Engagement sessions are a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know you and your fiance, for us to get acquainted with each other’s personalities and style, so I am super excited that you’ve opted for one!
I know what you are thinking: “We’ve never done a couple portrait session before! What do we do? What do we wear? How are we going to pose? We are soo awkward!” You have no idea how often I hear this. This is why I’ve put together this Engagement Photoshoot Guide to help you prepare for the session.
First things first! Outfits. Choosing outfits is the fun part, but it can be stressful for some. I’d like to encourage you to express your individuality but at the same time maintain a bit of unity. You don’t need to exact-match your outfits. You can either follow a theme or a color palette. If your shoot is in the Fall, try clothes with darker shades of red, orange, brown, yellow, and green. For the ladies, I LOVE seeing & photographing you in long dresses! I am all about capturing movement, so soft and flowy dresses will be perfect!
Some things you may like to avoid:
- busy patterned clothes
- bright neon colors
- exact-match clothes
- sunglasses (unless they are prescription glasses and you must have them on)
- hats, as they cover and tend to cast unflattering shadows over your faces
Check out this Style Guide for some ideas on what clothes and colors to wear.
It is important that you take great care of your body so that you can look good and FEEL good during the session. I have had brides-to-be color and/or cut their hair prior to the shoot because they wanted something new and exciting. Grooms-to-be might also consider getting a good groom – haircut, shave, etc.
Treat yourself to a mani/pedi a day or two before the shoot. I may take a few photos of your engagement ring so having pretty hands will help!
Although not the most important aspect of the engagement session (the focus should be on you, the lovebirds), having an idea in mind helps to narrow down where to shoot. Do you want some place urban, woodsy, beachy, mountainy? Do you want an outdoors or an in-home session (which can also be fun and intimate). Do you want somewhere with a special meaning, perhaps the place you first met or where he proposed? The location can be amazing, or it could simply be your favorite local coffee shop where you’ve had your intimate dates. Read more on how to choose a location here.
Please also keep in mind that a lot of popular locations in Southern California require a photo permit so it is important that you do some research before making a decision.
But if you are totally open to location ideas, please take a look at my favorite spots here and see if any you’d like any of them.
Almost every outdoors / natural light photographer will tell you that the best times to do a photoshoot are early mornings and late afternoons (“the golden hour”) when sunlight is soft. We are all at the mercy of Mother Nature and her unpredictable light. Southern California is mostly sunny, so never schedule a shoot at mid-day when sunlight is most likely bright and harsh. Harsh lighting causes overly bright photos, shadows, light leaks on faces, sweating, squinting, and not to mention, the overall discomfort experienced by all. I want you comfortable, relaxed, and happy in the photos! Perhaps the exception is for gloomy/cloudy days, which would give us a little more “wiggle room”. But for the most part, I highly recommend that you schedule a shoot with me in the late afternoon – about an hour or so before sunset – when light is soft and comfortable. And always allow for a 2-hour window to accommodate extreme weather changes.
Hair & Makeup
I highly recommend that clients work with a hair & makeup artist to achieve that flawless look in photos. This is the perfect time for your wedding hair and makeup trial with your HMUA.
Comfort is Important
Occasionally, there will be some amount of walking to get to the shoot location. It is always a good idea to bring comfortable shoes to walk in and then swap them out with your stylish ones for the shoot. If the weather is cold, bring a jacket or two. If the weather is hot and dry, bring lots of water to prevent dehydration. If you plan on changing outfits, bring a big and thick blanket for cover in case there are no restrooms around.
Sleep is a Wonderful Thing
If possible, go to bed early the night before the shoot to avoid bags under the eyes. Even makeup may not cover it all up. Not to mention, you will be fully energized and ready to go make memories that will last a lifetime!
Please feel free to bring any inspiration photos with you on the day of the shoot. I am very open to ideas!
DAY OF THE SHOOT
Where We Meet
I will send you a Google Map link to the shoot location a couple days prior. We will check out the area to find the prettiest and most optimal spots for your photos. Where the sun shines will sometimes help to decide the “right” spot.
During the Shoot
My photographic style is very organic and journalistic. I like to capture the moment, rather than pose. I know photoshoots can sometimes feel awkward, tense, and unnatural, which is completely normal! That is why I want you and your fiancé to take a moment and think about each of your own unique personalities – what makes you you – as well as how you two are when you’re together. Are you two more on the serious side, the hopeless romantic side, the silly / playful side, etc.? Whichever it may be, show me. I want to capture that element throughout the session.
Let’s say you two are more on the silly/playful side, your interactions may include lots of goofing off, running and chasing each other around, picking each other up, tickling, twirling, laughing, dancing, jumping up and down, etc.
If you two are more on the serious/romantic side, your interactions may include long embraces, passionate kisses, gazes into each other’s eyes, lots of closeness, etc. These, of course, would depend on how comfortable you are at expressing your love for each other in front of your photographer! 😉
Do whatever it is that you do when you’re together! These things not only help to create authentic life moments, but also put you in a more relaxed environment so that you can just focus on just being with each other. Most importantly, I want you to simply have lots of fun and enjoy the shoot!
Let’s do this!