Engagement sessions are a great way for you to get to know your wedding photographer before the big day. They can help you “loosen up” in front of the camera since that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It can be hard to know what to expect during your engagement session, especially if you’ve never had photos taken before. These tips will help you and your partner nail your engagement photography session so you have lasting photos that you’ll cherish for years to come.
When you’re looking for a wedding photographer, look to see if engagement photos are included (Like me!) Your photographer should be able to help you walk through all the questions you might have, like what do I wear? How do I pose? Where and when should we do this? These tips are here to help you figure out what you want with your engagement photography session.
Picking the RIGHT location
Many photographers can make any location look beautiful, and really the session is about the love you and your partner share, BUT engagement sessions are a time to let loose, be adventurous, go outside the box.
I mean, if you’ve ever dreamed about having a destination wedding, but the logistics of it were too difficult, then consider going somewhere for your engagement session (it’s a lot easier to plan for three people!)
Make sure to pick somewhere that means something to you and your partner. Did you guys meet at Sauble Beach? Do you like to go hiking? Maybe Killbear Provincial Park is where you knew they were the one? Did they propose at the top of the Crack in Killarney? My point is, find a place that makes you nostalgic and happy.
The location doesn’t have to be a “place” either. For example, if you and your partner love to go on road trips, then you might consider doing an engagement session that travels! Or you could go by helicopter!
Picking the right time of year
Figuring out when to take your engagement photos is just one decision out of many that you’ll have to make for your wedding. But don’t sweat it! Any time of year can be fun and magical!
My advice is to book your session at least six months before your wedding if you plan on printing out photos for decor, and at least 1-2 months before you want to send out Save the Dates. That way the photographer can edit the photos and send the gallery to you so you can get your Save the Dates printed in time.
Here’s a pros and cons list for each season to help you decide:
Pros: Blooming flowers, budding trees, and a warmth we had almost forgotten about. Spring is a great time of year if you are looking at doing a late summer or fall wedding. Spring sessions are great for field sessions, beach sessions, a cafe session, a picnic session and more!
Cons: Spring can be on the rainy side, trails can be mucky and bugs will be out in full force.
Pros: Long days, warm nights, summer can be a lovely time to take your engagement photos. You can do pretty much anything during your summer session.
Cons: Summer is a busy time for photographers, so their availability might be limited. Summer can also be hot and sticky. Many photographers like to schedule their sessions around golden hour (the hour before sunset) and during the summer, golden hour is usually late in the day.
Pros: Gorgeous colours, crisp weather, cozy layers, what’s not to love about fall engagement photos? Fall is the perfect time to hit the road to peep that fall foliage for your session. Fall sessions are also great for hiking or canoeing sessions.
Cons: Weather can be fickle during the fall season. Peak colours fluctuate every year, book too early and the colours might not be there, book too late and the leaves will be on the ground rather on the trees.You’ll also want to dress for the weather, think layers, boots and scarves.
Pros: The sun is normally low in the sky, extending that gorgeous golden hour throughout the day. Winter whites can make whatever you’re wearing pop (think velvet or flannel or plaid). More flexibility for photographers. Winter opens up a whole new world for engagement sessions. You could do a skating session (think a skating trail through the forest), you could do a Christmas tree farm shoot, snowshoeing and more! You could also do a cozy indoor engagement session by a roaring fireplace!
Cons: Cold weather and snow storms don’t make you want to stay outside for too long! Unless there’s a lot of snow on the ground, winter can also feel dull and grey.
Do an activity!
Engagement photos of just you and your partner can be fun, but why not add in a little something extra fun that you both enjoy doing? I find that by doing an activity, it makes it easier for camera-shy people to open up a bit more and forget that there’s a camera around.
It also helps create natural movement for candid photos. Some ideas include:
- Take a hike
- Having a picnic
- Go skating or snowshoeing
- Splash in the waves at a beach
- Rent a canoe
- Enjoy your favourite cafe
- Go sailing
- Bake a cake at home
- Go camping
- Head off on a road trip
Bring meaningful props
Props can add such a fun dimension to your engagement session. A lake-side engagement session could turn into a fun paddling session if you add a canoe and a blanket. Why not pop a champagne bottle or pack a picnic? This can also help you and your partner feel relaxed in front of the camera.
Dress like yourself
I know that getting all dressed up would be fun and exciting, but I find that the photos are more meaningful and lasting when you look and feel like yourself in the images. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear something pretty or glam, but you’ll want to wear something you feel comfortable in.
Something flowy can also add fun movement to your photos. It also helps to coordinate your clothing to your location. Going on a hiking engagement session? Hiking boots will be better than dress shoes.
Don’t match, complement
When people wear the same colour or same type of outfit, they can blend and distract from the subject, aka, your smiling faces! By having outfits that complement each other, you still get a cohesive look, without being distracting. Think complementary colours, muted tones and natural fibres to really nail the outfits.
(Still not sure what to wear? All my clients receive a What to Wear guide that gives them even more tips and tricks plus colour schemes! Also, Pinterest is a great resource!)
Not sure how to pose? Just be relaxed!
When I’m “posing” my clients, I like to direct them and then prompt them to do something, like look into each other's eyes and say the first colour you see. Basically, I want you both to focus on each other, rather than on the camera.
Let loose, smile and be open. If all else fails, just keep touching each other, like a soft caress of the cheek or a kiss on the temple. Your photographer will help you through this so you walk away with photos you’ll love for a lifetime.
Trust your photographer
Your photographer is going to want to make you both look your best and create images that will be around for generations to come. They want to make you feel comfortable and enjoy the session. It’s a great tip to meet your photographer beforehand, even for a quick coffee or a virtual call to get to know them before your shoot.