I have friends messaging me, asking questions about photography and that made me think that it will be fun to answer some questions through blog posts. I thought that it will hopefully be helpful not only to other photographers but for brides as well.
I’m starting my topic with “engagement sessions” and some things that you need to prepare to make that day extra special. I love doing engagement sessions because it is a way that I can get to know my couples even more, we build rapport with each other, they will get comfortable with how I work and that’s when we loosen up those nerves and make then have FUN in front of the camera. It is a dry run of the wedding day and believe me when I say that the couples who have engagement sessions are pros when it comes to posing on the wedding day and it definitely shows.
So here are some things/reminders that will help you prepare for your engagement session:
1.MAKE YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION A PART OF A DAY-LONG DATE
After you book a date for your engagement session, save that day as a day-long date. Don’t make any other commitments. There’s plenty of reasons for this. First, you wont feel rushed since you will have plenty of time to take photos. Second, you will have your mind set on your engagement session appointment on that day and that will help you feel connected and romantic as you head to your photo shoot.
2. SET THE SCENE AND TIME
Before even talking about what outfits to wear, I always ask for location ideas. Location is everything. I believe that your engagement session should reflect what you are as a couple. Your likes, the activities that you want to do together etc. For example, if you both love coffee maybe we can do a session at your favorite coffee shop, if both of you are homebody maybe we can do an at-home session or if both of you like the outdoors maybe a session at a walking trail or park is right for you. My go to location for some of my sessions is the green house located in campus of one of our towns colleges. Some couples prefer something elegant and unique and all you need to do is to listen to every hints or ideas thrown at you. The best time to shoot portraits is normally 2 hours after sunrise and 2 hours before sunset. You should make sure to schedule your session around those times.
Wear something that you are comfortable in and choose the clothes that make you feel like a million bucks. I usually offer two outfit changes for my sessions, one casual and one dressier. The best advice that I can give you and what other photographers also tell their couples is during your outfit selection try to COORDINATE instead of matching. I typically suggest staying away from patterns and small graphics. Definitely avoid “logos” and words on clothing. If you do wear a pattern try to keep it neutral and less distracting. We want the focus to be on you! With my photography style which is light and airy, as much as possible I encourage that my couples wear something neutral. I will quote a caption that my fellow photographer Jeanna Hayes posted on Instagram about wearing light/neutrals for portraits. She said and I quote “Why do I encourage clients to wear light neutrals? First of all, I want you to imagine a picture with everyone wearing different colors and patterns. I know that everyone has different tastes (and that’s what makes the world go round), but I’ll tell you something cool. The human EYE loves to look at patterns and is attracted to bright colors. Which is awesome. However, in a photo, that will draw attention away from what I think is the most important part of the portrait… the faces and expressions! I want your eye to go directly to the face. This means wearing things that don’t compete for attention. And a bonus: these light colors help get that beautiful light to bounce of your skin and create a “glow”! “. She laid everything out and I totally agree with her. I will also add to that, I also think wearing neutrals makes the photos look timeless.
Speaking of what to wear, be sure to iron your clothes before your session. Yes, your photographer can probably Photoshop that wrinkle later but save yourself and your photographer the stress and get your outfits wrinkle free ahead of time.
4. HAIR, MAKE UP, NAILS AND RING CLEANER
I usually suggest scheduling professional hair and make up appointments for earlier in the day. A fresh blow dry and a professional make up application goes a long way when photographed. You want to feel your best and this is definitely a time to treat yourself.
Clean that ring! I will definitely photograph your ring during your session- the cleaner the better. It is optional but I also encourage my brides to get a manicure and pedicure a day or two before the shoot. I typically recommend a neutral color or something fresh and light. We will be showing off those hands with that new bling!
5. PREPARE YOUR GROOM ON WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE SESSION
Probably all women would agree with me when I say that not all men likes having their photos taken. I am a photographer but I am married to a man who doesn’t like pictures. So brides, I think this is the most important thing that you should pay attention to. You know your groom better than anyone else and only you and you alone can prepare him better for this shoot. Walk him through the things that he should expect or what is expected of him. Show him your favorite engagement pictures from Pinterest. Educate him that it might not be only “smile, pose and we are done” kind of shoot, there might be few “nose to nose”, “nuzzle” or “kisses” involved and things can get a little bit awkward at times. I suggest talking to him before the shoot and give him an idea of what he is about to experience. If possible beg for his 100% cooperation. Sometimes, I have to even bribe my husband so he would agree to do pictures with me. 🙂
6. BE ON TIME
This is really important. I know there are things that happen beyond our control but as much as possible make sure that you arrive on time for your engagement session. Light is very important for photographers. What most couples don’t realize is that natural light photographers are dependent on the sun and if the couples show up late they will loose the amount of time during their session due to lack of light.
7. HAVE FUN AND TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
Relax and don’t be nervous. Your photographer doesn’t expect you to be a pro at this. I believe that it takes at least 20-30 minutes to warm up. None of my clients are professional models and I always work with normal, everyday couples so it is my job to make them feel comfortable and be themselves in front of the camera. Engagement sessions are supposed to be fun with no pressure at all. Trust your photographers and allow them to be creative with you. An additional photographer tip that I just recently added to my routine is to go on spotify/youtube from your phone or just play a fun play list during the session. This will break the ice, add more fun and will make the couple feel at ease. You can even play the couple’s favorite songs so they can have something that they can relate to.