Getting the most out of your engagement session.
I know from experience that when it comes to preparing for your engagement session, all of the information and ideas out there tend to be a bit overwhelming. However, throughout the years of being a wedding photographer, I've had lots of experience on what works for an e-session and what doesn't. In order to help guide you on this adventure, I've created a little general list how to make the most out of this experience. I hope it helps!
Choosing a location //
Let's start with one of the most daunting yet important tasks of creating your perfect e-session. By now, you've probably seen all of the typical types of locations such as open fields, urban city scapes, green gardens, parks, and of course, the number one most requested in Southern CA, the beach. While all of these places are great, and usually make for pretty pictures, they don't always represent the personality/style of the couple. In my opinion, the best e-sessions are always the ones that truly bring out the most natural state of the couple. For a couple who NEVER goes to the beach, doesn't even like the water, and who's wedding is nowhere near the ocean, it doesn't really make sense to make that the location of your engagement session. So when you are dreaming up locations for your perfect shoot, try to remember what's important to YOU as a couple by asking yourself these four questions:
- What types of activities and places do my partner and I enjoy together?
- Where you can most likely find us on a typical weekend/day off?
- Where do we feel the most in our element and comfortable together?
- How can I really show off what makes us unique as a couple?
Example: Kristie and Dillon love to be silly together and really enjoy a good interactive date night. So when they were thinking of where they wanted to do their engagement photos, the first place they came up with was the county fair. We had the BEST time walking around eating junk food, playing games, and hoping in the photo booth, and at the end of their session they felt as if they had just had an epic date night (see above photo).
Choosing your look //
This is probably the second most asked question by my couples, "what should we wear to our shoot?" Again, I really suggest staying true to your personality and day-to-day style - but turn it up a notch. For instance, if you aren't really crazy about fashion and are more of a jeans and t-shirt type person, the last thing you probably want to do is wear 4 inch heels and a tight dress to your shoot. You will just be incredibly uncomfortable and that definitely doesn't make for good photos. If you do fall into the above category, I would suggest keeping it casual and comfy, but add a little something fun that you wouldn't normally go for like a bold color (colors ALWAYS look amazing on camera) or fun piece of jewelry/accessory. Of course you still don't want to look TOO casual, a la just-rolled-outta-bed-style.
Rich, bold colors and patterns, comfort, pieces you can easily move/walk in, fun jewelry/accessories, complimentary colors/textures, fun props, most importantly, BE YOU!
Everyone in all white, everyone in all black, matching outfits, wrinkled or stained clothes, words/letters on clothing (can be too distracting), ill-fitted clothes.
Timing/being realistic //
This is one that's definitely worth considering when planning your location as well. Generally speaking, lighting is best about two hours before sunset. However, this also depends a lot on location and weather. For instance, if you are doing your shoot indoors, say at your home, midday would work best. Or if there are a lot of buildings, mountains, or trees at your location that block the sun, we may loose light a lot quicker and need to shoot earlier in the afternoon. As you can see, it really depends on many variables.
Here is a quick checklist to go over when planning the time/location of your shoot:
- Ask your photographer about the best lighting time for your location.
- Is a two hour session realistic for multiple locations?
- Research closing times and photography permits.
- Is your mate up for an adventure?
- Check the weather as you get closer to your shoot. While overcast skies are totally lovely to photograph in, if you are dead set on a beautiful sunset and glowly light, you should be open to the possibility of that not happening.
Last but not least, always be on time for your shoot. When you are late, you are taking valuable time away from your session that could potentially make or break the lighting situation. Sometimes, it only takes minutes to loose a perfect sunset. So always be prepared and plan ahead.
Gathering inspiration //
Now that you've gotten a better idea of how to make the most of your e-session, here are some ways to start gathering up inspiration. If you haven't had an excuse to use the website Pinterest yet, now is the perfect time. It's the best way to organize all of your ideas into one easy to use space. You'll want to create a board and label it something along the lines of "Engagement session inspiration." Then start pinning like a madman!
Here are some Pinterest boards that others have created to help get you started:
- Engagement photo inspiration (Green Wedding Shoes)
- Engagement inspiration (Inspired By This)
- Photo session style (My Pinterest board)
- More engagement photos (Ruffled)
Above all else, your engagement session should reflect YOUR style, personality, and love as a pair. Every couple is different and these boards are only meant to inspire you to create your own unique e-session. My hope is that that this guide will help bring out the best and most natural version of you, and the best way to do this is to forget everything else and just have fun, relax, and be a little adventurous!