To all of my wonderful couples: when I say "you" here - yes, I actually mean you! As our exciting adventures together start with your engagement session, I have prepared some helpful tips and suggestions to help make your planning simple and stress-free!
And if you are not planning an engagement session, please stay and hang out with us anyway. These tips can be helpful for other photography sessions too.
Engagement sessions are already in full swing for this (and next!) year's weddings. And every couple has questions about what to wear, how to stand, and where to go for their session. So you are not alone in any uncertainties that you may have leading up to this session, which most of you will use to announce your engagement to the world! I have always given my couples various tips and suggestions for the most commonly asked questions before their sessions. But I decided to put all of that information here on my blog where it can live happily ever after for all of my current and future couples to easily reference. This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you have other questions - please feel free to ask me so that you feel totally comfortable when you arrive at your session.
I cannot wait to get to know each of you better, and to celebrate your engagement by creating amazing photographs together!
Below are the top 7 topics which come up the most often from couples while preparing for their engagement session:
1. Be Good To Your Bling! - If you have an engagement ring, please take the time to have it cleaned by a jeweler (most offer this service for free if you just walk in and ask!) the day before, or even the day of, your session. I love to take creative shots during your engagement session where your engagement ring is the star, and it deserves a trip to the ring spa so that it is extra shiny and sparkly for its very own photo shoot. If you do not have an engagement ring, no worries - I will get some wonderful photos of your wedding rings on the day of your wedding!
2. Be Comfortable : Most couples have two outfits for their session, one casual and one that is dressier, but this is entirely up to you. You can bring two casual outfits if you want to incorporate gear from your favorite sports teams, a certain theme related to your wedding, or something else which reflect your relationship and how you are most comfortable together. Or two dressier outfits if you want to be fancy together during the entire session! If your session will take place during the colder weather, I would suggest dressing warm, or at least bringing a warm jacket, gloves, and a scarf that you can easily slip on to warm up between background changes if you choose not to wear winter outerwear during all of your photos.
Here are some specific suggestions for outfits:
* Plain shirts/sweaters (no graphics or large images) or only really light patterns are best, and brighter colors are great in just about any setting.
* Try to stay away from stripes, plaids, or other super busy patterns - they restrict our choice of background and can be a distraction from your beautiful faces!
* Portraits with two people together are always better if you wear complimentary colors rather than matching each other exactly. Some examples would be:
- one of you in light blue and the other in medium blue
- one of you in a neutral color like khaki or tan and the other in a brighter solid color
- one of you in a pastel and the other in a tropical or brighter share of the same color (peach & orange; baby blue & navy or turquoise, etc.)
If you match each other exactly (like if you both wear jeans and a white or black shirt), you can blend into the background or into each other, and we don't want that!
* Bright jewelry, scarves, shoes, or other accessories are always helpful to add a pop of color to engagement photographs, especially if you will be wearing more neutral tones, including tan, black or white.
Arriving in your dressier outfit is usually the best option so you can warm up by changing into more casual clothes for the second half of your session if we have colder temps, or just so you can relax and we have more flexibility with locations and poses as we go along! And please do consider how easy it will be to change clothes when you choose your second outfit because you will be changing somewhere less convenient than at home. I always try to find a location with a public restroom nearby, but especially if our plan is to go off the beaten path a bit, or we are meeting after hours, that is sometimes not possible. One of my brides discovered how challenging it is to put on tights in her car because the park restrooms were unexpectedly closed! We all had a good laugh and she looked amazing despite the facilities fail, but it is definitely something to keep in mind. (*note: please don't worry that you will have to change in your car, we can always take a short drive to find an open restroom - that particular bride was apparently just up for a challenge LOL!)
Most importantly: Make sure you look like you and that you feel comfortable in whatever you choose to wear.
3. (Let's) Be Creative! - If you have any ideas for poses you would like to try, I always try to include your ideas and will ask if you have any during your session. And if you have seen any images that you like online, please feel free to send them to me so that I can try to include those poses in your session as well. But if you do not have any ideas, or you have not seen any poses that have caught your eye, do not be worried or nervous about how you are supposed to stand or sit, or what to do with your hands! I always have lots of ideas, and I will patiently walk you through several different options to find "your" poses - the ones where you are the most comfortable and which look the absolute best. After your engagement session, you will be pros, looking forward to all of the super fun photos we will take on your wedding day!
4. Be True To Your Location Likes - When it comes to choosing a location for your session, be true to who you are together and what you enjoy doing. The biggest issue is whether you prefer a more natural/rural setting like a park or a farm area with water, fields, and trees; or you prefer a more urban setting with cool architecture, cafes, and street scenes.
If either of you is not at all a fan of the outdoors, and will be upset about your shoes getting a bit wet or dirty, then a park or other rural setting is probably not the best choice for your engagement photographs, especially in the Spring when everything can be a bit soggy. The same is true of an urban setting not being ideal if one of you is bothered by crowds or city noise, which are both always possible. This is a pretty easy decision if you just consider where the two of you tend to spend most of your free time, and the activities that you enjoy doing together.
The focus of your engagement photos is the two of you and your love and interaction with each other, which I can capture no matter where we are. But it is nice to incorporate a favorite area into this first piece of your formal celebration if possible, where both of you are happy, relaxed and ready for some adventure!
5. (Don't) Be Afraid to Practice Your Prep: There is no requirement to have your hair and makeup professionally done for your engagement session - and most brides don’t. But some brides choose to visit their hairstylist and/or have their makeup professionally applied as a trial for their wedding day, or just to be pampered a bit before their engagement session! Whichever you choose, please remember (or remind your makeup artist if you use one) to only use makeup - particularly foundation and powder - which is compatible with professional photography so that your face is not shiny in your final high-resolution images. This reminder will be even more important for your wedding day.
Here are a few more reminders to help your session planning go smoothly:
* It is a GREAT idea for both of you to try on your outfits for your session beforehand to make sure that everything fits, that there are no mystery stains, missing parts, or other unexpected problems with the various items you will be bringing.
* Make sure that you like how your choices look when you stand together in front of a mirror. Sometimes you have each worn a particular outfit separately, but not actually seen them side-by-side!
* Having everything laid out for your first outfit, and packed for your second outfit the night before your session is always the best plan, so that when your schedule that day is crazy busy, you are not late for our scheduled time because you can't find the other black shoe, or one of you has "lost" an item that you were sure you could find at the last minute.
** Special reminder for the guys: make sure that you bring socks that match your outfit if you will be wearing a dressier outfit during your session. White or short athletic socks are never the best look with dress pants or dark shoes!
6. Be On Time - The best time to shoot any portraits is normally 2 hours after sunrise or 2 hours before sunset, otherwise known as "Golden Hour". This rule of thumb can be applied to any time of year, and makes being on time really important. I prefer to use only natural light whenever possible, which is 100% dependent on the sun, even on overcast days. If we get started later than scheduled, then we lose that amount of time during the session due to the lack of light. Of course, sometimes things happen beyond our control, such as unforeseeable amounts of traffic and accidents. If you are running late for any reason, please contact me as soon as you know that you will be late so that I know when you will be arriving ; otherwise, I'll worry about you! But please try to be on time to the extent possible so that we don’t lose scheduled shooting time and pretty sunlight!
7. Be Yourself : This is the most important part. I work with normal, everyday couples all the time, so I do not expect you to have any experience coming into your engagement session. Your only job is to be in love and have fun. So don’t be nervous - you’re both going to be awesome! You can trust me as your professional photographer. Just relax, smile, and allow me to be creative, and we will have an amazing session!
Thanks to everyone for closing out another week with me and my wonderful couples.
Happy Friday - here's to a weekend full of Spring weather!
* Bamboo Dreams Photography offers wedding photography services throughout Michigan, Florida & Worldwide!