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), I would lean more towards the 7 month mark so that you can get your Save the Dates out in plenty of time for your 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 6 month mark is perfect.
My weekend dates in October - December are usually completely booked.
Weekday sessions are always best during this time since wedding season is in full effect
PICKING A LOCATION
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.
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.
Do you want to hit up multiple locations?
Since couples sessions are about 1.5 hours 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 30 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!
HOW TO PREPARE
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 WARDROBE ☾
Locations and outfits go hand in hand for me because they play a huge role in how I 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 burgandy, plum, olives, dusty blues and pinks, creams & browns. Stick with the color board below for reference! Never be afraid of metallics! Silvers and Golds look
AH-MAZING in photographs.
» 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 with a burgundy dress. Guys will definitely never go wrong in a suit. Unless we are shooting an in-home session - that would be weird.
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 H+MU artist? From here, make adjustments for your wedding day. Become familiar with your photographer and your H+MU 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 avoiding this 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 and barrier cream on your hands prior to spraying!
ACTIVITIES & PROPS
Anything that ties into your life like a guitar, bottle of champagne, 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 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. I’m about adventure and making sure that you leave the session with a fond memory and a wonderful experience.
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 PORTRAITS
Probably one of the most important preparations 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 me. I’ll observe and familiarize myself 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 YOUR "GO BAG"
You'll definitely want to bring a 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.
» 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 is definitely suggested.
» 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.
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. 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 a photographer standing only 10 feet away with a camera pointed at the two of you.
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 of the session, the completed final collection will be in an online gallery ready to download!
WHERE TO PRINT YOUR PHOTOS ☾
Your online gallery will have 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!