Hey there! I thought I’d share this helpful information to any couples who are preparing for their engagement session! Your engagement session is a special time to interact as a couple, and it also allows your photographer to get to know you better as a couple, to see how you interact and to begin to introduce you to their photography style. Plus if done correctly, it’s great fun! After engagement sessions with my clients, many of them told me that the engagement shoot helped them relax more, learn more about my style, and deepen the trust between the couple and I. This makes me super happy because I know my couples had many options for a wedding photographer and I love to get them laughing and having fun during our sessions— plus they get to see how I work and they can start feeling more confident in front of the camera (if they don’t feel so already) once they see their photos, and how amazing they look! The engagement session also allows the couple to have dedicated time together, to reflect on their engagement and upcoming wedding!
A lot of my clients give disclaimers before we work together, claiming that they “are super awkward in front of the camera” and “don’t know how to look cute” or something to that effect. I completely understand and want to offer you some reassurance: your photographer’s job is to make you feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera. I offer poses (telling you exactly what to do with your hands, such as “wrap her up in a big hug and sway back and forth”) and prompts (giving you things to do, such as “I want you to walk towards me and whisper in each other’s ear what you want for dinner tonight”). These poses and prompts are a little silly, so they get you to relax and focus on each other while I take photos. Many other photographers have specific poses and prompts that they use, too! I would say that most modern photographers utilize both poses and prompts to create a candid and laid-back look to their photos.
These tips are specifically for my clients, however I feel like they would benefit anyone preparing for their engagement or couples session! 🙂 Read on to learn some of my tips:
Pick out an outfit that makes you feel both comfortable and pretty! I typically tell my couples to bring a casual and dressier outfit- usually a casual outfit consists of jeans and a cute, flowy top for women and a untucked button up top and jeans or khakis for men. Big chunky sweaters are always super cute in the fall, and delicate, flowy tops with small prints look amazing in the spring. The smaller the print, the better, in my opinion, as it doesn’t distract from you and your partner and what’s happening in the photo. 🙂 For cute tops and flowy dresses, I typically steer clients towards Lulu’s, Anthropologie, We are HaH, Madewell and even Amazon (you can find some really cute dresses on Amazon!).
Don’t be afraid to be yourself when it comes to choosing your outfit or props! Some people enjoy wearing black- like me (it’s my favorite color, haha). I want my clients to feel comfortable wearing something they would typically wear to a date night or just hanging out around town- don’t feel like you have to bring a dressy outfit if you don’t want to bring one! What about a swimsuit instead, to a summer lake session, or matching T-Rex costumes to pay homage to an inside joke? Want to wear your nursing scrubs, or invite your partner to wear his Class B uniform? Or maybe you have a really cool motorcyle and you want to take pics with your love on it? Talk with your photographer about incorporating these outfits or props into your engagement shoot! Your engagement or couples photos should reflect who you and your partner are as a couple, so don’t be afraid to ask! Also— DOGS ARE PART OF THE FAMILY, okay? If you want to bring your dog, ask your photographer, because most of us love dogs. (I suggest bringing along a friend or family member who can walk your fur baby if you want some photos with and without them).
Know the location and the number of locations. Before the shoot, talk to your photographer about location options- do you have any specific locations in mind already, or are you open to suggestions? Sometimes, my clients just want a certain aesthetic (such as an epic mountaintop, or river scene) and I can provide suggestions for getting that look! Your photographer should also know how far away the location is, so that you are aware of what time you need to leave and how much light is left for the shoot.
It’s also good to ask your photographer how many locations are included in the shoot. For example, my engagement sessions include two locations and one hour of shooting- I ask my couples if they have a location they’re really passionate about, and then suggest locations nearby that act as a complimentary location.
For natural scenes, you want to stick to more neutral colors, or soft blues, deep reds, emerald greens or an accent color such as mustard yellow. Neon colors or large prints may detract from the natural beauty of the scenery, as will large logos. You also want to take into consideration what you might be doing at the shoot- will you be moving around a lot, laying in the grass, sitting down, etc.? I suggest flowy clothes that aren’t too tight so you’re not restricted in movement.
On the other hand, if you’re choosing an urban location such as a downtown area or college campus, you might go with bolder colors such as bright reds, yellows or more urban prints, as you are dealing with more urban colors, such as black and grey. If you’re shooting at your alma mater, feel free to bring your college colors (woo pig sooie!).
Try your outfits on, and take a selfie! Notice how you feel in your outfit- do you feel comfortable, free to move around and sit, confident? I always encourage my couples to send over outfit ideas so I can see how the outfits work together! Again, the dressy and casual outfits are just a suggestion, if you find that you want two dressier outfits or two more casual outfits, that’s okay! It’s your shoot! 🙂
Invite your partner to be a part of the process. Ask them to look at locations with you, or talk with them about what kind of images they want out of the shoot. Sometimes, one partner is more involved and communicative with the photographer (which is totally okay) so the other one might feel out of the loop- if you are the more communicative one, don’t forget to include your partner and ask what they are looking for, and what their concerns are around the shoot. If you are the partner who isn’t planning the shoot with the photographer, don’t be afraid to speak up or offer ideas!
Engage in a fun and relaxing activity before the shoot. If your shoot is after work, try to unwind by sitting together, listening to a funny podcast or your favorite music or grabbing a drink downtown before the shoot. I encourage couples to show up early to their first location if they feel like it so they can walk around and acquaint themselves with the location! (I’ll probably be there too, because I like being early, haha). Feel free to ask your photographer any questions during the shoot. I typically tell my couples what to expect before and during the shoot so they know what to expect.
more dressy outfit ideas:
Here are some casual outfit ideas!