First of all, congratulations on your engagement! Its an exciting, and often stressful (planning), time leading up to your wedding day. This post is meant to help you check off one thing from your planning list… The Engagement Session.
Should we do an engagement session?
Yes… Absolutely. But why?
Engagement portraits are one of the things that are most neglected when it comes to planning for the wedding. Many people have busy schedules and trying to fit an engagement session into the chaos doesnt sound too exciting. Many people feel that they have plenty of portraits together and dont really need new ones taken. Many dont even know what to do with the portraits after they are taken, so dont really have a desire to do them. Some just do them out of “obligation” to do them. If you skip the engagement session, you are doing yourself a disservice. This is a very short period of your time together, take advantage of it and make the most of it.
The engagement session gives you a chance to work with your photographer before the wedding. That is a key to getting great wedding images. This will give you a chance to see how the photographer works, how they give direction, how they do posing, etc. Its important to get all the camera awkwardness out before the wedding day. Consider this a dry run. If there are angles or things you dont like, you can let the photographer know during this session, rather than letting them photograph the wedding and then telling them you dont like something. Its too late by then.
The session also gives you images to display throughout your home that will be different than wedding portraits. Its great to have diversity of the images displayed in your home. Its also a great way to document that part of your life for years down the road. Without the engagement session and with wedding portraits only, your family wont get a complete picture of who you are. Generally engagement portraits are more personality portraits in the sense it shows off things you like. For example, if you love the beach, your engagement portraits will likely be on the beach.
If you decide not to do these portraits, you are missing out on that experience. When was the last time you had portraits taken by a professional photographer? Most people havent had them done since high school.. and even fewer have had them with their now fiance. The engagement session gives you a chance to have an experience. These sessions consist of more than just showing up, snapping a few pictures, and going about your day. Most photographer provide a complete experience that you would be missing out on.
Picking a Photographer
The first thing you want to do is find a photographer you love. Make sure you view the images on their websites and on social media. Dont be afraid to ask them to show you full sessions so you can see how they photograph an entire session. Almost all photographers can take 1 amazing portrait during a session, which is the image you see on the website, but can they be consistent throughout the entire session? Keep in mind that the person you hire for your engagement portraits is likely the same person that you will hire for your wedding, so be sure to look at their wedding images as well. Many photographers include engagement portraits with their wedding collections.
Picking a Location
The location is perhaps the most important part of the engagement session. There are so many location options out there, it often gets overwhelming to come up with one on your own. Talk with your photographer. Many times, they can help guide you to the perfection location.
But what makes a perfect location? Is it a beach? A city? Forests? Fields?.. Start with things you and your fiance like to do. Are you beach people? If not, then doing an engagement session on the beach makes little sense. Do you enjoy the outdoors? If so, then maybe a state park would be the ideal location. Do you like the water? Maybe a location with a lake or on a boat would be perfect. Do you like to travel? Think about going to another city/state/country for your portraits. Choose a location that helps tell your story of who you are as a couple.
One suggestion!! Avoid the wedding location. Why? Because you will have plenty of portraits from there on your wedding day. Try to find a location that is different than the wedding venue as it will give you images that are diverse to display throughout your home.
This is where its important to talk with your photographer. Tell them the vision you have in and they can offer outfit suggestions. Are you doing a single outfit or multiple outfits? Multiple outfits will provide you with different looks throughout the session and is a great idea if you are using the images in something like a guest book. Also, be mindful of the location. Choose outfits that make sense for the location(s) you choose.
Think About What You Want to Order
Most couples have no clue what they want from their engagement session, but think about it before you determine your location and outfit. This will help give the photographer and idea on your thoughts. If you want save the date cards/magnets/etc, then there are certain images that are photographed for that… If you are wanting a guest book, there would be at least 10-20 portraits that the photographer would put in there. Those are 10-20 different poses.. in different locations.. with different lighting.. that will need to be photographed. This helps the photographer plan the session. If you want a large portrait for the wall, the photographer needs to shoot for that. Generally speaking, a close up portrait doesnt look good as a 30x40 on a wall, whereas, they look great as an 8x10. So the photographer would need to photograph for that 30x40. Thats not to say they wont do that anyway, but giving the photographer an idea on what you are wanting to get out of the session, will help them plan your session accordingly.
In closing, the engagement session should be a priority and not something left on the back burner while you plan your wedding. Enjoy that time that you have together before your wedding because it will fly by. And who doesnt love to dress up a bit? Take advantage of that and go out to dinner afterwards :D