A few weeks ago we began our Tips for Brides series of blog postings to help all of you future husbands and wives, brides-and-grooms-to-be, in the process of finding, meeting with, booking and then working with your wedding photographers. Last week we covered the Save the Dates session, which although it is very similar to the Engagement Session experience, is, in fact, a session all in itself. An Engagement Photo Shoot is a lot more involved, and so there’s a lot more to consider before showing up for the shoot.
Over the years, we’ve spent countless hours shooting engagement photos in Dallas and beyond, so you can imagine we have quite a bit to say on the topic. Because of this, we’ve split up the Engagement Session into two separate blog postings: Pre-Shoot and Shoot. Today we will be going over all the things to think about pre-shoot.
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Hair & Make-Up For An Engagement Shoot
Ladies, an Engagement Session is your opportunity to pamper yourself. So get the Mani/Pedi, set up a trial run appointment with your hair and makeup artist for the day of the shoot. This test is an excellent way to get to know them before the wedding day, and it gives you the opportunity to look your very best for the engagement shoot. Now, this doesn’t mean you get your exact wedding day hair-do, but they can try some different styles, see what you like and what you don’t like and then settle on something you’re comfortable with for the shoot.
Don’t be afraid to tell them what how you want to look. Sometimes make-up artists will try and push a look they want to see on you. If it’s not you, though, you need to speak up. These photos are for your Engagement Session and your soon to be wedding day. Your engagement pictures should reflect you on your best day, so make sure your make-up artist doesn’t go overboard. And remember, more makeup doesn’t necessarily make a better picture.
Keep in mind the location of your engagement shoot and how your hair and makeup will hold up during these conditions. If it’s hot outside, is your foundation going to become shiny and start melting? If it’s windy, will your hair be blowing across your bright red lipstick?
Eyes are a focal point in your engagement pictures, so take the extra time you may not typically spend to separate the lashes, add the smoky eye-shadow if that’s something you are comfortable with and fits the shoot. Make your eyes pop, without over doing it.
Blend, blend, blend! Check your foundation in natural light to make sure the face to neck tone is seamless. Too many times a bride-to-be has shown up in her engagement pictures with her face and neck an entirely different color. It’s not a right look for any occasion.
What to Wear
Ladies, besides prom and your wedding day, the Engagement Session is your biggest opportunity to pamper yourself. And yes, this is a reason to go shopping! New outfit, new shoes, new accessories! Whatever makes you feel good will translate into your photos. So whether it’s an old standby in your closet or something new you picked out specifically for the engagement shoot, make sure you select an outfit that makes you feel great.
In general, if you love Black and White photography, a good rule of thumb is to wear something that is a darker value than your skin tones. Skin tones that are darker it’s just the opposite, wear a lighter value.
Don’t be afraid of color while staying away from designer prints that go out of style quickly. Your engagement pictures will have a long life in your personal history as a couple. So avoid the mistake of having a fashion craze end between the shoot and the wedding itself. Fun colors can make a statement, and it’s a great way to make your pictures Pop!
As photographers, we love outfits that allow movement. So that swirly skirt you love in your closet is always going to be a favorite of ours. But you know your figure best, so pick something out that compliments it. Another great look is that little black dress you pull out only on special occasions. If you feel good in it, your pictures will reflect that confidence.
At Edmonson Weddings, all of our wedding packages come with a complimentary Engagement Session. We like to use the Engagement Session to get to know our couples and figure out how to best shoot them the day of the wedding. With our complimentary sessions, we suggest no more than two outfits maximizing our time together. Of course, there is always the option to add on to your Engagement Session if you do want additional time and outfit changes.
Whether you have two outfits or more, make sure to start with whatever is the most complicated or most elegant. Your hair and make-up are at it’s best at the beginning of the shoot; It will start to loosen up as we progress, so go with the more casual outfits towards the end of the shoot.
Another good idea is to plan your wardrobe changes around the location. Sometimes it’s easy to find a place to change, other times we are using vehicles. If you give us a little heads up about your outfit changes, we can bring some modesty tents.
And last, but certainly not least, the shoes. Come on ladies; it’s the best part of an outfit, right? Don’t be afraid to break out your favorite or unique pairs sometimes it even means shopping for new ones!
Now, what should your fiance wear? Here’s a little trick to getting your man to pick out the outfit you want him to wear. Do your shopping first, or if you’re not shopping, then pull out your outfit and lay it on the bed. Then ask your man to go pick out three outfits he thinks will work nicely, or complimentary, to your outfit. Of the three he selects, there is bound to be one that you like. Point at that one and compliment his choice. Tell him he’ll look so great in that outfit and make him feel good for picking out such a great outfit. This little trick will also help him feel more confident the day of the shoot.
What to Bring & Not to Bring
Some of our couples ask if they can bring their pets to the engagement shoot, and we’re all for including your pets! But think about how you interact with your pets. You’re usually on the ground, sitting or lying down with them. If it’s an outdoor engagement shoot, your outfit could get a little dirty or grimy. So what we recommend, is have a family member or friend bring the pet towards the end of the shoot, after we’ve taken the majority of the just-the-two-of-you images.
Props and furniture are a great way to reflect your personal interests into your engagement images. Bring things that are fun and different. Perhaps a settee in a field or alley, sporting equipment or memorabilia because he’s an athlete, anything that tells your story and would be simple and fun.
Family members or friends are a big no-no. All photo shoots, whether you’re a professional model or the average jane and joe, can start off awkward. You’re not familiar with having your pictures taken by someone you don’t know so well. And let’s face it, even if they do have your best interest at heart, friends and family being there will just be an added distraction. So our recommendation is to leave the friends and relatives at home and surprise them with the images when they’re complete!
Weather & Timing
The elements, such as heat, cold, wind or rain can be an important factor in outdoor engagement shoots, and sometimes they are our biggest asset for getting the most dramatic images! We like to book shoots on the schedule then reconfirm them about 3 days before the shoot. If we are working with the weather, let’s be in touch by phone that morning to either go forward with the shoot or reschedule.
Understand what 30% chance of rain means – it doesn’t mean that there is a 70% chance that it won’t rain. 30% chance of rain means that there is a 100% chance of rain for some area within the region predicting rain. For example, it may not ever rain in Dallas that particular day, but it may rain 100 miles north or south of us.
Indoor shots are not affected by the weather so much, but they can be influenced by timing (where the sun is) and also the availability of the venue. Choose the time of day for the shoot that provides the best lighting in that particular location. Lighting is critical for creating dramatic images and what may surprise you, more sunshine is not necessarily the perfect light. Overcast skies can be more appealing as they provide all-over light, versus the sun’s light which produces light from one direction. So keep that in mind – you don’t need to cancel your engagement shoot just because the sun’s not out in full force!
Nighttime shots are an excellent way of doing something a little more unique so don’t limit your engagement shoot ideas to strictly daytime activities.
What we like to do is start very broad and create something specific to you as a couple. Photography works best when you either complement who you are or juxtapose appropriately. We like to take your ideas and then game plan together on the final concept of the shoot. We can then advise you on a location that is most appropriate.
How much time we have for the shoot will dictate how many places and concepts we can accomplish. For our engagement shoots, budget about an hour and a half to two hours and one general area. If you’d like to add on additional time for your engagement shoot, let us know!
Keep in mind some venues charge a location fee to shoot on their property. These are things you can discuss with your photographer ahead of time as they would typically know of any possible costs associated with a particular location.
Creative Ideas for Engagement Photo Locations
General concepts are Buildings and Structures, Manicured Gardens, Maintained Parks, Open Meadows, and Woods & Lakes. You might also do Farm Fields, Old Downtown Centers, Vintage Motels, Urban Chic Lofts, or Old Warehouses. Furniture used in a juxtaposed location, Horses & Stables, Carnivals, Fairs and Amusement Parks might be fun ideas. On a personal level Your Home or Apartment, Museums, Airfields, Old Cars, etc. that express your personality can be great choices. Hopefully, these ideas or suggestions will help you envision a site that would most accurately represent your unique relationship and love.
And that’s it for the Engagement Session pre-shoot topics! Check back next week for part 2, The Shoot!