Your engagement photoshoot is one of the most fun things you do during the process of wedding planning. It's a time to bond with your partner and engage in a beautiful experience together while you have your photos taken by a professional! To help ease your stress, I have created the ULTIMATE guide to planning your engagement photoshoot so that the focus can stay on the fun. My goal is that you learn everything you need to know to help you get all your eggs in order for your shoot, in one shot. And ultimately, my hope is that this guide will help you have an incredible experience. Remember, the most important thing is that your engagement session is fun and you're both comfortable!
Disclaimer, here's some unsolicited advice: Don't opt out of having an engagement session! Have one specifically with your wedding photographer. AND especially if the wedding package you chose includes it! I include it in my wedding collections because I find it important to help bond with my couples. Aside from it being an opportunity to get beautiful photos, and aside from using the images for Save-the-Dates, it is truly a great time to get to know your wedding photographer and the style of her/their shooting. This on its own will help your big day go so smoothly! An engagement session will also help you feel like friends with your photographer at the end of your session. And because of that, you will feel that much more comfortable on your wedding day.
Let's get into it, shall we?!
The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Engagement Photoshoot:
1. FINDING YOUR PERFECT LOCATION & EXPERIENCE
This can be a little daunting but let's take a step back. Think about your favorite landscapes, what feels meaningful to you both? Have you ATV'd in the sand dunes and want to go back? Do you spend a lot of your time together at the beach? Have you always wanted to explore a new location but haven't yet made the time for it? Do you want to travel far for your location? These are all questions you can ask yourselves while thinking of the perfect spot for you. Your photographer can narrow down locations for your based on your interested. I do this for my couples and send them suggestions based on what they love.
Something to also keep in mind is, do you want to DO something outside of just the session itself? For example, go whale watching on a boat with me tagging along as your photographer. Or, going to a carnival, fair, or amusement park which would include eating yummy foods, taking photos with rides in the background, and actually going on rides? The possibilities are truly endless.
If you live in California, we are so blessed to have a variety of options at any distance. I created a blog post specifically for the best Los Angeles (and near-ish LA) egagement photos locations. They're at least a few of my favorite nature-filled places. Take a scroll and see if you love any of those areas! Click the button below and it'll take you to that blog post.
2. CHOOSING THE TIME OF DAY
Choosing the right time of day for you is very important. It's not just a day, it's the month, the weather, and ultimately the light. This will also impact the type of activity and experience you will have. There are two times in the day where the light is absolutely superb; about an 1hr to 1.5hrs after sunrise and about an 1hr to 1.5hrs before sunset. During these times the sun is low, there is a beautiful lightness to it (pun-intended), and everything feels like it glows. Do you love the night? Flash photography is stinkin' beautiful too and it's also one of my favorite ways to create beautiful images.
A morning beach session for example will be great light with minimal people. A sunset session with the Malibu mountains as your backdrop could be a completely magical experience. Are you morning people? Do you love sunset instead? Does the night make your hearts soar? This is all helpful in finding the perfect time. I also suggest you do your shoot about 5-7 months before your wedding day if it's possible! Specifically, to be able to use the images for your save-the-dates.
The ultimate note in this category is to find a time of day where the sun is NOT right above your heads. The goal is to have the sun behind you so when you are facing the camera, you're evenly shaded.
3. STYLING & OUTFITS
Let's start with the colors. I am a big believer in earth tones for several different reasons but the most important one is that they compliment your natural environment beautifully! This makes them very pleasing to the eye when you look back on your images. Bright colors are distracting but also can cause an unpleasant reflection on your partner's skin. So what colors are the best ones? For the sand dunes, my couple went with peach and khaki to compliment the sand and a light blue to compliment the sky colors. This is a great example of using earth tones to fit well with the environment. Here are a few more images to really nail the point.
The ultimate goal when it comes to outfits is that you are comfortable. This is so important because if you feel clunky or too restricted, it'll definitely show in the images. Ultimately, you want to be comfortable and feel beautiful.
Regarding movement and clothing. I want to help you create an experience during our session. This will include movement. A flowy dress for example will aid in showing movement in the images, so definitely consider that as an option! The more fabric the better.
Note about accessories: Wear them! I'm a huge fan of rings and necklaces and earrings. They definitely add to the images and also help show your personality. I love taking close up shots of the details and include that as part of your story -- because it is! Don't shy away from your accessories, embrace them.
4. HAIR & MAKE-UP
Your engagement session is the perfect time for your hair and makeup trial. I highly suggest you get dolled up, even just a tad. This is an opportunity to feel beautiful and to take images that are part of your love story. This is different than your wedding day in that these images document a piece of your relationship before marriage. It's a special time, it's not exactly an event you're celebrating but instead a time in your journey. That's beautiful and worth getting a little fancy over.
This, I feel, is one of the pieces of advice in this ultimate guide to planning your engagement photoshoot that can really be taken in any way you feel fits you best. The overall goal with this tidbit of info is to tell you to come to your engagement feeling beautiful as heck so that when you're there, you can just focus on having fun and being with your partner. This will help steer you away from focusing on what you look like (because you already know you're gorgeous) and instead truly enjoying your time together!
5. EMOTIONAL PREP
It can be a little stressful to know that you are going to be in front of a camera later in the day. Or even in general, let's be honest, it's not a very natural thing! So it's important to start your day with a happy and comfortable mindset. Spend time together, take a bath, make breakfast, take a drink before your session if you feel you need that to be a little less on edge about it. Emotional prep is necessary so you're able to enter your session with the mindset of having a good time. This is definitely easier said than done but not if you've put some time to really rest your mind. I hope this tidbit of advice is helpful.
6. TRUST ME TO DO THE MAGIC
Being able to rely on your photographer to do the heavy lifting during your session is big. Trust the person you've hired and enjoy the process! You've seen their work, have hopefully spoken to them at least once about the day and your plans, have bounced ideas off each other, and more or less already like them. Going in with that mindset will definitely make your experience smoother and more fun!
Naturally, my couples and I start to really know each other in the first 10-15min of a shoot. During this time, we're gauging each other's personalities and they're getting comfy with the process of how I photograph them both. Being in front of the camera is a very not-natural thing so regardless of me knowing the couple well this initial time truly is about getting familiar with the process. After this time, we're laughing and I promise you will be so much more comfortable. I am experienced and am a professional, I will make it feel effortless for you! With our guards down, it becomes a lot easier for me to photograph your love and your personality honestly. Towards the end of our session we will create a few extra creative shots together to really hit the session out of the ball park!
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PLANNING YOUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOSHOOT
Hope you thought this guide was helpful to you. If you'd like to talk about your wedding day and would like my help planning your engagement session, reach out and let's talk!!