There’s something about engagement photos that are so special. Maybe it’s the fact that it signals the start of the wedding planning process and makes it much more real. Maybe it’s because you’ll probably use these photos on your save the dates and announcements for everyone to see, or it could be that the next time you’ll be photographed is when you are in a white dress on your wedding day.
Your engagement session should be a great time, but there are some things you’ll want to know beforehand to help it go smoothly. Outfit planning, smiling for hours at a time, posing…it all takes some work! If you want to end up with awesome photos, a seamless session, and an impressed photographer, take a few minutes to read my best tips for preparing for your engagement session.
You’ll want to start thinking about your outfits a couple weeks in advance to leave you some room to change your mind or look at purchasing some new things. Bring 2 different outfits to give some variety to the images. Even if you’re shooting in just one location, having a wardrobe change gives your images variety and diversity. Think about picking a casual outfit and something a little more dressy.
My best advice for beautiful shots is to stick to clothing items that are solid colors and totally free of logos. Small logos are okay, but avoid anything that is big and easily identifiable. Going logo-free, in my opinion, makes the shots more tasteful and classic. Will you be glad you wore that big Nike logo when you look back at your pictures in 10 or 20 years? Probably not. Another reason to go logo-free is that the main subjects in the photo are you and your partner. You don’t want the logo to steal the show and be the first thing you and other people notice when looking at your photos. You want them to notice you and how happy you and your fiance are!
Another important factor when it comes to clothing is comfort. You don’t want to spend your whole session messing with your blouse or pulling your skirt down; your lack of comfort will translate into the photos. Pick something that you can both move around in and feel really confident in. Your favorite dress or top is perfect. Your photographer will ask you to pose in a variety of ways and you want to make sure your outfit moves with ease and there isn’t any awkward pulling or cinching. A tried and true outfit that you love is a much better option than something you don’t 100% love on yourself. When you feel great, you look great. And your confidence will translate into your photos.
Lastly, go for coordinating more than matching for yours and your fiance’s outfits. You don’t want to look like siblings that were sent out for family portraits. You want to complement each other. Try complementing tones. For example, if you are wearing a blue dress, have your fiance wear a different shade of blue or even a gray. Try on your outfits beforehand and look in the mirror side by side to see how they both look together, and adjust if needed.
Makeup and Hair
Give yourself some extra time to get ready on the day of your session. If you want to get your hair and makeup professionally done, go for it! If you time it right, it’s also a great time to have a hair and makeup trial for your wedding day. If you are doing your makeup at home, make sure to apply your eye makeup and any bronzer and blush a little heavier than normal so it actually shows up on camera. You might look like your makeup is a little heavy in person, but in photos, it will look just right.
Trust Your Photographer
This might seem like a given, but really trust them. They are the professionals in this situation and you choose them for a reason. They don’t expect you to know exactly what you’re doing and that’s great because they do! They will lead you through varioius poses, provide constructive criticism, and gently guide you to locations and shots that their creative minds feel will work best. They also know the best time of day for shoots, great locations, and how to get the best shot so let them do their thing. Of course, if you are uncomfortable with something they are asking you to do, by all means, let them know, but 99% of the time, they just want you to have a great session and provide you with images that you will love.
Location, Location, Location
Make sure to discuss the location of your engagement session with your photographer beforehand. Use adjectives to describe to them how you want your photos to look. Glamorous, natural, lifestyle, etc. are all great examples. Your location will help create this mood for you. Also think about places that mean something to you and your partner’s relationship. If your first date was at the beach, it would be special to shoot your engagement session there. Or you could go back to where your fiance actually proposed for more formal photos. Make sure you and your photographer are on the same page well in advance of your session. Letting your photographer know 2-3 weeks in advance will allow them the get the proper permits or permission to shoot in various locations.
Be On Time
If there’s one thing you want to be on time for, it’s your engagement session. Lighting is one of the biggest variables in photography and your photographer has put a lot of planning and thought into the best time to start your session. Try your best to leave as early as possible and with plenty of time to spare. For a natural light photographer, they are 100% relying on “golden hour” or 2 hours before sunset for those perfect images we all love. But if you are late to your session, you lose that precious sunlight and cut your session (and images) short!
Your photographer will help you with this during the actual session, but it might be a good idea to talk poses over with your partner beforehand. Discuss what you are both comfortable doing and not doing on camera. It could also be helpful
to show your partner your photographer’s portfolio of past engagement sessions so they know what poses to expect.
Relax and Be Yourself
The biggest thing is to relax! Your engagement session is just alone time with your soon to be spouse, and someone happens to be shooting it! The more relaxed you are, the more natural your photos will turn out. Come up with some talking points or phrases to whisper to each other and have in your back pocket for when you or your spouse get nervous. You are just spending time together so keep it light and conversational. Finally, be yourself! If you and your fiance are naturally silly and goofy, let it show in your session. If you are more serious, laughing pictures might not be your thing, and that’s okay! Be true to who you are and pretend like the camera isn’t even there.
Think of your engagement session as prep for your wedding day photos. Except that this time, it will be much more relaxed, you’ll have much more time than you will on the big day, and you’ll get to know your photographer and their style and poses beforehand. And with these seven tips, you are sure to have an awesome session and be well prepared for your couple’s portraits on your wedding day!