8 tips for a Successful Engagement Session
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Thursday, April 09, 2015
By Ambreen Zaveri
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You’re engaged! Congratulations on embarking on your new, love-filled life. Now is the time to capture that love on camera, and share it with your family and friends through Facebook, save-the-dates, your wedding site, and—of course—gorgeous prints!

I’ve been photographing couples for years, so I know a thing or two about prepping for the engagement shoot and taking gorgeous, personal photographs. I want to share my tips with you so you can have a stress-free engagement session.

1. Plan ahead!
Once you’ve had a few weeks to revel in the excitement of your engagement, it’s time to get down to business. Engagement shoots should be planned months before the wedding, as save-the-dates should be sent out six months before! You’ll want to give your photographer time to edit your session photos and design any products such as save the date cards or albums.

2. Shop around.
While I’d love to tell you that I’m the perfect photographer for you and you should look no further, that’s not necessarily true. I would encourage you to research engagement shots you like that are realistic for your personality and budget, and resemble your relationship in some way. Are you the couple that likes to play video games? Do you love going to the ball game together? Or maybe you’re opposites with separate interests you want to show in your photographs. This session is about you as a couple. After thinking about those things, it’s best to find a few photographers you feel would be able to capture your personalities.

Spend time with each photographers’ website and social media outlets, perusing their photos and seeing if their style matches the look you’re going for. Once you’ve narrowed it down to two or three candidates, give them a call! Learn about their pricing, recommendations, and personality, and then choose the right person for you. Working with a photographer who makes you feel at ease is the key to a successful session! 

3. Get to know your photographer.
Personally, I love being friends with my brides (and grooms)! You need to choose a photographer who makes you feel comfortable, but, like all good relationships, it’s a two way street.
You want your photographer to truly understand your personality and style. If you and your fiancé hate Pinteresty, love-dovey, cliché photos, your photographer needs to know that! If you you’re happy to share an intimate kiss and spend the day swooning over one another, he or she needs to know that too.

Knowing a couple’s style of dress, personality, and how they interact is essential to capturing the entire dynamic and portraying that in each shot.

4. Book it!
Now that you and your photographer are fast friends, book the shoot! Let your photographer know where you plan on using your photos too, so together you can plan your session with a goal in mind—like save the date cards, guestbooks, large portraits to display at the wedding, or for wedding invitations.

As soon as you’ve set the date for your session, you should also book your hair and makeup, unless you’re doing it yourself. Make sure your beauty appointments allow plenty of time for traveling to your shoot afterwards.

5. Hair and makeup!
Your engagement session is a great time for a trial run with your wedding day makeup artist, to make sure you’re both on the same page. Don’t be afraid to wear a little more makeup then what you do on a daily basis. It may look a little much, but it’ll be perfect for the camera.

If you are doing your own makeup be sure to use concealer, define your eyes with a great liner, and of course finish up with mascara. Contorting your face with bronzer and/or blush creates great depth and makes your face look more dimensional, too.

Finally, bring backup hair and makeup products. There’s something about wind and humidity that can take you from fab to frump over the course of a shoot. Plus, all that kissing and cuddling can totally ruin your lipstick. Bring a makeup bag with a brush, extra bobby pins, hairspray, lipstick, powder, and mascara to keep things looking fresh for the entire shoot!

6. Dress for the occasion.
Dressing for your engagement doesn’t need to be a heart attack in the making. I strongly encourage my couples to dress fashionably, but also comfortably.  Wearing something unusual can really throw your confidence and comfort levels for a loop. Besides that, engagement sessions usually require A LOT of walking, so leave those 6-inch heels behind.

If stilettos are your go-to shoes, that’s great too, but bring options! Think about your location and style, and prepare two to three outfits based on those things.

Wearing complimentary colors is also a great idea, like orange and blue, or lime and magenta. If you want to match, be creative. For example, if the bride-to-be is wearing a wine/plum dress, maybe her fiancée wears a checkered shirt with greys and purples, but not necessary the exact same solid color. Matchy-matchy outfits aren’t as cute as they once were; so pick a color palette and style yourselves according to your individual style without looking like the Olsen twins circa ’96.

General, earthy, and pastel colors work great, but neon colors can be dangerous. They can reflect an icky, colorful cast on your skin. Avoid crazy stripes and floral patterns, too. Busy patterns can clash with your background, making it look like Jackson Pollock crashed your session. Not cute!

Don’t hesitate to accessorize! If a stylish session is your goal, don’t forget to wear your favorite jewelry, hats, and belts.

7. Be on time.
Love those glowing photographs with cleverly placed lens flares? Those shots are only possible during “golden hour,” which isn’t even an hour long. If you scheduled the session with a sunset in mind, you probably don’t want to end up with nighttime shots. You’ll be doing your photographer and yourself a huge favor by sticking to the schedule.

8. Be close and show the love!
You are engaged to be married, its time to show your love through your photographs. You may not be the couples that smooches in public and that’s ok, but showing closeness by holding hands, putting head on the others shoulder, etc. are all signs of affection. This is the time for you to get comfortable with the camera before your wedding day. For a lot of our couples, this is usually their first time having portraits done with each other. Enjoy this time—relax and have fun! Don’t stress so much about poses and background, just be yourselves, be happy, be in love, and you will be amazed at how stress free and successful your session can be.

Bonus tip!
Photographers sincerely want you to have a great time, and we understand how stressful planning your sessions and wedding can be. Take things easy the weekend of the shoot, and try your best not to get frustrated with your fiancé! There’s nothing like a couples massage or yoga class the morning of your shoot to relax the nerves. These photos are all about you and your guy, so pamper yourselves and put your best (and happiest) face forward! You’ll be so glad you did.

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