How To Prepare For Engagement Session
Being in love is such a wonderful life experience that I am always thrilled to meet and work with couples looking to have their engagement session photographed. I hope you are reading this How To guide because you are interested or already considering to book me for your engagement portraits. Well, nice to meet you! So excited to work with you!
I adore photographing couples during their engagement sessions. It is not only because Love is Awesome but also because it gives me an opportunity to work with the couple before their big wedding day. What a better way for both me and you to get to know each other than to spend few hours on capturing the moments of love and passion you share for each other.
The engagement session will also let you see my photography approach and style, so you are 100% confident your wedding is in good hands. Plus, not to mention the images you can print and display on your wedding reception. Love is best when is shared and celebrated!
I know you have many questions, so here is a short guide which I hope will help to answer them and give you extra information on how to prepare for your engagement session.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do you offer consultation prior to the engagement session?
Yes and I do encourage all my clients to discuss their portrait sessions prior to scheduling an Online Appointment. For me, this is the best opportunity to learn about each client’s needs and make recommendations for session timing, location and dressing choices! We encourage you to Contact Me as soon as you have decided to have an engagement portrait session and schedule a day and time when both you and your fiance would be available.
Q: What is included into my session fee?
Your investment starts at $200 for one hour session. Included in your initial investment is photographer’s time and talent during the session and a personalized follow up consultation to assist you in making your portrait order selections. You will also receive 20 low resolution images for sharing online or printing up to 4x6” format. High-resolution images on DVD are also available. To learn more about the Engagagement Session Package and understand what is included, visit my Services and Pricing webpage.
Q: Do you photograph the engagement sessions in your studio or outdoors?
Engagement sessions are best photographed outdoors so we can capture different backgrounds and lighting conditions. The session itself is meant to represent the couple in their favorite locations or surroundings which mean something to them. I don’t recommend to have engagement session in a studio environment simply because the look and feel in studio is more formal and you will have limited background options.
Q: What location you would recommend for our engagement session?
From my experience the best location for e-session is the one which brings pleasant memories to you and also resonates to you both as a couple. Examples could be when he first proposed, where you enjoyed visiting and being together while dating. Any location which makes you feel comfortable and also energizes you like a couple would be a good location.
It is really up to you. If you dread large crowds and noisy places, let;s not go to a public park or a urban area. More secluded areas as beaches, open outdoor areas and secluded … would be a better choice. if on the other hand being around other people gives you energy,
I recommend to all of my engagement session clients to sit down and take their time to think over what place and activity they really enjoy doing together. It’s about the excitement of the time you will spend together and the vibe all the positive energy you will be fill with when in place and activity you choose yourself and really like. Don’t box yourself into Pinterest images you might have seen or what your friends have already done. You are unique and exciting individuals! Let’s go out and have fun session!
Q: How long will you spend with us?
The minimum time I require to craft wide variety of engagement portraits at one location is one hour. This allows for adequate time for the couple to relax and get comfortable in front of the camera. We will be working into different areas at the same location which involves walking and positing into different poses. Less than one hour adds lots of stress to the session and produces less final images. For best results, I recommend couple to allocate 2-3 hours if they want to cover multiple adjacent locations and different light conditions.
Whatever session duration you decide to have, it is important to plan to arrive on time so we can start the session as planned. I will suggest a time of the day which will have the best lighting conditions for the duration of your session and any delays would reduce the time we can have these light conditions available. So please, plan your commute to the engagement session location and try to be on time.
Q: Do you offer black & white images in addition to one in color?
I do photograph all images in color during the engagement sessions. This allows me to capture the full spectrum of color and tones and produce stunningly vibrant and pleasing images. Photographing in black and white requires to keep eye on contract, shadows and highlights. Simply converting a color images to black & white as other photographers do, might not give you the artistic and elegant black & white images you are looking for.
Make sure to let me know your choice: all color, color and black & white or black & white only during our consultation. I can also convert your color images to black & white version although the results might be the same as we agree and capture your images with black & white effect in mind.
Q: We met at the local university campus. Do you travel to locations outside of Mountain View?
Traveling outside Mountain View is not a problem. As a matter of fact I do work with clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area and traveling to different outdoor locations is what I do. Indeed many of my engagement sessions are at the Pacific Ocean coast, local parks and landmarks in the entire area. There is an additional travel fee, so please refer to My Pricing site for details.
Q: How far do you travel outside Mountain View?
Most of my engagement sessions I have photographed are at locations within 50-60 miles of Mountain View. Bay Area is unique with large concentrations of beautiful locations. Traveling to locations within 20 miles or 30 minutes from Mountain View, CA are no additional charge. If you location is outside this range or travel time, additional travel surcharge which is evaluated on a case by case basis does apply.
Q: Any recommendations on what to wear on my engagement session?
Dressing is the one question which I get a lot and the one which most depends on your personal preferences but here are few guidelines to follow.
As engagement sessions are usually feature both partners the dressing style and colors have to be considered for both. it is a good idea that the colors by you are not exactly the same as your fiance. Otherwise when hugging or close to each other both would merge into a solid blob of color. So coordinate the colors you both are planning to wear and think of having complementary colors instead of similar. White top or shirt and denim jeans are good combination for one or the partners. Solid black, khaki or white are good choice as well.
Keep in mind that the clothing colors have to match your hair and eye color, as well the skin tone, so don’t go completely random. And as all other sessions, leave the patterns or logos at home. Selecting clean of logos and timeless clothes will not only make your photos look more beautiful but also would allow the viewers to focus on your faces and expression rather than on your clothing.
Having multiple outfits or layers to add or remove is a great backup plan. We can always find a time for you change outfits and have different looks from the session. Your clothing has to be comfortable or you will always be worry about your clothing and not fully relax and enjoy the session. Anything too tight or skirts too short is something which I don’t recommend.
And lastly don’t be afraid to accessorize. Necklaces, earrings, belts, shoes, sandals, scarves or wraps helps to create visual interest to your outfit but as with everything in life: be moderate and use with good taste. Try to avoid wearing distractive jewelry as: large rings or earrings, large face watches, or too solid necklaces. After all the photos are about you are your fiance and are not meant to be about your jewelry. If you cannot decide on what jewelry to bring, bring few and I will help you to select.
Q: Any ideas on what NOT to wear on our session?
Knowing what not to wear on your session is as important as knowing what to wear. Here are few ideas on what to avoid:
- super short skirts: for some of the poses you will be seating and walking and super short skirts tend to reveal more that you think. Try seating at home with the mini skirt you are considering in front of the mirror or ask someone to give you an opinion on how revealing that might be. I most likely will capture the same look as you can see in the mirror.
- tank tops or T-shirts with logos: what is trendy today might not be after few years when you kids look at your engagement photos, plus the logos and large prints tend to distract the viewers away from your faces, so instead opt for clean and timeless look.
- matching colors: coordinate with your partner not to have exact the same clothing colors (white shirt and blue jeans for example). You will be hugging, huddling and embracing each other during the session, so having different outfit colors and not to look like a solid lump of color is a good idea.
- shirts without sleeves or with short hemlines: it is good idea to dress according to your body shape. Unless you have perfect body structure and ideally shaped arms, using the clothing to conceal few extra pounds you plan to lose, it might be a good idea. sleeveless shirts or blouses will expose your arm and it will be hard for the viewer of your photos to focus its attention on your face once you have your bare arm in the frame. Another reason is that your arms are usually closer to the lens and camera sensor and closer subjects tend to appear bigger compared to one which are more distant.
- wrinkled clothing: let’s face it. Wrinkled clothing can run otherwise great location. great looking couple and amazing light. Have your clothing ironed and pressed and if you cannot keep it this way while commuting to the session location, opt to travel for more comfortable clothes and plan to change on the location.
- visible undergarments or bras: unless you like your undergarments to be featured in your final images, I recommend to avoid having your undergarments visible through your clothing. Bras and bra straps are one example everyone hates to see in their final images.
- oversized (baggy) or too tight clothing: the first one would make you look bigger than you actually are, so definitely not recommended for women, unless this is intentional. Baggy dress shirts for men also looks like careless choice, so take a look at a mirror to check this is the look for are after. For tighter tops, unless you are in perfect body shape, it might be a good idea to bring jacket for layering.
Q: Do you have any makeup or facial recommendations?
For best results opt for a light and natural looking makeup which will be more casual and lifestyle looking that heavy and too dramatic makeup. The engagement sessions are meant to be romantic and fluid, so picking something which will not draw too much attention to your makeup is something I always recommend to my clients.
- having clean eyebrows and upper lip before the session if something to check before the session. Because I always try to shoot at sunset or early in the morning when the light is more directional and soft, even if you apply a makeup without removing the extra facial hair, it will not have the same effect as removing the hair completely.
- bring and apply a hand moisturizer so your hands skin look moist and smooth.
- have your manicure done one day before the session as we will feature your hands in the pictures when you touch, hug or rest your hands on your partner.
- if you plan to wear open toe shoes or planning to have your engagement session on the beach bear footed, then having your pedicure done is recommended.
- shaving few hours before your session would give you a clean look and would allow your skin to calm down and not look too irritated compared to shaving right before the session.
- If you have any mustache or beard, make sure it is trimmer and clean looking. Same if you have oversized sideburns.
- If you hare is overgrown and you need a haircut, having this before the session will not only make you feel better about yourself but also would feature you in your best looking way.
Q: Can we bring our own props to the session?
You more than welcome to bring your own props to the session. I realize that couples best know what makes sense and appeals to them, so I always prefer when couples bring their own props. This way you will already know how to use the props and would have creative ideas on how to pose with them. Nothing better than being in love and familiar with a prop or saw the idea before and wanting to replicate it on your own.
I also have few props which I use for my engagement sessions, so can bring them as well.
Q: We would like to bring props to our session. Can you give us some ideas?
The choice of props is entirely individual choice and as I mentioned before I prefer couples to come up with their own ideas and discuss them with me. Here are some props and activities which I think a very well suited for engagement portrait sessions:
- Flowers: Never go out of style and always a good choice. Depending on the season, bunch of summer flowers, wildflowers, roses, lose stems or even small pots of 2-3 inches tall flowers are good idea.
- Food: Cupcakes, big lollipops or cookies, popsicles, ice cream. Depending on the weather you would need a cooler to keep some of the frozen props intact..
- Balloons: Single one or a whole bunch, single colors or color mixed. One cannot go wrong by bringing balloons. It’s best if they are attached to a long string so you can hold them above your head and not cover with your face with it.
- Activities: Cycling with your favorite vintage bikes, bowling, country dancing, cooking, art projects, karaoke, etc. Any activities which you like and will make you smile and happy, is always a good idea.
- Other Items: sport jerseys, sport hats, baseball bats or tennis rackets, musical instruments, favorite pets, books, picnic basket and blanket, old suitcases or gift boxes
Q: How many images I can expect to see from my session?
During the one hour or longer session, I will capture all moments which are worth capturing in one or multiple locations so you can expect to have at least 100-150 images to review. I will share the proof (straight out of the camera) images with you as well a selection of 20-30 images which I think best represent your session. You are welcome to add or remove images to the selection from the entire set of proofs up to the number of images included into your package. Any additional image beyond the number included into your package is at additional cost.
I believe that sharing the proofs with you and giving you an option to pick your own selection is the best approach to make you completely satisfied with the final results. If you cannot decide or unsure, you can always relay on my experience and pick the selection I prepared for you.
Q: Can you prepare a slideshow from my session with music we select?
Absolutely. Slideshows are a wonderful way to share your engagement photos with friends and family. Based on your selection of images, I will prepare HD slideshow video and add the music you have selected. Just keep in mind that while I have copyright and the digital negatives for your images, I do now own the copyright of the song of music you might select. I would ask you that you provide the song or music for the slideshow and I hope that you consider purchasing it instead of downloading it illegally.
Q: How long before I get to see my photos from the session?
It takes me about three days to post the proofs from your session and seven days to prepare a selection of images from your session. Keep in mind that these are unprocessed images and additional digital enhancement would be required to prepare them for printing or sharing. This way you can review and finalize the final set of images for me to further post-process.
After that it would take me another two weeks to have your final images uploaded to your private online gallery and if you purchased DVD disk with high-resolution images, the disk to be mailed to your address.
Q: Can I use an engagement image as my Facebook profile photo?
Of course. I believe that images are created to be shared and viewed by others. Love is beautiful and awesome, so go ahead and share any of the engagement images with your friends. Just, don’t crop off my watermark, please. It is a small token of gratitude of the wonderful images I have created for you.
Q: What is the best time before my wedding to schedule an engagement session?
The best time to have your engagement session is between full year to 6 months before your wedding day. Keep in mind that the weather in Northern California might not permit outdoor sessions during November - February months when might be rainy and too cold outside for you to feel comfortable. You also need to keep in mind the time required for my process your images, deliver to you and make prints if you plan to display them on your wedding reception.
Also during the busy wedding season, March - October, there might be less available dates when I am not shooting already booked weddings, so plan accordingly. I can rush an engagement session if required, but there will be a small surcharge.
Q: Can you take some posed images in addition to candid? This will not be a problem. I understand that parents and grandparents would like to see you and your fiance looking into the camera and in more traditional poses. I will would be glad to take the images they are asking for, so make sure to mention it during our pre-engagement session consultation. In many cases parents or grandparents even pay for the session, so I will make sure to craft good camera aware portraits for you.
Q: How not to feel nervous on my session? I never had a professional session before.
Well, try not to think what you should do or no do during the session. If you have already selected your clothing and prepared for the session, have a day off and pamper yourself with a massage or manicure. Have your hair and makeup done professionally. Once you see how beautiful you look prior to the session, you would feel more relaxed and confident.
Once you arrive on the location, enjoy the scenery and the company of your fiance. Let your feelings for him guide your heart and flow with the moment. Love is wonderful and will make you feel at easy of you let it into your heart and mind.
I hope this guide was helpful to answer most of the questions you might have about your engagement session and gave you the information required to plan and prepare. I can assure you that it is going be lots of fun!
If you have any additional questions or would like to discuss your engagement session in person, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: (650) 930-0743 and I will be more than happy to assist you.