Best Engagement Session Tips From a Wedding Photographer

I’m a wedding photographer. I love photographing couples in love! Most of my wedding packages include an engagement session, and you can read my previous blog post about why I believe an engagement shoot is so beneficial to your wedding day. I do get a lot of questions from couples regarding the ins and outs of preparing for their shoot, so I’ve compiled an easy list for current and future clients to reference.

1. Location, Location, Location

If your wedding is going to be in an urban setting, like downtown Sioux Falls, but you like the romance of a natural setting, your engagement session is the perfect opportunity to embrace nature! I’ve shot in many parks in the Sioux Falls area, so I’m happy to give you recommendations for locations.

Some couples choose a location for their engagement session representing where they first met, went on their first date, or just generally like to be. Others prefer to have pictures taken in or around their home, which is especially fun if you have pets you’d like to include!

Whatever direction you go, think about whether the location will help capture your story as a couple.

2. Stripes, Solids, Plaid, Oh My!

When it comes to your clothing, avoid logos and loud patterns, since these will distract in photos. A safe bet is if you both wear solid colors. For more punch, one of you can wear solids and the other can wear plaid, stripes, or a subtle pattern.

3. What Color(s) Should We Wear?

Generally speaking, dress for your individual skin tone/coloring while complementing one another. Matchy-matchy is a no-no. Focus on dressing in complimentary colors (consult the color wheel), shades of the same color, or incorporating neutrals with an accent color. When all else fails, consult the guru known as Pinterest.

4. Go on a Shopping Spree!

Your engagement photos are an heirloom. You don’t want the shoes you’ve been wearing since high school to live on forever in your photos. Trust me. Avoid wearing worn out shoes or dingy clothes and treat yourself to a new outfit or two. That being said, I don’t want to know that your awesome skirt and his polo shirt are brand new. Please launder and press your clothes to remove “fresh from the store” folds.

5. Know Your Shape

Embrace your body type and dress to show off your best assets. Find a “Goldilocks” outfit- not too tight, not too loose. When you’re comfortable and look your best, your confidence will come through in the photos. Don’t know your body type/what silhouettes work best? Google is your best friend. In my years of portrait photography, I think something often overlooked by women is the neckline of their outfit. Photographers shoot from a wide array of angles, so take the time to find a top that frees you from worrying about undergarment straps or preserving modesty.

6. Change It Up!

Two is definitely better than one, and when it comes to engagement shoots, I recommend bringing a second set of clothes. You can do two casual looks or a casual and more formal look to really mix it up. I would say that which direction you go is really dependent upon your personalities and what you intend to use the photos for. My husband and I personally went with casual and dressy, and I love the diversity.

7. Hair and Makeup?

In a word: YES. Read my prior blog post to see all the reasons why I heartily believe you should work with a professional hair and makeup artist to look (and feel) your best. Aside from professional styling, I also recommend getting your hair trimmed, but no sooner than a week before your engagement session.

8. Pick a Season

The month your shoot takes place will determine your fashion choices, colors, and what time of day you can shoot. During the summer, your session will likely start around 6:30 or 7 to have the best light. For a fall or winter session, plan on it starting in either late or early afternoon.

9. Focus on You

At the end of the day, the engagement session is about you and your love for one another. To infuse your photos with extra personality, think about including your pet, hobbies, and/or interests. Some couples opt for a completely stylized shoot, while others might include their dog in just a few frames. Discuss with one another what your expectations are so that you’re both on board with whichever direction you take.

10. Let Your Love Shine

This is your chance to have beautiful and romantic professional photos of you and your partner for life. Embrace who you are as a couple and communicate your ideas to your wedding photographer to get the best possible results. Try to relax, put your PDA hat on, and have fun!

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