The Engagement Shoot ~ Getting The Most From Your Pre-Wedding Photo Session

It’s that time of year when I start to dream of warmer days and lighter evenings, Spring blossom and just getting out there with my camera to capture some beautiful images. It’s also the time of year I start arranging dates for all my couples’ engagement sessions. With this in mind I thought I would share a little advice not just for my couples, but for any other couples thinking about a pre-wedding engagement shoot.

Preparing For Your Session

First of all your session is not about creating a full blown styled magazine shoot, it’s all about you two and capturing the special relationship you have. You can dress up as much or as little as you like, so to speak, and you can bring along props and even the family pet, but what I’m hoping to achieve is some really lovely images of you interacting and just being yourselves.

Having said that you want to look your best and your images will look great if you have given what you plan to wear a little thought. Try to avoid busy patterns that confuse the camera and the eye, and logos can date an image so try to avoid those as well.

Bright colours can look absolutely stunning and make a real statement, but pastels and softer colours can appear relaxed and fantastic too. Plan your outfits together so that they don’t clash but complement each other but mostly make sure you are comfortable in what you wear.

Dave and Sian love their Miniature Schnauzers to bits, there was absolutely no way ‘the boys’ were being left out of their Wiltshire engagement shoot! Sian’s fabulous yellow top made a real statement and looked great on camera.

For the ladies make up looks great on camera, and even a little black mascara can really make the eyes ‘pop’ even if you don’t usually wear makeup. When applying your usual look it’s helpful to know that it can be a little more pronounced than usual but won’t appear ‘heavy’ on camera. Bring your lippy or lip gloss with you as you may want to reapply it. Also bring along a hair brush in case it’s windy and you want to re-do your hair.

Dan and Nanette are one fit couple (yes they are easy on the eye but I mean, they are fit!). They chose a sunset engagement by the river,  but we discovered a gorgeous field where they were able to have fun and do their thing! Nanette’s look was natural, relaxed and fresh faced.

Choosing a Location

This is the fun part. Although the location is essentially a backdrop, it can add so much to the feel and vibe of your session.  Choose somewhere that reflects your personalities, somewhere that is special to you both, or simply somewhere you think will work well. I like to fully utilise the environment and seek gorgeous light and beautiful surroundings. Some great locations for engagment shoots have included; Brighton Pier, an open air rural life museum, a couple’s venue, a town centre and canal walk, a Victorian lake, woods and heathland, a National Trust property and even Terminal 5!

Americans JD and Joanna chose central London and all its tourist sites for their shoot. Of course despite the early Sunday start, it was already busy. However this doesn’t have to be a problem and we made the most of the odd over zealous tourist!

What makes a location shoot so brilliant is that we can walk and shoot, changing the backdrop and creating a little story as we go. I always find that the first few images are not the best, but as the session progresses and you relax get into the swing of it, the keepers just keep on coming! 😉

On a serious note, please be aware that restrictions could exist and you may need to seek permission if you wish to have your shoot on private property. Sometimes a courtesy email is all that is required, sometimes written permission is needed (the T5 shoot for example required a press pass). Ask me if you are not sure, for most locations there are no restrictions.

As mentioned we will walk and shoot, however photographic equipment can be rather heavy, so it’s best to avoid long rambles and hill walking if possible!

Ian and Abigail chose Brighton beach and pier for their shoot. The location provided us with some great backdrops and of course the wonderful light was a huge bonus.

How My Sessions Work

It’s all very relaxed. We walk, we chat. I see a great spot and then all you need to do it stand together, sit together, run together, chat, laugh, cuddle, kiss if the mood takes you! I like to keep it fun and as spontaneous as possible so I may suggest the direction you face that casts the best light, or I may suggest a way you can interact with your surroundings. I may even say something naughty to make you giggle (this has been known), but usually couples need little encouragement as naturally they love each others company and it’s easy to capture that!

It’s really normal to start off feeling a bit awkward, but I promise you after 10 minutes you will be relaxed and enjoy the experience.

I love a nice ring shot! If you do too I will take a few moments to photograph your ring. If you don’t have your ring when we do your shoot don’t worry as I can photograph it together with your wedding bands on your wedding day.

Matthew and Emily decided on a relaxed country style shoot. The location is within walking distance of my home and a real favourite. In late Summer it takes on some of the qualities of an American Savannah!


Some Q & As

When should we do our shoot?

Some couple choose to have their shoot as soon as they book me. This helps to celebrate their engagement and it also helps us to get to know each other.

Sometimes couples have a clear idea about wanting their shoot to take place during a specific season and so they will wait. It’s entirely up to you.

I need help with my hair and makeup, can you provide this?

Yes of course, I have excellent and trusted hairstylists and makeup artists available for engagement shoots. Their fees vary depending on the individual’s rates and the location. Please let me know well in advance so that we can check their availability.

Should I bring a change of clothes?

It’s a good idea or even just different accessories. Having a choice of items can be fun to play with and will give your images more than one look.

Are props a good idea?

Props can be really fun. Here are some suggestions; hats, umbrellas, guitars, picnic blanket and mini picnic, a bottle of fizz and a couple of glasses, a mini black board to write a message, banners, a couple of photographs of yourselves as kids, or just anything you fancy!

Props are not compulsory and if you would prefer to keep things simple that’s equally fine, the two of you are enough to make some magic pictures!

Laurence and Louise brightened up their  Winter engagement shoot with the addition of these fabulous brollies!

Do we have to be getting married to have a session?

Most of my couples choose an engagement shoot as part of their package. It helps us to get to know each other and really helps them to feel relaxed in front of the camera. However I also offer ‘couples’ shoots for those not yet planning marriage or just wanting to ‘try me out’ as their wedding photographer. They are also ideal for couples already married to say, mark a special anniversary.

You can find out more about couples sessions here and my wedding packages here.

Take a look at more engagement images.