How to Prepare for a Successful Engagement Session
You’ve just hired the wedding photographer of your dreams and now it’s time to start planning and preparing for your engagement session. Remember, while this whole process may be new to you, your photographer has done this countless times, so don’t be afraid to ask for their advice.
First, start brainstorming the overall aesthetic you’re hoping to achieve. This will help you narrow down the types of locations you may be interested in. Think about the look or feel you’re envisioning. What types of images do you tend to be drawn to when you’re scrolling Instagram or Pinterest? Pay attention to the types of locations you find yourself double tapping or pinning. Also, think about the scenery at your wedding venue. Some clients prefer to choose a location for their engagement photos that will compliment their wedding location (especially if they’re planning on using their engagement photos for their Save The Dates or to have displayed at the wedding). Other clients like the idea of having some variety so if the wedding is near the beach, they may prefer for their engagement session to be in the mountains, etc.
I may be stating the obvious here, but think about how your location will impact your photos. Are you looking for a beachy vibe? If so, be prepared to be a bit wind blown. The beach can absolutely be beautiful, but if you’re worried about the elements (sand, wind, being cold or getting wet), then the beach is likely not for you.
Do you prefer a more architectural look? Maybe you’re envisioning something in the mountains or an open field. Once you have a concept in mind, start narrowing down specific locations that fit your vision.
Keep in mind the time of year too. If you’re expecting a field with tall, wispy green grass in the middle of the summer, that grass will most likely be dry and brown. Also, just because you saw a beautiful hillside with a perfect oak tree 2 years ago, doesn’t mean it still looks the way you remember it. Sadly Southern California has had so many recent fires, mudslides, etc that it’s always a good idea to re-scout before confirming a location.
Next you’ll want to chat with your photographer to discuss what time of day will be best for light. Generally speaking, you’ll want to begin your session approximately 1.5 hours prior to sunset. That’s when you’ll get the prettiest and softest light. Although if the area you’re shooting is in a valley or has a lot of overhanging trees, it may lose light quicker, so definitely defer to your photographer on this one. Once you’ve nailed down your location, it’s time to start move on to the next step.
We all know how daunting choosing what to wear can be. Half the time I can’t even decide what to wear to dinner let alone to a photo shoot. A good starting point is to begin with selecting a color palate. I generally recommend 3 colors.
Things to consider when selecting COLORs are:
What colors do you feel your best in? Do you feel like certain colors are more flattering on you? Do certain colors make you feel more confident? What colors look great on both you and your fiance?
Will these colors work well at the location you’ve chosen? Will the location compliment your outfit colors and vice versa? (For example: If you’ve chosen a location with a lot of green, you will likely want to stay away from green when it comes to your outfits.)
Are the colors timeless? You will cherish these photos for years to come, so you may want to choose a color palate that tends to be more classic than trendy. (However, this recommendation is all personal preference) The other alternative is to bring one “timeless” outfit and one “trendy” outfit.
Next, you’ll want to consider FIT. I don’t recommend skin tight, super short or super baggy. Try to find clothes that fit comfortably and accentuate all of your favorite physical characteristics. On the flip side, if there are certain areas you’re particularly self-conscious about find an outfit that draws attention away from those areas. You want to feel your absolute best, so take time finding something that makes you feel amazing.
Finally, consider TEXTURES and PATTERNS. From a flowy dress floating in the wind, to a cozy cable knit sweater, incorporating texture into your outfits will give your images an element of interest and movement. Patterns can also have this affect, but I do recommend using them sparingly. If your fiance is wearing a pattern, I would recommend you wear a solid or vice versa. When choosing patterns you’ll want to select something that isn’t too busy or distracting. Remember, while I’m sure you want to look and feel stylish, the focus of these photos should be on your love story, so you’ll want to choose outfits that keep the focus on the two of you and your relationship & interaction.
Your engagement session is the perfect opportunity for your hair and makeup trial. This way you’re able to determine whether you’re happy with the way the makeup is photographing or if you’ll want to make minor adjustments for the wedding day. Same with your hair. Is it holding up throughout the shoot? Does it accentuate your favorite features and will it compliment your wedding dress or is there something you’d change?
Go get your nails did. I can’t even tell you what a difference a beautiful neutral manicure will make. Your engagement ring will definitely be showcased in these photos, so make sure those nails are ready for their close up.
Remember, this should be fun, so take your time preparing, then take a deep breath, relax, loosen up and be yourselves. Feel free to bring your favorite music and maybe even a shot of tequila to loosen up. Think of it as a date night where you just happen to have your own personal paparazzi.