Many couples opt to take formal engagement photos, and we highly encourage this practice! Not only does it provide you with great everyday photos for your home, but it also give you an opporutnity to practice being in front of the camera. We always recommend that you have your wedding photographer take these, it helps you to get to know each other, which will make you feel more comfortable on the wedding day.
One of our favorite photographers, Brian Weitzel from BTW Photography, shared some of his tips for perfecting your engagement session. Take a read, and post your enagement photos in the Collective for us all to see!
- Wait until mid-to-late May before you schedule your engagement session.
If you are from Michigan, you could argue there are several signs spring has officially started: Tiger’s Opening Day, Oberon is launched, or the temperature breaks 50 degrees and we all run outside wearing shorts in March! Trust me, I feel your excitement. However, from a photographic standpoint, you want to wait until mid-to-late May before you schedule your engagement session, for several reasons. First, you want the ground to be dry. Whether the bride wants to wear heels or maybe there would be a great romantic shot of you and your fiancé laying down somewhere, doing so on soggy ground isn’t an option. Secondly, May’s weather is perfect for various wardrobe choices. Think dresses, sport coat, jeans, light sweaters, and layers. You can’t pull off some of these looks in the middle of the summer. Lastly, by the time mid-to-late May rolls around, the trees are in full bloom and the yellow hue to nature has turned to lush greens, offering us a variety of beautiful backdrops. On the flipside of the calendar, I try to squeeze in all of my “nature” engagement sessions by the second week of October, while colors are in their peak. Couples need to be flexible in October as sporadic rains can cause shoots to be rescheduled. If you are shooting in the city, couples can still shoot comfortably into November.
- Know what you are going to do with the photos.
Are you looking for a few photos to keep for yourselves and use one for save the dates? Perfect, all you need is one location, one outfit, and about 30 minutes for your engagement session. Are you looking to use the images in a Signature Guest Book or as part of your wedding day décor? Sounds good; plan on two or three locations, outfit changes, and two hours of shooting. Not sure how you will be using them? No problem; do something in between and talk to your photographer beforehand so they can explain some of your options. Knowing how you plan on using your engagement photos is critical in planning your engagement session. Too little time paired up with too big of plans could lead to a lack of options when it comes to fulfilling your plans. Keep reading for more engagement planning tips.
- Your location should reflect your relationship.
The first question I ask a couple when planning their engagement session is, “What do you like to do in your free time?” followed by “What are you envisioning for your engagement session?” The answers to these questions do two things: it opens up lines of communication to allow us to collaborate on the planning of the engagement session and it gives me about 80% of everything I need to plan or suggest locations for your engagement session.
Are you huge sports fans? Let throw you in some Red Wings jerseys and take a few shots in front of the Joe (so sad this was our last season there.) Notice though, I said a “few” shots. As much as you love hockey, you also want to capture some of those classic, timeless portraits.
I would say the most common combination of locations I photograph on an engagement session is part city-part nature. This gives couples two distinctly different looks and allows them to plan outfit changes appropriately. Speaking of which…
- Dress stylish, appropriately, but not trendy.
I could write a whole blog on what to wear to an engagement session. In short, everyone’s style is different; however, there are some general rules to help you pick outfits that photograph well. Here is a link.
- Too complicated patterns are distracting.
- Don’t match colors. Compliment! Nothing looks worse or more dated than matching white and khaki outfits. (The fact that I am even typing this is making me cringe.)
- Be stylish but not trendy. Don’t believe me? Anyone want to look at their awkward teenage years photos? Me neither. Fashion changes and trends change even faster. There are some classics that are both stylish and timeless: jeans with dress shoes, a tailored sport coat with a button down and pocket square for guys; a dress with heels, jeans with boots, a skirt and blouse for women.
- Add a touch of style with accessories. A rancher hat, chunky necklace, scarf, sweater, or jacket give an outfit a whole new look without having to change the entire wardrobe. It also gives you an opportunity to make your look modern. Again, just don’t overdo it. Only incorporate those accessories in a few of your engagement photos.
- Match your outfit with the location. Don’t show up to a nature shoot wearing a shirt and tie. That looks silly and out of place. How many people do you know walk in the woods wearing a shirt and tie or skirt and blouse? Me neither.
BTW Photography specializes in engagement planning tips.
- Get awkward. Get cozy. Get comfortable.
If you are anything like me, I am not a huge fan of having my picture taken. What I am a fan of though is hanging out with fiancée. There isn’t anything that makes me as happy as making her laugh. During our engagement session, I focused more on the experience and less about my picture being taken. And you know what? I loved the photos!
When I work with clients on their engagement session, we try to plan something fun and active into part of the engagement session; something that allows couples to focus their attention on the moment and less on the images being created. We have planned picnics, champagne toasts with macrons treats, ball games, boat rides, even ski trips. The more unique and “you” your engagement session is, the more comfortable you will be and the more you will love your images. Keep reading for more engagement planning tips.
Bonus: Consider connecting your vacation or proposal to your engagement session. This is the best engagement planning tip I can offer.
Maybe it is because I am still relishing in my latest Paris vacation, but photographing your engagement session while on vacation could be a great idea. There were so many gorgeous and unique locations for beautiful and intimate portraits while I was in Paris. Whether it was the Lovre at night in formal wear or quietly sipping a coffee in a café, my mind was seeing potential for portrait, engagement, and wedding images everywhere! You don’t have to go to Paris either for your engagement session; there are plenty of unique locations within a day trip or quick plane ride from Detroit.
So there you go! From a photographer’s point of view, these are the things I consider when helping my couples plan their engagement session. The more “you” and the more fun the engagement session is, the more you will love not only the photos, but the entire experience.