Preparing for Engagement Photos
Preparing for engagement photos properly can often help alleviate the nerves that may accompany being photographed by professional photographers. Many of our couples tell us that the engagement photo shoot is the first time they will be working with a professional photographer. This may seem daunting, or leave them feeling nervous and self-conscious. We are often told things like “we are not photogenic” or “we will be pretty awkward”. It is for this reason that we have put together this guide on preparing for engagement photos. We hope this will help put our couples at ease for our engagement session together.
We love having the opportunity to hang out with our couples before their wedding day. Getting to know them as a couple and how they interact together is key for us. We often direct couples into poses, actions or locations, but this isn’t always what we are looking for. We wait for the natural movement, interactions and emotions to take over. This is what allows us to capture spontaneous, candid moments in awesome locations with beautiful light. Before we even step outside with our cameras we put in a lot of work planning for our engagement sessions. Below are a few nuggets for our couples to consider when they are preparing for engagement photos.
Keep It Real
When you are preparing for engagement photos it is important to be aware of what you are and are not comfortable with. Not every couple is kissy and cuddly and comfortable with public displays of affection. That is perfectly okay! Just make sure you tell us so we do not inadvertently make you uncomfortable. Whatever your level of comfort is, stick with it. Your engagement photos are about you, your love, and who you are as a couple. That is what we want to capture. The best way to have natural looking photos is to act naturally. One of the things we often ask couples is “what type of feel would you like your photographs to have?”
The feel of your photos can be relaxed, active, chic, formal, fun, and anything in between. There are various elements that can help build that feeling. The location, clothing, props and even the season all play a factor. However, the most important factor that goes into the feel of your pictures will be how the two of you interact. Give a lot of thought to how you want your photos to feel, because do not worry we will make them look good.
Don’t Listen to Your Photographer
Well, do and don’t listen. It is important to take the direction that we give you (move to your left, lean this way etc.) as the starting point for your photos. Once you are in a specific “pose” it is up to you to make it come alive. We cannot force, fake or photoshop emotion. We may use prompts like “hold her close” or “tickle him and get him to laugh”. What we really want you to do is interact. When you start interacting with each other you forget about us (and our cameras) and you can start to relax.
Don’t worry about smiling pretty for the camera or having the perfect Project Runway pose. Trust that we will capture your beautiful smiles and sweet lovey-dovey laughter. If you ever find yourself asking “what do I do with my hands?” the answer is simple. You touch your significant other! Touching is good. Touching is allowed. Don’t worry we won’t tell your moms. Part of preparing for your engagement session (and your wedding day) is preparing to express emotion. Laughing freely, snuggling in close, being goofy, and above all else having fun. There are three things needed to make a great photograph – lighting, technique and emotional connection. We can control the first 2 as best as we can, but the last one is entirely up to you.
Clothing, Hair & Makeup
Your choice of clothing can be indicative of the feel that you would like your engagement photos to have. Above all, choose your clothing based on what you are comfortable wearing and the type of feel that you would like your photos to have. Being comfortable is very important; if you feel uncomfortable you will also look uncomfortable. Wear clothing that is flattering to your body and that makes you feel good. When you feel good, you look good. When you are staring into your closet wondering what to wear, don’t fret – here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Choose bright, solid colours (avoid too much black) so that you stand out from the background (in the winter, don’t wear white!)
- Choose outfits that complement each other, rather than exactly match (unless you want to rock matching velour tracksuits)
- Wear or bring shoes that are comfortable and that you can walk around in. For engagement sessions we walk a lot, and if we are in the river valley we spend a fair amount of time off the paths. You can always put your nice heels on once we get to where we are going.
- Be prepared for the weather. Bring along a jacket or scarf to keep yourself warm between shots – it won’t be in the pictures so it doesn’t have to look good – it just has to keep you warm!
- Avoid slogans, pictures or emblems on your clothing. You don’t want to look like a walking advertisement!
- Ignore point number 5. If you feel awesome in your favorite sports team’s jersey, wear it!
- Accessorize! Watches, rings, jewelry, scarves, hats, glasses – they can all add an extra pop to your outfit – for men and ladies.
If you are looking for something extra special, you may choose to have your hair, makeup and/or nails done professionally for your engagement session. This can often be a great time to do a trial run for with the hair/makeup artist you have chosen for your wedding. If you do not know who to use for your wedding makeup just let us know and we can give you some recommendations.
Engagement Photos with Pets
We understand that your fur-baby is a big part of your life and we love it when couples bring their pets along as part of their engagement session. We welcome dogs, cats or any critters you would like to include as part of your session. Make sure that your pet has had lots of exercise that day so that they feel relaxed (aka tired) during the session. You may also want to bring along some treats or toys to entertain the critter (and us!).
Themed Engagement Sessions
To make your engagement session a truly unique experience and to help infuse even more of your personalities into the images we suggest that couples come up with a theme for their engagement shoot. The theme can be anything from “A Picnic in the Park” to “This is Us, Geeking Out”. We suggest bringing items or props that define you as individuals and as a couple. Another way to work with a theme is to center your engagement session around an activity like playing boardgames or spending the afternoon at the carnival.
Winter Engagement Sessions
When planning for a winter engagement session, it is important to be realistic and keep in mind your own comfort during the session. We recommend winter sessions take place in the late autumn after the first snowfall or in the early spring, which will give you the best looking snow at the best temperatures! For your winter session, be prepared to bundle up. We have all heard it a million times, but just for fun, here are some tips to keeping warm: -Wear wool socks (or even double-layer your socks) to keep your toes warm. We won’t be taking pictures of your toes, so keep them warm! -Mittens, toques and scarves will keep you warm (and can be a colorful accessory!) -Hand-warmers (re-useable or disposable) -Dress in layers: long underwear, even a pair of leggings or tights under your jeans will help keep you warm
Have a Friggin’ Blast
Your engagement is a time for celebration and for planning for your future life together as a married couple. Your engagement photos should be a reflection of you as a couple sharing your love and laughter. Love is about making a connection and we want to capture those sweet moments between two people who are crazy in love. Our advice for amazing engagement photos – dress nice, relax and have a friggin’ blast!
Preparing for engagement photos is not just for the couple or just for the photographer. Both the photographer and the couple need to be properly prepared. Open and honest communication is the best way to ensure everyone is on the same page. Engagement photos are a fun way to get to know your photographer, and a great way to express yourselves.