Tips On How To Prepare For Your Engagement Photography Session
Engagement Photo Session Tips: Be Prepared
Being a photographer, I pride myself on helping my couples reduce their stress surrounding photography on their wedding day.
But what about the engagement photo 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 is, “how do we prepare for our engagement photos ?
I wanted to share some tips and suggestions on how to make the most out of your 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 photos 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 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.
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 you be prepared for your engagement photography session!
What is the feel or story that you want to portray in your photos?
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 for your photos.
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 couple you are and to be comfortable.
What do we wear for our engagement photography session?
What To Wear For Your Engagement Photos deserved it’s own article. Read in-depth suggestions and tips for What To Wear For Your Engagement Photography Session - Engagement Photos Outfit Ideas.
Location is another key point that is important.
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 bouquets are a nice touch to engagement photos.
Your favorite drink
A bottle of your favourite wine, or champagne, is a nice touch to engagement photos. We are here to celebrate! What better way than saying “cheers” with your favourite 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.
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.
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 ring, so a little ring cleaner will go a long way to make your 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. 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 probably the most important tip! Having fun during your shoot makes for wonderful candid photos.
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.
Being in a location or doing an activity that is fun is key and takes your mind off being in front of the camera.
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.
Being prepared will help you relax and be at ease in front of the camera.
To Sum it up: Being engaged is a really important, albeit shorter 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.