Engagement sessions are a great way to know what it feels like being in front of the camera and to feel comfortable with 'posing'. It's also a good way for us to get to know one another, while making beautiful images! I know planning for your engagement session may feel like a daunting process, so I've put together a guide to help you plan out the best engagement session for you lovebirds!
Now I want to make it clear that this is just a guideline and not something that has to be followed step by step. The end goal is to have your engagement session focus on your love, not about the location and what you're wearing. But for the sake of this guideline, lets talk about choosing a location that speaks to you as a couple and some outfits that will make you feel like a rockstar!
Choosing a location can be overwhelming. There are lots of options out there, as well as a lot of Pinterest ideas that can make you change your mind a hundred times. The key to narrowing down a location is to pick something that reflects both you and your partner. Picking a location based on your interest is a great place to start. I want you to pick a location where you can feel the most comfortable and relaxed. So if you don't like the beach or the city, then I would avoid choosing locations based on something you've seen on Pinterest or other engagement photos. Other things to think about when choosing a location are:
Do you want an indoor or outdoor location?
Do you want to include an activity you enjoy doing together? Biking, hiking, picnic, drinking coffee or beer etc
Does your location have variety? If you're wanting to do both city and nature, make sure to pick a location that can offer both.
If you're choosing a location like a coffee shop or brewery, you might want to double check if the establishment you've chosen will be okay with you photographing in their shop. Some places have a strict policy and its best to be prepared. Also, if you have a location like the Sea to Sky Gondola or Bloedel Conservatory, be mindful of their hours of operation; we would hate to feel rushed while doing your engagement session.
I love shooting in natural light, and the best time to shoot is during sunset. It gives the most flattering light and provides a romantic setting. Depending on which month you decide to do your session, be sure to check what time the sun sets. Normally I start the sessions 2 hours before sunset, but of course we'll chat about exact time and place to meet!
If you've decided on an outdoor location, make sure you come prepared for that specific location. If we're heading out in the woods, you might want to bring bug spray and appropriate shoes. If you're worried about getting your shoes dirty, I would bring an extra pair just in case... or go barefoot! Another thing to keep in mind is the weather. Dress according to the weather, or at least be prepared for it. Bring jackets, umbrellas, rain boots, etc. Preparing for these elements will help you feel more comfortable and allow you to focus on each other! The more comfortable you are in your environment the more relaxed and authentic your photos with be!!
I know that finding the right outfit for your engagement session can be a daunting process, and before you begin scrolling endlessly through Pinterest, I want you to consider a few things first when it comes to choosing your outfits. Ultimately, I want you guys to look like yourselves.
When choosing an outfit for your engagement session, the first thing I want you to consider is "AM I COMFORTABLE"? My goal during the engagement session is to make you feel comfortable and at ease. If you are wearing something you hate or feeling awkward in, it may translate into the photos. The only thing I want you two to focus on is each other, and it will be hard to do that if you're uncomfortable with what you are wearing. I recommend wearing something you've worn already, for my shooting style relies heavily on getting you two to move around and being relaxed together. So choose something comfortable enough to sit down and run around in.
DRESS FOR THE LOCATION
Choose outfits that make sense for your location and weather conditions. If we are going to be hiking through the mountains, bring shoes that are comfortable and sturdy. If we are shooting in the snow, make sure you bring a warm jacket and shoes that are appropriate. I wouldn't want you to freeze to death for the sake of a shot. The sessions are 1-2 hours long and if you decide to wear a dress in the snow, make sure you are well prepared and have lots of layers. If you are thinking of doing a formal dress in nature, make sure it's something you can easily move around in. I would also stay away from doing heels, unless we're in the city!
When it comes choosing colours for your outfits, I would recommend sticking to neutrals and earth tones. Neutrals don't just mean, whites, greys and browns, every colour has a neutral tone which is a muted version of a color with the same hue. The colour swatches below are examples of neutral and earth tones that work really well when selecting your outfits.
When picking a colour, keep your location in mind. Choose hues that match your surroundings, like wearing grey-blue near the ocean, rose pink during sunset or burnt orange during the fall. This is a great way to balance the focus between you and the environment. That being said, if we are in the forest, I would try and stay away from dark green or brown. Instead, choose colours like heather grey, beige or mustard yellow. Complementing your surroundings is great, but we want to make sure you stand out from the scenery.
I also recommend staying away from overly bright, fluorescent and distracting colours. We don't want your outfits stealing the show as we ultimately want the focus to remain on the two of you! Of course, if you are going to do a bright colour make sure that your partner is wearing muted tones and a hue that complements your outfit choice. Now, normally I am a huge fan of black and white, but when it comes to choosing an outfit, make sure there is a good balance between light and dark. For example, don't do a black shirt with black pants; create a contrast within your outfits as well as your partner. Additionally, if you've decided on a white top, and your partner decides on a light grey, make sure that the colours are different enough from each other so you don't become one big blob!
When choosing outfits with bold patterns like floral dresses or flannel shirts, make sure that only one of you is wearing a statement piece. For example, if you are wearing a flannel shirt, and your partner is wearing a white shirt, with grey stripes - even though you've chosen a neutral colour, having two patterned shirts can be distracting.
I normally would like to avoid loud and crazy patterns, but if you've already got an outfit in mind, let me know so we can choose a location that would complement your outfit! For example, if you want to do a floral dress with vibrant colours and bold patterns, I would avoid locations with too many textures and colours. If you want to choose an outfit with a pattern, I would choose subtle patterns (like the image to the right). The pattern is not distracting and the colours complement the environment quite nicely!
When thinking of props it doesn't have to be "I love you signs" or "save the date banners". Props can be as simple as being part of your outfit like a hat or sunglasses. Whatever props you want to bring, make sure it makes sense with your location and outfit choices! Some more ideas for props are food, drinks, motorcycle, camper-vans, campfires, kayaks, paddle boards, blankets, bouquet of flowers, smoke bombs and even your household pets!! (Honestly, bring your pets!!!). * If you are thinking of getting a bouquet for your session, let your florist know the colours of your outfits to complement one another!
A lot of people ask if its necessary to have their hair and make up done for the shoot! I definitely do not think its necessary especially if its not your thing, but of course if having your makeup professionally done before a session makes you feel your best, then definitely do it!! Most of my clients book their hair and makeup trials before their sessions to get the most out of it. I suggest scheduling your makeup to be done at least 1 hour before the session begins so you aren't late. If you're thinking of doing an up-do for your wedding day, I would request your makeup artist to leave you with a more relaxed looked for your trial. Engagement sessions are more relaxed and up-do's can look overly formal (unless that's exactly what you're looking for). * If you need suggestions for hair and makeup artist, just let me know and I can refer some talented artists your way!
BREAKING THE RULES
Now that everything is said and done! There is definitely no harm in breaking a few of the rules! Like I mentioned earlier, these are just "GUIDELINES" to help you narrow down your options. I am definitely not a style guru, nor am I claiming to know anything about fashion. These are just some things that I have observed to work well during engagements sessions! At the end of the day, I want these photos to represent who you are as a couple, and if it means wearing bold colours or all black, then I would want you to choose something that will make you feel your best! These photographs are for you and I would want it to represent who you are!
LAST MINUTE TIPS
Have at least two looks! I recommend a semi formal and a casual look.
Bring options for your outfits! It's not because I don't trust you to pick something nice, it's always best to have a few options to pull from!
Iron your clothing! Don't let those wrinkles be a distraction.
Moisturize! Summer and Winter days can leave your skin dehydrated, make sure to moisturize those hands and lips for close ups!
Get your nails done! Make sure your nails are ready for all the close detailed shots.
Bring drinks and snacks! Make sure to keep yourself well fed and hydrated during the session!
Guys - If you're looking to do a formal look and don't have a suit available, look into renting a suit rather than buying!
Avoid logos or branded clothing.
Choose outfits that you can easily move around in.
For more outfit suggestions visit my Pinterest board.
If you have questions regarding your shoot, feel free to email me!
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND!
TURN AROUND TIME
The turn around time for delivering your engagement sessions are 2-3 weeks.
SAVE THE DATES
If you're thinking of using your engagement photos for your save the date, make sure to let me know. That way, we can schedule your session and have your photos ready before you need to have them sent out.
If you're not using your photos for save the dates or invites, but are thinking of making a guest book and/or prints for the wedding. Make sure to allow additional time for, editing, album design, and ordering your book.
As you know, the weather can be very fickle and it's never a guarantee when scheduling. If you're wanting your photos done on a sunny day, I would suggest to schedule them during spring and summer months. Since spring and summer months are right into wedding season, my weekends are very limited and majority of engagement sessions will be booked during a weekday. Luckily, the sun sets much later during those months and can be scheduled later in the evening.
Since weekends are very limited during wedding season, if a weekend is booked, it would have to be a rain or shine situation. Weekdays are more flexible, so if the weather does not comply, we are able to reschedule to the next available date!
LET'S GO HAVE SOME FUN!!!
Now that we've got all the nitty gritty details are out of the way, it's time to have fun and enjoy!!! The session will be about feeling confident in front of the camera, easing into the poses, getting to know one another and making some killer photos together!!! Our main goal is to create fun, authentic images that represent you as a couple. The main focus will be about the two of you and your love! Don't let the minors details get to you, for even if you choose a dingy back alley and wear matching neon jumpsuits, I promise I'll make your photos look authentic and make you look AMAZING!! Now let's go shoot!