ENGAGEMENT PHOTO PREP
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 our sessions are not about the coolest backdrops, the fanciest outfits, or the most Pinterest-worthy props. They’re about you two connecting with each other, and taking a break from planning to celebrate and document this exciting time in your lives.
Dig on in, and of course feel free to reach out with any other questions or curiosities! We are always here for you. What we’ll go through here:
WHAT TO EXPECT
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.
On to logistics: when should we schedule your shoot? 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. If you don’t plan to use the photos for a save the date there is of course more flexibility, and sessions can take place closer to your wedding date.
Most people next consider seasonality when choosing a 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 shadows, sweating, squinting, and a host of other challenges, so we avoid it whenever possible. The hours around sunrise and sunset have beautiful directional light - 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 schedule engagement sessions on weekdays as our weekends are wedding-focused. We'll send over our Shoot Reservation Calendar for you to select your date!
“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. 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.
WHAT TO WEAR
This is most peoples’ biggest concern leading up to their engagement session - you’re not alone, and we’ve got your backs. The biggest key here: be yourself, and be comfortable! If you're not feeling like yourself in a new outfit it will show in photos, so we suggest opting for a style of clothing you actually would normally wear. We vote for your favorite worn in pair of jeans over a stiff new dress or shirt any day. Here are some guidelines with examples!
Starting generally: locations and outfits go hand-in-hand. Once we know the location and time of year for your shoot it will help guide your outfit choices so they make sense with the setting, and so that you stand out instead of clashing with your surroundings. For example: fancy clothes won’t make sense for an in-home session where we have you snuggling on the couch, but bare feet and your favorite sweatshirt do. Romping around a cold MN winter day in heels will likely keep you from feeling comfortable (and it will show), but layers and comfortable boots will keep you happily focused on each other.
As for number of outfits: most couples do just one or two, which helps with the flow and consistency of the session so we don’t have to take too many breaks to change. Feel free to bring options along for us to check out, or to mix and match!
Some specifics to keep in mind while you’re choosing outfits:
Comfort: Staying comfortable will help you focus on each other.
• Be yourself - feel like yourself in what you’re wearing, and show your personalities (not what you’re “supposed to” wear for engagement photos).
• Be conscious of the weather - choose materials and layers that will keep you comfortable no matter the temperature.
• Be able to move - we'll likely move around a fair bit during your session, so keep breathable/movable clothes in mind. We’ll also likely take you off of the beaten path to find interesting light and backdrops, so we don’t recommend heels unless they make sense with the setting.
Style: Most of the time we encourage casual, simple outfits over bold “stand-out” items. This helps remove visual distraction to keep the focus on emotion and connection, especially if the setting we’re shooting in is busy or has lots of texture (trees/nature, in the city, etc).
• Colors - Probably our #1 rule: try to avoid very bright colors. Although we have no beef with bold, poppy colors in everyday life, they tend to read funny in-camera and can bounce weird colors up on your face in certain lighting conditions. They also become the focal point instead of you two or the setting, distracting from what matters. We’d especially suggest avoiding neons, reds, oranges, and bright corals, as these can mess with how your skin tone will appear in photos. Instead go for the ‘neutral/natural’ version of each color - for example, forest green or navy over bright green or blue, maroon instead of red, mustard yellow over canary yellow. Neutral shades of white, cream, tan, and brown always look great as well. Depending on the setting (especially out in nature) black clothing can become a bit of a vortex, so try to keep it to one item on only one of you.
• Patterns and logos - Avoid bold/large patterns (lots of color, heavy stripes, super graphic elements) as they will read funny in camera. However one of you in a subtle pattern works great - think delicate floral, gingham, small dots, and a variety of texture. Also avoid very graphic logos or text, unless it’s something meaningful to you like your favorite band tee!
• Movement - we LOVE flowy, moving fabrics if that’s you’re thing! It adds an extra level to the photos if we get a bit of wind.
Complementary: If you two match too closely (for example both in all black, or both wearing white tees and jeans) you’ll become a bit of a blob together in photos, so choose outfits that are complementary vs perfectly matching. Shoot for a variety of complementary tones, textures, and patterns, and more generally make sure your level of casual vs fancy is on the same page.
Accessories: Accessories are a fun way to mix up the shoot, but too much jewelry or too many props can be a bit distracting. We focus on hands a lot so watches can get in the way of that, but if it’s something sentimental keep it on for sure!
If you’re still feeling stumped feel free to email us a a snap of a couple options laid out next to each other on your bed for us to check out! This is helpful to visualize how different outfits’ colors, patterns, and textures work together. Also don’t hesitate to bring options and layers to choose from in person and to switch in and out as we change settings during the shoot!
ANY Other QUESTIONS?
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 connection together, as it is right now.
Thank you so much, and LET'S DO THIS!
Joe and Jen