Our Favorite Engagement Photo Tips!
Summer time is upon us my friends and engagement sessions are filling our calendar from top to bottom! For the couples already working with us, we do our best to take care of all of the specifics to make sure they love their session and their images afterwards, but if you’re still looking for a photographer or still thinking about an engagement session, this article was written with you in mind as well! All of the following tips are our favorites for engagements and ones that we believe transfer well from couple to couple as well as location to location!
Pick the right photographer
This one probably seems obvious but it goes without saying. It’s so much easier to pick a photographer who shoots and edits in the style you like from the get go vs hiring someone who shoots one way while you’re envisioning it another way. Beyond that, we believe it’s important to find someone you can connect with as well! Personalities meshing well and being in an atmosphere that’s conducive to chemistry on camera is so key to having an awesome session that you will love!
Choose the ideal time of day
Your photographer is very likely to recommend a specific time time of day for your engagement session and if you are able, we’d would also HIGHLY suggest going with that recommendation. The softer light during sunrise and sunset tends to be our favorite and that could vary slightly from photographer to photographer depending on their style. The time of day could also vary depending on your location specific to the region you’re in. Bottom line, lighting is so much of what we do when it comes to photography. We’re always chasing it, modifying it, angling it, and getting creative with it. Choosing the ideal time of day will help you find that ideal lighting and you will end up loving your photos!
Choose the right location
By this we mean choose the right location for you! While many of our engagement sessions take place in the mountains, there are a lot of couples who desire something different. We’ve shot everywhere from breweries, to downtowns, to the beaches, to scenic parks, couples fly fishing in Pisgah! All of them offer something a little different! Don’t be afraid to pick a popular spot but at the same time, don’t be afraid to get out and adventure a little bit. Pick whatever best resonates with you when you envision your engagement. If you know what you want, but aren’t sure of the best location to get that look, definitely ask your photographer for recommendations.
Choose the right outfit
We go into this subject much more in-depth here, but for the purposes of keeping these in the form of tips we’re going to be brief. Wear something you’re comfortable in, dress for the same occasion, and if you’re torn between two different outfits, bring both! If you’re feeling a more casual laid back vibe, cool! If you’re wanting to go a bit more formal and dressy, that is awesome too! Both can look great in our experience. If you’re not sure if something looks good together, again, your photographer can likely help you narrow things down.
Be yourself and don’t stress
Our client’s favorite images tend to be the ones where they are being themselves and they are completely in the moment. When you can do this, everything else tends to fall into place. Your body language becomes more natural, your expressions become more favorable, and you sometimes forget there’s even a camera on you. One thing we hear a lot of is “We loved your work when we saw it because everything seemed so natural, like it wasn’t forced.” It’s not to say we don’t help direct our couples into certain positions or ‘poses’ as some people like to call them but when you are comfortable and being yourself even the most traditional of poses looks a 100X more natural because everything about you gives off that vibe. Don’t stress…(easier said than done thanks for the breakthrough thought guys!). Stress can rear its ugly little head for a multitude of reasons. Bad day at work, family matters, traffic, etc. We get it. We’ve gone as far as to take it upon ourselves to reschedule with clients when arriving to a session if we can tell they are too stressed as we know it’s going to spill into their photos. There may be mixed opinions on that but we are big believers in enjoying the experience as much as your photos. If your headspace is too far off, it’s not a bad idea to reschedule if needed. If that’s not possible, do what you need to do to get in that positive state. Jam out to your favorite tunes, head to the gym, do what you do! Your photos will thank you for it later ;)
Don’t be afraid to improvise
We’re talking about going with the flow, wherever it ends up taking you with your session. One of the most common occurrences we face for engagement sessions is the weather not cooperating. We’ve become very accustomed to the idea of a pop up engagement as we call it. Sometimes you may have your heart set on a spot and you arrive and the fog is so thick you can barely see 10 ft in front of you. Or maybe it’s perfect on one side of the mountain only to find a storm that came our of nowhere on the other side. Or maybe you were planning on a downtown engagement session but there was a city wide art festival you didn’t know about or possibly a protest (or both in Asheville lol). Or maybe you had the PERFECT spot picked out for engagement but you show up and there is a full blown quincenera taking place with an entire production crew and extended family (literally all of these are 100% real examples from personal experience). Don’t be so married to the idea of one spot that you pass up on the opportunity to capture something beautiful in the meantime. We’ve had several engagement sessions that we’ve had to improvise on the fly for one reason or another and in every situation it has always turned out for the best, even though we didn’t get to use the planned location.
It’s no secret, we love a good adventure engagement session as well. Sometimes these specific engagements require a fair amount of hiking and in some cases trekking. The journey can often times be rigorous and unforgiving. Rock and roots provide just enough of a slick surface to make you lose your footing. Beautiful cliff side locations may be accompanied by 30+mph wind gusts. Some spots may require getting sideways and shimmying on narrow ledges. Some locations may be very moderate in their terrain but require a substantial hike to get to them. Whatever the case, be safe and come prepared. No picture is worth getting injured over or worse. If your gut is telling you not to do something, follow it!
Often times your engagement session will come with a few twists or slightly unexpected turns. If you’re shooting at a location unfamiliar to you, make sure to ask your photographer what you need to be prepared. This could be something like the right pair of shoes for hiking to your location. It might be planning one last bathroom break before you hit whatever trail you might be headed too. It could be bringing some warmer clothes or a jacket in the middle of July because a cold front moves through and it’s going to be really chilly once the wind kicks in at 6,000+ ft on a mountain top. Additionally, this tip doesn’t just apply to more adventure style engagements in the mountains. It also applies to more urban sessions as well. Be prepared to hit traffic if you’re planning an engagement at the biltmore on a weekend during the holidays or summer time. Be prepared to park maybe a mile away from the location you intend to shoot at if you’re picking a popular tourist destination during the summer on a weekend day. These are all little things that hopefully your photographer will go over with you leading up to your engagement so you can prepare for your session.
Hair and MU/Grooming
Ladies, this is an awesome time to do a trial run for your hair and make up to see how it will look in pictures. For our couples where one person does decide to get professional hair and make up done, they do tend to have a more polished look and their skin does tend to be less shiny and oily for their images. It also usually helps cut down on the frizz! Not to mention the confidence factor. Fellas, we didn’t forget about you either! It’s not a bad idea to have some gel or hair spray on hand if your hair gets a little crazy throughout the day. Also decide if you prefer the look of being clean shaved, full facial hair, or somewhere in between.
If we wanted to get super focused on minute details, we could easily come up with an overwhelming list of 100 engagement session tips. Our goal with this article is to hone in on the most important elements to help make your engagement session awesome! Over the years, we have found the above tips to cover the majority of what most couples might worry about and things they might not necessarily think about prior to their shoot. As you prepare for your engagement we hope that you will find these tips helpful! As always, thanks for following along and if you have any questions about your engagement, give us a shout!
(Special thanks to our teammate Jesse for capturing some of these beautiful images!)
-Joe and Jenny