How To Prepare For Your Engagement Photography Session: Tips and Suggestions To Rock Your Engagement Session!
You're engaged!! Congratulations!
Time to celebrate! Let’s do some engagement photographs.
Being a wedding and engagement photographer in Vancouver, I pride myself on helping my couples reduce their stress surrounding photography on their wedding day.
But what about the engagement photography session?
First and foremost, it is the job of a photographer to create amazing photos. I believe that this is just one of my goals, I also want you both to enjoy yourselves and create photos you can look back on and enjoy.
One of the most asked questions I get for engagement photos is, “how do we prepare for our engagement session?”
I wanted to share some tips and suggestions on how to make the most out of your engagement photo shoot that will help reduce your stress and prepare you for practicing being in front of the camera before your wedding day.
I remember back to my engagement photography session 5 years ago in Vancouver. At the time, I didn’t think that there would be much preparation needed. I purchased some new boots, did my own hair and added a little makeup and I thought I was ready. Coming out of my bathroom, I saw my fiancé in shorts, a shirt and flip flops. There was no way we were going to have our engagement photographs taken like this and then it hit me...
I should have known to plan and ask our photographer how to prepare for our engagement session. Thank goodness, our photographer was (and still is) amazing and she help guide us through our engagement session.
Now that I have some personal insight as well as professional experience, I want you to be prepared with the most helpful information so that when you come to your engagement photography session, you are ready for some fun!
These are my tips to help plan, collaborate, or just plain be prepared for your engagement photography session.
What is the feel or story that you want to portray in your engagement photography session.
You will want to include something regarding your story of you both as a couple and incorporate elements of your personality into the photos. My top priority is to visualize the story of your relationship in your engagement photographs. The next few points all contribute to the story.
Ladies (and Gentlemen)! Have fabulous hair and make-up that can withstand the Vancouver weather seasons.
Most make-up artists or hairstylists have a “trial” date to make sure the look or hairstyle you want is everything you ever wanted for your wedding day. This is a good time to take advantage of these trials, and collaborate with your wedding photographer to have photos done after these trials. Another suggestion, is to do your hair and make-up yourself to give you a more soft and natural look. The key is to look and feel like the gorgeous engaged couple you are and to be comfortable.
What do we wear for our engagement photography session?
This is one of the most asked questions a photographer will get when discussing preparation for engagement photography sessions.
It comes down to several factors, one of the most important is the season when your photography session is taking place. I like to schedule more time for engagement photos, that way I do not have to watch the clock. Normally there is enough time for two outfit changes.
Often brides like to dress up for the first part of the engagement photography shoot and then move to a more comfortable outfit and look. It is totally your choice. Seasons are important, so keep in mind what the season and weather is like in Vancouver.
I have outlined some details about the different seasons and the weather in Vancouver.
Spring time in Vancouver can see a lot of rain, but where there is rain, there is spring flowers. Vancouver boasts a beautiful collection of pink and white tree blossoms. Bold Colors that matches or the background or dominant colors will help make you both stand out.
Summer time in Vancouver is beautiful without being scorching hot. During the summer, a cute summer dress or blouse with a flattering pattern is a good idea. Comfortable clothes is essential, so look at the locations you would like to be photographed in and plan from there. You do not want to have a dark, long sleeved top on if we have to hike up to a specific location when it is hot out.
Vancouver in the fall is full of bright and rich colors. The trees are brimming with red, yellow, and orange colors. In the fall, engagement sessions mixing colors like neutral or browns with an autumn color. The key is too add colors without taking away from you both as the subject. Sweaters and boots are a Layers are a great look especially in Vancouver.
Vancouver in the winter can have some snow in the city, but the mountains are a snow lovers heaven. You can have your engagement photos done in the snow on one of the local mountains, such as Cypress Mountain, or downtown Vancouver, with the North Shore mountains as a back drop. Cute winter accessories are great ways to add color while bundling up for the Vancouver winter.
Keep in mind the season and dress for the weather.
If you are going for a more formal or urban look then leave the jeans at home and slip into that little black (or any color) dress that you have been waiting for. A nice paid of heels and a few accessories and you are ready.
One important tip: bring along comfortable shoes as well as a second, more fancy pair. This way you can put on your fancy, or dressy shoes for some of the photos and wear you comfortable ones for close up’s and in between photographing and locations.
Just a few quick points on layering. Layering can be a lifesaver for engagement photographs. First, they keep you warm and allow you too cool down if needed, and two they can complete a good outfit. The weather in Vancouver can be unpredictable in all seasons, so by layering you will be prepared for anything no matter what the conditions. Adding a cardigan, sweater, vest or blazer to help combat the chill or cooler weather. Layering will help you to be prepared for any season in Vancouver. If you are wearing a dress or skirt, adding a scarf, cardigan and boots are a good way add layers, without thick, bulky looking matter.
Patterns are nice and can add flare to engagement photos. The key is to have one piece of clothing that is a pattern without a logo on it. For example, when the groom-to-be wears a nice plaid top and his bride-to-be wears a solid color sweater. Avoid writing or text on your clothes if you can.
There are many ways to add color to your engagement photo outfits. One way is to add a colorful accent, this could be a colorful top or skirt, a colorful pair of heels or a bright accessory, like a scarf. Just like with jewelry, the key is to accent your outfit accordingly. If you are wearing a colorful top, then neutral pants and shoes will contrast the color amazing in the photos. A good rule of thumb is think about what color the locations you have chosen will have. The key is to wear colors that won’t have you both disappearing into the background. If the background and location is mostly dark then wear part of all of your outfit in lighter tones. Choose colors that bring out your best features and enhance your personality.
Look at your outfit in the mirror and wear it for your significant other. See if there are any problem areas with your outfit, or make note if you think something is missing.
Location is another key point that is important for your engagement photography session. The location sets the tone and scene for how you want your engagement photos to look. If you want elements of the background to tie into your engagement story, then picking carefully is important. Location also works with your outfit selection to tell this story. If you are wearing a comfortable outfit and boots you would pick a location to match, such as an urban/city location (like downtown Vancouver).
There are many locations to pick from such as fields and open grass areas, the beach and waterfront, forests, parks, mountains, your favorite restaurant or coffee house and the list goes on and on.
Can we use props?
Adding a few fun props can add a creative touch for your engagement photos. This can be anything from your furry best friend, to a blanket, to a bicycle. I love to photograph couples that have extra props to interact and will help tell their love story. Consider adding a prop for your engagement photography session and if you are unsure what to bring, ask me. The more creative and personalized the better!
Vancouver has an amazing assortment of flowers in and around the city. Wildflowers, or boquets are a nice touch to engagement photos.
Your favorite drink
A bottle of your favorite wine, or champagne, is a nice touch to engagement photos. We are here to celebrate your engagement and upcoming wedding! What better way than saying “cheers” with your favorite drink. There are a few more tips that I have included, but decided to elaborate in a section dedicated especially to celebrating with your favorite drink.
Many couples request to have their pets included in their engagement and wedding photographs. It is usually a big deal as the furry family member is an important part of the couple's life. So if you would like to include your pet in the photos it is a good idea to meet the pet in a natural open area for the first time. A park or open area, free of loud noises and other pets are recommended, especially for hyper or nervous pets. Since a lot of pets like to have the majority of attention, it is a good idea to get must-have or difficult photographs out of the way first, that will open up the floor for the furry family member to be in the photoshoot. It is also important to come prepared, make sure you have any bags, toys or treats needed for your furry friend.
Since we do live in Vancouver, and it rains a lot of the time, having an umbrella handy can help you stay dry but can also be a wonderful prop for you and your honey to get cozy under.
Be 100% Yourself
That is the one of the reasons that I include Engagement sessions in my wedding packages (almost all of the wedding packages). This is the time to get comfortable with me and being in-front of the camera. I don’t want you to freeze up on your wedding day, because I am taking photos of you and your partner. Engagement photography sessions are a lot of fun, because you can customize them to a specific theme that represents you as a couple.
Love Yourself- and Your Body
Love all your features, you were born this way and its part of you. Highlight what you think are your best areas are and let your engagement (and wedding) photographer know if you want those highlights focused on more. If there is a part of your body you are not very fond of, and you don’t want them front and center, communicate this to your photographer. I want you both to look and feel good. There are many tips we can help with to make you look your best.
Sun kissed glow
Vancouver can be pretty wet and rainy most of the year, so many of us are frequent visitors to tanning salons (or just came back from vacation somewhere hot). Be careful, as a nice sun-kissed glow is nice, but an overly dark tan doesn’t always photography nicely and can be difficult to color edit out. The general rule would be to stay in the shade, wear sunscreen and avoid tan lines if you can.
Wedding Day inspiration
Wear white or your wedding colors.
If you are looking to have a little glimpse into what your wedding day would be like, your engagement photography shoot is a great place to show a sneak-peek. I am not saying, wear you wedding dress, or do your makeup like you would on your wedding day. A new dress that is either a shade of white or one of your wedding colors will put a little splash of your wedding day into your engagement photos.
Hair and make up for wedding
As mentioned before, if your hairstylist and makeup artist that you booked for your wedding offers a trial session, try to book them the same day as your engagement photography session. For this to work, chances are your makeup artist and hair stylist will have to be booked in the morning or early afternoon with your engagement photography session in the late afternoon early evening. As well, most makeup artists and hairstylists might already be booked for the weekends, so organizing your engagement photography session for a weekday afternoon, or evening might be a solution.
If you are having a wedding day theme, then consider incorporating it into your engagement photos. For example, if you are having a rustic barn wedding theme, then maybe consider having your engagement photos in a location that matches your theme, like a meadow or field with an outfit to match.
Cheers!- Don’t Mind If I Do.
Your favourite wine as a prop.
Sometimes the best “props” are your favorite wine and some glasses and a picnic blanket.
Lifestyle shoot at restaurant or location that is meaningful to you.
If you have a location or restaurant that is meaningful to you, consider incorporating a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. It’s a great way to relax while capturing some lifestyle moments of your love story.
It’s All About Angles.
Think outside the box when it comes to angles.
Sometimes photographers like to photograph from creative angles such as looking down (or birds eye view) or looking from behind.
Wide angle vs close-up’s
There are also different lenses your engagement photographer can use to create dramatically different looks. For example, if you are having your engagement photography session at a busy beach, but you don’t want all the extra people in the background, your photographer can use a telephoto lens to captures some close-up photos. As well, for environmental portraiture, or photos incorporating a lot of the background, your engagement photographer will use a wide-angle lens.
Show me that Ring!
Adding a few accents of jewelry can be a nice touch. Adding too many pieces will distract away from the overall look and feel of the photos, which is to celebrate both of your engagement and love.
For men, the suggestion is to leave your rings and watches at home. For women, the suggestion would be to have a nice simple pair of earrings and either a bracelet or necklace. This way the accent the overall look for photos without distracting from the engagement ring.
I will also want to take photos of your engagement ring, so a little ring cleaner will go a long way to make your engagement ring sparkle.
I’m Late, I’m Late, for a Very Important Date
Leave enough time.
One of the biggest unexpected issues that comes up is being late for a shoot with your engagement photographer. This can lead to both the photographer and the engaged couple involved to be stressed. Since photography is all about light, make sure you communicate with your photographer if you are running late or things are not going as planned. Most engagement photographers plan to photograph in the two hours before sunset. If you are running 30 minutes late, then running out of light is a real possibility. As a photographer that works with predominantly natural light, I am mostly dependent on the sun and cannot get the natural light back.
Having a backup plan is essential.
I normally leave a 15-20-minute window when I have a meeting or planned event. As an engagement photographer, I normally suggest to couples to do their engagement photos on a day off or on a day that they don’t have any plans directly before or after.
Two words for you: Sensory Overload.
Pinterest can be a useful tool to help you visually prepare for your engagement photography session. The key is to stay on track and be focused. It is REALLY easy to spend hours lost on Pinterest looking at beautiful wedding and engagement photos. When I was planning my wedding, I discovered this rule early. I then set to spend up to 30 minutes each time I was on Pinterest for one point, such as wedding flower ideas, or wedding dress inspiration. I would then continue on the same subject if I had not found what I wanted. I made progress fast on deciding what factors were important for my wedding.
I like to suggest using Pinterest and find some photos of other engaged couples that you like and put one sentence as to why you picked the photo. There are many different elements going on that contribute to the making of the photograph, so writing down what you specifically liked about it will help me prepare for your engagement session.
This is your engagement photography shoot which means one thing. Have fun! This makes for wonderful candid photos. The engagement photographer can capture some great photographs with you interacting as a couple.
One of the key tricks a photographer uses is humor. This can either be a well-timed joke, or coordinating with one of you, to tell a joke that will make their partner laugh.
Be in the mood-for a little fun.
This engagement photography session is supposed to be fun, being prepared will help you relax and be at ease in front of the camera. Being in a location or doing an activity that is fun is key. Focus on being yourself, your partner and your future. I would suggest to focus A LOT on your partner and your love. We want you to look and show your love for your partner and the intimacy between them.
To Sum it up: Being engaged is a really important, albeit short part of your story as a couple. These photographs are a visual story of your love as a couple and will be yours to treasure for years to come. The short version is to wear what you are comfortable in, interact with your significant other and relax and enjoy your engagement photography session.