Tips and Ideas For Great Engagement Photos | Wedding Photographer Jeff Brummett
Engagement photos are one of my favorite things to capture. It’s a blast to get dressed up and have your photo taken in picturesque settings. But the final product does not always meet expectations. Particularly if the couple and photographer are not on the same page. I’m going to go over a few tips and ideas that will help make your engagement session experience the best it can be.
Why Have An Engagement Session?
There are several benefits to including engagements with your wedding coverage. They allow me to get to know you and the way you act around a camera. Let’s be honest, it can be a pretty awkward situation at first. Not only have we just met, but I’m directing you, taking your picture, and trying to get to know you. All this while we pretend to be in an intimate setting. For this reason, I like to work my way up to the dramatic sunset kiss type images. If we try that first thing out of the gate, it will most likely look forced and uncomfortable.
Instead, I usually find a nice spot and start with the posed photos you’re used to taking. Your parents will like these the best anyway. By the end of the session we’ll be comfortable with each other and the process that you can let your guard down. Those are the images I want to capture the most, you two being yourselves as if nobody is watching. This also helps things go a lot smoother once the wedding day rolls around. Imagine trying to get those awkward jitters out on your wedding day. There is no downtime to get to know me or how I work and vice versa. It generally leads to less natural looking images. For those reasons it is good to look at your engagement shoot as a trial run for you’re wedding day.
Engagement shoots also let you get creative. We can showcase your style and personality in a way weddings don’t. A wedding day is rarely only for the couple getting married. More often the wishes of the family are taken into account during the design process. With engagements, its completely up to you what you wear and where you go. It even allows me as a photographer to take chances and try things I wouldn’t risk during a wedding. These images should encompass what you love about being together.
How To Get the Most Out of Your Engagement Session
Since I want these photos to be a reflection of you as a couple, it’s important that you be yourselves. I will help pose you when it’s needed. I also want you do your own thing and be you. That’s why I like to place you in the right spot and then you just hang out. I direct little things to get the ball rolling but I rarely pose more than where to stand and place hands.
If a couple is more likely to be awkward (My wife and I are definitely in this group!) it will likely help to do a little trial run before the shoot. I’m not suggesting you spend an afternoon on it, but a little practice is always a good idea. Think about something you like that he does like brushing back your hair or kissing your head. Then have the two of you act it out in a mirror before heading to the shoot. By the same token, find out what each of you dislikes and be sure to avoid it. This is a big time saver and is especially helpful for the shyer of you. You may even learn a few things about each other!
What Should You Wear For Your Engagement Session?
Clothing is one of the biggest anxiety producers before an engagement session. There can be pressure to get things right and live up to those adorable Pinterest boards you have. I like to tell couples to plan two outfits (though one is fine too). There is rarely time, especially if you visit two locations, for more than one outfit change.
I like to suggest the one outfit be dressy casual. I like to describe it as something you might wear for a Sunday picnic in central park after church. In other words, it’s dressy enough for church but casual enough for a picnic in Central Park (So not THAT casual). The second outfit should be your grand finale. I picture it as what you’d wear to an anniversary date, night downtown, or a friends classy wedding. This almost always involves a dress for the woman and a dress shirt/tie/sport coat or suit for the man. Of course we always want it to fit your style. Never wear something that you don’t feel amazing in!
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind about wardrobe:
When in doubt it can be easy to underdress, especially with the casual look. When feeling stuck, always dress it up, not down.
Put just as much thought into the man’s look. So much effort is put in to what the woman wears that the men’s outfit can be boring or uninspired.
Wear clothes that fit. The most frequent mistake I see is clothes that are too big. Men are the biggest violators. Take this opportunity to tailor your suit, shirt, or pants. It makes such a big difference to your overall appearance. It can take you from sloppy to sharp.
Keep it classic. You always want to showcase your unique personality. But it’s usually best to go with fashion that will stand the test of time. If Carey Grant or Grace Kelly wouldn’t wear it, think again.
Iron your clothes. Wrinkles are not easy to get out in photoshop!
Let the fashion compliment the locations and each other. That preppy Cape Cod nautical look is awesome… But it doesn’t go with your mountaintop photoshoot. Neither does your fiancés tropical look.
Get professional make-up and hair! It will not only help you look your best, but feel your most confident. I’m happy to recommend someone.
Be yourself. Use these tips, the inspiration you find, and your own unique style. Create something that makes you feel pretty/handsome and confident.
Should I Bring Props Or Extras To My Engagement Session?
If you like the idea of props or extras for your engagements, be sure to use things that make sense. I want to capture whats real about you two. Bringing a wedding date sign or a giant heart balloon is not very realistic. Instead, think about something that fits the setting and that you two enjoy. If you drink wine often, bring a bottle and glasses. If you are in love with your dog, include him or her (be sure to bring a friend as dog wrangler as well).
The best extras are often creative accessories like hats, gloves, and jewelry. They can be taken on or off to change to feel of the images without having to completely change outfits. Also, pay attention to the weather for inspiration. If its rainy or overcast, bring an umbrella. If it’s cold or snowy, bring a blanket or earmuffs.
Styling An Engagement Session
Every once in a while I’ll have a client that has a very specific vision in mind for their shoot. We often refer to this as styling a shoot to fit a theme. For example, the bride to be might be into vintage clothing and wants the entire shoot inspired by the 1950s. This might include vintage wardrobe, jewelry, hair and make-up, locations, and florals. Be careful not to mistake this for a costume shoot though. The styling guided by the theme but we don’t want to go full Halloween.
This approach means a lot of extra effort and usually extra investment by the couple. If it’s something you are passionate about, it can be amazing. A great resource for this can be hiring a stylist. Katie Thompson with My Wedding Wardrobe offers the benefits of a personal stylist from the comfort of your home. She will listen to your vision, then direct you to the perfect outfit. It’s a great resource!
Too often I see couples blow off their engagement sessions. They end up as save the dates or put on display at the entrance to a reception. But with some effort, they can be amazing pieces of art, displayed around your home for years to come. Which leads me to my last suggestion… Print your photos! Don’t let them die with your computer or on a dusty hard drive. If you print your images with a professional photo lab, like the one I use, you will love how amazing they look. No computer screen can touch a beautiful print.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Please consider making an engagement session part of your wedding experience.
If you’re considering a wedding photographer, I’d love to tell your story. Get to know me, my love of travel, and check out more tips for your big day!