Usually the first real interaction between us, the photographer, and you the client other than the meet and greet is the engagement session. This is a very important session not only because you are likely planning to use one of the, hopefully, breathtaking photographs as your save the date or invitation, but because this is our first working relationship experience. Like any relationship, it can be a bit awkward in the beginning and unless you are a professional model in real life it may seem both exciting and daunting to open up such an intimate part of your life to a stranger. Some couples just aren’t naturally the touchy-feely type in public and like to keep their lives and love private so it can be an extra challenge for them to open up to a relative stranger. Others are spunky and spontaneous and make the most out of poses by adding their own personal flare. Wherever you fall in that range we can get some fantastic shots that capture the essence of you as a couple, but in order to do so there are some key criteria that ideally need to be met.
A few simple things to remember can make the shoot go a lot more smoothly. The first is knowing what you are comfortable with. Before we even begin we will give you the low down on what to expect from us and with that we remind you to let us know if something we suggest- a pose or kiss, is not something that you are comfortable doing. Always remember that this is your photo shoot not ours. Yes we have done a lot more than you and so we have a general flow and way we work to get some great shots, but we aren’t there to bring you through a series of set poses come hell or high water. Make a Pinterest board with some inspirations and send us the link- we love to know what your style is and what shots you are dying to get. We may not be able to get exactly those same poses (lighting, time of day, location) but we can certainly get the feel of them. Also mind the weather- check the temperature before you go and come prepared with a light sweater if you think you may be cold or an umbrella if it looks like we may be playing footsie with some showers (which, by the way, can make for some pretty awesome photos if you are willing to get a little wet!). Also remember to bring some refreshments especially if it is hot- the last thing you need is to be getting dizzy from dehydration. However, I would avoid any colored or dyed beverages just in case they get on any clothing and bring some tide sticks just in case. In general, the idea is for this to capture the essence of your love for each other and this exciting time of anticipation before one of the biggest days of your lives. You want to be able to be yourselves so we can capture you both in your element together.
Clothing- Play Up Your Best Assets
This may seem like an obvious point, but it still tends to get lost on people, especially *ahem* men when it comes to picking out outfits for their engagement shoot. As a rule we like to say avoid plaids and stripes, however, there are always exception. Charlie and Kristie scoffed at our suggestion and wore their matching plaid shirts and looked like the adorable couple who had stepped off a Country Living magazine cover (above). So while we like to give tips and suggestions always remember in the end they are your photos not ours so you need to feel comfortable and like yourself in them. Another general rule is not to wear clashing colors as a couple- so don’t wear a red dress to his bright green collared shirt. Everyone’s eyes will hurt and the colors will reflect onto your faces in an eerie glow that is less dramatic and more reminiscent of Halloween. Typically wearing neutral colors with accent colors is your best bet- a tan or pastel base color with a great belt or cardigan or shoes can really make the photos pop. Or bright shirt with neutral pants. Also take into account the setting you’ve chosen and any activities you may want us to capture you doing together. If you are going kayaking maybe don’t wear than skin tight tube dress. Just saying. If you are taking photos on a farm, those stilettos can maybe wait for the bridal portraits unless you routinely shuttle hay while wearing them. Of course if you’ve seen some amazing Pinterest photo with a girl in a smoking hot pink sheath dress on the hood of an old Ford truck in the middle of a dusty farm road you are dying to get then we aren’t going to deny you, or frankly us, the opportunity! Another great tip is to bring two sets of outfits. Maybe one a little more casual than the other especially if we are at a large location where we can get a variety of different shots.
Some of us are more aware of what cuts flatter our bodies and which should be burned before being allowed to touch them. For example, I was a swimmer from ages 5-20 competitively so my shoulders are broad to say the least and spaghetti strap anything tops are just not a good idea. Shoulder pads make me look like a linebacker. It’s not a positive or negative- just how it is and I love them, but I want to accentuate them not make them the focal point of my body. Similarly, if you are a pear shape- i.e. your packing much back, then ideally don’t wear a shirt that ends right at your hips as it will only make them seem out of proportion to your body. Rather, a high waisted dress or skirt brings out those vivacious curves. I love this site not only because it offers a much larger array of body types to choose from, but it gets very specific once you click on your body type as to what to look for. Pinterest is also a fantastic place to gather ideas. We always suggest making a wedding board for inspiration- for all wedding related shots whether it be great outfits you see, poses, etc you want to share with us.
You are entirely less complicated than your counterparts in general, however we have certainly met some very sharp dressers. If you are not one of these men with inherent GQ style fear not- your job is still pretty simple. The first rule is always to wear what makes you feel comfortable and “you” in essence. The last thing we need is you constantly fidgeting or adjusting your clothing because you went too far out of your element and are miserable. We also suggest wearing an undershirt of some kind during the warmer months, and Ryan suggests bringing a towel or rag of some kind to control the perspiration on those scorchers. I am also going to be brutally honest here for a moment: if you are packing a bit more than a 6-pack avoid shirts that need to be tucked in. That doesn’t mean wear a tent! Get properly fitted polos or button up shirts that you can roll the sleeves up if you wish and that are meant to be worn untucked. Shoes are a personal preference. Nice sandals can work well with khakis or a very nice pair of jeans if docksiders aren’t your style. Typically we would suggest avoiding clunky shoes such as “skater” shoes or some kind of work shoe as they tend to take over the picture and rarely make sense with the dual wardrobe.
Put Your Best Face (And Hair and Nails) Forward
As usual your routine will take a little longer- how long depends on your own personality. In general unless you are a pro at styling your own hair, and I mean weather proofing it, we suggest all women to make a hair styling appointment for 2-4 hours before the shoot depending on the distance to the location. Let me be more specific here. I like to think my hair looks pretty nice blown out for a night out or when my baby girl gives me time to do it, but it is no match on it’s own for wind, humidity, laying down, my husband’s facial oil, etc. It needs a boost and to be honest a good thrice over of salon quality hair spray. Whether you choose to wear it half up or down, we really, really suggest you use this opportunity to pamper yourself and get your hair done. However, unless you plan on wearing your hair loose or down for the wedding I would not suggest doubling up on your wedding hair trial as engagement photos are meant to be relaxed and fun loving rather than elegant (not that a wedding isn’t a lot of fun!) and a perfectly coiffed updo can contradict the mood. Next up is nails…now this is much more personal. At the very least, make sure they are all trimmed. If you have nail polish on make sure it isn’t chipped or fading. Again, this is a great opportunity for pampering if you love a good pedicure (I know I do), but DIY nails are just as beautiful. Next up is make-up. Now I am a pretty natural girl and I have fairly tame, even skin tone but even I put on a few extra layers of my Bare Minerals to make sure it stayed that way. If you have problem skin this, and your bridal session and wedding day, is the time to double up on the concealer and foundation. You may even opt to do a makeup trial before the shoot if you are hiring someone to do that. Yes, we can take blemishes out but we dislike heavily editing photos when it can be easily avoided and look more natural in the process by some simple, preemptive measures. In general, treat this like you would your wedding day in terms of prepping your exterior. Maybe plan for a date night afterwards to flaunt your gorgeous ‘do and adorable outfit you picked out for the shoot!
Pretty simple instructions here boys. If you don’t routinely wear groomed facial hair, then shave the day of the shoot unless you’re going for that “rough and tumble” look. If you are opting for sandals then maybe give your toenails a quick once over with the nail trimmer. Same with any errant nose or ear hairs. I know, gross, who thinks of that…well someone needs to. Artfully tossed or gelled hair is great if that is your thing…actual bed head because you failed to touch it between waking up and the photo shoot really isn’t. This, like your wedding day, is one of those times to get it together enough to tame any unruly locks. If lack of hair is your worry, don’t, your fiance fell in love with you just as you are so no need to try some last ditch effort to live the lie. Ryan has your back on this one. 🙂
Picking a Location
While we can certainly provide a lot of suggestions for locations, it is always going to be better if it is somewhere that means something to you. Whether it’s the park where he proposed to you on the bridge arching over the lake or downtown where your favorite bar he bought you shots at the night you met is around the corner. The idea of the engagement session is to catch you in your element being yourselves. So if you are both avid bikers, bring them along! Kayak every Saturday- let’s head to your favorite watering hole! Have a family farm one of you grew up on- fantastic, let’s get country with it! We are always going to prefer outdoors because you just can’t beat natural light and the scenery. We also prefer to go somewhere where we can walk around and stop a various locations to pose you and let you run with it- so a park with a trail, or an arboretum, or outside downtown area.
This is where those who are avid Pinterest fans really shine. There are probably a million different, cute things to make or buy for your engagement session and Pinterest has them all! I already talked about including any everyday items that are unique to you as a couple like bikes, kayaks, frisbee golf, Bible, etc, but if you see some great sign in Hobby Lobby or other adorable, crafty prop you want us to find a way to bring into the photos don’t hesitate to bring them.
In summary, I just want to reiterate again that this session is all about you as a couple. We want to capture you as your most authentic selves which can be a challenge when you are very aware of someone snapping photos every 2 seconds and saying things like “now look at your ring”, “stroke her cheek”, “kiss like you mean it!”. We promise it is a lot of fun, especially if you have an idea of what to expect and how to prepare before the session. As always, if you have any specific questions don’t hesitate to ask us- that’s what we’re here for!