CLIENT EDUCATION: How to Nail your Engagement Sessions

January 7, 2019

You’re engaged, you’ve picked a photographer, and now – it’s time to take your engagement pictures. If you’re still on the fence about taking engagement pictures, go read my post on why you should take engagement pictures.

Unless you’re a model or a professional photographer yourself, chances are you’ve got some major questions about your engagement photos. How do you decide what to wear? Where do we take them? Which season or even time of day do you take engagement photos? What do we do with our hands and will you tell us what to do?

Should I bring my dog?

[um. yes – the answer to that last question is always, yes].

Since I know you’ve got questions about how to really nail your engagement photos, I put together this post in hopes of calming your nerves and giving you some direction!

  1. How do we pick a location for our photos? There are a couple ways to tackle this question! For my clients, we typically shoot outdoors in woodsy areas, or we head to the coast and go to the beach. Here are a few things to ask yourself when trying to determine a location:
  • What type of vibe are you going for? Do you want your images to feel natural and organic? If yes – I’d suggest going for an area with a lot of earth tones [a State Park, mountain range, or the beach!]. Something else to take into consideration with this is the season you are in. Talk with your photographer about peak seasons for natural outdoor areas and plan ahead. Do you want a more modern look? Consider walking around a few city blocks, hitting up the roof of a parking garage [yes, I suggested that], or an urban park.
  • Is there a place meaningful to you two that you’d like to document this season of your lives in? Maybe you’d like to take your engagements at the place where your fiance proposed! Or maybe you two love the outdoors and frequently hike your favorite trail in a local park. Any of these places could potentially be great spots for an engagement photoshoot. Your photographer will scout these locations and help you decide if a place you suggest will work. Also take into consideration sometimes permits are required for professional photographers to work in certain places. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes it isn’t!
  • What time of year are we taking the photos in? Circling back to this topic because it’s super important! If you want Fall folliage colors, you’re not going to want to take photos in January outdoors. Same goes for the opposite; if you’re not a fan of greenery, you’ll want to avoid using the woods in Summer months for your engagement pictures.
  • Do our photos have to be outdoors? If I’m your photographer, we can totally do an indoor shoot! My suggestion is to always check with the person you’ve hired. Some photographers prefer to only work in natural light, others are down to shoot in an indoor space. Personally, I love a cozy in-home session, a coffee-shop, or even a Greenhouse!

2. What time of day will our pictures take place? Ahh! Golden Hour! Haven’t heard of this term before? This is the favorite term of many natural light photographers, because it is when all things magic happen. It’s the timeframe about 2-hours before sunset, when the sun drops justtt low enough to give you gorgeous even, soft, golden light. It’s one of my absolute favorite times to shoot engagement photos. No one is being blinded by the sun, no harsh shadows being cast on faces, and it’s pure dreaminess. For my clients,

I recommend meeting 1-2 hours before sunset, the exact timeframe will depend on the season we are in. Also, keep in mind that daylight savings time shortens our light in the Fall / Winter seasons. Sometimes clients will take off work on the day of photos since sunset is so early! In other words, don’t be surprised if you end up making an evening out of your engagement session. Call it a date night!

3. Should I get my make-up done? This is a question I get asked, a lot. Truthfully, I feel like you should do whatever is YOU. As a photographer, do I feel like professional make-up photographs beautifully? Yes. I have a long list of make-up artists I know, love, and recommend frequently. Buttt I also feel like you want to be comfortable in your own skin for your pictures. If this means skipping the glam, then skip it.

Here is the advice I give to brides time after time: If you’re considering having your make-up done, find a make-up artist that enhances your natural beauty. You’ll feel confident, beautiful, and comfortable because you won’t look in the mirror and see a stranger. It’s also a great way to work in a make-up trial with an artist you are considering hiring for your wedding day.

4. What do we do with our hands? Will you pose us? Everyone is always so worried about where to put their hands, and I totally get it! If you’ve never had professional photos taken before it’s easy to go full robot the instant the photographer lifts up the camera and points it at you. I do place my clients in certain positions with favorable lighting as a starting point, but then I utilize prompts to get them to start interacting with each other and the rest unfolds. For example: face each other, hold hands, and get realllly close together. Now try to kiss with your teeth while you smile at each other! I promise – you both will laugh hysterically trying to do this, and it’s PERFECT every single time.

I like to have lovers interact with each other the natural way two people who are in love interact. Looking at each other, laughing, smiling, and touching. Skipping, running, and piggy back rides are also totally on the table. My goal is to have my clients interact with each other in such a way where they don’t have to worry if their pinky finger is out of place. Relax and let the wind take your hair, laugh too loud, and have fun!

I hope you find these tips for nailing your engagement photography session helpful and I’d love to know your thoughts! Was this post helpful? Is there anything else you think I should include? Also – feel free to ask questions below in the comments!

Xx -Lia