HAVE THE "IT'S A DATE" MINDSET
To keep the pressure low, try thinking of the engagement session as just one part of a fun date night! Roll with that idea and make plans to follow the session with a yummy meal at a favorite restaurant or grabbing cocktails at a new hotspot? Couples sessions are all about the experience and a chance to spend some time together - take advantage of that feeling you get when the session is over. My goal during couples sessions is to always evoke feelings - whether that’s laughter or all up in your feels tears. Keeping focus on each other and that "date" mindset will help allow the space for that connection to happen and for you two to fall in sync as if there wasn't an elopement photographer standing only 10 feet away with a camera pointed at the two of you.
WHEN TO BOOK AN ENGAGEMENT SESSION
I would suggest booking your engagement session 4-6 months out from the wedding date. If you have a lot of guests from out of state that would have to make travel arrangements (airline tickets + hotels), lean more towards the 7 month mark so that you can get your Save the Dates out in plenty of time for your wedding guests to start planning their travel. If a lot of your guests are local or there aren't many that will be traveling great distances to be at your wedding, sending your Save the Dates out around the 4 month mark is perfect.
PICKING A LOCATION FOR YOUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS
When choosing a location for your couples session, there's a couple things to consider:
Are there any spots that are particularly special to your relationship?
Some nostalgia adds another sweet layer to the photos. I've had couples go back to the places they had one of their first dates or places that they even met. I've traveled to locations that hold some kind of significance to the either individual, whether it's relationship-based or just somewhere they have always wanted to go together. On that same note, let’s go to a place you’ve never been!
Let’s take advantage of the moments and head to the desert, hike to a mountain top, or swim in the salty sea to get some really amazing photos of you and your babe. That’s what elopement photography is all about.
Do you want to hit up multiple locations?
Since couples sessions are about an hour in length (give or take), a lot of couples decide to split the session between 2 locations. When picking multiple locations, it's important to consider the distance between each and how much time we'd spend traveling & setting up between spots. As the general rule of thumb, if we're in the car for longer than 20 minutes between locations, it's too far. Because couples sessions are usually scheduled within the last 2 hours of sunlight when the light is soft and gorgeous, we don't want to be wasting the best light of the day driving too much.
Have no idea where you’d want to shoot?
No worries, I know of all the cool places and would LOVE to take you to a few of my favorite spots, just contact me and we can see how much you want to travel and how I can help in location scouting! Not all couples session packages include travel outside of Southern California so be sure to run a location by me during your initial inquiry OR look at my Travel Schedule and let’s plan your shoot while I’m already traveling so we can skip over travel fees.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS
So at this point you've nailed down your location and have your date set all ready to go! Now, to prepare for you session....
SELECTING YOUR WARDROBE ☾
Locations and outfits go hand in hand because they play a huge role in how to shoot, edit, and ultimately how the entire images’ mood and focus is perceived by the viewer.
» As far as actual wardrobe for the photographs, the biggest thing is that you want to make sure you pick outfits that you both feel comfortable in. If you don't feel 100% comfortable, no matter what we do or what we try, you're going to look uncomfortable in the photos. Same goes for anything restrictive or especially tight fitting. No one feels great moving around in super tight clothing, and that unease will definitely show.
» Think: Complimentary Colors. Instead of going matchy-matchy and being an amorphous blob of navy where it's hard to tell where one individual begins and another one ends, find a color story that has multiple shades that all compliment one another, but will give your photographs depth. Black is not an ideal color when it comes to photographs. Black has the tendency to lose texture & depth as well as dominates the photo - you don't want the first thing your eye goes to is a black button up, you want your eye to go to your faces! Neons or super bright colors - like salmons + turquoise - are also some shades to avoid. Neons especially create color casts, which essentially makes your skin a different color. Color casts are difficult to correct in post production & processing, and can leave your photos with off-coloring.
» I've found that jewel and earth tones photograph the best, 100% of the time. That's burgundy, plum, olives, dusty blues and pinks, creams & browns. Stick with the color board below for reference! Never be afraid of metallics!
» Patterns & textures always help to add another layer to your photos. The main thing with patterns is you want to make sure whatever the pattern is, it isn't fighting with the rest of the outfits. Blazers, Belts, and adding jewelry - all great as well to break up solids and to give a little bit more depth!
» Also think about your location. Don’t wear greens if we shoot where there are a ton of trees, no sandy browns in the desert, and no blues at the ocean. You’ll most likely never go wrong when coordinating colors. Guys will definitely never go wrong in a suit (this is the time where black totally works however). Unless we are shooting an in-home session - that would be weird. If you’re freaking out right now, send me your outfit options, bring several outfits to the shoot and I will style you to what looks best on you and in our location.
ALIGNING YOUR HAIR & MAKE-UP TRIAL
If we’re shooting your engagement photos, then why not make this your trial run with your preferred professional Hair + Make Up artist? From here, make adjustments for your wedding day. Become familiar with your wedding photographer and your Hair + Make Up artist in one go! Two birds, one stone my friend! Another plus… you’ll look hella spicy for your engagement photos (hair flip).
Your hair + makeup artist will know how long you should expect the trial to take, but I suggest aiming to have an hour cushion time from the end of the trial to when you want to start heading out for the engagement session just to be on the safe side. It's not super common, but hair & makeup can run behind schedule for one reason or another - and really, if you're going to have it take longer than expected, you want that to be on your trial day and not the wedding!
I always suggest having wavy hair for your engagement or couples session.
TO TAN OR NOT TO TAN?
My advice - FIGHT THE URGE. No matter how pale you are, if you spray tan before the session you run the risk of either:
Your hands will become very uneven and spotty - I still haven’t found the magical trick to editing this out but we have to get those ring shots baby!
OR the spray tan turns you oxidize badly and turn orange. Literally, this is the worst.
If the urge to tan before the session cannot be suppressed, I highly suggest tanning the week PRIOR to the session, not the week of. If you're wanting to do a sunless tan to insure even color, opt for a natural glow and not the darkest shade available. Definitely look into spray tanning salons and familiarize yourself with their work, and again, time the sunless tan so that you have a few days for the color to develop and adjust before the session. If anything, get an airbrush spray and put on primer all over and barrier cream on your hands prior to spraying!
My trusted spray tan salon is Sugared + Bronzed - if you just can’t help yourself.
Because I get it.
COUPLES SESSION ACTIVITIES & PROPS
Anything that ties into your life like a guitar, a few White Claws, eco friendly confetti, or even a pair of amazing wide brim hats will make you feel so much more comfortable in photos since it gives your hands something to do. I always tell my ladies to bring a few hat! They are super fun to play around with and everyone looks amazing in one.
I’m also here to tell you that if you want cheesy photos with those cutesy, Pinterest inspired signs - I am not the photographer for you.
Love you but no.
When you book a session with me, I make sure you understand that you’re about to get a WORK OUT. We will start with the more intimate, close up shots of you both kissing and being super snuggly then head to an open area for a bunch of frolicking and playing around!
FINDING YOUR STYLE & COMMUNICATING YOUR VISION FOR THE COUPLE SESSION
Probably one of the most important preparation is for you two as a couple to sit down, look through some engagement photos
and see what you’re most drawn to.
Here’s my Couples Pinterest Board to help get some feelers out there.
The next step is to then relay your expectations and vision to your photographer. I’ll observe and familiarize with how the two of you love, how you both play, and what makes you both so damn adorable together! If you’re more fun and flirty then I’ll capture the giggles and the butt grabs. Same if you’re more chill and just want to sink into each others bodies and walk slowly on the beach.
I feel like a lot of clients can fall into the trap of "following direction" instead of interpreting the suggestions and being themselves, so in order for me to help guide you, PLEASE let me into your relationship and show me how you love from the beginning. Our best photographs will be the ones from the last location - when you’re super comfortable with me being around. I’ve had couples not want to show PDA at all in their photographs. I’ve also had couples strip naked and jump into lakes holding hands! I’m there to capture the two of you, together. Doing your own thing!
PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR SESSION
You'll definitely want to bring an adventure bag! Even if you don't anticipate bringing a lot of extra stuff with you two for the couples session, the bag is going to house your phones, keys and wallet during the session! Some things I suggest bringing along on the session aside from your wardrobe changes:
» Hiking Boots - If you're planning on wearing heels of wedges/any footwear that could be problematic to walk/hike in, pack a pair of sneakers or boots so that you can change between spots. I very rarely get your shoes in photographs so might as well be safe and comfortable.
» Lipstick/Make Up Touch Ups - There's usually a fair amount of kissing & nuzzling, so bringing along some makeup to touch up either your lip stain or foundation to keep you feeling gorgeous.
» Fun Flask - Sometimes you just need a little liquid courage! It's kind of amazing what a difference taking a quick swig of alcohol before an engagement session can do for the nerves!
» Jackets - Even if it's not a particularly chilly day, engagement sessions usually end right at dusk when the sun has hit the horizon. The majority of the time, there's usually a 10 to 30 minute walk back to the car and without the sun it can get a little brisk.
» Outfits - As I mentioned earlier, bring a few different outfit options. I suggest one cozy outfit (for me that would be high waisted shorts and a band tee), then your holy shit I feel amazing outfits (like your flowy dress). I’d rather us have several options than just a few so don’t be shy here. Bring your entire closet if you want. I was a senior stylist for Free People for a few years so trust me I love looking through wardrobe.
THE COUPLES SESSION
AFTER THE SESSION, WHAT TO EXPECT ☾
I usually send about 5 images as a sneak peek two to three days after our time together.
Within two to three weeks after the session, the completed final collection will be in an online gallery ready to download!
The online gallery has options to download, print, make albums, and mark your favorites.
WHERE TO PRINT YOUR PHOTOS ☾
Your online gallery will give you options to print from one of my preferred labs. The pricing is very affordable for the professional quality you’ll get.
Want more options? Check out Artifact Uprising. They're my absolute favorite for large photographs and albums!