Years ago, I remember scrolling through my Facebook feed glancing at people’s engagement shoots and finding the whole thing very odd. Why are they walking by this barn in matching plaid scarves or jumping into a pile of leaves? Is that something they normally do? Why don’t people do shoots of themselves eating cereal and watching TV? That would less artificial, I thought. I definitely came around to the idea when I got engaged and will fully admit, I was so wrong!
When friends or clients ask us about engagement shoots, I am an advocate. It is a chance to build a relationship with your photographer and practice for you and your fiancé to spend an extraordinary amount of time staring at each other and holding hands. On the day of your wedding, there will be a lot going on, and depending on your timeline, you may not have as much time as you expected to get shots of just the two of you. Your engagement shoot is an opportunity to take photos in a much more relaxed setting and will help you get comfortable in front of a camera.
Review Photographers Packages. Many photographers include a one or two hour engagement shoot in one of their packages or will add on based on their hourly rate. If not, try to negotiate it in the contract or ask if you can do the engagement shoot in lieu of an hour of coverage at your reception ( you only need so many shots of your friends from college partying for the album).
Scout Locations. Photographers will often assist scouting areas prior to shooting but typically leave the actual locations up to the bride and groom. Locations that have sentimental meaning or reflect your personalities always add a special touch. When you have a meaningful connection to a place, it makes the experience a little less awkward. Of course, if you pick a location based solely on its picturesque quality, that works too. Pictures of you standing on the steps by the Eifel Tower likely can’t go wrong!
Look Good. Spend the extra time and money, if needed, on looking your best on that day. Getting a nice haircut or a blowout and planning your outfits ahead of time will make a big difference in how the photos look. If you plan on wearing makeup, remember that you have to wear a little extra for your efforts to be reflected on camera. Photographers will take close ups, especially of your hands, so ladies and gentleman, don’t be afraid to get a manicure! When it comes to picking the right outfit, remember that bright or jewel tone colors will really stand out in photos. If you do opt for black, make sure the outfit is well tailored, flattering and has an interesting element to it. I once saw a shoot done with a black ball gown on the beach and the effect was stunning. And while I am not a fan of the matchy matchy look, make sure you and your finance’s colors are not clashing and that you are dressed for the same occasion. Wearing an evening gown next to someone in a baseball jersey sends the message that someone did not get the memo.
Feel free to bring your furry friends. I have seen some really well done shoots that include pets. As both of us are dog owners, we know how meaningful it can be to incorporate a pet. If you have a dog (or turtle…)I that you want included, make sure their temperament will sustain standing still for some pictures. And no matter how well behaved, have someone on hand who can care for them after the first fifteen minutes or have plan to keep them somewhere where they will be safe an entertained. Dogs can be unpredictable and you won’t want to spend time wrangling them, messing up your outfits and frustrating the photographer.
“As we are both dog owners, we know how meaningful it can be to incorporate a pet”
Multipurpose the photos. The great thing about an engagement shoot is that you can utilize the photos pre and post wedding. Couples often use their photos for a save the date, their wedding website or guestbook. After the wedding you can frame one or two of the photos or create a photo book as a keepsake of a time when you were ten pounds lighter and very much in love.
Every couple has their own style so do what makes you feel best. Just remember to take it seriously by putting some thought into it beforehand. You won’t regret it!