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What Makes For A Great Engagement Picture Session?

Congratulations! You are engaged! To be married!

Take a beat and enjoy this moment. I know you are probably being inundated with questions abut your wedding and happy texts from family members and friends such as "when are you getting married?" "what are you going to wear?" "do you have a ring and can I see it?" "where are you getting married?" "I can't wait!"

So, breathe.

And take a moment to enjoy being with your love and block the outside world for a while.

What are engagement pictures?

Engagement pictures are an opportunity to document your relationship. It is the first of many moments in your wedding journey that deserves to be recorded and remembered.

So, what makes for a great engagement picture session?

The quick answer is one where you are having fun in a place that you love and that speaks to your relationship. Pictures are a moment frozen in time, and you want that moment to be truthful. So, if you like cuddling on the couch at home, have an in-home lifestyle session and use one of those photos as your engagement picture. Or if you like hiking, do that together and have a photographer tag along! But please don't get flowy dress beach photos if you and your boo actually don't like the sun and sand (no matter how beautiful the picture will be!). Let the picture be true, because that memory is even more special. And it will also show others who you are.

Why should we invest in an engagement photo shoot?

While engagement pictures are not a necessity, they are worth taking the time for. The first and most important reason to invest in an engagement session is that it is a fun date and an opportunity to laugh together. It is a time out from wedding planning and a chance to celebrate the journey that you are on. Going on dates and building memories with your loved one is important. While we often don't remember the day-to-day, we do remember special occasions and your engagement session should be special and fun for you both.

In addition to having a great time together, this is the perfect opportunity to get comfortable in front of a camera before your big wedding day. You get to try out different poses and also learn to ignore the lens and focus on each other (this can be a skill especially if you are shy!) I recommend that you get engagement pictures done by your wedding photographer, as it gives you a chance to build a report with them. After all, you want a wedding photographer that you will really jive with since you will be spending most of your wedding day with them! This is a perfect trial run to get to know each other and see how they work.

Chances are that you don't often have your picture taken. By working with a professional photographer, you will get more comfortable in front of the camera. A professional photographer can help guide you in poses to look natural and at ease, rather than stiff and awkward. Practice and working with a professional photographer are especially important if you want candid and romantic shots on your wedding day, as they will know how to set you up for success no matter how shy you are.

And lastly, you will have professional pictures to use for all your pre-wedding announcements like save the dates, invitations, and your wedding website!

When should we take engagement pictures?

If you have researched photography, you know that we photographers love golden hour. Golden hour is that time of day when the light is just beautiful. Golden hour happens one hour after sunrise or in the hour before sunset.

You will also want to figure out how many different locations or looks you want to include in your engagement session and allot enough time for changing and driving.

As for season, all seasons are beautiful for engagement pictures. Think about what you love to do, and plan your pictures around that. If you love to ski, why not have a ski engagement photo session? If you are getting married in the fall, do you want your engagement pictures to also take place during fall foliage season?

Lastly, what will you be using your engagement pictures for? If you are making an announcement on a certain date, you will want to leave plenty of time for you to print your announcements so that they land in your family and friend's inboxes on time.

How should we prepare for our engagement session?

Eat breakfast.

Yes, I said that. You want to make sure that you are in a good mood and aren't hangry. If you are like me, I rely on a good breakfast to get me started (or at least a snack). So yes, eat breakfast.

Other than that, you will want to chat with your photographer about timelines, locations, and your vision. Your photographer is here to guide you. We've done this a lot and seen a lot, so we usually have an answer to your questions or advice for the day.

Be ready to have fun, smooch your boo, and laugh!

What should we wear to our photoshoot?

You want to feel confident, so wear something tried and true. Something where you look at yourself and think "I look frickin' awesome!"

I usually don't recommend that clients wear something that they are putting on for the first time that day. You want to feel like yourself. Even if you do buy something special, maybe use it as an excuse to dress up and go on a date!

Some other tips include:

  • Bring multiple outfits or be prepared with multiple looks. This can mean layering sweaters, rolling up sleeves, or a complete outfit change. Many clients want formal pictures in addition to more candid "day in the life" pictures.

  • Dress to your personality. So if you like accessories, YES! Accessorize!

  • T-shirt or button down? I'm a big fan of button downs because they are so versatile. You can unbutton some buttons, roll up sleeves, and more. Plus the stiff collar frames a face really well and brings the attention to your eyes.

  • Stay away from logos. I don't think I need to elaborate on that.

  • If you want timeless pictures, stick to a neutral color palette.

  • Don't be matchy matchy. Contrast is beautiful.

  • Bring one accent piece- maybe a colorful scarf or hat. Or maybe you would like to wear a bright dress in some of your photos? Color pops especially nicely in the snow.

  • Yes, you can bring your dog! Please bring your dog :) Or if it's an at-home session, let's include your cats and bunnies and lizards.

  • Bring accessories. Some ideas include a plaque with your wedding date, picnic blanket, a favorite treat, or anything else that is meaningful to you.

  • If you are hiring a hair and make up artist, use this opportunity as a trial run. And also as an opportunity to get pampered. This is a date after all!

  • If you have ring(s), give them a good clean ahead of your session. Even better if you can get them professionally cleaned. Many jewelers will offer this for free to you if you purchased your ring at their shop. And if you are wearing your ring, consider getting a manicure since your hands will be photographed A LOT!

Where should we take our engagement pictures?

You want to take your pictures someplace meaningful to you. Or doing something you've always wanted to do! Your pictures tell a story, after all.

Some questions to get you started brainstorming on photo locations:

How did you meet?

Where did you get engaged?

What's your favorite food?

What do you do on weekends or where do you go?

Is there a trip you've wanted to take together and could you do engagement pictures there?

Anything else we should know about planning an engagement session with our photographer?

Communication is key, so talk to your photographer before your session. During your session, it's important to trust them- they know what they are doing. Photography is a collaboration between you and the photographer. Be willing to take some risks and trust the creative input. Whenever I take pictures for my couples, I'm trying to capture the essence of their relationship and their love.

I love love. But some couples are a bit more shy than others. If you aren't into huge amounts of PDA like touching and kissing, that's fine! We will get some great pictures of you playing and having fun together.

The most important thing is to make your pictures true to you. And whether you hire a professional photographer or just have a little photoshoot with a self-timer, have a good time and remember why you are getting married in the first place!

A black and white image of a couple kayaking together during their outdoor adventure engagement session with Outdoor Chronicles Photography in Great Barrington Massachusetts.

Molly is a wedding and elopement photographer based in Upstate New York. Contact Molly today by clicking here to book your free consultation call and receive the Outdoor Chronicles Photography 2020/2021 Pricing Guide.


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