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Tips: Preparing for Your Engagement Session

From planning the look of your pictures to picking out an outfit that pops—preparing for a photoshoot can be overwhelming. Here are some helpful tips (and a helpful timeline!) to make sure your photos are stunning and fun.

A month or more before the shoot:

Plan your vibe

The first thing we do is discuss what kind of feeling you want (playful, romantic, sexy, natural, epic and dramatic, magical light, vintage vibes, etc.) for your photo shoot. Every shoot will have at least one artistic angle, but it’s possible to play around or mix a few ideas if there are several things you like. I’m going to throw all kinds of ideas at you, so come with an open mind. You may want to look at some engagement images here on the site to help you get ready. 

Sometimes it helps to put together a collection of photographs that you like for inspiration. These kinds of collections are a starting point for discussion rather than photographs you want me to recreate. I respect other artists and do not want to just copy their work. Your photographs will be uniquely yours!

Once we have figured out what you want your shoot to look like, then we can figure out where and when to do it.

Name the place (and time)

Don’t forget that public places, like museums, have specific hours we will need to plan around.

Engagement sessions typically last one to two hours. How you fill them is up to you! Most of my clients have enjoyed doing activities or other adventures over just selecting a pretty place. It’s best to visit no more than two locations as traveling from place to place can disrupt the flow of the shoot and can be tiring when you’re in front of the camera.

Knowing the feeling you’re going for will help you pick the time for the shoot as different times of day produce different photographic opportunities.

If you’re taking outdoor photographs, the height of the sun in the sky can create interesting tones (warm, romantic, twinkling) or opportunities for geometric effects with shadows. If you’re unsure about what time works best for you, I’m happy to let you know what times might work towards your goals. With an indoor or public venue, make sure to check the hours it is open. Some popular venues also may charge fees for photo shoots on the premises.

It also helps to keep in mind how many people you want in the background. This can be worked around to a certain extent during the shoot, but I’m unable to remove all the people in the TKTS standby line if you want to shoot in Times Square. Google has a feature that will give you a general idea of when places tend to be busy.

Choose your look

Your outfit will be dependent on the theme and location you have planned for your shoot. You can also bring a second outfit if you want variety or a more casual look.

Some people use this as an excuse to buy a new outfit and accessories (or two!) while some prefer to just bring a bunch of different things and we figure it out when we get there. The important thing is that you feel delighted and at home in your clothes, and that they represent the best of you. (Don’t forget to steam and iron as needed!)

If it fits your style, go big with your look! I love working with outfits that are a little more dramatic. Just avoid wearing all black (unless you’re wearing a tux or are part of a goth or leather lifestyle) or wearing a print that may clash with someone else in your portrait group. You want to compliment each other, not match.  

For more simple outfits, nothing can go wrong with a nice white button-up or blouse paired with a pair of slacks or a neutral skirt.
Don’t forget to accessorize! Colorful shoes, hats, sunglasses, and fun jewelry always turn out well in photos.

Schedule the stylists (if you want)

Some people opt for a more natural look or prefer to do their own styling so they feel more like themselves. These are completely valid options. But if you are considering it, I suggest planning to get your hair and makeup done for the shoot. Makeup, in particular, has the potential to look washed out or overdone on camera even if it’s perfectly done for everyday situations. Getting your hair done professionally can also keep it from getting too messed up during our adventures. Some people opt to do their wedding day trials on the day of their engagement shoot, but keep in mind that it might not turn out the way you like it!

Strike a pose (in the mirror)

Most people don’t have a lot of experience posing for a photo session. Sometimes what looks best in a photograph can feel weird when you’re asked to do it!

If you’re doing a shoot with other people, make sure you’re on the same page about how you’re comfortable posing together in public. Engagement pictures in particular will likely include close posing and canoodling. Take a look at some of the engagement shoots on the site and let me know what you like in terms of posing.

I suggest that you practice posing in front of the mirror in advance to see what looks best. It will help you feel (and look!) more comfortable striking a pose on the day of.

A few days before the shoot

We will have a meeting to discuss the final wheres and whens — typically this is just a phone call and it’s a great time to discuss what photos you love, what sort of feeling you want (playful, romantic, sexy, natural, epic and dramatic, magical light, vintage vibes, etc) It is important to get plenty of rest and drink lots of water the days leading up to your shoot. Do not forget to buy your accessories!

And as a mom, I think I’m legally required to remind you to set your outfit out the night before picture day.

On the day

A portrait session is equal parts improvisation and posing. I love it when clients have shot ideas that they want to try and get excited and involved. The goal of the shoot is to play, to experiment, and see what works with the light. Try your best to relax and have fun.
Before we start, I will give you some basic tips about posture and posing. For engagement shoots, these are also great pointers for your wedding day!

But don’t worry about making things perfect. If you spend your time thinking about if you’re doing right, it’ll show! Mistakes are not only going to happen, but we’ll have fun making them. Think Bob Ross’ “happy little accidents.” I’m looking for the beauty in imperfection—motion, glances, little nuance in body language—the natural moments just after I pose you or tell you a dumb joke.

If you’re feeling nervous, you might want to think of it like acting. You can pick a character or a mood for yourself and we will play with that and have fun!

The best tip is to relax and go with the flow. You’ve hired me for good reason, so now is time to trust that I will be your yoda and guide you true.

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