How To Prepare For Your Engagement / Couple Session
Oh, hello BEAUTIFUL!
Thank you so much for taking the time to contact me! It's an honor being considered for your special day and I appreciate it very much! I can't wait to photograph you and your loved one! I cover all the necessary information about your session in this guide which I send to all my clients to ensure we are on the same page for the shoot. So let's get started. If you could take just two minutes to answer the following questions on this link, it would streamline our communication and ensure you are well taken care of. 😊
Almost done! I would LOVE to put faces to your names right away! Please send me a favorite photo!
Below you can find a collection of tips that help you get the most out of your engagement or couple session. It is always customized to your needs and desires.
Please be on time!
I’m a natural light photographer, so the sun dictates how long I can photograph you. When we have a clear sky and a bright sunny day, I would definitely recommend taking the photos early morning or late afternoon when the sun is going up/down, since the light gets warmer and more beautiful for the photos. In case of overcast weather, we will adjust the session accordingly. Please make proper considerations for traffic, hair delays, and fashion emergencies! An average shoot lasts about 1.5-2 hours. The session will be rescheduled in case of heavy rain. Quick summer showers never stop me from shooting!
I encourage you to find a spot that reflects your love and a place you will both feel comfortable. Some of the best places to have these pictures taken are the ones that have some sentimental meaning for you. These can include the place where you first met, your first kiss, where you got engaged, somewhere you both like going to spend time together. A favorite park or an urban crawling (picking the best few blocks in the city and roaming around) always proved to be great spots. Do not hesitate to check out photo shoot locations beforehand. If you have any cool idea, please let me know. Just keep in mind that backgrounds should be uncluttered and the location needs to have plenty of natural light.
My best engagement sessions so far are the ones where the couple is actively involved in where they want to have their pictures done. They know the walls they want to use, the cafe they want to sit at, or the park bench that they sit on every Sunday. They have this idea in their head that they want to achieve, the moment they would like to re-live. Guidance like this helps make your dream session come true. I can’t guarantee I can replicate what’s exactly in your head…but I will try my hardest! This doesn’t mean I can’t help you choose where you want to have it done, it just means that it’s always best when you choose a place that you want to remember always.
The key to perfect couple styling is a balance of colors, textures, fabrics and patterns. Make this session special! Go for casual chic or even an evening wear look. Is it summer out? Then a breezy, summer outfit. I wouldn't like you to feel uncomfortable, so please wear something that fits your personality - but spice it up. It will probably be a while before you get another chance to get all dressed up (except for your wedding of course) for professional pictures, so please take this chance to bring out your Sunday’s best.
Coordinating outfits are great, but avoid getting too “matchy”. Start out with a basic color palette and go from there. It can help to have one "rock star" in the photos who carries a pattern in their outfit that your loved one or accessories pull from, while keeping his/her outfit more simple. You can do this with a neutral and a few colorful brights, or try a softer palette that has different tonal ranges of the same shades. It tends to be easier to find the "center stage" pieces in girls' clothing, which can often be a good starting point. Wear colors that work well on you, nothing that might wash out your complexion. Clothing choices also mirror the location and the special feeling of the photo.
Wondering how you could add color and interest?
Accessorize and think outside of the box. Scarves, hats, flowers in the hair for girls, jewelry, sweaters, vests, jackets, etc. – all these things can take a ho-hum image and make it feel “complete”. Don’t let the accessories overwhelm the subject or the photos though. I'd like the viewer to notice my subject and their personality first. The accessories and clothing should just complement them, not be center stage. Choose your accent colors and fill in outfits with those punches of color in accessories. Show off your unique personality with accessories! There are a few bonuses to using accessories well (as well as layers). One is that changing them up a bit throughout the session can give you multiple looks without having to do many wardrobe changes. They can also be something that the subjects can interact with… a sassy little tip of the hat, holding the ends of a scarf while running and letting it billow behind you, grabbing the lapels of your loved one's jacket while pulling him close for a kiss… all these little gestures and ways to interact (and become more comfortable in front of the camera) can be made possible with styling choices. Scarves can be used in different ways like wrapped around your shoulders, as a hair piece, etc. to give an extra pop of color and texture. A beautiful blanket with lots of happy colors becomes both an accessory and a prop that you can interact with. This helps you loosen up and create more natural expressions. Sometimes just a very simple accessory can make all the difference. A straw hat and simple details of a dress make a bold statement all on their own. And bare feet for instance can give a sense of the magic being young forever.
How to add detail and depth?
Layers and textures are beautiful and create interest in photos. I absolutely love using multiple textures and layers, especially important when working with a color palette a bit on the neutral or softer side (with a subtle color pop here or there). When I say textures, one of the ways to achieve this is with different clothing materials and accents – tweed, crochet and embroidery details, lace, hand knit items, smocking, ribbons, ruffles, etc. Also, having different layers of clothing (that may have movement too) and accessories can add another dimension to the overall texture of the image. These details and added depth are especially important in black and white images. And it can be done beautifully with colorful brights or just pops of color here and there as well… follow your own vision and style, also looking to what fits you best.
Patterns are okay!
Patterns can add visual interest and texture as well as a good dose of personality. Just make sure that either just one person is in a pattern with the other one in simple, more solid color pieces or the patterns are subtle and complementary.
Make sure you can move freely in your outfits and that you aren’t going to be pulling and scratching at your new clothes… I want you happy and comfortable, not grouchy and miserable during the shoot! Make sure that you select an outfit that makes you feel stunning and relaxed. I can’t photoshop discomfort so try to avoid wearing anything you wouldn't normally wear.
Please don’t wear sneakers… unless we’re talking about some funky Converse that go with the feel of the session. The choice of shoes can make or break an outfit. Slipping on a pair of hip, distressed boots or some colorful ballet flats can tie everything together and complete the feel of the session. Think about coordinating those bright and colorful shoes with other accessories and clothing in the photo. Not necessarily on the subject themselves, but rather match your loved one’s bright turquoise shoes to the shirt or scarf you are wearing. It ties everything together without looking too match-y match-y. And many times NO shoes looks best, especially if you’ll be sitting or in poses where the bottoms of shoes can be seen – that never looks pretty. And don’t forget some funky socks to add another splash of color or personality if your overall look of the session is fun and bright.
Wear shoes that are comfortable! Or, at least bring them with you. You can always bring your oomph shoes and you can switch between your fancy shoes and your comfortable ones. You don’t want to give out 30 minutes into the session because your feet are throbbing.
Don’t date yourself
Keeping a timeless look extends the life of your photos. This is more of a personal choice, but I tend to choose clothing that is timeless, perhaps a little vintage in style… but whatever is your style, make sure your choices won’t look terribly dated years from now (or months in the case of some quickly passing trends). I personally love to use softer or neutral tones (with a color pop here and there) and classic shapes, then add interest with accessories, layers and lots of interesting textures. I also happen to love bright and colorful as long as it’s not obnoxious or distracting from the subject’s personality and face. Of course, this is a personal choice and many couples will choose to go all out in the latest trends, thinking of their clothing choices as a sort of time stamp in their images.
Think about your location
Make sure your wardrobe complements the surroundings. Also, consider how well the colors and patterns in the wardrobes will stand out against the backdrops of your location. Many times I suggest you select a location first and then create the wardrobe, accessories and props to fit with the vision you see for the surroundings and session vibe you want to come out of it.
A few don’ts…
Many of them obvious no-no's but important to include again as a refresher.
- Avoid anything with logos, graphics, characters, labels, etc. These tend to take the “finished” look of a professional portrait down a few notches, can be distracting (who wants people to first notice the Nike or Gap logo before your adorable smiles?) and will date a photo quickly. There are, however, a few instances where a more stylized graphic on a shirt can look good if it fits the vibe of a photo.
- Don’t make both of you wear all the same color… matching is boring and dated. Coordinate colors and looks, letting both of you have your own spin on the color palette. And please do not dress in khaki pants, or both in denim and white shirts.
- While trying to stay current and fashionable, do avoid obvious trends that will be dated soon. You can do fashion forward while still remaining timeless.
- Shiny fabric or shiny makeup. Let’s keep the metallic clothing, circa 1984, at home for personal shots.
- No bright white socks and no sneakers unless we’re talking about something fashion forward and simple like Converse or Vans. And also be sure to remove watches or jewelry not complementary to the session’s look.
Sure! We can usually fit one outfit change into a session (as long as you’re comfortable getting dressed in the back of the car, a public toilet, or behind a blanket or a tree in the park).
If you need help selecting clothes for your session, a quick option is to just have them email me a few quick phone shots of the outfits you are considering so I can lend a little guidance.
Subtle props to enhance and add meaning
It's always fun to bring along props. I believe every engagement or couple session is a good combination of models, props and scenery. I want every shoot to look like it could be in a magazine, so feel free to bring things along that really reflect your fantastic personalities (hobbies / favorite sports can easily be incorporated in the session). Think about subtle props that blend with the vibe of the session as well, but keep them simple and meaningful. The list is endless! A few suggestions: a handful of flowers that are a natural, neutral color or that coordinate with color pops in your clothing, a vintage bicycle, a basket of apples, balloons, mustache on a stick, hats, hairbands, jewelry, blankets / pillows if you would like to sit down in the grass, a favorite journal, magazines / books you like reading. Or the absolute best type of prop is something that is meaningful to you (grandpa's vintage suitcase or basket, camera, chair, a quilt made by grandma). Just don’t let the prop be an odd distraction – make sure it “makes sense” being in the photo and blends well with the whole vision you had in mind for the shoot. If you have a friend or family member to help carry these stuff for you that would help you a lot. My clients usually come with a full trunk / suitcase of clothes and props. Maybe we won't use all, but it's better to have more than regretting not bringing any of your favorites.
Think about where the images will be displayed
How will the images be used? There are endless combinations of prints, wall displays, canvases, albums and other special items that I can build a custom package from just for you. For instance a gallery canvas in the living room over the fireplace or on a wall at the entrance of your home. Think about coordinating the colors and feel of your decor with your clothes and style of props. You can search for wall gallery ideas here.
There are many other way to display your images. Save The Date cards are actually a pre-invitation to your wedding. The fine details may not be in place yet, but you want your guests to block that day off. You wouldn't want your best friend to miss your wedding day simply because she had non-refundable tickets to a tropical island she was dreaming about. Save The Dates usually go out at least 4 months before the wedding. You can also have a guest book or album printed, or have single prints for grandparents, family and friends to share.
Confidence boost with professional hair and makeup
In my previous experience photographing girls, they always want to feel pretty and confident... and sometimes spending a little extra time getting ready achieves just that. Mani/pedi? If you’re in doubt, and if it’s within your budget, go for it, because we will get a close up shot of that ring and you don’t want to be distracted by dry nail beds! I'm not saying you should do this at all! But it helps you feel a little more 'done-up' for the shoot and boost your confidence.
If any of you is needing a trip to the salon, be sure to let the hair cut grow out a week or so in order to look most natural. The opposite goes with hair dying. If it's growing down, I would suggest you go and refresh its color for the session.
Getting a great night’s sleep is so much easier, and more flattering than photoshopping away eye bags. Rest and relax! You’re going to have so much fun!
Not feeling well?
Please contact me at least 24-48 hours in advance if you or your loved one is sick and you won’t be able to come to your scheduled engagement session. Although the session fee is not refundable, if we can reschedule your session within 14 days, a new session fee is not required. Thank you for helping to keep me healthy too!
After your session
I will provide you with 50 artistic, professionally retouched digital images in 14 days. Depending on the image, black and white conversions will also be included. You will receive a private link via email to your own personal web gallery where you can view your photos. They will be available for downloading for 5 days. I do not give out the RAW files.
I think preparation is a key as it can make or break a portrait session, and I would really like you to be happy with your new photos! Here you can find a lot of suggestions for clothes, props, different types of locations and posing. Most of all don't forget to bring your smile, relax and have FUN! 😊
I think that's it for now, but please feel free to contact me should anything else arise. Again, I'm so excited and can't wait to see you soon!
Intimate Weddings + Elopements
Storytelling Lifestyle Family Photography
personal branding photography
Based in London.
Have passport & love to travel!