I love the Engagement Session. Has to be my favorite part of the entire relationship to capture.
It's the one time where you, the couple, let your guard down.
No outside pressure, no trying to be something else for others, it's simply the two of you.
It's the one time where you can simply slow down, breathe, and just be.
But unfortunately life doesn’t slow down for us. Life is way more chaotic and makes it much more difficult for us to take time for ourselves.
When you're stressed, anxious, distracted, or upset, it will show up your images. And no amount of styling, lighting or posing will help.
So here are 5 very simple tips to help you make the engagement session a great experience and in return will lead to some amazing photos!
Tip 1: Clear your Calendar.
Your days are probably just like mine: jam packed with meetings, appointments, to do's, calls to make, calls to return, tasks and deliverables. It seems like we don’t get any breathing room. And having to add one more appointment to an already over flowing day doesn’t help the cause.
When you have a million and one things on your mind, it's virtually impossible to relax. You become anxious, irritated, and you just can't be yourself.
So clear your calendar.
With my engagement sessions, I spend anywhere between 3 to 5 hours with my couples. And I always advise them, if it's at all possible, take the day off work, and don't have any other appointments or tasks scheduled for that day.
Even let your family and friends know, "Hey we're taking our Engagement Photos today, so only contact us if it's really necessary or an emergency".
This is going to allow you to relax, remove any outside distractions, and not be in a rush.
Both of you will be able to take your time in the morning, have plenty of time to get ready, enjoy each other, and start your day off right.
It might actually feel like a mini vacation.
You'll both come into the engagement session and just 'be'. Be present. Be relaxed. Be with each other.
Tip 2: Don't show up hungry.
Probably not what you were expecting and that’s because this really isn't something many couples think about. But let me ask, how many times have you found yourself being grumpy, easily aggravated, or cranky, and then you go eat something, and your perfectly fine. Another word for this is 'Hangry'.
And this is something really easy to do if you follow Tip 1.
You know when you'll be starting your session, so you can easily plan to have a good meal before it starts. Now it's not to say go crazy at the local buffet and stuff yourselves until you can barely walk. But a good, healthy meal, that gives you plenty of energy and doesn't bog you down will help you have an amazing photo shoot.
I also bring snacks for my couples and myself. I know you well enough by now, to know exactly what you like. And the last thing we want is for either of us to run out of energy in the middle of a shoot.
I like to schedule little mini breaks when we shoot. This gives me and my couples a few minutes to re-charge, and if I see them getting a little antsy, I can always pull out some of their favorite snacks and beverage and take a 5 min breather.
When I started doing this with my couples, I could not believe the difference it made. They were more energized then they were at the beginning, and some of our best moments were created at the end of the day.
Tip 3: Bring something meaningful to the two of you.
This is my favorite one. It's where I like to be a little different with my couples.
Many couples like to bring the tried and true props with them: big letter of the grooms last name, small chalk board with the wedding date written on it, etc.
And I totally encourage you to do so. But I like to add a little something special.
I have the most important job of your entire Wedding. I am the one person you have entrusted to capture the most important day of your life, and it's only going to happen once. There are no 2nd chances or re-do's.
So I don't want to miss capturing a single moment, especially the one's I can help you create.
I get to know my couples, on a personal level. I'm a relationship builder. How can I tell your story to the world if I don’t know your story. So I take the time to get to know you both as a couple, and each of you individually.
Before we ever take a single image, I'll talk to each one of you personally, one on one. I love asking the bride if there's an old love letter he's wrote her when they first met, or a special Valentine's day card she holds close to her heart? I ask her to bring it with her without telling him. I also tell her to think of why it means so much to her, and write that down in a note to him. Then I tell her to bring the card and the note together without him knowing.
When I have this same one on one time with the groom, I may ask him to write her a love letter to her. I want to give him plenty of time before the engagement session, and I tell him to really speak from the heart. This is just for her. Then I ask him to bring it to the engagement session without her knowing.
And when the moment is right, I'll have her pull out the card and note, and read it to him, totally surprising him. After she is done sharing that moment, I have him pull out his love letter and read it to her, totally surprising her. And WOW!!! Talk about some amazing moments.
Tip 4: Communicate with your Photographer.
In any relationship, communication is key. And that is never more true than in the relationship you have with your photographer. It does not matter how good your photographer is, how amazing you look, how perfect the lighting is, if you don’t have clear, honest and open communication with your photographer, you'll never get the images you dreamed of, and you'll end up hating them.
I am always very clear up front, that I am not a show up day of and click a button kind of photographer. I am someone you are going to call a friend before it's all done.
And lets be clear, Pinterest is not a communication tool. Sure it's a great conversation starter and idea generator, but you can't create a Board, add your photographer, and expect to get the results you want.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep the lines of communication open and flowing. It doesn't matter if it's phone call, text, email, Skype, as long as your doing it.
Communicate your vision, your feelings, what you want, what you dream of. This will only empower you and your photographer to create the most amazing images that are not just of you but about you.
Tip 5: Just be You
Sounds simple, but believe it or not, this is probably one of the hardest things I've seen for any couple to do. With the chaos of life, it's hard to let down your guard. Especially in front of a camera.
But if you're able to follow the previous 4 tips, this one will come easily.
You'll show up to your engagement session, calm and relaxed, and won't even notice me there with a camera. It'll be like you are the only two people on earth. You'll be your true selves, and the passion that burns between your souls will show up in every one of your images.