Its almost Spring time thus welcoming engagement session time! This is typically the time of year these start to get on the calendar and for me that means I get to hang out with my amazing couples once again and have a blast! If you were/are weary of getting engagements photographed or just plain need to know how to prepare for your engagement session, then keep reading because we have lots of tips for you!
I get questions all the time about what to wear to your shoot? how should we incorporate these into our wedding? where should we have these photographed? so I thought why not keep it simple and lay it all out for you here as well as get some tips from a few others others such as actual couples I photographed as well as a fabulous wedding planner.
A great engagement session will show the connection that brought you together in your photos. As your wedding photographer, this is a great time for us to get to know each other. Getting use to to having your own personal paparazzi following you around and seeing the connection you have with your fiancé through the lens before your wedding day. Couples that take the time to do an engagement session have a much easier time getting into the flow of the portraits on the wedding day. Since time is at a premium on the wedding day this is very important! With the engagement session we can take our time, and you’ll both feel at ease with the process of being photographed.
Your engagement session is also a really good excuse to pamper yourselves and have a fabulous date night when the session is done, how often do you get an excuse just to be yourselves and have gorgeous imagery in the process! Before the session consider getting your hair and makeup done (a great excuse for a trial hair or make-up run) and if your hubby-to-be wants some pampering, how about a great shave at a premium barber?
I aim to capture you both in your element, whatever that may be and making it about you as a couple not about anything else. You don’t like a lot of PDA in public, TOTALLY fine! You want a more playful approach in your photos, thats GREAT! just remember to be up front with your photographer about what you love or don’t love, the is very important in the planning process.
Choosing a location can be pretty simple and its also one of those things you can over think. A few things to keep in mind when trying to figure out a location, do you have a special place already in mind for your photos? Where was your first date? Where did he or she propose? do you have a special spot you like to go together that means a lot to you? Do you want to shoot in your home together? The most important thing to think about is that this location is totally you as a couple and you feel totally comfortable there. Also do you have a theme for your save the dates? we could always find a location that fits the theme of your cards as well. Use whats around you, do you love the cobble stone streets downtown Portland, maybe a more formal outfit to mix with the rustic urban areas. Do you love to walk your dog together through the gorgeous Hoyt Arboretum, then maybe a more casual outfit would be good for that. Incorporating things you love to do together is a great way to make you both feel comfortable in front of the camera. Do you love reading together? how about heading to the library or bringing some books and set up a picnic in a park that you both enjoy. Do you love to play games together like chess or scrabble? Bring a game with you and we can set that up in the location we go to. Do you both love the beach and have a special place you like to go? Do you see a pattern here? these are incorporating things you either love to do or go together, try not to over think it.
If you don’t have any specific ideas of locations you’d like to shoot at then of course we have lots of ideas of some of our faves if you need suggestions:
Urban: Downtown Portland in the pearl, Hood River downtown, Jamieson park area, downtown Lake Oswego, Warehouse district in Portland for a more grungy look.
Parks/Gardens/Vineyards: Hoyt Aborteum, Washington Park, The Columbia Gorge on any of the hiking trails or waterfalls, Forest Park, George Rogers Park. Cooper Mountain Nature Park, Stoller Vineyards, Howell Territorial Park, Cathedral Park
Waterfront: The beach, Hug Point is amazing near Cannon Beach! Pacific City has some fave spots as well if your willing to hike a little. Eastbank Esplanande area, The docks on the Portland’s waterfront, Marine drive on the Columbia River, Government Cove near Cascade Locks. Sauvie Island has some great hidden gems on the water. Sandy River also is fun! Trillium Lake near Mt. Hood.
Mountain: Mt. Hood has tons of little spots, Also love to to the Bend area as well for some more hills and canyons. Painted Hills is a gorgeous area.
Home: Yes I love shooting these at your homes, Do you like to cook together, make cocktails, playful jumping on the bed shots, Cuddled up n the couch, etc. these can be so much fun to start off the engagement sessions before moving on to another location.
Words from my lovely Couple Elise and Louis above:
“We love love loved the engagement photo session! It was important to us to get a little feel for what it would be like to be in front of a camera and try to act/feel as natural as possible. Which, much to our surprise was super easy with you! We also wanted to find a fun and creative way to showcase the photos at the wedding (since ours were done a bit later), but using them as wedding or engagement announcements were the original thought. It was also important to have some good quality photos to remind us of where we were in our life at that time- and to remember that time in our lives. (now a-days most people only have iphone photos which aren’t great quality). We used places we visited often to feel more like it was a normal day/place or activity that we did.
Our advice; meet your photographer ahead of time! super important to feel comfortable. And, definitely start with a cocktail (or two) haha. I’d also say to pick familiar places or sentimental places. These are so nice for those added memories!”
Finding a date to schedule your engagements is easy, it depends on a couple things; Are you using these photos for save the date cards and wedding website? if so, here is some advice from Katy with Bridal Bliss.
Save the dates give you the opportunity to be as casual or as formal as you want. I love the idea of incorporating photos as it gives the guest the opportunity to see the two of you for YOU. Plus if your guest hasn’t seen a photo of your significant other or ever been around the two of you, it gives them a glimpse into how you two interact. It gives you a chance to be playful where the invite sets the tone for the event.Save the Dates should typically be sent out 6-8 months before the wedding. You don’t want to send them too early, so the guest forgets about it and sending them any later/closer to the date, might as well just be an invitation. This also allows for guests to plan financially and request the time off work as needed.
If you decide you do not want to use these for save the dates and not worry about restricting your timeframe, then I suggest scheduling these at the very maximum by 2 months before your wedding date to give you enough time to order a guest book if using these for that or simply having them printed to incorporate them that way.
Time of day to schedule really depends on the time of year, in most of my work you will find I like to shoot towards sunset giving us about 1 1/2 hours before sunset or an early sunrise session can be fun as well and less crowded depending on where you’d like to go. Now of course when our beautiful Pacific Northwest rains as much as it does, scheduling around that is also easier if you don’t want to get soaked. Unless you are down with grabbing a couple of umbrellas and soak it all in.
Elizabeth and Tim looking adorable as they stroll around this rivers edge park on the Sandy River then after a change of clothes, we head over to Marine Road on the Columbia River for a different look and some fun. You can see below they brought a couple things they love to do together like his skate board and her grandfather’s bike. Then another change of outfits into more dressier attire for a stroll on the docks.
“Engagement sessions are important for a few reasons. First, it’s such a great way to get to know your photographer. Often times you will see the photographers work online, maybe meet with them prior to booking, so you don’t really know them or their personalities too well. The engagement session is a wonderful way to get to know them and their style of photography. That way on the wedding day, you already know what to expect and will be at ease a little more having them around capturing the day. Second, I think that it’s really a great time to get pictures of you as a couple. During the planning process these pictures will come in handy for save the dates, the wedding website, guest book and more!
Have fun! Pick out a location, clothing, and props that are all fun and feel like you as a couple. If you like to dress up, then dress up! If you love flannels, wear flannels. Your personalities will shine through the more you feel comfortable and like yourself.”
This is a hot topic for sure and probably one of the most worried about throughout the planning process.
1. Dressing for the location where the shoot will take place is the first step to creating beautiful engagement photos. There are two ways to go with this, for example, if your shoot is in a nature park or woodsy area, a great outfit would probably be something more casual and basically a well put-together version of something that looks like it belongs in the scene. If we are shooting at the beach, maybe a long flowy skirt or long dress (I say long because you don’t want to be wearing s short skirt when that wind gusts) or if colder out, something more cozy. Thinking outside of the norm for outfits can be fun too and add contrast to any location! such as an amazing formal gown or a really striking accessory in the wooded areas or beach.
Stay away from clothing that is neither really perfect or really imperfect, basically everything that falls into the realm of business casual or matching outfits for the bride and groom. I personally prefer either appropriate outfits or SUPER dramatic. My usual rule of thumb is that if you can wear the outfit to your office on a regular workday, don’t wear it to your engagement session!
2. On that note, Engagement portraits are a great way to wear something that stands out and you feel amazing in! Don’t wear something you think is boring or unflattering, because that won’t be doing you an favors, so be sure to choose things that make you both feel amazing! When you feel your best your more likely to love how you look in photos so taking the extra time to get things tailored if necessary, or that fit you perfectly so you will not be tugging at it in all of your photos.
3. Choose a couple different looks. We will have plenty of time to change outfits/looks throughout the session, whether you change in your car or in a nearby bathroom, its always ok to bring 2-3 different outfits. It’s important to pick a variety of styles to get different looks. I also absolutely love it when my clients ask my opinion on wardrobe in advance–often we create a shared Pinterest board where they can share their ideas and give me a sense of the style they want to go for. From there, I can make suggestions on similar items that might photograph a bit better or that I know from experience look great.
4. Don’t worry we won’t forget the groom! The most important think when choosing outfits is to make sure that both of you look like you belong in the same photo. If you are going more formal for a look, simply make sure the groom is not wearing jeans and flip-flops but more like a slim cut suit, mix of a sport coat with a bow tie and a button up shirt. for a more casual look, darker denim and a button-down shirt or for a beach setting, maybe rolled up pants or mid-length shorts and a button down.
5. Have fun with it! One mistake I see people make quite often is keeping the clothing extremely simple and maybe a little boring. They should be a great example of your style and the current trends. I say, the more fun the better! Don’t be afraid to pull out the fun patterns, a long tulle skirt, or even a fun accessory such as a hat like below. Creating a look for your engagement photos that you love will make you feel really confident at your shoot, and also inspire your photographer to really make the most of whatever location you choose.
I really want to emphasize that I would love it if you both simply have fun with it, with eachther. I really try not to be to posey with you due to the natural feel of my style but don’t worry I help you get into these more natural posing and I promise you will warm up pretty quickly. Remember to think of this as a date with your sweetie, hold each other, love each other, play together, laugh together and most of all, have fun!