I really enjoy meeting couples for their engagement shoot but most of them admit to being pretty nervous before hand. I’d say around 90% of my couples tell me they’re not looking forward to being photographed.
It is quite different from being photographed on the day of the wedding, as the sole focus is you, rather than there being the hustle and bustle of a wedding going on around you. While that might sound a little intense, it actually gives me an opportunity to ease you into the engagement photo shoot really gently.
I love pre wedding shoots, as you get so much more time than on the day of the wedding. Any creative person will tell you that you can’t switch on creativity like a light – it can take a little time to warm up into it and I often find that I take my favourite shots at the end of a session.
Where should we have the shoot?
It really depends on you. If you’re very nervous about the shoot, you probably don’t want to head to a really bustling, busy area. Think about whether you prefer rural or urban locations.
Personally I love shooting in the urban environment or against the backdrop of imposing landscapes. I am always really open to suggestions and have photographed engagement sessions everywhere from blustery beaches to urban areas around stations!
If you plump for a green space it’s good to go for somewhere with lots of features. Interesting trees, sculptures and structures work well if you want to have your shoot in a park for your engagement photography.
As part of the planning information I provide to my couples, I have a list of suggested shoot ideas if you’re stuck. I’m always excited by shooting in an environment I’ve never been to before. I’m equally happy suggestion some locations I’ve used before, that could work as backdrops.
What time is best for the shoot?
Again this depends. You get interesting light at all times of day, but the softest light for your engagement photo shoot can either be found around an hour before sunrise or around an hour before sunset. Where ever possible I’ll try to time your shoot around these timings although sunset is usually more practical, for obvious reasons! Especially in the summer. You probably don’t want to get up at 4am for a summer sunrise engagement shoot, although the light is often amazing and deserted streets can be very atmospheric.
You can read a little bit about light and how it impacts on the way images look here.
What should I wear?
Wear something you feel comfortable in. You don’t want to be fiddling with your clothes and feeling self conscious.
Bold colours are always good, as you’ll stand out against what ever backdrop we’re using but if you’re not a bold colours kind of person do feel free just to wear something you love. I usually suggest couples dress up a little bit, as that will make the shoot feel more special, however the most important thing is that you feel comfortable.
We’ll probably walk around a bit, so do wear comfortable shoes and if you can get away with not wearing a bulky coat it generally makes a nicer picture. Obviously don’t freeze to death if your engagement shoot is in the winter!
Avoid bringing things that you’ll need to carry like handbags etc. I don’t tend to photograph people holding bags and I won’t be able to carry them for you, as I’ll have my photography equipment. It’s also great to make sure you don’t have any bulky items in your pockets (I’m looking at you, iphones!).
What will happen on the day?
We’ll start off by having a wander around the location you have chosen. We’ll have a chat and I’ll brief you about what’s going to happen.
I’ll look for a starting backdrop or light that interests me. I usually position you within the backdrop and then we’ll focus on getting you to interact with each other naturally, while I photograph from a little way off.
I’ll use some gentle exercises to get you to interact with each other. That sounds almost worse than being photographed but it’s all very easy, I promise. I’ll ask you questions like ‘what are your favourite memories together’ or ‘what are you most looking forward to about being married’ and I’ll be far enough away so that I can’t hear you, so you you’ll only be talking to each other.
Don’t worry though if that all sounds a bit ‘touchy feely’. If you’re not a slushy kind of couple, you can answer in a way that makes you feel comfortable. I’ve had couples (jokingly!) exchange insults and teasing each other. It’s all about the two of you being yourselves.
I’ll generally ask you to have a cuddle during the shoot and sometimes a kiss but I’ll make sure you don’t feel at all self conscious. .
As the shoot goes on, we might experiment a little bit more. Looking for quirkier backdrops or arranging you in an interesting way will make for a more creative shot.
That’s it. It’s a simple as that. A chance for us to hang out together and capture some beautiful shots of the two of you, as a reminder of your engagement.
If you have any other questions about my approach, please do feel free to ask in the comments below.