A lot of my clients struggle over whether to book an engagement session — some of them are nervous to be in front of the camera more than they have to, or don’t see the benefit of an engagement shoot. While engagement shoots certainly aren’t for everyone, here’s a few things to put in your “Pro” column as you talk this one out with your beloved:
1. Get to know your photographer
Odds are, you will be spending most of your day with your wedding photographer, from mimosas with the bridesmaids through the last dance of the night. Your photographer is the vendor that will be closest to you most of the day — and with you each step of the way. You definitely want to make sure you have spent some time getting to know her. An engagement session gives the you a chance to see how your photographer works and to spend quality time together before the big day. The couples I’ve worked with who have become lifelong friends have always had engagement sessions (and rehearsal dinner coverage, but that’s a post for another day!). And now I get to watch their babies grow up at our annual family sessions.
AND Let your photographer get to know you!
Not only will an engagement session be beneficial for you as subjects, but also for your photographer. Working with my couples before the wedding day lets me get a feel for your individual personalities (and personality as a couple!), your policy on PDA, and the best way to make you genuinely smile. And maybe most importantly …
2. Learn the poses that work for you
An engagement session is the perfect opportunity to learn which poses you love, and those you might love just a little bit less. Many people come to me insisting they are “camera-shy” or “not photogenic” and after an afternoon with them it turns out they’re not at all, they just needed the bit of coaxing and posing that a professional can provide. Not every pose works for every couple, and an engagement session gives us a low-stress opportunity to figure out which poses work best for the two of you. Which leads me to another giant benefit …
3. More time on your wedding day
Practice certainly makes perfect. Knowing your favorite poses in advance will maximize our time during your couple portraits on your wedding day. In addition, the engagement session lets us develop a shorthand for standard poses, so I can yell out “bear hug” or “hipster hand-hold” on the day of instead of taking the time to show you each pose. Which means less “warm up” time during your wedding portrait session and more time being told you are fabulous. This time-saving trick can land you a larger variety of poses or locations, or more time with your friends and family, enjoying the awesome cocktail hour.
4. Incorporate your engagement photos into your wedding
Engagement announcements are not what they once were — they are no longer studio portraits printed up in the local paper. Instead, engagement photos are a chance to get creative, show off your playful side, go somewhere memorable or meaningful to the two of you, and have a set of keepsakes besides your formal wedding photos. After the engagement session, you’ll have a set of amazing professional photographs to show off. Many of my couples order prints from their engagement session to frame for their reception, and some even create a photo guest book. Or don’t even wait for the wedding! Many couples use their engagement photos for Save the Date cards, wedding web sites, and wedding invitations.
5. Maximize your hair and makeup trial
An engagement session is the perfect opportunity to test drive your hair and makeup guru’s skills and see how they look on you before your big day. You’ll already be doing a trial with your artist(s), why not time it with your engagement session to a) see how everything looks on camera and b) not waste a fabulous look? What are you gonna do, go home and watch TV with that perfect coiffe? How often does a girl go and get her hair and makeup done up professionally? FLAUNT IT.
6. Take advantage of the seasons and weather
If you are planning a summer wedding, consider a winter engagement session for real variety in your photos — or contrast your springtime wedding with some bright fall foliage. You will see an astounding number of engagement photos that are bright, sunny times in the summer or fall, but off-season photo shoots can be fun and dramatic. Besides, your love is not seasonal and your photos should not be either!
7. Have “normal” photos of yourselves
I cannot count how many of my couples sheepishly tell me “we have NO nice photos together” (ahem, guilty). I would bet that most of your photos together are smartphone snapshots. Yes, of course you will be getting a ton of beautiful photos of the two of you on your wedding day, but chances are, your wedding day look is not exactly representative of your every day life. An engagement session is a perfect time to snag some photos of the you two in your element — in your favorite place, or just on a normal day.
On that note, be sure to check out part 2 for some great ideas on how to make your engagement session fun and unique, and really represent the two of you!