Engagement Tips

My clients often ask me advice on things like what to wear for their engagement pictures, what locations should they consider, etc.  Simply put, here are some tips to make your engagement session the best it possibly can!

1. What should we wear?

Wear clothing that represents you!  If you’re preppy, wear preppy!  If you’re downtown chic, wear downtown chic!  The key is to feel as comfortable as possible (in your own skin) I mean.  Now is not the time to try a new style because what most likely will happen is you’ll feel self conscious and think “Do I look okay in this?  “Does it look like I’m trying too hard?”.  I’ve asked my husband Doug these questions a few times in the past and realized that it was because I was wearing something “foreign” to me.  Not that that’s a bad thing…I love taking chances with fashion!  However, I shouldn’t have waited till the day of the party to try on my new outfit and wondered if I looked okay just as we were leaving for the party…make sense? Key point here is: “Do you!”

2.  Where should we do our engagement pictures?

As you can see here, Jen and Jeremy are rocking their “urban chic” outfits like nobodies business.  They are both very stylish people and are great at choosing clothing that lets their personalities shine through!  I loved that they took initiative and tried their best to have their engagement pictures reflect who THEY were as a couple.  They practiced the art of “doing you” perfectly here.  I urge each and every one of my couples to not only choose clothing that represents them but also location(s) that represent them.  The key is to choose two locations close together (10-15 minute drive) from each other that have two different vibes.  As you can see in the images above, Jen & Jeremy choose a more natural/earthy location for their first “scene” and then an urban/city location for their second “scene”.  The outfit changes along with the change in location gave them a good variety of different types of images.

3.  Should we bring props?

Yes!  I think props are a great way to personalize your engagement pictures even more!  The key is to not overdo it.  You don’t want your engagement session to look like a staged production; you want it to look like an intimate portrayal of who you actually are as a couple.  I think Wendy & Jason did a great job of using props to enhance their shoot.  We shot around their neighborhood in Old Town Alexandria section of Washington, D.C. which really was one of the most ideal locations I’ve ever shot at.  There was something new on every corner which of course is always a great thing!  We started right outside their home and brought their dogs along for some pictures of them with their two favorite “fur” people.  Then we headed out with a bouquet and bike to add some even more flare to the images.  These two elements alone give just enough pop to bring their images to the next level.  Additionally, they did an amazing job of coordinating their outfits in a way that didn’t look too “matchy matchy” but complimented each other extremely well.  To this day their shoot is still one of my favorites!

4. Practice smiling…not only with your mouth but with your eyes!

Most of the time the clients I work with have no trouble smiling naturally.  In my eyes a good smile is when someone genuinely looks happy doing it.  If you take a look at the above right photo, Natalie & Clint not only look adorable in their outfits, they also look incredibly happy with each other.  They have beautiful smiles and most importantly their eyes look happy too…this is where smiling with your eyes comes into play.  With a genuine smile, not only is a person’s mouth smiling, so are their eyes.  There was actually a study done on the most genuine smiles and they concluded it was the “Duchenne” smile because it engaged the eyes.

5. Get close!

I provide my clients a fair amount of direction during the shoot because I don’t want them stressing themselves out thinking “okay, now what do we do?!”  However, there is one area of direction my couples always have little bit of difficulty in.  When I say “get close”, they are never close enough.  I usually have to repeat myself a couple of times before I get the “correct” amount of closeness.  I can see why they have trouble with this though…Doug and I had the same problem when we took our anniversary pictures recently.  Our photographer Ross told us to get close and then told us to get even closer.  We felt as though we were inspecting each others pore size but for the picture it was just the right amount of closeness to create a level of intimacy in the photo.  So I recommend practicing “getting close” before your session so you can get use to how close you will be actually looking at each other.  You’ll see, it feels uncomfortable at first but it will be well worth it later for the photos!  Kate & Joe look absolutely fantastic getting close don’t they?

6. Trust me!

This is KEY to getting the best photos from your engagement session!  Nothing stifles creativity as much as an unwilling participant.  Kristeen & Josh did their engagement session by the Salton Sea.  If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically a deserted old run down town.  There was this couch just laying out on the road.  I asked Kristeen if she would mind laying on it for a particular photo.  She didn’t even flinch…she said “anything for a good photo”.  That is my kind of gal!!  Josh did exactly the same when I asked him to sit on the ground.  Kristeen and Josh not only trusted me but wanted their pictures to look great and were willing to do anything to ensure that.  Their trust in me gave me the confidence to do what I need to do to give them the best experience and pictures as possible.  I promise I will never make you do anything you don’t want to do but if you can just trust me, I promise it will be worth it!

7.  Most importantly…HAVE FUN!

This is a very special time in your life!  You’re about to embark on a long & beautiful partnership…what better way to celebrate than during your engagement session!  Let loose and have fun!  You’re going to look back on these pictures years from now and I want you guys to remember how happy and in love you were…not how nervous and stiff you looked!  So while I understand that it’s normal to be nervous, just remember that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Live it up and let loose!  You’ll be glad you did…I promise!