Advice, tips, and ideas for your engagement session
If you're reading this, it must be time to start planning your engagement portrait session! The purpose of this guide is to help us make the most out of your couples portraits, and to let you know what to expect. if you have specific questions or need additional input about something, just shoot me an email: STEVE@STEPHENWANGPHOTOGRAPHY.COM or call 860-918-3174.
what is it?
Your portrait session will typically be the three of us wandering around for an hour or two, stopping periodically at certain spots for photos. Sometimes I'll have an assistant to haul gear around, depending on the location/weather/etc. I don't follow a prescribed formula for each and every session, and I'm always open to trying new things. Often times we'll take a little break half way so you can change into another outfit if you want, or to go to a different location. I encourage you to just have fun with it! It's nothing too formal, and it's best viewed as a few people just hanging out for a couple hours, and one of them happens to have a camera :)
Where to go?
I encourage you to choose a spot that has a special meaning in your relationship - your favorite hiking trail, the school where you first met, the spot the proposal took place, etc. We can always go to a couple different locations if they’re not too far from each other for more variety.
Choosing a location that represents your lifestyle means you’ll be more comfortable during the shoot, and the photos will be more representative of your relationship. If you love hiking and camping, we can take photos in the woods; if city life is more your style, we can go downtown for your session; if you work together or met at work, we can even go to your workplace. Those photos can be a lot of fun, and certainly have a unique twist to them. Of course, I have a few spots I can recommend, but it's always nice if the location has meaning to the two of you.
When to go?
I recommend having the engagement session not too close to your wedding date, that way you’ll have plenty of time if you're planning to use the photos for a save-the-date or photo guestbook. Fall and Summer are very popular times of the year because nature is colorful and bright, things are in bloom, and the temperature is comfortable. Don’t discount Winter or Spring though! Some great and unique photos can be taken during those months - bonus points if you love snow and winter sports - like I mentioned, the session is about representing your personalities, so if you have a favorite season, take that into consideration as well.
From a photographic standpoint, the two hours before sunset typically offer the best quality of light. I would advise against having photos taken at noon on a bright sunny day, as the sunlight can be quite harsh, which leads to dark shadows under your eyes, squinting, and being uncomfortably hot (remember, you’ll be walking around, snuggling and being close with each other during the session too). So depending on the season, I would recommend anywhere from early afternoon in the Wintertime, to the evening hours during Summer.
What to wear?
Like the location, I recommend wearing an outfit that represents yourselves. Don’t dress up in an evening gown and tux if you’re the casual, laid back type, or vice versa. Feel free to bring a couple outfits if you’re feeling indecisive! Try choosing complementary colors that aren’t too matchy-matchy, and I wouldn't recommend flashy/loud patterns, or clothes with large logos, text, or graphics on them, since they can be distracting. We usually have plenty of time to take a little break halfway through and change outfits for a different look, so don’t be afraid to bring a variety of clothes. And don’t forget about accessories! Jewelry, hats, scarves, or other accessories can bring an outfit from good to great.
What to bring?
I welcome any props you might want to incorporate! If you met at a baseball game, bring a couple gloves and bat along, if you love country music, bring some cowboy hats or boots, if you’re into bicycling, bring the bikes along - you get the idea! If you’re planning on using a photo from the session as a save-the-date, feel free to bring a sign/chalkboard/etc. with your wedding date or anything else you’d like to have written on it.
If the two of you have a pet, feel free to bring him/her along as well! If you do bring your furry friend, I recommend having another (human) friend along to keep them occupied while we take photos of just the two of you.
Most often, the best photos I take are the natural reactions between the two of you, so I try not to give too much posing direction. Of course, if your arm looks awkward, I’ll guide you to a more natural looking position, but generally I’ll just have you snuggle or cuddle with each other and photograph the interactions. Being affectionate in front of the camera can feel weird at first, so as silly as it sounds, you can try practicing beforehand. You can even practice smiling in front of a mirror to get used to how your favorite “picture smile” feels.
Are you doing a trial run with your hair/makeup artist? If so, see if you can schedule it on the same day as your engagement session - don't let the professional hair and makeup go unphotographed!
If there’s one thing to take away from the advice here, it’s to just have fun and play. Even if your outfits are perfect, and we’re in your favorite spot at your favorite time of year, if you’re not having fun, it will be reflected in the photos. Like I mentioned earlier, don’t look at it as a formal portrait session, but rather a few people (one with a camera) just hanging out for a while.
If you have any questions, just let me know - I look forward to photographing your engagement session!