Couples seem to approach engagement sessions from one of two extremes, either they have been counting down the days or they are feeling a little apprehensive about getting in front of the camera. No matter where you are on this spectrum, I have good news! Your engagement session can, should, and will be a fun and adventurous experience. I’m willing to bet that you enjoy spending time with your fiance, and that’s all this is! A sweet and special date with your love (and my camera). Kidding. Kind of.
If you’ve booked me to photograph your wedding then you’ve probably already heard my passion on this topic, but I’m going to restate it because, well, I’m passionate about it: engagement sessions are an important but low-stress environment where I get to learn how you interact as a couple. See what makes you laugh, what makes your eyes sparkle, and what makes you breathe deep. Look- I know how to work a camera. I can expose, focus, and color correct in my sleep, but I’m not interested in churning out generic photographs of two strangers. I want to capture you and the love of your life in a way that is genuine to your relationship. I want to forever document the look on your fiance’s face when he looks into your eyes and freeze your youthful laugh for all of time. Weddings are cherished and significant occasions, but there is something incredibly romantic about photographing a peak into your daily life during an engagement session. I love to imagine your grandkids finding these photos one day and seeing your dating days in a whole new light- I want to bring your relationship to life.
Even if you’re a little nervous in the beginning of the shoot (and that’s okay!), I promise we will leave the session as friends, and you will feel more comfortable in front of the camera on your wedding day. Trust me- you’ll have enough things swirling around your brain without being stressed about posing and facial expressions. Leave that to me!
So now that you know a little more about why I prioritize engagement shoots, let’s get to the good stuff: how to make the most of them! After years of facilitating these sessions, here are my top five tips to make sure you enjoy the day:
1) Forget About Me
Now I realize this is easier said than done, but for real, just forget I’m there. Think of this as a date between you and your fiance, and I’ll just be a fly on the wall! I promise I won’t leave you out to dry- I will guide you from place to place and let you know if there is a more photogenic pose, but 10 times out of 10 couples’ favorite images are the ones where they are lost in each other. I’ll focus on the light and the background and all of those things- your only job is to enjoy your love and focus on the fact that you are getting MARRIED! If it helps, maybe recount to each other how you first fell in love, or break the tension with an inside joke. Or we could always just dance it out and shake off the nerves. Just let me into your relationship and don’t be afraid to give your fiance a big bear hug or steal a kiss here or there.
2) Wear Something That Makes You Feel Like Yourself
I am totally guilty of viewing my own engagement session as an excuse to go out and buy something new (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but I would encourage you not to experiment too much with your wardrobe on this day. No matter how flattering your images may be, if you don’t feel like yourself, you won’t like the photographs. So here is my best advice: do try to coordinate (not match) your outfits, but more importantly, wear something that makes you feel beautiful! When you look back on these images in ten years wouldn’t it be fun to remember your favorite dress that you wore on a near weekly basis? Or laugh at that worn out henley your fiance was obsessed with? I’m more than happy to help you with color and pattern suggestions, but I would start by just scanning your closet for some favorites- I know you have them.
3) Trust Your Instincts
I realize that it’s unnatural to have a camera on you for two hours, but the love between you and your fiance is natural. If I offer a general direction like “why don’t you two walk together toward that tree over there,” trust yourself! Don’t spend too much energy wondering what you look like or if you’re doing it right (you are), and just walk how you normally would. In watching your natural reaction, I learn how you hold hands, who walks on what side, if you instinctively put your head on his shoulder, etc. These little insights help me to offer more specific direction next time, and you’ll feel like yourself!
4) Keep Moving
Disclaimer: I may ask you to hold a pose for a few minutes, but in general, I love to capture your genuine interactions. Keep talking, laughing, or even dancing while I continue shooting. Too often, I see couples “turn off” this flirty mood to get serious when the camera comes out, but in reality, any poses are just an attempt to bring out this intimacy and level of comfort. Don’t let me stop you!
5) Make Time For A Post-Session Dinner Date
Okay so this is technically after your engagement session, but making reservations for dinner later that evening will help you to view the session as an extension of your pre-existing date. Plus you’ll already be dolled up anyway, so you might as well make the most of it! But one rule: no wedding talk! I’m serious. The wedding already consumes enough of your attention- use this date to focus on each other and why you’re getting married in the first place. I promise you’ll be grateful for the breathing space and relaxed night out.
And of course, when it comes to the details of when & where, I will work with you to ensure that we choose a meaningful location and golden light! At the risk of sounding like a horrible cliche, the bottom line is to have fun. Engagement sessions aren’t scary, and no matter what, your love will shine through. There’s no replacement for a genuine connection between two people, so just trust yourself, and lean into that special love of yours!