The excitement of being newly engaged shines through on the pictures and capturing that moment forever!
When you hire a photographer for your wedding, you want them to capture your ceremony, your reception, and shots of you and your guests throughout the event. You also want them to get images of your décor details, the bridal party, and everyone enjoying the wedding. Because most couples are not used to being followed around by cameras all day (unless you’re a celebrity, who would be?) it’s often recommended that you have an engagement photoshoot session with your photographer. This way, you can get comfortable with each other before the big day. This comfort will come across in photos, so it’s nice to build a rapport with your photographer well before your wedding. We spoke to professional event photographers to get the inside scoop on everything from when to book and what to bring; here is what to know for an engagement photoshoot.
TIMING OF AN ENGAGEMENT PHOTOSHOOT
There’s no hard and fast rule on when to book your engagement session. But as Grace Stillman of Grace Stillman Photography says, if you time it right, you can then use those images on your save the dates. “If I had to put a timeline on it, I’d say 6-12 months prior to the big day.”
“I think the session should be one of the first things you do after you get engaged!”Melanie Gullixson, Eliza Rae Photography
Melanie Gullixson of Eliza Rae Photography recommends booking your engagement shoot as soon as possible to capture your initial excitement, “I think the session should be one of the first things you do after you get engaged! The excitement of being newly engaged shines through on the pictures and capturing that moment forever and sharing it with your friends and family is so important.” But, she does say it’s really up to the couple. And if you’re looking for your engagement photos to look strikingly different from your wedding, you might want to time the session accordingly, “For example, we’ve had couples wait until there was snow on the ground, because they were having a summer wedding.”
CHOOSING A LOCATION
Depending on the vibe that the couple wants, and whether they want a city or more natural background, Anna Kostochko of Anna Ko. Photography likes to use locations that have special meaning to the couple, such as parks or coffee shops. Gullixson turns right to the ‘gram to get inspo for location, “We ask our clients to create a dream board on Pinterest or Instagram to share it with us. (*Most brides already have one!) It helps us to learn their style for editing, also giving us ideas for location and time of day based on what they’ve sent. We also ask if there is any place that is meaningful to them that they would like to incorporate, like place of proposal or first date? Someplace where they feel comfortable and can have fun and just be themselves.”
WHAT TO BRING TO AN ENGAGEMENT PHOTOSHOOT
Stillman says location can often dictate what to wear and what to bring, “Sometimes the location helps make the deciding factor on what to wear. If you’re outdoors then make it more casual. Or if you go to a garden, maybe more romantic and a dress. If there is hiking, then definitely plan on bringing a change of shoes for that venture.” Stillman works to assess the vibe that the couple is going for in order to figure out what the couple should wear, “Do you like moody? Airy? Do you like candid poses? How does their work make you feel? You go from there and work together to come up with attire that suits both parties.”
Gullixson advises that it’s not just clothes you should think about bringing, “Whatever props they would like to incorporate; if their wedding is going to have a specific theme, bring something fun to include. Nothing is too weird! We’ve had a couple bring fishing poles because he caught the one! Bring a couple of different outfits if you’re unsure. A good photographer will help you chose the right coloring for the location. I also believe you should bring clothes that you are comfortable in! We want our couples to be truly in the moment during the session and not worrying so much about how they look.”
And Kostochko brings up some practical items to bring, like bug spray if it’s mosquito season, and a water bottle to stay hydrated. And to give the bride a preview of the wedding day, “I always ask girls to bring at least one long dress, it will give them the idea of moving and the flow of being in the wedding dress.”
OTHER BENEFITS TO AN ENGAGEMENT PHOTO SHOOT
Besides getting comfortable with your shooter prior to your wedding day, an engagement photoshoot gets you comfortable with the camera itself, “I will help them pose and will always guide them and relax them, I am a really shy person in front of the camera and I know how it feels, to feel awkward in front of it, [but] I know some tricks,” says Kostochko. See Anna’s work on this stunning real Minnesota wedding here.
And for photographers that have different styles, the engagement session is a great time to decide which style is right for you, says Gullixson, “At Eliza Rae Photography we shoot two very different styles. One of us is more candid shots, while the other is more portrait style. The engagement session is a great time for our Bride and Groom to see how we shoot differently and how we work together as a team to get you a classic and timeless photo.”