Now that you understand the benefits of an engagement session, how do you prepare? There seems to be so much to think about, especially if you’re not used to having your photos taken professionally!
When Should we have our Session? Typically, it helps if you have your engagement session several months before your wedding, especially if you plan on using the photos for save the dates and other products. That way, you have time to choose your favorite(s) that you’ll be using. Also, this gives us time to address what you liked about the session and photos, as well as make any adjustments for the wedding photos to come. In addition, think about the time of year that you’re having your engagement session – of course, if you want fall foliage, we won’t have your session during the spring or summer. Some locations may close at certain times of the year, or have restrictions. Think of comfort as well, if your session takes place outside.
Location.. Does your chosen location reflect who you are? Is it gorgeous, and that’s all that matters? Either choice is great. Actually, there are MANY choices you have – your engagement session can take place almost anywhere. Do you both love reading? Then how about the library? Do you love nature, flowers, trees, greenery? What about your favorite park or hiking trail? Love downtown? Why not take a walk around your favorite streets and head to your favorite café? Are you homebodies? Let’s do the engagement session in the comfort of your home. Whatever location piques your interest, just be sure that professional photos are allowed, and that you secure any permits that may be needed to take professional photos there.
Session Length. Engagement sessions can vary in length. I currently offer 1 and 2 hour sessions. A typical engagement session will take about an hour, but if you’re looking to go to a few special places, change outfits, have a ton of variety, and maybe partake in different activities, a 2 hour session may be a better choice. Also, a 2 hour session may allow for different looks, such as a change from daytime to nighttime.
Time of Day. Speaking of going from day to night – many couples may only be available at certain times of the day. That’s fine! You want to hire a versatile photographer who is adaptable to the changes in lighting indoors and outdoors. However, if you want certain looks, be sure to take the time of day into account. For instance:
Some people may cringe, but early morning sessions (and I mean sunrise) are great for locations that a lot of people visit during the day. It’ll be way less crowded at popular attractions (make sure your location is available that early!) Also, the light is beautiful. Some locations may depend on the lighting at sunrise, such as certain beaches. Later in the day, the sun may be positioned in the opposite part of the sky, if we’re going for a certain effect.
Midday lends for the harshest light, and many photographers will advise you to steer clear of this time of day for portraits. However, especially if midday is impossible to avoid, we can use the location and posing techniques to reduce shadows on your faces and create beautiful images, even if the sun is blaring straight down onto your heads. Make sure your photographer is able to deal with this type of lighting, and that you’re okay with possible heat (bring lots of water and a towel!).
Golden Hour. You may have heard of golden hour, the time before sunset where the light is amazing. It’s really not a gimmick – the light is less harsh, it’s super flattering, and everything seems to look beautiful – even the sun rays glowing between buildings. You can see this with your eyes, everything glows a lovely orange. It definitely looks amazing when the sunlight is behind you, and it is shining through trees. Golden hour is typically about an hour before the sun sets and can disappear very quickly, so planning accordingly is helpful. We typically will start a session before golden hour and end around sunset (or night, for a longer session). The weather conditions may affect whether it occurs or not. If it’s gray outside, we may be able to replicate the look by using lighting outside, but of course the real thing is best!
Night. Nighttime sessions can be so much fun! At night, we can use lighting for, well, light..but also for drama and trying new things! I love to use lighting in new ways at night..to illuminate and freeze rain while you’re under an umbrella. To freeze the couple while life is in motion all around them. There are so many possibilities.
Keep in mind that your engagement session can go from one time of day to another, time permitting. This will give you variety in your photos.
Clothing Choice. Some people think of this as a tough decision. People have different styles, they’re unsure of how to coordinate outfits as a couple, and also how to look their best for the location. Here are some tips.
Dress to complement each other. But, don’t be too “matchy.” If someone is wearing print, have the other wear a solid color in the same palette.
Keep your outfits and any accessories as simple as possible. This way, what you’re wearing won’t become the focus of the photos, YOU will.
Dress for the location. If your session will take place in a formal setting, perhaps wear a dress with heels, a suit, etc. If it’s more casual, maybe you’d just like to wear your favorite outfit. Make sure that both of you are dressed in similar fashion. For instance, if you’re wearing a dress, your partner may not want to wear a t-shirt and sneakers. Nice jeans are a great choice, even if your other half wears a casual dress. If you love to hike and want the photos to reflect that, don’t wear a dress, unless you love the juxtaposition of formal wear in rugged nature (and I’m totally up for that idea)!
Make sure you’re comfortable. If you’ll be walking around a lot and are wearing heels, make sure to bring flats. Make sure your clothing is also comfortable enough to move around in, sit down, and pose. Bring a jacket in case it gets chilly, an umbrella if rain is in the forecast (although I do drive around with 2 clear umbrellas for use in rain photos!), bring a towel, as well as water.
Hair and make-up. Consider having your hair and/or make-up professionally done for your session. Men, consider getting a trim. Although it’s not necessary, this can give you the boost of confidence you may need to be comfortable with having your photos taken.
Bringing a Child or Other Family Member. Some couples have begun their families before their marriage, while some couples have blended families. Maybe you really love your grandma, she;s so special to you. That’s totally welcome at your engagement session. For these sessions, in addition to the couple alone, we will set aside some time for a few family portraits, and some fun photos together.
Bringing a Pet. Bring the pets! I’m a huge animal lover. Let’s face it, dogs will probably be the best furry companion to bring to your photo session, as they, well, usually listen to commands and will sit and stay still. If you have a different pet, please inform me. You may need to bring another person along to help get the pet’s attention, or to hold/walk them while we’re photographing the two of you alone. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: Please make sure it is okay to bring your pet to your choice of location. Public spaces typically allow pets, but many locations may forbid them from being present. Others have time restrictions, such as beaches.
I hope these tips have been a huge help in preparing for your engagement session! If you have questions about anything addressed here, or anything I may have left out, please reach out to me!