Oh how I love shooting engagement sessions! There’s such an energy & excitement about it. It’s like the visual announcement of the couple’s upcoming wedding, and their first public display of being “fiancee’s” instead of “boyfriend/girlfriend”.
To me, the engagement session is so very important. Opting to not do engagement photos, to me, is like having cake without any ice cream. Or eating cookies without any milk. Or making hot chocolate without adding marshmallows. Can it be done? Yes. Is it enjoyable? Of course. But wouldn’t it be just soooo much better with the other half of the equation? Heck yes!!
There are so many reasons to do an engagement session, where to begin…. well, let’s see. First reason: to get comfortable with your photographer. This is your chance to experience their shooting style before your wedding. It’s a chance to get to know them, and let them get to know you both as a couple. These are the people who will be following you all day on your wedding, don’t you want to make sure you feel comfortable with them? Of course! Second reason: So many of the latest wedding trends incorporate the engagement photos into your wedding day. You can take the images from the engagement session and have them made into a custom guest book. You can display the images in frames at your sign-in table. You can create a slide-show of the images to play during your cocktail hour.
The point is, your engagement photos should be FUN and about YOU as a couple! It’s your first introduction to the world, as future married people. I’ve put together some tips to think about when your planning for your engagement photos, just in case you want some input beforehand.
Decide as a couple what photography styles you’re drawn to. Your engagement photos should reflect both of your styles. Gone are the old traditions, where the wedding is 90% about the bride and one person making the majority of decisions. Today’s modern couples want to start their marriage on the right note… as a team! If you want traditional posed engagement photos, but your fiancee wants a fashion editorial feel to them, make sure you both discuss and use each other’s input to look for a photographer who can meet both your needs.
Meet your photographer either on the phone or in person before the session. Regardless of whether I’m shooting the couple’s wedding as well as their engagement photos, I always want to at least talk with them on the phone before we head out to shoot their engagement photos. My preference is to meet in person first, but sometimes that just can’t happen (schedule conflicts, short notice, they live out of town, etc…). I use this time to talk with them about their expectations from the session, any special requests, and make sure they have asked all their questions of me as well. It really does help give them an idea of my personality, so both of us can decide if our personalities are a good match.
Don’t bring other people with you. Ok, touchy subject, since I know most parents (ie: mom’s) really want to be involved in the entire wedding process. Which is wonderful, in general. But trust me, an engagement session will feel so much more relaxed to you, if you don’t have anyone else present except you and your fiancee (and me, of course!). During my sessions, I strive to capture the affectionate nature of your relationship, whether that be a soft touch on the face, a kiss, a loving embrace, or hearing your fiancee’s laughter that makes you just melt inside. Imagine these moments, but interrupted by a well-intentioned person focusing on making sure your shirt, hair, or whatever is “just perfect”. If you must bring someone, cut them loose a half hour into the session.
Plan and coordinate outfits. Coordinating doesn’t mean “matching”. Gone are the days of everyone wearing white shirts and blue jeans. If you like colors, go bold for both of your outfits. Have a modern dress with a strong pattern on it? Find a color from that outfit and put your fiancee into something with the same color(s) in it. You’ll also want to find out how many outfit changes you can do during your session. Me, personally, I recommend one outfit change halfway through, or two outfits max.
Location! I’ll work with you to find a location that is perfect for your session. Maybe it’s the place where you had your first date. Or where you met.
Props & Themes. Nothing makes a photo more unique than incorporating a certain theme or a “prop”. It doesn’t have to dominate all your photos, but can be something minor that enhances the overall look & feel of your photos. Do you both share a mad passion for sunglasses? Bring them! Is there a brightly colored hat you love, but he teases you about? Bring it! Do you share a love of old movies? We can always add an old-world feel with the location or by processing in B&W. Or maybe your love of books will take us to a vintage bookstore for some of the images.
More than anything, remember to Relax. Have fun! Seriously, this should be one of your favorite things about planning your wedding. It should be a day of no stress, no worries, no anxiety. What it should be, is like your second favorite first date experience ever. (Of course, your favorite first date was probably with your fiancee, so I’ll accept coming in at a close second!) I want my couples to really show their personalities in the session, and I work to find a way to incorporate the unique-ness of themselves into the images.