Brides frequently ask me for advice on how to get great results in their engagement photos. Of course, a talented photographer is very important. But there are a lot of factors that you yourself can control in order to achieve your desired effect.
1- Location location location. Ideally the location you choose for your engagements should be someplace that is special to the two of you. Did he propose in a garden? What interests do you share- your pets? Books? Food (yes even cooking together can yield some very romantic results)? Think about what time of year you want to do your shoot and plan accordingly. Winter engagements are best done indoors, with an architectural theme, or in the snow if possible!
2- Mood. If you want to have serious, romantic pictures of the two of you, it’s probably best not to arrange your photos to be shot in a zoo. Likewise, if you want to have some fun with them, a studio backdrop or heavy elements like statues is not always the best option. The location that you’ve chosen should match the mood you want.
3- End result. Decide what you want to do with these photos before you take them. Simply doing Save the Dates can be a short, simple session and if you will want to add text to your photos later your photographer should have that in mind when composing shots. If you want this to be a full session of the two of you, plan for a couple of hours, outfits (which I’ll get to next), and maybe some props to keep it interesting. These longer sessions are ideal if you’re planning on making an album of your photos, are big into scrap-booking, or want to take advantage of having the attention of a professional photographer.
4- Your appearance. Your attire should match the location and mood you’re going for. Engagement sessions are one of the only times, if not the only time, that just the two of you will have amazing portraits taken wherever you want. Take advantage of it! Plan your outfits to coordinate, but not match. This is the time for cute dresses and button down shirts, not jeans and sneakers. Simple silhouettes in neutral or low key solid colors are best. However, you have to use your best judgment- if you’re doing a rustic outdoor engagement shoot and wedding, feel free to bring the broken in jeans and cowboy boots. Heels are not appropriate if you’re planning on going off the pavement, but boots and flats look good with many outfits. It’s also always a good idea to bring a second outfit and a cute jacket. If you’re not usually into doing hair and makeup, consider doing it (or having someone else do it) for this occasion. The extra effort will pay off and you will look even more amazing than usual.
5- Do some local research. Some locations require permits to shoot, have public access restrictions, require fees to enter, or are closed on some days of the week. Before you commit to any plans with your photographer, make sure there will be no surprises along these lines and make your photographer aware if they will have any limitations. If possible use the internet to find examples of other engagements done in the same or a similar setting. Your photographer should be willing to work with your ideas to come up with a unique portrait session for you.