My best advice so you can totally kill it at your engagement or next couples session and end up with memories you want to print and hang in your home AND post on the 'gram!
1. Location, Location, Location!
Setting the scene is everything! You might know of a really pretty park, or nice landscapes near your home, but if you’ve never spent time there before, you probably don’t have an attachment to it as a couple, and chances are that will show through in your final pictures!
This is the secret to warm, comfortable, fun sessions: Instead, think about places that have sentimental value to you, or things that you really enjoy doing as a couple. Even if you have to travel a little bit further, or it may not seem traditional, consider it! The space just enhances the pictures that are all about you. Cameron and I road tripped through the highlands with our FANTASTIC photographer/pal Lindsey and one of her best friends for our engagement shoot in Scotland and the Isle of Skye. We spent so many weekends walking hidden paths and stopping at unique places that it only made sense that our engagement photos captured that part of our lives and enjoyment of travelling and road trips (and having to pee in the wild – that wasn’t in the photos though)! We also got two amazingly kind and fun friends because of it! We had dinners all together and just enjoyed a fantastic trip and hours in the car oogling at crazy gorgeous mountain and lochs.
If you love the outdoors and road tripping too, set up a mini road trip and end up somewhere you’d love to explore together: A winery, a lake, an apple orchard, a beach or a hike you haven’t gone on before – HECK – go for a kayaking trip. Or go somewhere with sentimental value that totally screams out YOU. These photos are all about you two. If you’re not about the outdoors the way I am, maybe an in home session cuddling and making pancakes in your new apartment or house is perfect, or maybe a micro-brewery and pub that has craft beers you ADORE and fries you can’t live without. It’s intimate, cute and candid. The possibilities are endless! Don’t limit yourself to a park that you don’t really love because that’s what you thought people do. You can do ANYTHING wherever you want! That’s step one.
Biking in Amsterdam ---------- Beach Frolicking in Scotland ----- Chilling by Waterfalls in CT
2. Be comfortable + Don’t buy a whole new wardrobe.
I cannot stress this enough!!! You do NOT need to buy a whole new wardrobe for your session. If you’ve had your eye on a specific dress forever, or a super freakin’ cute pair of pants. Go for it! But, if you have a cute, super loved outfit that you look great in. Wear it. Wear what’s comfortable. Wear what you know. If you’re a jeans guy and gal through and through, wear jeans for your casual outfit, or dress it up with a top and some jewelry for a more dressy look. You don’t want to get an outfit thinking damn this is it, and then spend the whole time, uncomfortable, readjusting your straps or the neckline, unsure of your choice. Tried and true is typically the best way to go. My couples usually have more casual outfit and a dressier one. So if you are getting a new outfit, run around the dressing room and move around and make sure it’s comfortable!! Then being optimistic but prepared, give it a try!
Overall, just make sure you’re not wearing clingy uncomfortable fabrics because you think it will look better for the photos. If you’re not comfortable, it will show in your face and your body language and that’s a bummer! So get comfy, wear your favorite outfit, bring a couple other options and be ready to rock your photos and focus on each other not the straps on your dress!
--a couple of outfit changes ---
3. Prep however you’d like to look a.k.a. Do what makes you feel best!
This goes hand in hand with being comfortable. By far the best advice I’ve ever given my couples is to do what makes you comfortable. If you love how you look with a fresh blowout and mani/pedi, go get a blowout and treat yourself to a mani/pedi. That way you feel confident and don’t spend the whole shoot wondering if you’re hair looks alright or worrying about your nails. Just don't expect it to stay perfect if you're jumping in the water ;)
If that isn’t you and you wake up and feel like a badass when you throw your hair in a braid or wear it in whatever way it decides to go naturally, don’t take the fun out of it and get your hair done if you feel like that’s a pain. If you feel best smearing ketchup across your shirt, do it. Honestly. But seriously, only do that one if you’re 100% sure… These photos are about you two!! Secondarily, doing what makes you feel gorgeous and confident, may also help relax you so you can have a wonderful experience at your session and let go so you can focus on eachother. If that's having a massage or going for a run, just do it! You're investing your money and your time into having professional photos taken of you and your partner. It might be for the first time too, so it's all the more reason to make sure you make it the best experience it can be.
4. Make sure you vibe with your photographer – make a date of it (I do!). Have fun.
You want to make sure that you vibe and get along with your photographer. Personally, I feel happiest when I leave sessions with friends not clients. So much of what makes my photography candid, and natural and unposed, is the fact that I put in the effort to get to know my couples before we even meet up for the shoot. That’s how I can help you find a location that makes so much sense for you if you’re unsure of where to go, and it’s how I can plan my prompts around your personalities to make sure you have a comfortable, intimate and wildly fun experience instead of an awkward, stiff and posed session where you just want to be done. My couples love that they’re moving around, and laughing most of the time! Learn more about the experience I provide - here!
AND circling back to number 1! Find a photographer that totally supports your location, and if you’re having trouble finding a location, a photographer that is willing to help you find one that’s perfectly you. Let them get to know you! If it doesn’t feel right, it might not be the best fit, and that’s ok! Not every photographer will be your photographer! I make a point of hanging out with my couples before we start every shoot. It makes everyone more relaxed once we’ve gotten to talk in person and hang out and get to know each other better! This could be tacos, wine, a picnic, whatever you like!
This past summer I had a STELLAR engagement session up with an old friend and his wonderful fiancé. We all had ice cream cones at a place they loved going to in college and then we had the MOST fun and beautiful sunset session at the arboretum and pond at the College where they first met. It was a dream. Honest to God. A month before that, I had a session with my oldest friend and her boyfriend (who doesn't love having pictures of himself taken). Having a pizza and wine picnic on the beach before we started helped everyone relax and chill out and no one was thinking about how hungry they were. It ended up being perfect because I could capture some cute candids of the picnic and wine sipping and cuddling before we started running our way along the beach and around the tall grasses and laughing our butts off before settling into some relaxed and more intimate prompts!
Meeting up beforehand makes all the difference in the world. Find a photographer that makes you feel like you’re going to have THE MOST amazing experience and will help you feel comfortable!
5. Finally, relax and enjoy!
This is an amazing season and time in your lives together. Make the most of it. Now that you have a photographer you LOVE and vibe with, a location that makes you excited to get there and do this thing, and outfits that are so you, all you have to do is listen to your photographer, focus on each other and have an amazing experience at your session that will create images you treasure for a life time. The difference between uncomfortable and awkward vs. epic and amazing, is finding the right photographer for you and just relaxing into a fantastic experience unique to you two. Let's talk - here!