Every bride wants the most fabulous engagement pictures that are going to be the envy of all her girlfriends. And sappy as it may sound, these are priceless memories of you and your honey that you will swoon over 50 years from now and remember the way life was in those precious days leading up to the wedding. No matter your motivation for having engagement portraits taken, they have to be stylish, authentic, and perfect. From my perspective as a photographer and a bride, here are just a few tips and things to consider when preparing for your engagement session.
Location, Location, Location
Brides always like to quiz me on the best spots for engagement shots. I can provide a laundry list of locations that “photograph well,” but the real answer to that question depends on the bride and her fiancé. For a 2 hour photo shoot, I encourage clients to select 3 to 4 locations that have special meaning to them and/or match their style and personality. We love to go to sites that also have a variety of interesting backgrounds, lighting, colors, and textures. Downtown Bryan is a great example of a spot with tons of backgrounds. It is filled with beautiful, nostalgic buildings and antique accents that can offer a sweet, small-town charm or an edgy, urban vibe depending on the spot. Many Aggie couples opt to take pictures on the Texas A&M University campus, endowed with stunning architecture, lush landscaping, and, of course, Kyle Field. Start thinking about places where you liked to frequent on dates or maybe where a special moment in your lives took place. You can never go wrong taking engagements at the location where you first met or the exact spot where he asked for your hand in marriage. If you both love spending lazy, summer afternoons at the lake, a fun, casual engagement shoot at Lake Bryan may be perfect! Luckily we have a great variety of picturesque sites in the Brazos Valley, so try to spend some time really thinking about what locations have significance to you and fit your style.
Depending on the length of your engagement session, you should plan on bringing 2 -3 outfits to the photo shoot to mix things up a bit…maybe a couple of casual outfits and one dressier outfit. (To clarify, I consider dressy clothes to be something you might wear as a guest to a friend’s wedding, not your old prom dress.) When you are weighing your options, make sure to take into consideration the locations where you will be shooting. Your outfits should be comfortable yet appropriate for the setting (i.e. wearing a skirt and stilettos for horseback riding is probably not the best idea). Another thing to think about is to avoid wearing “loud,” bright prints or patterns. These wonderful shirts, skirts, or dresses tend to take the focus away from you and draw the viewer’s eyes toward that article of clothing. They also date your images to a specific period instead of creating a timeless portrait. Anyone remember the parachute pants from the ninety’s? The same logic applies to overly-fitted or low-cut clothing, which can also be distracting. Remember the old saying about wearing the outfit rather than letting the outfit wear you!
Relax! As photographers, we want to make you look your absolute best, so trust us to accentuate your assets through our posing, lighting, and technical abilities. As long as you hire a professional photographer who share’s your style and vision, you should feel perfectly comfortable leaving the posing to them.
Bringing Personality to the Session
You really want your engagement pictures to show off your personality. There are several things that play into making these pictures bring out that spark that is uniquely you. Your clothing, your setting, the props you bring…all these items bring out personality. Another key thing is communication. Feel free to talk to your fiancé and your photographer throughout the session. Talking and laughing with each other during the session can keep things light and fun while also making for some great, authentic expressions.
Props…how we love thee!
Props can be so much fun and help bring out your personality in pictures. Pets, balloons, signs, chalkboards, ice cream…the options are endless! Now you don’t want your engagement session to turn into a circus with too many props, but utilizing one or two can add fun and uniqueness to the pictures. Lately the trend has been for brides to bring homemade signs, specially made for their engagement pictures. Brides these days are getting really creative, incorporating their wedding colors, theme, date, names, or romantic phrases. If you need a little inspiration or simply want to purchase a ready-made sign, check out etsy.com. Other props that can be a blast are sunglasses, Frisbees, and, especially in the Brazos Valley, Aggie gear. Here’s a cute example: recently we had a couple that took pictures on a pitcher’s mound with a baseball with stitching in the shape of a heart. Also, your pets are a huge part of your life, so why not include them in a few sweet shots?
There are a few essentials you should consider bringing to your e-session. When you’re taking pictures under the blazing sun, you are definitely going to need plenty of water to keep you hydrated. Likewise, when we get into the colder months, you’re going to want to bring layers of clothing to stay warm. Also, for any outdoor shoot it’s a good idea to pack sunscreen and insect repellant. Oftentimes wind or sweat can wreak havoc on the perfect hairstyle, so a hair brush, barrettes, ponytail holders, and even hair spray are some of the items you might need to do a little style triage. Tissues, lip-gloss, touch-up make-up, aspirin, and sandals should also be tossed in your bag for good measure. If you are going to wear high heels, those flip-flops will really be a life saver to walk around in between shots!
While this list is by no means comprehensive, it should give you some guidelines to prepare you for your engagement session. Just remember to relax, be yourselves, and enjoy this time with your future husband!