Engagement Sessions: What to Expect and How to Prepare

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At last, Spring has arrived! And with it, another season is here - engagement season.

In the photography world, engagement season is the amazing time that arrives before wedding season. And, to be honest, I might even love it a tiny bit more than wedding season! The beauty of engagement sessions are there are no constraints. The only schedule limitation is when the sun goes down, there are no people rushing around telling us where the next event is or where to go and it’s always on a good weather day. Engagements are just, in every sense, magical.

Engagement sessions are complimentary in all of my wedding collections, and there is good reason for that. While engagement photos are great, working together before the wedding day makes wedding photos so much better. And grabbing coffee together doesn’t count - really working together! It removes an unknown from your wedding day, which is the last thing you need. What is the photographer really like? How is she going to direct us? Removing that element makes my arrival the day of more like greeting a friend you already know, instead of like seeing a stranger for the first time when you are already full of anticipation. Plus, when you are more comfortable and familiar in front of the camera the photos are just plain better! Getting those nerves out at the engagement session is best.

Often, I get a lot of questions before an engagement session - what should I wear? Where should we do it? What time does it start and how long does it last? We have no idea what to do, will you help us??

Finally, I’ve decided to put everything into one place! Here you can find my top tips to prepare for your session and what you can expect. It’s going to be one of the most fun days you’ll have, promise!

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“What should we wear?”

I wish I could just say, “Wear WHATEVER makes you comfortable!” but the truth is, there are some pieces that really make a difference in your photos. The number one thing? A long, flowy dress or skirt. For the girls, that is. I wouldn’t be mad if a guy wore one too though.

The amount of movement it adds to photos is gorgeous. Movement is probably the most important thing to me in a photo.

For example, imagine this photo above if Amanda didn’t have her skirt on - sure, it’d still be really cute. But the movement in her skirt takes you there - the wind swept beach is suddenly less of a visual and more of a feeling. A photo that moves from just a picture to a visceral experience is what makes all of us love it! Skirts and dresses make it so much easier to capture that.

A lot of people say, “I’m just really not a dress girl. It doesn’t accurately depict me.” I totally get it, and I am the same way. I’m not just saying that - I’m not sure if I actually own a skirt! I still recommend finding one you can maybe make your style, and then bringing a second outfit! Photos are still awesome without a dress - be prepared for a lot of action in those outfits! Running, chasing, picking up. Again, it’s all about the movement. And of course, if you’re really not feeling the dress idea, skip it!

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That brings me to my next point. Wear something comfortable. Don’t wear anything that is tight, constraining or you feel like you’ll have to pull on to feel comfortable in. We are going to have an incredibly fun, action packed evening and wearing something you can let loose and feel good in is key!

As for the guys, comfort definitely applies. Wearing colors that coordinate but don’t match is also important, and avoiding any bright colors, clothes with text or slogans, and hats. Guys always have it so much easier don’t they?!

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What time will we start? How long will the session be?

There are only two times of day that I will shoot an engagement session - the 2 hours during/after sunrise and the 2 hours before/during sunset. Needless to say, most couples choose sunset!

The reason for this is that is when light is it’s softest. In the middle of the day when the sun is high the light is harsh, creating shadows on your face, harsh shadows and bright spots in the environment and an overall unappealing setting. Technically, the light is truly the softest only the hour before sunset (or hour after sunrise). Why do I budget for two hours then, you might ask?

I want to be able to take our time at a session. We spend a lot of time walking, talking and exploring. Having you guys share intimate moments in front of me is asking a lot, and it’s important for us to get to know each other and for the two of you to feel comfortable with me! Hanging out with my couples during my engagements is always a ton of fun - we get to know each other, talk about the wedding and just make it a good time!

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Where should we do the session?

Everyone usually has an idea of what kind of vibe they want for their engagement. Is it more city/industrial? Beach? Mountains? What reflects you as a couple and this period in your life the most?

If you feel unsure, I can tell you what I will choose - mountains. Hiking sessions are my absolutely favorite! Not just because of the scenery, but because it’s generally secluded. In city sessions it’s a little harder for couples to warm up in front of the camera - understandably, since theres usually strangers watching! I do recommend sunrise for city engagements, just so we can avoid as many people as possible.

Ultimately, it’s really about what your vision is for your engagement. And once you decide on that vision, I have plenty of specific locations to suggest!

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We have no idea what to do for photos - will you tell us?

My goal during any session is to capture your authentic interaction with each other, and posing would never accomplish that. But that doesn’t mean I just expect you guys to know what to do! During engagement sessions there is a lot of directing. I am a pretty mindful (and social!) person, so I am pretty good (bragbragbrag) on picking up on when it is a moment to give direction or when it’s a moment to step back. Needless to say, I will never leave you guys hanging! I will direct you two to run, chase, walk, hug, kiss and whisper to each other. Even though I am directing these moments, I leave your interpretation of how to execute that moment up to you. That’s how I capture moments that are unique to your relationship! When I say, “hug like you haven’t seen each other in a year!” the way each couple does that is completely different. I want to capture you, not poses!

As long as you two are interacting with each other, you can’t go wrong. Whether that’s a kiss, a hug, dancing and swaying, randomly sweeping her off her feet, or laughing (even if it’s nervously!) - all of these things capture so well. So just keep interacting with each other, no matter how you’re doing it!

Sometime’s I’ll even bring a small speaker so we can enjoy some music - nothing helps encourage movement quite like some good music!

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Is there anything else I can expect at the session?

I always tell my clients that I probably look a little bit like a spaz at engagement sessions. I promise I’m not. What I’m often doing is looking for interesting spots with good light! Even though I have been to many locations what feels like thousands of times, the light and foliage constantly changes, making for new gorgeous spots to take pictures. As we walk you’ll sometimes see me glancing around randomly - or what may look random. But I promise there’s a purpose!

You can also expect, oh, I don’t know, THE BEST TIME EVER. Photos are best with couples that are happy, relaxed and comfortable. How do we do that? By hanging out and making it a genuinely good time!

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I hope all of this helps! I absolutely love this job of mine and I’m so excited for all the incredible engagement sessions the future holds - trust me when I say, it will be some of the most fun you’ve ever had!

XO

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