Engagement sessions don't have to be scary.
Engagement sessions don't have to be scary.
Unless you're a model by profession, the idea of being in front of the camera for two hours is probably all kinds of scary for you. The good news? If you're anything like me, preparation and lots of insight into what you can expect goes a long way to shake those nerves.
This engagement shoot preparation guide is a work of pure love, written and tweaked over many months. It's meant to be a living, breathing document – constantly being improved upon to help make the weeks and days leading up to your engagement session as stress free as possible. You've got enough going on and this is meant to be a joyous time of planning, anticipation and dreams for your future! I'm here – and this guide is here – to ensure you are able to focus on the things that matter.
Preparing for your engagement session starts a few weeks before your shoot. The better prepared you feel, the more likely you are to relax and simply be present. Tension and stress have a sneaky way of showing up in photos so looking and feeling your best really does matter. Here's what you should be doing prior to your session:
The possibilities are endless and honestly, quite overwhelming. Brainstorm locations that mean something to you as a couple. Places that excite you or take your breath away are a good place to start. But don't be afraid to keep it simple either. Don't rule out your favorite neighborhood coffee shop or that antique store you just can't get enough of. Don't convince yourself that they aren't "fancy" enough. They are perfect if they make you happy.
Start establishing a clear vision for what you want your engagement session to be. Outdoors and woodsy? Modern and urban? Cozy and laid back? Establish that and from there you'll more easily be able to narrow down into specific location ideas.
Logistics are an important consideration often overlooked. Some locations require photo permits and contracts in order to take professional photographs. Also consider parking options and if there is a private spot for an outfit change or two. If you have multiple locations in mind, plan a route in advance so you're making the most out of your session time. Once the location and date are picked for your session, work with your photographer to determine what time of day would be best in order to take advantage of the best light possible.
Now that you've decided where your engagement shoot will be, it's time to begin planning what you'll wear. Your goal is to match the mood of the location and wear something you might actually wear to that spot. It's a bit more complicated than that, but that is a good rule of thumb to get your creative juices flowing.
Or rent something fabulous! You are making an investment to have professional pictures taken, you should look your best. Being comfortable is absolutely essential, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get a little glammed up and come as a polished you.
Avoid tight-fitting clothes that might accentuate any curves you’re not best friends with. Consider bringing a change of shoes if you don’t feel like you will be able to wear fancy shoes for the whole shoot. And don't forget to consider the weather. If it’s freezing outside – shorts and a tank top are not ideal.
Compliment each other, but leave the matchy-match outfits at home. Instead, coordinate more subtly by wearing varying hues or shades of the same color. Color coordination brings a balanced, easy feel to your photos. Bonus: it will be even easier to find light that flatters you both if you're dressing in the same color family.
Choose colors and patterns that won't visually fight with your surroundings. Stick to light colors and neutral shades for the base of your outfits. Think blush, cream, soft blues and light gray. That doesn't mean you shouldn't add in a pop of color! (But you probably will regret wearing bright yellow head-to-toe).
On the day of your photo shoot, you should both look like you’re headed to the same place. The easiest way to do this is to wear outfits that match in levels of dressiness or casualness. Guys, if you're wearing a suit and tie and ladies, you're wearing a t-shirt and jeans, it will stand out and not in a good way.
If you’re debating between outfits, just bring your extra choices with you. We can take a look at everything prior to getting started and make decisions together. We'll consider light, location, temperature, and comfort level to help decide. Sometimes the option that you left at home could be exactly what would have worked perfectly.
Don't bring lots of heavy items or bulky garment bags that you'll need to carry or keep an eye on. If those things can stay in your car, or all fit in a small to medium sized manageable duffel bag, that's best. Here is a list of what you should bring with you to your engagement shoot:
Snacks that are easy to eat and not messy (Trail mix or dried fruit? Yes! Doritos? No.)
A pack of gum
Small makeup kit for touch ups
Hair brush and hair gel/spray
Small towel or hankie for perspiring faces
Comfortable shoes for walking
Umbrella (for rain or for shade!)
I know, I know - 'relax and just have fun' gets thrown around a lot. If you can do this with a camera 6 feet in front of you, awesome! If you can't - don't feel bad - it's not easy for most people.
My best piece of advice is to focus on your partner. Look into their eyes, try to make them laugh, hold onto each other and keep each other feeling relaxed and comfortable. As your photographer, will help set up shots and lead you into moments, but I'm relying on you two to stay loose and open minded and laser focused on each other.
If you are really having trouble shaking your nerves - have a glass of wine before your shoot. Yes, really! Even better - have a drink with your photographer just before so everyone is feeling loose and relaxed together.