOUR GUY
It’s a rare thing for a groom to show up to our first session together really excited and confidant! I totally get it. This is new, it’s pictures, and maybe they’ve had totally lame experiences before as a groomsman. Maybe they’re nervous or self conscious. (Sometimes they even come d.r.e.a.d.i.n.g it… but the exciting thing is, I almost always get a, “wow, that was actually fun!” when we’re finished! So how can we help bridge the gap of expectation verse reality? Girls, I recommend going through my website or instagram and find shots that you love. Share with them what you love about it and let them know how important this time is for you. Be ready to settle in, engagement sessions usually last about 2 hours. It won’t be 10 quick shots cheesing at the camera and we’re done. We explore our locations, chat, get to know each other and have a ton of fun while we do!
4. With that in mind, PLEASE EAT!
I have had the ‘deer in a headlights’ feeling more than once when a couple shows up to our session and the first thing out of their mouth is, “man, I’m hungry! We haven’t eaten yet.” Ah! I know we’ll be there for an hour or two, and nobody loves to get hangry (or photograph it.) If you want to go out for dinner or something fun afterwards, great, but please at least grab a snack before we get started! You will thank me as we’re standing there catching that sunset and you’re not ravenously hungry!
5. DON’T STRESS
We’ve all been there… you’re running late, you can’t find the other shoe, the dog just peed on the rug. Again. And you get totally ticked at each other walking out the door! I would rather you be 15 minutes late and laughing about your crazy escapades, than pulling in right on time and totally ticked off after a little fight. BIG BREATH! We’re going to snuggle in and laugh off any afternoon craziness, so try your best to be kind and loving to each other on the way.
6. Yes, get a little spoiled! CLEAN THE BLING
This is the perfect time to do a little pampering, ladies. Check out a blow-dry bar for a great way to have a fresh hair do, spend a little on getting your makeup done or schedule your bridal makeup trial for earlier in the day. If you want to do your own makeup, that’s of course totally fine! But if you’re a personality that wants a little extra pampering, go for it. Did you know your jeweler will also clean your ring for free? Totally true! I will be taking some ring shots if you have one, so if your diamond could use a little cleaning, that will make it really SHINE!
7. What about lipstick? AVOID THE SMEAR
So, this is something I never really thought about until an engagement session I had last winter. You can see it below, but she planted a big ol’ kisser right on his cheek and then spent the next few minutes rubbing it off! Haha! While it was super cute, just know that you will probably be snuggling up to each other and occasionally kissing. Guys really hate getting lipgloss and lipstick on their lips and cheeks… seriously they do! And having to wipe it off the whole session is annoying for everyone. SO- if you love color, I highly recommend checking out products like Lip Sense, which don’t smear, smudge or come off during an entire day! Or, go with a nude option like chapstick or lip balm for most of the session that won’t be a bother. (And don’t get me wrong, we can totally rock a session with lipstick! It’s just a lot nicer for your man when you all can smooch without a little extra left over.)
8. BE ON TIME
Now, yes, I did previously state that I would rather you be a little late than stressed and frustrated, but in general please plan for extra time! As a natural light photographer, I’m dependent on the sun for the best light. If a couple shows up 30,45,60 minutes late, you all lose that amount of time during our session due to the lack of light. Now I realize that things happen beyond out control like massive amounts of traffic and accidents. If at all possible, try to be on time so that you don’t lose any of your shooting time and we get to explore all that we want to!
9. RELAX AND TRUST ME AS YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
First and foremost, my heart is to be a resource for you all. If you need help with outfits, text me some pictures of your choices! Throw in a couple extra shirts and have me help pair at your session. Throw out some locations and let’s brainstorm together. As you’re preparing for your engagement session, remember that I don’t expect you to be a pro at this. If you’re stuck on something or have questions, please ask. The recommendation I give are from experience and my desire is to help make this an awesome shoot for you all.
10. Last but not least, Let’s have some fun!
I can’t speak for all photographers but you are probably going to laugh with me. (And not the awkward, look over there and laugh…) Whether it’s at me or with each other, is yet to be determined, but trust me when I say we always have fun! It takes a good 20 minutes to warm up at the beginning of a shoot, so relax and just settle in to the process. Trust your photographer, remember why you hired me, allow me to be creative and we’ll have an amazing time together!
Need a little engagement session inspiration? Here’s a few of my favorites so far from this year!
Would you like more information on what we offer for engagements and wedding coverage? Connect with us over on the CONTACT PAGE and we’ll be in touch soon!