So, you’ve hired your photographer (hey, that’s me!) and you know you’ll be having an engagement session, but how the heck do you prepare for that? Don’t worry, I’ve got you! I’m going to walk you step by step through the entire process. This is such an exciting and fun time for you, so the last thing I want is for you to be stressing. I’ll tell you what to expect, how to prepare, what to wear and what to bring.
Let’s get started!
WHAT TO EXPECT
Awkwardness: I know, you’re probably thinking “that’s not helping me stress less, Ellie.” But it is something you should be aware of. And the good news is, it happens to every couple but doesn’t last long. Unless you’re used to being in front of a camera together, it may feel odd in the beginning. I’ll be there to help you loosen up so that you can forget about if that hand of yours is placed in the perfect spot and start to embrace your partner lovingly instead. I’ll talk you through what to do to help you both get comfortable in front of the camera and what will result in the best photos.
In general, it never fails to just act silly, kiss and go with the flow. The more relaxed you are and the more you can be yourselves, the more you’ll love the photos. By the end, you’ll feel like professional models. I definitely mix posing and prompts within my sessions. Trust me, we will make some unforgettable memories.
Fun: I know it sounds cheesy, but seriously, expect to have fun! Your engagement season doesn’t last long and it’s an incredible feeling to capture your love on camera during this stage. Embrace that and enjoy it!
WHAT TO DO AHEAD OF TIME
Pick a date: This might sound like “well, duh” but there’s actually more to consider in choosing your date than you might think. If you want to send out formal engagement announcements, let’s schedule a date as soon as possible. On the flip side, you can wait a while if you just plan to include your engagement photos in a save-the-date or wedding invitation because those are sent out a little later in the process. Also, sometimes your wedding venue will let you use their location but may have certain dates blocked out for events to work around. It’s best to get that information as soon as you plan on scheduling your engagement.
Choose a location: Pick a place that’s special to you. This could be our house, downtown of the city where you met or are from, or scenery that reflects you as a couple. Your choice will impact the time of year, time of day, and outfits. Share your vision with me so that I can help you decide what’s best!
Pick a time: It’s always a bonus to schedule a session around the time with the best lighting. When you’re thinking about a start time, consider how much time you’ll have to get ready for your session and how long the session will last. My engagement sessions last for an hour and a half and include time for an outfit change so, depending on your vision, I can assist to make sure we are choosing the best possible time for photos that I know you’ll love.
Get inspired: Look up inspiration for what you want your engagement photos to look and feel like. Pinterest is the perfect place for this, but you can also look at engagement photos of friends and family, wedding magazines, vogue (yes let’s take it there!)… anything, really. You can even add me to your Pinterest board!
Communicate: You know what my photography style is like, but don’t be afraid to tell or show me what style/vibe you’re going for with storytelling. Share the inspiration you found or what is most important for me to capture. Also if you have any must-have shots you want me to capture, I’m here for it!
Prep your outfits: Pick your outfits out and have them ironed or steamed ahead of time. It’s also a good idea to have someone else take a picture of you (or self-timer) in the outfits you try on so that you know what they’ll look like in photos. More to come on what to wear and how to coordinate below.
Practice your hair & makeup: If you’re doing something new or different with your hair or makeup for your shoot, it’s always a good idea to practice ahead of time to make sure that you like it. The most important thing is to make sure you still feel like yourself and have fun while doing it. If you need any hair or makeup referrals, I’m happy to send my list over!
WHAT TO WEAR
Now for the fun stuff: What to wear and how to coordinate. The most important thing is to wear something you’re comfortable & confident in but something that embodies your personality and remains true to your style. You’ll have these photos for years to come and want to look back on them and see yourself.
Be yourself: Have fun and be bold with your personal style, just be sure to keep it balanced and photogenic. You both want to feel fierce and confident but remember that when you look back on these photos, you’ll want to see your love and relationship, not just your outfits. Let me give you some examples…
Color: Neutrals always photograph beautifully, but if you’re someone that loves bold colors, try to stick to earth tones. Bright colors or neons can reflect off your skin in photographs, so earth tones are a great way to appeal to your colorful side while ensuring your skin will look fresh.
Patterns: If you’re a pattern lover, I say bring it! Sequins? Honey, give me all the glam. Keep in mind that it’s aesthetically pleasing to choose patterns that compliment a texture your partner can wear. Patterns are beautiful in photos, but try to avoid mixing multiple heavy patterns. This is probably the hardest part to coordinate so know that I’m just an email away!
How to coordinate: Don’t match too closely unless you’re wanting to make a fashion-forward statement. The days of everyone in khakis and white are over, of course. Go for complimentary colors, patterns or textures instead of the school uniform theory. (But I’ve gotta add.. If you want some funky matching-outfit studio editorial images, I’m 1000% in and we can have a different conversation around that look!)
Textures and patterns: My perfect aesthetic is one person rocking a texture (think corduroy, faux fur, fringe) and the other person wearing a pattern. This is a beautiful way to add dimension and personality to your outfits in a complimentary way that doesn’t overshadow your personalities and love.
Color block: If you like to keep things more simple, consider your color palette and make sure there is dimension. In other words, avoid being too monotone. Monochromatic is okay, but monotone can look a little lifeless in photos. As an example, if you’re going for blue tones, try putting one person in dark wash jeans with a light top (light grey, white, beige, etc.) and the other person in white bottoms with a light wash denim jacket. This keeps the colors on the top and bottom halves of the photos balanced and keeps the photo from looking like it’s “cut in half.” Essentially, you just don’t want both people wearing the same tone on the same half of the body.
Click here to see some of my favorite outfits I’ve photographed.
THE DAY OF
Treat it like a date night: This might be my biggest piece of advice. Have fun getting ready, compliment each other, let go of outside stressors, jam out to your favorite songs on the way and go out for dinner, a drink or dessert after the session. Not only will this help you get excited for your session, but it will also help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. And it will definitely make it an extra special memory.
What to bring: It never hurts to be extra prepared, so here are a few things you may consider bringing:
- Makeup or hair supplies for touch ups during outfit change
- An umbrella in case it calls for a chance of rain
- Comfortable shoes for walking (you can change into your fancy shoes when it’s time to photograph- especially with outdoor session that involves a walk)
- Water (for hot days) and snacks (if you’re doing a hike for you shoot)
- Towel for any sweating (& try not to worry about your makeup in the heat. I will bring oil-absorbing blotting tissues!)
- Props that help tell your story as a couple: flowers, drinks, pets, etc. Are you coffee or wine lovers? Have coffee cups or wine glasses in your at home or cafe session. Bring your dog to a park, downtown, or on a hike. Pop a bottle of champagne together in your photo! Bring on the celebration!
Be yourselves: If you’re a goofy, light hearted couple, showcase that with laughter and sweet kisses. If you’re artsy and edgy, I’ll guide you through bold poses and prompt you to go for a deep embrace. Again, I’ll be there to help you figure out what tells YOUR story the best. I send you a questionnaire for this exact reason.
This whole process can feel really intimidating if you’ve never been in front of a camera, but if you follow these steps as you start to think about your engagement session, I really think it will ease some of the stress, anxiety and unknowns. The one thing to keep going back to is to make it fun! This is such a momentous time in your relationship journey, and you deserve to enjoy every moment of it! But, of course, if you have any questions that I didn’t answer here, I’m always just an email away!