What To Expect
In simplest terms, we are going to make some great images that reflect your relationship and how you feel about each other. How we get there is different for every couple and every location. In this post I am going to outline some of my thoughts about what has worked well when it comes to mindset, locations, what to wear, and public displays of affection.
What To Wear.
Let's start at home in your closet. You can never be overdressed for your photo session... that's not to say that you should show up in a gown and full tuxedo. Your outfits should be something you would be comfortable wearing to a job interview, or a fancy brunch. Wearing matching jeans and white shirts is a very "90's family-portrait-session" move. I always like to suggest an outfit that compliments your partner's rather than full-on matches. I also suggest that you avoid outward-facing logos, busy patterns, and overly vibrant colours. Simple Earth-tones work best, especially when we are shooting out in the world.
It's important that you choose an outfit you can walk around in for about 45 minutes while also feeling like yourself. Footwear is equally important. Because we will be walking along paths, streets, grass, and (sometimes) sand... selecting shoes that are at the apex of looking good/being comfortable is important. Some great ideas for footwear are: dress shoes, polished boots, loafers, flats, wedge heels, & oxfords. I always suggest my couples avoid platforms/stilettos, and trainers. The last thing I'll say on "what to wear" is to think about looking at these pictures yourself in 20 years. Avoid the outfits you feel might be cringe worthy. We're all adults, we all know what looks good.
Time Of Day
I like to schedule my engagement sessions for the evening around sunset. When the sun is low in the sky it creates long shadows, flattering hair lighting, soft golden glowy textures, and an overall cinematic feeling. We are creatures that have structured our beliefs & society around narratives and story telling. That cinematic feeling is important, as we are creating images centred around this next chapter in your story as a couple.
Yes, I have done some early morning sunrise sessions, and while I'm not against waking up before sunrise, I do find that the overall feeling at sunset is better. The day is almost over, my couples are more relaxed. The only thing left to worry about is what to eat for dinner, and what to watch on Netflix.
Schedule A Date Night
I will often suggest to my couples to bookend your engagement session with a reservation at your favourite restaurant/taco truck/Korean fried chicken spot. Creating an event around your portrait session will attach positive memories to the images we make. It's also an excuse to eat tacos and chicken, I don't think I need to say anything further on this.
As much as I love epic-cinematic locations (mountains, the desert, black-sand-beaches, waterfalls, etc) those places do not reflect everyday life, and are not locations that have meaning to the majority of my couples. I always suggest that my couples think of a restaurant, cafe, park, or street that has some meaning to their story & relationship. If you met at a house party on a specific street we can start there and find some locations or parks nearby to explore. If that shop or street has been demolished and turned into condos, I have a few parks and locations that I have used before that incorporate equal parts green space & urban settings. Generally speaking, we can find pleasing angles and backdrops in any location.
Portrait Sessions Aren't Natural
I get it, even with photography being apart of our society for over 100 years, it's still a strange thing to pose for a photographer. These photos are a reflection of your relationship and how you feel about each-other. This is why I like to give suggestions rather than directions. We will start slow with some easy interactions like "hold hands, go for a walk in that direction, smile at each-other..." One thing I always like to encourage my couples to do is touch each-other as much as possible. If you have a free-hand (and it doesn't feel unnatural) put that hand on your partner, pull them in close. If you aren't comfortable with public displays of affection, that's okay too, there are no rules. We will start slowly & simple, and build from there. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and feel like yourselves. It's a process and I in no-way expect us to get it "right" in the first 5 minutes.
Let's Get Weird
Yes, we will take those head-to-toe photos of you looking at the camera, those photos are important (and are often the most printed). However your portrait session is different for no other reason than because your relationship is unique, and this day will never happen again. Platitudes aside, I do my best to create unique photos with every new session/couple. So maybe once we are comfortable around each-other, and we have taken a few of those standard photos, I might ask you to stand somewhere and look off in a direction, and sometimes it's because I see an angle that is interesting. Sometimes it works really well, and I love the result/pose. Sometimes it doesn't work out and you'll never see those photos. The point is, I'm glad that you are open to trying new things, and exploring the spaces we are in to make some photos that are as unique as you.
for reading this far into this guide (which will one day soon be a video). I hope you see your session as more than just a practice run for your wedding day, but more of a separate experience that adds to the story of your relationship at this point in time and space. Thank you for putting your best foot forward in how you look and feel, and thank you for trusting me to capture your feelings toward each other in photographs. I'm looking forward to your session : )