Since Christmas is over and it seems like my social media feed is just COVERED in shiny rings and proposals, I know a lot of my readers have got to be planning an engagement session for 2020!
After shooting dozens and dozens of engagement sessions (and having my own done this past summer!!) I have seen first hand what does and does NOT work! It should be a fun and stress free experience, and something that hypes you up for the big day rather than gives you even more anxiety about it, so if you are new to engagement photos (I hope you are!! Haha!), then this one is for you!
The first tips I am going to share with you are from my own experience with my own engagement session. Even as a photographer, I made some mistakes.
Roman and I had the cutest sesh with Leah Naomi Photography in Greenville, SC. She did an absolutely AMAZING job capturing us in our element and we are SO excited for her to photograph us getting hitched on a mountain. However, the very first thing I screwed up on? My outfit. Eek. Okay. What a new perspective this experience gave me on what to recommend to my clients!!
Let me start by saying Roman looked great. I might be biased, but honestly, I think we got his outfit right. The first half of the session was in our sweet little AirBnb we booked specifically for the shoot, so we wanted to wear something casual. He wore his favorite jeans, a white v neck tee shirt, and went barefoot. I on the other hand wore a black Aerie bodysuit (which I usually love) and a mustard yellow jumpsuit that I realized later looks so cute from the front, but TERRIBLE from the side!! So my tip to you? When you pick your outfit, take photos in it first! I just assumed that because it looked cute in the Target mirror that it looked cute from all angles, and because of that I really regret my outfit choice. It gave me whatever the opposite is of a shape. Hahaha!
Another tip when picking your outfit is to be mindful of what you are self conscious about. For example, I’ve recently gained a few pounds and am starting to notice it in my arms, and the bodysuit I wore really accentuated (to me at least) my arms. Another example is sometimes I wear jeans that are a little too tight (don’t we all?) and it can end up giving me a weird muffin top that you can see underneath my shirt. When you look in the mirror, you’re probably standing perfectly straight and sucking in, but for your pictures, you definitely want to be more relaxed. Make sure you feel like a king and queen in your outfits.
That being said, overall I’d recommend to keep it SIMPLE. You can always bring extra accessories to spice things up, but your engagement session might not be the time to go for that off the shoulder romper you’ve been trying to feel confident in for months just because it’s in style!
The second half of our session we did outside exploring Greenville! We put this part in the hands of our photographer which was great. She’s local to the area, and we were not. She was basically our tour guide through the city and knew all the photo spots to take us. This leads me to my next tip: Make sure you TRUST your photographer. The reason that most photographer’s styled shoots are their best work is because they had most (or maybe even all) the say in where to go and what’s going to look best. As soon as you can learn to trust and be relaxed with your photographer, I can guarantee you’ll have a great experience with great images. (Even if you’re like me, and screwed up your first outfit. Our girl hooked us up!)
My next tip would be to pan for an outfit change, or even a location change like we did! When we moved to our next location, we also changed into a more formal outfit. That way, if you realize later you don’t like one of the outfits it’s okay, you prepared for that like a smart, informed individual!
My final tip that I can relate to with my own experience: Give yourself much more time to get ready than you think you’ll need!! PLEASE!!! The thing that stresses me out more than ANYTHING is when I’m rushing, and let me tell you. I had the time mixed up for our session and was putting on my foundation when Nomi texted me to tell me she was downstairs at the door. Oh. My. Gosh. Luckily she’s a sweetheart and sat with me and chatted until I finished, but I definitely did not get to relax and enjoy that part of the experience like I should have! I was stress-sweating and worried the whole time that she was going to be frustrated with me! She wasn’t, but still!
Alright, the next few tips are not from my own experience, thank god. Writing it all out makes it really sound like I messed up!! Hahaha!
Tip number…. 7? (going with that) Plan your makeup trial run, hair trial, and if you can, floral trial for the same day as your session! I know coordinating all of those things may not be possible, but if you had to pick one, get your makeup professionally done. A Professional MUA knows what products to use that will last all day, and won’t rub off on your man’s nice shirt when you’re snuggling up for photos!
Tip #8: plan a date night afterwards. This is my favorite tip!! Because I love date night! I always recommend my couples take the time to plan dinner and a movie or a walk on the beach after their session because it’s not often you get all dolled up! It’s so easy to tell yourself that you need to get home and finish the laundry or check emails, but you only get engaged once, and I think we often forget to relax and celebrate it. Wedding planning is a hectic experience, so make sure you treat yourself as much as you can!
Tip #9: Make it individual to you. For example, I had two sessions that required a hike in the Shenandoah’s this fall because both couples enjoy hiking and the outdoors and it’s something they do together often. But don’t choose that location if you hate the mountains and are more of a beach person. You can even get really creative with it and have an in home session and make breakfast together, or go to your favorite coffee shop or restaurant, or even the place you met! And if you can’t think of the perfect spot, make sure you ask your photographer for recommendations of locations that photograph well!
Tip #10: The most cliche, boring, but soooo true tip? HAVE FUN. Giggle a lot, tickle each other, snuggle up, enjoy the moment. It might feel awkward at first, especially if you’re new to professional portraits, but your photographer gets up close and personal with couples aaaallll the time, and we love it when you are able to loosen up and be yourself. Don’t feel like you have to stay stuck in a position. If you want to go in for an unprompted kiss or hug, do it!! Just love each other. We will handle the rest. 🙂