Engagement sessions get a bad rap sometimes — they’re deemed “extraneous” or “narcissistic.” I say, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with spending time in front of your photographer’s camera before your wedding day or enjoying the fruits of such an endeavor. I love engagement sessions because I like to get to know my clients before their wedding — it makes the day flow so much smoother if we’re not just meeting each other on this very important occasion. I also love the idea of people having a personalized guestbook for their wedding guests to sign, or even just a few professional prints for placing above the mantle, setting on a desk, or hung up on the wall. Sometimes, you just want a few photos of you-as-you and not you-as-a-bride-groom-getting-married-person, am I right?
So should you choose to have an engagement session, I want it to go as excellently as possible. Here are some tips to ensure that you get the most out of your engagement session.
Clothes and accessories:
- Coordinate with your partner on a set of dressy and a set of casual outfits. Don’t match — don’t wear the same color top and the same color jeans. A good rule is to dress like you’re going to the same party.
- Wear clothes that fit your figure. Want to flaunt your legs? Wear a dress! Self-conscious about your shoulders? Don’t wear a halter top! Wearing clothes that fit (as opposed to baggy/oversized or too-small clothing) can really make a difference in photos.
- Patterns are great. Just be aware of what sort of image your patterned outfit will look like when it’s compressed from 3-dimensional space to a 2D photo. Horizontal stripes are not always flattering :)
- Accessories are always welcome, but don’t go overboard. If you’re wearing an engagement ring, think of leaving your other rings at home — that way the engagement ring stands out. If your outfit is mostly solid-colored, I suggest necklaces or bracelets. If your outfit has patterns or textures, a simple accessory or two will pull it all together. I bet you are good at dressing yourself; use your best judgment :)
- I usually tell people that the engagement session is a great excuse to go out and splurge on the dress they’ve been eyeing, the shoes that they’ve always wanted, etc. because I know how I feel when I’m wearing something new and I feel pretty in it. That being said, if you have something in your closet you love and you feel sassy, sophisticated, or insert-any-other-synonym-for-attractive while wearing it, just wear that!
- Clothes with discernible logos, slogans, catch-phrases, cartoons, or tattoos are verboten. [Note that I said your clothes can’t have tattoos. If you’re tattooed, by all means, show that off!] Ed Hardy does not have a place in your session. You want people to notice YOU, not the “Make 7 Up Yours” on your shirt.
- Be aware that shoes do show up in some photos, so don’t wear your ratty old tennies!
I tell my clients that this is a great time to test out their wedding day makeup artist (usually MUAs have a trial run for you so that there are no surprises on the wedding day). However, if you’d rather do your own makeup, here are some tips:
- If you wear makeup regularly, do it up a little more. Photos have a weird habit of not picking up what we think is obvious in real life, so put on a little extra eyeshadow. And I know false eyelashes are hilarious and look like little furry caterpillars, but they do make eyes look amazing…
- Avoid glitter. That includes glitter lotion… the speckles catch light in an unflattering way in photographs.
- Some mineral makeups reflect light oddly, and photography is all about light, so be aware of that!
Props and Things:
- Props are great — IF they are actually a part of who you are. One of my favorite items included in a lifestyle session was the stuffed Kermit that was an inside joke between the couple.
- I love the idea of incorporating your wedding date into the engagement session, so if you’d like a shot or two for your Save the Date cards, maybe bring a poster board or something crafty and cute with your wedding date on it.
- If you are wearing uncomfortable shoes, a pair of slip-ons will come in very handy while we walk around the location.
- Bring a bottle of water and maybe a snack to stash in the car, just in case.
- Having a difficult time picking a session location? Choose places that mean something to your relationship: the place where you had your first date, your first kiss, where the proposal happened, your favorite part of town where you spend your weekends, the spot where you first met, the school you both went to or the building where you had the same classes, a hobby that you share (theater? bocce ball? rock climbing?) and take it from there.
- If you’re interested in doing a themed session (your favorite movie, dressing in costume, throwing food at each other) definitely let me know beforehand so we can discuss all the details!
Lastly, trust your photographer. And trust yourself. This is your engagement session. I usually ask my couples to do a few weird things for the sake of a photo, and happily, they comply. But if something isn’t right, or if something is uncomfortable, speak up! Remember: engagement sessions are practice so that you know how it feels to be professionally photographed on your wedding day.
I hope this helps!
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