Engagement sessions are one of our favorite parts of the photography process, and we're so excited that you're signed on for one! They are the very best way for us to get to know you, your relationship, and the types of images you love most - plus they allow for you two to get relaxed and confident in front of our cameras, experiencing how we shoot before your wedding day.

To kick things off, we've put together this handy guide with tips and FAQs as we plan for your shoot. You've probably seen lots of engagement photos out there on the internet, and it can seem like the possibilities are endless. The most important idea to take away from this: be yourselves and enjoy the process! There's really no rule book, and this is a perfect excuse to take a break from planning to celebrate this exciting time.

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Here it is, our ultimate goal: we want your engagement session to be about more than just making images. We see these couple of hours as time set aside from the many logistics of wedding planning for you to enjoy each others' company, to focus on how you got here, and how amazing it is that you get to share in the start of this incredible journey together. 

How do we do this? By focusing in on the connection between you two. Our goal is to bring out and document your personalities, quirks, and the things you love about each other. The way we direct is very organic, camera-unaware, fast paced, fun, and most of all - meaningful. First we'll make sure you look great, composing flattering photos with beautiful light, but then our priority is to get you two relaxed and connected. We'll ask lots of questions, crack some jokes, move around, give you breathing room - really anything to get your focus off of the camera and onto each other. Further into the session we may dig a bit deeper, having you talk about bigger things like personal memories, inside jokes, what connects you two most, or the things that you hope for in your future.

Documenting your unique and powerful connection for you to hold on to forever is our FAVORITE part of what we do. We can't thank you enough for trusting us to do so, and in return we promise to create a safe and special space for you to just be with one another.

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If you'd like to use your photos for save the dates, these are typically sent out about 9 months in advance of the wedding. Factoring in edit time: we'll return your photos within about 3 weeks of your shoot.

Most people next consider seasonality when choosing a session date, and the Midwest has plenty of this to embrace! Spring and summer are lovely, lush, and versatile seasons to shoot in. Fall is beautiful with crisp light and changing leaves, and it's understandably our busiest season as a popular time for weddings, engagements, and family shoots. A bit less expected, we LOVE shooting in winter - the soft pastel sunlight is unmatched, and snowy landscapes lead to gorgeous minimal images.

No matter the time of year, we'll always start your shoot about 1.5 hours before sunset (or at sunrise!) for the best lighting. Harsh mid-day sunlight creates wacky colors and skin tones, unflattering facial shadows, sweating, squinting, and a host of other challenges, so we avoid it whenever possible. The hours around sunrise and sunset provide beautiful directional light to work with - think warm golden rays, soft/even shadows everywhere, and (our favorite) the romantic blue-ish tones of twilight.

During the wedding season (May-October) we shoot on weekdays as our weekends are wedding-focused. We'll send over our Shoot Reservation Calendar to select your date!

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“Where should we shoot?”, you ask. Above all we encourage locations and activities that represent you as a couple - think sentimental spots, unique hobbies, or shared passions that could be incorporated. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the typical spots! Avoiding popular landmarks will cut down on crowds (photobombers and watching eyes), permits, and other restrictions, and will allow your photos to stand out as unique.

One helpful trick is to think of your session as a story, rather than a collection of disconnected images in various locations. What does the best of your time together really look like, and what setting can best convey that? For example: Joe and I love making and enjoying food together, and we feel most connected and relaxed when we're doing so (this is a fancy way of saying we really like to eat). A collection of images of us cooking a meal in our kitchen together, or the journey of a date night at a new restaurant, would show a part of our relationship more meaningfully and dynamically than standing near a pretty location would.

Some ideas to help you brainstorm: like hanging at your home together? In-home sessions are truly our favorite, capturing your lives together at this moment in time. We also find that people are much more relaxed and natural in their own environment, without lots of other people around. Have a favorite neighborhood you live in or love to spend time in? We love wandering around to find interesting light, scenarios, and local hangs. We've been on sailboats and canoes, had a few at breweries, explored art museums, you name it. We are always game for new locations, adventures, and concepts, and we’re happy to help brainstorm or pull from our bucket list if you’re stumped.

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The key here again: be yourself, and be comfortable! If you're not feeling like yourself in a new outfit it will show in photos, so we'd much rather see you in a style of clothing you normally wear. We'll likely move around a fair bit during your session, so keep footwear comfort in mind.

Keep outfits to a maximum of two (most couples do just one) - too many outfit changes can interrupt the flow of the session, and can lead to photos looking inconsistent overall. Between the two of you, we say "complimentary, but not matchy-matchy" in terms of casualness and color palette. Avoid very bright colors (neons especially read strange in camera, and can reflect weird colors up on to your face), loud patterns, and text/graphics/logos. These will overtake photos and distract from you two and your connection, so we encourage neutrals or bold colors like navy, maroon, and emerald. One of you in a subtle pattern like plaid or gingham works great.

More generally: think of how colors will work in an overall scene, and how much an outfit "makes sense" in that environment - this will help the photos feel the most cohesive. Feel free to shoot us an email if you're still not sure about what to wear!

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We'd love to hear your thoughts - please feel free to shoot us a message if you have any other questions or ideas about your shoot! Most of all we are so excited to hang out with you two and to make some memories capturing your love together.

Thank you so much, and LET'S DO THIS!
Joe and Jen

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