1/ Should you have one?
All Images by Avodah Photography
An engagement shoot isn’t necessary for every couple. (Perhaps photos aren’t a high priority, or you’ll have shots of other pre-wedding events – the proposal, engagement party etc.) But there are a few good reasons why it can be a great idea! Perhaps the most important is that it’s the perfect opportunity to familiarise yourself with the process - with being in front of the camera and working with your chosen photographer.
If you haven’t yet booked a wedding photographer, the engagement session can also help determine if you’ve found a good fit. If you have secured a photographer, an engagement session is the ideal moment to get to know them and get more comfortable in their presence ready for the special day! Think of it as a ‘trial run’ for the main event.
2/ Choose a location
While you’re usually restricted to a small range of locations for your wedding photos, you have far more freedom for your engagement shoot setting! Take this opportunity to choose somewhere a little different to your wedding venue, perhaps a place that resonates with you or somewhere you feel particularly at home or happy. That might be anything from a walk on the beach or hiking out in the woods to cooking up something superb at home.
Bear in mind that the visuals, quality of light and the elements you’re open to will all form part of the story you’re telling, as well as potentially affecting your own comfort level. And don’t forget that you can always ask your photographer for location suggestions or look through their portfolio for inspiration. It doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan, too, in case the weather doesn’t play ball or the place you’d set your heart on is suddenly inaccessible.
3/ Choose a time of day
From bright midday sun to golden hour to a night shoot - the time of day can greatly influence the mood and quality of your photos.
Golden hour, the time just before sunset when the light grows warmer and softer, is the most sought after time slot – it creates photos with that luminous, magical quality that lends itself perfectly to romantic portraiture. Your engagement session is the ideal opportunity to secure some sunset images. This way, if the weather lets you down on your wedding day you’ll still have amazing golden light images.
You’ll also want to consider the setting you’re shooting in, your photographer’s and your own schedules. If you fancy hitting a popular spot but want to have it to yourselves, could you do a weekday instead of a weekend, or get there for sunrise instead of sunset?
4/ Think a little about the mood/content of the shoot
Ideally, the engagement session should be as true as possible to your personalities. Think about how you’d describe your relationship and how you are naturally with each other and try to channel that when it comes to your shoot. For some couples, that might mean simple, unassuming portraits of domestic life at home (breakfast in bed, drinking tea in the kitchen), for others something a little bit silly and playful (making each other laugh, striking poses). Whatever feels true to you!
While it’s worth giving this a little bit of thought, try not to overthink it – often with a great photographer, this will manifest itself without too much forward planning. One way to build this into the engagement shoot in an organic way is to recreate a date situation. Consider taking a class together, strolling around the botanical gardens, going for ice cream or having a picnic out in nature!
Getting ready for the shoot
- 5/ Look at other engagement photos to get a better understanding of what you like. Focus on your particular photographer’s portfolio, since that will doubtless be what attracted you to them in the first place.
- 6/ Discuss with your photographer what you’ll get from the shoot – will you get the high-resolution images to print yourself (and how many)? Will they prepare an album for you?
- 7/ Plan an outfit that you’ll feel both confident and comfortable in, bearing in mind the weather forecast, time of day and what you have planned for the shoot. Try on some different ideas beforehand and have a friend or your fiancé take photos from a range of angles and even in different light to make sure you’re fully happy with the look!
- 8/ Most likely these photos will be pretty special ones – so consider whether you’d like to go all out on the beauty front by having your hair and makeup done (perhaps even a manicure - your hands and ring will be centre stage, after all!), if this will give you extra confidence.
- 9/ Remember to relax, go with the flow and don’t sweat the small stuff. It may rain unexpectedly. Your pet might misbehave when you want him/her to look angelic. Depending on the setting and weather you may get dirty, wet or windswept. Let go of perfection, focus on the most important thing – celebrating your love! - and trust your photographer to capture that love for you.
10/ Make the most of those photos
The fun doesn’t stop after the engagement session. Obviously your fabulous shots will look amazing in frames around the house or as gifts for loved ones, but you can also use them in your wedding stationery (save the date, invitation inserts, thank you cards), on your wedding website or in the wedding itself in the form of murals or a picture wall!