Everything you need to know about an engagement session.
I believe that beautiful photographs are a result of a creative collaboration between a photographer and their subject. This is why the connection between you and your wedding photographer is extremely important. You want to feel comfortable around them and have a certain level of trust and rapport to achieve those natural shots. Years ago I discovered that engagement sessions help tremendously when planning for your wedding day and I now include a free photo session with each package.
An engagement session is a life-style portrait session with your partner. It can recreate your first date, proposal or simply show where you like spending time as a couple. Most importantly it has to be about you and your love story. If you don’t like the beach, for example, there is no point of doing an engagement session there. There are so many places we can venture to: city landmarks, parks, forests, mountains, lakes, we can even travel overseas. I recently went with a couple to Tokyo and we had a great time exploring the city together. Since I love to travel there is always an opportunity to meet somewhere spellbinding to photograph your adventure. It can be a romantic date in Paris, a charming afternoon exploring Positano or an adventurous photo session in Iceland.
Pre-wedding shoots are an opportunity to capture who you are as a couple with some creative direction. I also find it to be a perfect opportunity to practice being in front of the camera. Some people are shy, but don’t worry, all I want is for you to have a great time and to show you how fun a photo session might be. These sessions are an ideal trial for the wedding day timeline and will help you understand how much is involved in taking a great picture: walking to and from the location, choice of background, finding the perfect light and the time it takes to achieve natural, not forced, photos. Taking engagement photos is not only a perfect opportunity to beautifully document your love story but also to create images that you can use for your save the date, wedding website, guestbook, ceremony program or framed print for your reception.
- First of all be yourself. I love when brides-to-be wear long romantic dresses for the shoot, but if you are a not a dress type of girl, the last thing I want is for you not to feel like yourself. Choose something you would normally wear on a date but take it up a notch. Think smart casual.
- Comfort. Choose your outfit according to location and season. If you want a beach session, heels and cocktail dress are probably not the best choice.
- Less is more. Choose neutral tones and solid prints. You don’t want to wear anything too busy and distracting. The picture has to be about the two of you and not about the outfit. Avoid any bright neon colours. I find soft pastel tones to be the best choice. Try to coordinate outfits but not fully match them. For example if you are wearing a blue dress, your partner can wear a blue shirt or a white shirt with some blue details. Avoid big statement accessories.
Flatter your body.
Choose what works better for your body type: Pear-Shaped: To show off your curves, focus on cinching the waist with an A-line design that flares at the bottom. Apple-Shaped: An A-line style with a gradual flow from the waist to the legs is always flattering. Busty: Scoop and sweetheart necklines offer support and open up the décolletage so the focus is on the face rather than the bust. Small Chest: Look for textured or ruched styles to create fullness in the chest area. Plus Size: Engagement photos featuring an empire-waist. They’re super flattering and emphasize the smallest portion under the bust, creating the effect of a slender silhouette from top to bottom.
- Editorial. If you want to elevate your photoshoot we can always take it to more editorial level. We can look at renting a designer gown, adding bouquet or a flower crown
- City. Imagine you are going on a date with your partner or attending an event with cocktail dress-code. What would you wear? Your answer will probably be a great indication on what to wear for an engagement shoot styled in the city. Most girls would choose a cocktail dress and heels, for guys perfect choice would be a suit or pants and a shirt.
- Beach. Think of wearing a flowy beach dress or maxi skirt. Something that you wouldn’t mind getting wet. For guys I recommend choosing darker coloured pants (wet stains visible on light pants are not very flattering), pants that can be easily rolled up at the bottom (like jeans or chinos). Avoid yellow and light blue colours.
- Forest/Park. Avoid green and brown colours since they would blend too much with the background. Maxi dress for more romantic look or pants and a blouse would be a great choice.
- Adventure. Think of your comfort while hiking. I always wear hiking boots while venturing to waterfalls or mountains and clothes that are not too tight. If the hike is very long I suggest bringing a change of outfit with you (something easy to carry and not easy to crease).
Photoshoot is a perfect opportunity for any bride to trial hair and makeup for the wedding day and decide if you want anything to be changed. Even if you want a sophisticated slick updo for the big day I suggest to choose a more relaxed style for your engagement shoot. Loose locks add a lot of playfulness to your interactions and will help us create more candid images. If you are comfortable having your hair down that would be a better choice. Another important thing worth mentioning is your manicure – remember that we will be taking close up shots of your hands and engagement ring.
How long before the wedding should I schedule my session?
I recommend to do session at least a few months before the wedding. For destination weddings we would often have a pre-wedding shoot only a day or two before the wedding, but in case you are planning to use the photos for invitations or anything printed it is better to allocate enough time for that. Editing of engagement sessions takes approx. a month, sometimes a bit longer.
What is the best time of the day for an engagement shoot?
Having photographed at all times of the day, I can honestly say that it all depends on the location that you choose. Sunrise and sunset are the best time in general as they provide the softest most beautiful light, except if it’s overcast or you are thinking of a location where buildings are providing shade. You might also want to avoid crowds. Some popular touristic spots like the Sydney Opera House and Japan during the cherry blossom festival could be very crowded and in this case sunrise is the best time.
How many outfits should I bring?
I recommend one or two depending on locations and how easy it would be to switch your outfit. Just think about the logistics. Also be mindful of your shoes , sometimes it is good to wear flat comfortable shoes for walking changing to a more elegant pair for photos.
What happens if it rains?
Unlike the wedding day, your engagement session can be easily rescheduled. I usually lock in a preferred date and a plan B date. We will know the weather forecast a week or so beforehand and can adjust if needed. If we are travelling and the date can’t be changed, we can move our shoot to an undercover location or simply embrace nature.
Can I bring my kids/pets?