I get a lot of questions about engagement sessions. My clients have often never been professionally photographed and are therefore understandably nervous about getting in front of the camera. So I thought it might be helpful to answer a few FAQs for anyone considering an engagement session.
Why should we have an engagement session?
Obviously, engagement sessions mean different things to different people. Some are specifically looking for an image to use for save-the-dates or want a big photo for their friends and family to sign at the wedding. Other times, the motivation is a bit more subtle.
My thinking about engagement sessions is that they are a way to capture how you really were before you got married. On a wedding day, it can be hard to show life. You’ve got a lot going on, it’s a huge day – a lot of emotion, family drama, etc. – and there’s a huge party going on. An engagement session is a quiet, personal look into your lives pre-marriage.
Where should we go?
I always encourage my couples to pick somewhere meaningful for their engagement session. Sure, we can rock out whatever old park you like or cherry blossoms or whatever. But wouldn’t it be neat to go to the place where he proposed? Or hang out in your neighborhood? Or go horseback riding? Or scope out your local library? (That’s where George and I did ours.) Bonus points always for activities. Maybe you guys like to cook and we should go shopping at the farmer’s market and then you can make something together. Maybe your favorite thing ever is hiking and we should roll out to one of your trails. Whatever it is that speaks to who you are as a couple is what I want to include in your engagement session.
What happens at the session?
I keep my photo sessions as low-stress as possible. “Stand over there and hug each other” is a cue I might give. Some people are instantly cuddly and giggly – others are a bit more reserved and I have to tease it out. I make fun of you, make fun of myself, joke about how exciting and fun picking out centerpieces is, etc. If it makes you laugh, I’ll say it.
How long is this going to take?
Oh, hello mens! Nearly every guy I’ve worked with has had this question. I don’t like to put any strict time limits on photo shoots, but most tend to last around an hour. That’s enough time to get you guys tired enough that you’ll stop fake smiling and actually have a good time!
What should I wear?
I (sort of) covered that in this post. It’s on my to-do list to flush that out and make a real post out of it but for now, that should get you started with some tips and examples. Some people like to bring a change of clothes and I’m cool with that – as long as it’s not a bunch of stuff that you need to keep putting down or hanging up. Bring as little stuff with you as possible so we can keep moving.
Should we bring props?
Aaaand hello ladies! The blog world has everyone thinking that props are where it’s at for photo sessions. A pinwheel here, a piano in a field there. I can work with that, if it’s what you guy want, but I personally think it gets in the way of showing who you are. If you’re bringing a chess board because you play chess all the time, then by all means! I always ask my couples to look to the future – what are you going to want to see of yourselves in 10 years? I doubt it’s a “themed” shoot. Then again, if you’re the crafty, DIY type…
Should we bring our dog?
Yes and no. And it depends. A lot of couples want to incorporate their pets – part of the family and all. But they are unpredictable. And they must be watched. This can be very distracting and can really be a drag on a session. I move my couples around a lot to different spots, try different ideas, etc. If we’re constantly tying and untying a dog or trying to get the dog to look at the camera, it kinda ruins the vibe. If we’re shooting close to your home, maybe we can do a halfsies session part with and part without the dogs – that is my ideal scenario.
What if we book you for an engagement session and then want to hire you for our wedding?
Um… awesome! So you’re not ready to book a wedding photographer yet, but you want to get your engagement session on. And then you love me (because that is what happens, y’all) – do you get a discount? My answer is: of course. I always have special portrait/engagement pricing for wedding clients and I’ll deduct the difference between a “wedding client” engagement session and a “regular” engagement session.
I have another question!
Ask, ask! Feel free to ask any other questions direct to me or in the comments – I’d be happy to speak to any other queries/concerns. Hope to hear from you soon!