So you’re getting ready for your engagement session when all of a sudden you realize that you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. The last time you had your pictures taken by a photographer you were A) 5 years old and your mom made you take pictures for Easter or B) having your picture taken for the yearbook or C) both A and B. If you were like me back then, then you haaaaated getting your pictures taken and honestly I don’t blame you. Who in the world enjoys sitting in front of bright lights, forced to sit in uncomfortable positions, and wear clothes you kinda sorta hate?
Well, I’m happy to tell you that your engagement pictures don’t have to be ANYTHING like that.
Your engagement pictures should reflect your relationship and all of its many different parts.
If you love hiking, then why not take your photos at the top of your favorite hike? If your favorite thing to do on a Friday night is sit at home, watch a movie, and make dinner, then wouldn’t an in-home session be perfect?! You could cook your favorite dinner, cuddle up on the couch, dance in the living room… And if you love camping and one of your favorite moments together is roasting marshmallows and warming up cans of baked beans while wrapped up in a soft blanket, then let’s go on a camping trip together! Your engagement session is whatever you want it to be, there’s no rule book.
Your photos will reflect who you are, but what about the small technicalities? Like what you should wear? Should you have your hair and makeup done? Where should you take your pictures if you can’t choose between locations? How long do engagement photos even take??
To get you started in the right direction, I’ve listed down below tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way as an engagement photographer!
Before the engagement session
- Find a photographer who’s style you ADORE
This one may be a given, but not always! Look at the work of a lot of photographers and figure out what style it is that you’re drawn to. Do you like images that are candid and have that “moody” edit? Then find someone whose work match that! If you ask a photographer who specializes in a light and airy look, then they won’t deliver the images you’ve already imagined in your head. And if they do try out a new editing style to fit your taste, there’s no guarantee that you’ll love them as much as another photographer who specializes in that look.
Personally, I like to describe my work as unposed, candid, adventurous, and emotional. When we’re on set, we’re not just standing still and looking at the camera (gross). We’re running around, laughing our heads off, and probably doing something dumb. As for my editing style, I edit my photos to reflect the feeling of the moment the photos were taken which often tends to look cinematic, like a still from a Lumineer’s music video.
- Put together a list of photographs that you love!
Photographers are not mind readers (although that would be pretty cool). Before you even go into your engagement session, gather a list of images that you absolutely love and think about why you love them! Do you like how the guy is picking up the girl and twirling her around? Is it the warm, glowing light? Think about what you love about the collection of images you put together and then send it on over to me! This will help you and I get on the same page so our expectations are the same!
After you’ve sent it to me, I create what we photographers call a “shot list”. I take the photos you’ve sent me and translate them into super simple, stick figure drawings that I scribble in my notebook. I bring said notebook to our session and cross each photo off as we take them so I make sure we get all of those MUST HAVE pictures! It usually doesn’t take me very long to go through your must have pictures, so our session based 50% off your shot list and 50% spontaneous, in-the-moment pictures (like the one above)
- Casual or Formal or both?
Do you want a formal outfit, with a long tulle dress and your man dressed to the nines? Or a casual session with your favorite bands tees that you wore when you guys first met? When you book a session with me, you will be sent a “What to Wear Guide” that goes over how to choose your outfits to fit your personalities, won’t be distracting from the scenery, and a lot more!
During your session
- Notify your photographer of any poses you reaaaaally want!
I seriously cannot stress this point ENOUGH! I know you’ve got a couple of pictures in mind that you absolutely have to have and I want to know about it!! Have you put together a Pinterest board with pics you love? Or maybe you’ve saved a ton of screenshots from Instagram? Well then what are you doing keeping all of those to yourself!? Email, text, or snail mail it to me (okay maybe not the last option cause we’re in the 21st century). My point is that it’s super important to send me inspiration of the photos you’ve been dreaming of so we can get on the same page.
- It’s okay to be nervous
I’m not expecting you to walk into your session like Tyra Banks, so I completely understand if you’re nervous! I even get nervous in front of the camera (because to be honest, I’m actually pretty camera shy.) Which is why I’m telling you now that even though I’m behind the camera, I just want you to know that it’s okay to be nervous because you’re not the only one!
The entire time we’re on set I’m playing music, having you guys act out prompts, ask you questions that bring out your love for one another, and guiding you in such a way that it doesn’t even feel like we’re taking photos! If you love one another and like hanging out together, then that’s all you need for your engagement session.
- Let loose & have fun!
Seriously! Have fun! If that means bringing your dog (omg please bring your dog), a bottle of champagne, or making your own playlist, then do that! Your session is seriously all about you guys and what your relationship so if you can think of anything that just screams YOU, then I highly encourage that you bring it along to your session!! There’s no rule book to follow, so just do what you want.
After your session
- Ask for sneak peak images
I deliver sneak peak images within the first 24 hours of our session! Woo hoo!! I like to send anywhere between 10-15 images, just as a little teaser. I go through all of your images and edit and send at least 1 image from each different “scene” we shoot. You’ll see what I mean about “scenes” when we’re on set!
- Order Save-the-Dates
Gotta let your friends and family know when the big day is! Typically, there are two kinds of invitations that are sent to announce your big day- Save-the-Dates and invitations. Your save-the-dates let everyone know when the big day is! They usually don’t include important information aside from your wedding date. I would suggest sending these 6-8 months before your wedding.
Invitations contain information like the venue, time of the ceremony, your wedding theme… Basically information that would be really useful for your guests to know before they arrive for the big day! Most couples typically send invitations between 4-5 weeks before the wedding.
As for having them your save-the-dates and invitations printed, you’re more than welcome to print them anywhere you like! Your session and/or wedding package always comes with printing rights, but if you want quality, environmentally friendly save-the-dates and invitations, then you can order them directly from your gallery!
If you want to read more about my commitment to sustainability (and why it’s important), then click here.
That’s all I have for now! I hope that was helpful, and if you have any questions at all let me know and I’ll be happy to answer them 🙂