Whether you incorporate engagement sessions into your wedding packages or offer them as an a la carte option, preparing your clients for the session by explaining the process is a great way to build trust for the session that leads naturally into established trust on the wedding day.
I find that giving the clients “homework” prior to the session alleviates those awkward moments between some couples when you can just tell the groom is totally clueless on what is going on and is only there to appease his fiancé and the bride-to-be is annoyed before the session even starts.
I always start the process of planning the shoot with my couple by sending them a link to some photos so they can begin talking to each other about what they like and what they envision their engagement photos to be.
After that, I send them the rest of the “homework” that contains questions that will help me gather important information I need about them and what they’re looking for prior to their session.
I also send them a list of FAQs to help them better prepare as well.
Here’s a rundown of what I send to my engagement couples prior to every shoot:
Engagement Session Homework and Suggestions for Great Looking Photos!
1. Discuss ideas on locations for the session. The photos I’ve shown you (referring to the link with photos I sent them previously) are popular places to take photos around the city, but any place that is special to you can make a great location for photos.
Talk about if you want an urban feel, an intimate feel, or even something that centers around something you love to do together. If you’re stumped, let’s chat more and brainstorm some ideas. Where would you like to do your session?
2. Talk to each other about any concerns that you have about the session and what you want your photos to reveal about your relationship!
Being on the same page about the photos is a big part of the photos looking natural and not forced. Are there any concerns I should know about?
3.Ultimately, what you plan to do with the photos? Are you looking for Save The Date cards, a piece of wall art, or a sign-in book for the wedding day?
Discuss who you might be purchasing the photos for as gift items as well. What would you like to have as a keepsake from your session?
Engagement Photos: What to expect?
With a few exceptions, most people haven’t been photographed professionally many times in their lives. Being engaged is a really special time in your life since it’s the transition from couple to married couple.
A great engagement session will show the connection that brought you together in your photos.
As your wedding photographer, this is a great time for us to get to know each other. You’ll get used to having your own personal paparazzi following you around and I’ll see the connection you have with your fiancé through the lens before your wedding day.
If you’re a bit nervous about being photographed or have specific concerns, the engagement session is a good time to discuss these.
From a photographic standpoint, I can also assess if you are a blinker, seem nervous in certain situations, or favor a certain kind of pose, which is great for me to know before the whirlwind of your Big Day.
Couples that take the time to do an engagement session have a much easier time getting into the flow of the portraits on the wedding day.
Since time is at a premium on the wedding day this is very important! With the engagement session we can take our time, and you’ll both feel at ease with the process of being photographed.
Beyond that, this a really good excuse to pamper yourselves and have a fabulous date night when the session is done.
Before the session consider getting your hair and makeup done (a great excuse for a trial hair or make-up run) and if your hubby-to-be wants some pampering, how about a great shave at a premium barber?
With the stress of wedding planning it’s a good idea to remember what being a couple was like before you got caught up in the whirlwind of the wedding day itself.
The goal of the engagement session is to create beautiful images that capture the essence of you as a couple!
As for what to wear, check out some of my boards on Pinterest for pairing clothing and inspiration.
Some final tips:
Footwear matters! Your photos will show your full body as well as close-ups so make sure shoes are clean and not scuffed, and pay attention to coordinating socks if worn.
Pets are welcome! It is helpful if you bring along a pet wrangler to take Fido off when we are done with his role in the photos. Bring along water and favorite treats as well.
Your photos will be retouched for skin imperfections, so don’t worry if you have a break out. However, if you are very sunburned or have very visible tan lines, please reschedule your session.
Because my focus is on you as a couple in the photos, I do not provide props for engagement sessions. The goal is to have beautiful, unique photos that will not become dated by trends or fads.
Please leave your purse at home or locked away securely in the car. Guys, please remove wallets or cell phones from your pockets as well as sunglasses.
I’m happy to carry keys, cell phones and anything needed for touch ups for you during the session.
Once I get the homework back we discuss their ideas on the session, their concerns and I give them final instructions on what will happen if the weather is bad and the session needs to be rescheduled.
The “homework” gets sent out to the clients two weeks prior to the session and they are required to return it to me no later than 7 days prior to the session.
I use a form that they fill out on my site, but you could use a simple Word document, an email, whatever works well for you.
Along with the due date for the form to be returned to me, I also include this gentle reminder:
“I’m so excited for your engagement session! In order to have a fun, stress-free session I’m going to be giving you a little homework.
It’s three simple questions that will greatly impact the outcome of your photographs. Please read it over and discuss this with your fiancé and return this information no later than [insert return date here] and then I will contact you to confirm our date and time for the session.
Along with the homework I’ve also included some FAQ’s about the sessions and what to expect.“
Everyone has different styles as far as how to pose clients, and my goal during the engagement session is to make my clients as comfortable as possible.
If I am going to pose them, I tell them before that this is going to be a formal pose and I will say “I’m going to position your shoulder” before I touch them, or ask them to mirror my movements to get them in the right position.
For the more causal poses, I still give them instructions, but just more loose. I might ask them to stand in a certain light and look at each other and snuggle up a bit.
I’ll often discuss the fact that some of these poses and tips will be incorporated into their wedding day and assure them along the way how great they are doing.
Giving them lots of positive feedback on how great the session is going, how great they look and how easy it is to work with them helps them feel at ease that they have chosen the right photographer!
See more tips on Client Direction.
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