I have been wanting to write this post for months now. Having shot hundreds of engagement sessions I have learned through trial & error mostly what works and what doesn’t. When couples come to me for their engagement & wedding photography they are trusting me to document two of the biggest events in their lives. I don’t take that lightly! It is my job as their photographer to photograph them to the best of my ability. It is also my job to help them feel at ease in front of my camera & to prepare them for their session by giving them all the advice and information I can to ensure a unique, stress free, fun experience. Every year I force myself to get in front of a camera to remind myself how it feels. I always feel awkward at first with this role reversal. For the first 10 minutes I do this awkward laugh, then once I get warmed up I start giving this really weird “serious” face that is anything but serious or attractive…it’s scary folks! Being the subject of a photo reminds me how uncomfortable it can be. I am also reminded how important it is to get professional images taken at least once a year. I love having up to date images around my house, especially of my favorite people on earth, my family! I love photography’s ability to capture not just a moment but the emotions within that moment forever. I want my couples to leave their session feeling confident in my ability to produce amazing images that they will look back on for a life time. With that being said, below are the main pointers couples should know to best prepare them for a great shoot!
Location, Location, Location~ Couples should have fun with finding a location. It should be a place that represents them as a couple & what they like to do together. For example, my most recent engagement session was at Joe’s Farm Grill in Gilbert, AZ. The couple picked that spot because they love the charm & variety it has for shooting locations. I do too! We walked around the grounds, I had a love affair with all the gorgeous light & we got some amazing shots. We ended the session with the couple inside the coffee shop sharing a cupcake. Which was their idea! Remember, these are your pictures so think out side the box & don’t be afraid to try something different. I always encourage my couples to think of a location on their own but understand when they want some guidance. I usually have them look at my blog/website to see if they see a location that stands out. Since I am based out the the Phoenix area I shoot most of my engagement sessions in the greater Phoenix area. I do however travel for engagement sessions. I head to Sedona next week for oneSome great spots just out of Phoenix that require a travel fee are Sedona, Payson & Jerome. I am open to travel anywhere to make your engagement pictures everything you’ve ever wanted them to be! Although location is important choosing a spot with natural light is also crucial for getting the best results.
Wear & Hair~ You’re all dolled up to go on an extra special date with your man (or woman). You feel & look like the best version of yourself. That is what you should bring to your engagement session. If you would get your hair & makeup done for a special event plan on doing that for your session. If not, skip it. Looking your best is just as much about your confidence going into the session as it is about how you look. The truth is when you know you look nice you feel more confident & that shows in your pictures. I have never been a person who gets my hair or makeup done. To be honest I always thought it was a waste of money. I cringe as I type this but I didn’t even get them done for my wedding…my very own wedding! Now this would be fine if I actual knew how to curl my hair without it looking wretched or put my makeup on without looking like a 5 year old who got into her mom’s makeup bag but I don’t. It was not pretty people & is still a regret. I didn’t feel like my best most beautiful self on my wedding day & that’s a shame for any bride. So with that being said, take some time to think about how you’ll style your hair. If you normally wear it down & curly for a hot date, I would recommend wearing it down for your session & vice versa.
I recommend my couples select 2 outfits for their session. Pick one that is a little more dressy like what you’d where to a nice restaurant & the other more casual like what you’d wear on a movie date. That way we will be able to get two looks which will add to the variety of your images. Stay away from busy patterns of any kind & stick with neutral colors, if that’s your style of course:) Accessories look amazing in pictures along with pops of color. I shared a few images below to give you an idea. Don’t be afraid to wear that dress that’s a little out of the box or rock those pumps that you’ve been eyeing for weeks! I am giving you permission to go shopping here ladies, take it! 😉 Remember to have fun with this while staying true to your unique style.
Catching the perfect light~ That is something all photographers strive to do. When you shoot in perfect light it makes everything more beautiful! I get spoiled here in Arizona where our sunlight is intense but oh-so-gorgeous in pictures! To shoot in the best light possible I always try to schedule my sessions to begin an hour & a half before sunset. Since we only have so much light in a day I encourage them to be punctual so we can optimize our time & daylight. If you’re running late you will probably end up with less images from your session.
Props, yay or nay?~ Props can add some individuality to a session but they can also be a distraction & sometimes borderline tacky, there I said it. I love when couples incorporate unique & eclectic vehicles to their session, beach cruiser bikes are tons of fun, signs or articles that symbolize their origin or relationship can be cute & recently “save the date” signs have become popular to use for announcements so bring those along too if you’d like. If you love your pups they are more than welcome to steal the show for a handful of your pics but plan on having someone pick them up after we shoot with them or plan on keeping them in the car for the duration for your session. If you’re not prop people, totally fine! Just bring your amazing selves & we’ll have a blast:)
PDA & why I love it!~ I love when couples allow themselves to relax & be themselves in front of my camera. I understand that is not an easy task for most people so I will do my very best to help you ease into the shoot. The key here is to let yourselves be silly & do what feels natural. I will boss you around walk you through the posing to ensure your images look authentic & beautiful. All you have to do is be yourselves:)
Welp, there ya have it! The key components of an amazing engagement session. At the end of the day these are your images & memories. I want you to love them!!