December 7, 2019 / Preparing for Your Wedding Day
Secrets to an Amazing Engagement Session
One of my favorite things to do pre-wedding with a couple is an Engagement Session. An Engagement Session is highly beneficial for both the photographer and the couple for a number of reasons. It helps the photographer get use to your body movements and to see which angles work the best for each person while also allowing them to see how the couple interacts with one another. It also helps the couple get use to the photographer and how they go about shooting. That way when I am working with a bride on her actual wedding day she already knows and is thinking … “ok Natalie is looking out for my posture, she knows any likes or dislikes I have with my body, and she is going to be sensitive and look out for my best interest.” I am creating that trust with my couple.
So, how do we go about getting the best experience from an Engagement Session? My answer to everything is preparation.
1st We need to establish a Location. Do you like natural settings like outdoors (the moutains, a vineyard, the beach)? Museums/Gardens/Architecture (The Biltmore NC, Vizcaya in Miami, The Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida)? Cityscapes like downtown Manhattan or do you like the coziness of your own home or apartment? Pick somewhere that makes you happy and where you will be comfortable. It is important to note that if you live in tropical regions and are wanting something outside – sweating becomes a factor. I usually urge clients to not pick summer months in Florida and the lower United States just so that makeup and hair is not getting ruined.
2nd We need to factor in an activity or something of interest. For me this is the key to my engagement shoots. Having something to do, gives you that candid editorial/documentary look that does not look fake or cheesy. I like to tailor this to each client. A lot of my clients are very adventurous and want pictures at waterfalls or high up on mountain tops. This gives us plenty of discovery when it comes to locations and movement with couples. Sometimes couples want to just show their impeccable style and have several outfits planned and go to a museum or garden. With this we will incorporate walking shots and holding hands and more of an editorial feel with the surroundings. Or sometimes they want to keep it simple and go biking or eat ice cream at their favorite spots. The non traditional locations that I love more and more are the intimate sessions at the home or apartment where the couple is cooking and throwing flour or laying in bed. The important thing is we will have something to do other than traditional photos.
3rd Wardrobe/Props. BE COMFORTABLE & CONFIDENT. Otherwise it shows and you will not be happy with the end results. Pick 2-3 outfits that are true to your style. I like to mix things up a bit and have a cute look and then a more elevated dressier look. We usually start with the cute look then progress towards the elevated look for the last shot at sunset. This could be a cute dress and heels or jeans and a white button down, then we jump to a long gown and or a suit with no tie with the top button undone. Clients in the past have rented amazing dresses from Rent the Runway to get an epic dress of their dreams. Please note that even if we are on a mountain, we will beak out a dress and suit on the moutain top because the end results are amazing.
For a private session inside, wear clean and cute undergarments with big sweaters or his t-shirts for her and big socks. For him – jeans or sweatpants with no shirt, or comfy pajamas etc…
As a rule of thumb stay away from crazy patterns. Pops of colors work amazingly well if you are outside in green foliage or if your backdrop is a mountain top. Make sure you show your own unique style.
If we are going to water of some sorts we always have a pre discussion of do you want to include bathing suit shots or just jump in with clothing on and then come prepared with towels for the ride home.
Please keep in mind if you like to wear glasses or sunglasses bring them. If you play guitar and want to sing and play, bring that as well. Be unique to your individuality and do not try to be someone else.
4th Hair & Makeup. Having professional hair and makeup is encouraged. This is a great time to do your hair and makeup trial.
5th Time of Day. For the bulk of my shooting I like to do 1-2 hours before sunset. This varies at different times of the year. Depending on the activity, we need to plan for the money shot to be 1 hour before sunset. I like to do this because of the quality of light that is available at this time of day. If we are hiking then we need to plot a course on how long it takes to get up the mountain dressed etc or any other activity. We can shot at any time of day but shooting towards the end of the day is my favorite time and yields the best results.
And Lastly 6th Attitude. Bring your A game. Engagement sessions are fun. Come prepared to flirt, dance, spin, race, laugh … you get the idea. Think of this more as a date, a special bonding moment. I want to capture magic and emotions. The more fun you have the more you will love and look back and cherish these memories. Remember emotions show in photos.