1. Think of your engagement shoot as a pre-wedding trial that is relaxed and low-key:
We all know that it is a good idea to get a hair and makeup trial before the wedding, so think of this as the same idea but with photos. My goal is that you feel completely at ease on your wedding day. The engagement session is a time for us to have fun, get to know each other and put together a shoot that is a reflection of you and your relationship. NOTE: I recommend scheduling your makeup trial pre-engagement session. Although professional makeup is not necessary, it does make a difference on camera!
2. Wear something you feel comfortable in!!
This may be one of the most important things that I try and convey to my couples. For example, if you opt for something too tight, you maybe adjusting constantly and uncomfortable. Certain fabrics irritate the skin. We do not want your clothes to take away from the comfort + ease of the session! I would recommend keeping it simple and authentic to your style and comfort zone. Wear something that makes you feel attractive and yourself. Since most CA engagement sessions are outdoors, I recommend long dresses that flow with the wind for the ladies, and a nice button up for the gents. Incorporating sunglasses, scarves, hats and other accessories is a fun way to switch it up, too!
3. Think about the whole picture: location, time of day (when does the sunset?), and the overall vibe you are going for:
Prior to setting a final location (or multiple locations), I encourage my couples to brainstorm about places that they feel connected to. Whether it is your living room, favorite neighborhood for date nights or your favorite hiking trail. Think about locations and activities that most represent you. Do you go to the beach with your dog on the weekends? Do you have a favorite neighborhood park? Are you fans of urban architecture? Once you have an overall idea of what you are envisioning, I can help you fine-tune location details and times that are ideal for lighting.
4. Timing + Lighting: Schedule your session around the sun:
Next steps: think about timing + lighting.
Lighting: Part of my deepest inspiration is from the sun. “Golden Hour” is a term you will often hear in the photography world. When the sun hits the hills, horizon or is bursting through the trees, light becomes golden and diffused. It is epic. Once the sun has set, the light will be evenly lit and soft. Make sure to ponder what kinds of light and mood you are attracted to, and communicate with your photographer.
Timing: Timing is everything! A great example of how important it is when clients are eager to capture the Golden Gate Bridge in the background from the beach in San Francisco. In this case, I would strongly recommend scheduling a weekday shoot to ensure we have the beach to ourselves, and it is not flooded with families and tourists. Overly crowded places can change the vibe entirely. Next, I would look at the weather report, tide chart and the sunset to schedule timing accordingly. Your photographer should be on top of these details, but if they aren’t – this is extremely helpful advice!
5. If you have a strong vision and ideas, tell your photographer! The more information the better:
Every single couple is different. That is part of the beauty! However, I urge my clients to communicate with me when they have a fine-tuned vision. Some people are much more attracted to a lifestyle, playful approach than others. Some people prefer a very curated, editorial aesthetic. I always make sure and send full engagement sessions to my clients so they can see my style and approach. If you have anything to add, I am open and love to learn as much as possible pre-shoot.
6. When in doubt, look at each other, hug or kiss:
The reality is, this is about you two and your love for one another. Being in love and planning a wedding does not mean that you feel comfortable in front of the camera at all times! The last time I had professional portraits taken was likely at a high school dance, so I get it. The goal is to feel relaxed and at ease and yourself. The best way to do this is to engage with your partner and remember why you are there in the first place. I prompt my couples to think back to their first date, when they got engaged etc. this helps people sink into the experience and forget about the camera. Again, every photographer is different. When in doubt – just connect with each other in whatever way feels natural!