It’s always a little intimidating to have your picture taken … even if it’s just a photo on a phone that is taken by a friend. We still want to look nice, make sure nothing is in our teeth, and that our hair is behaving! I realize that preparing for your engagement session can be a little overwhelming. I’ll be providing tips for outfits, handling nerves, and recommendations that will make your shoot the best it can possibly be!
The Basic’s and What To Bring
POCKETS | Empty your pockets! Literally. You don’t want to have key chains or phones showing through your pockets. (This is for the guys especially!)
TIMING | The sun sets quickly, especially if your shoot is not in the summer months. The later you arrive, the less time we have to shoot! Once the sun has set, the shoot will be over.
RING CLEANING | Clean the ring! I love to shoot a few rings shots while you change outfits! The cleaner, the better.
CHANGING CLOTHES | As much as I would like to say that we always have restrooms for outfit changes, more often than not, our clients do quick outfit changes in their car if there are no other options!
DEEP BREATHS | I’m going to help you along the way, and it’s going to be a blast! Enjoy this time together, and make a date out of it! Plan dinner afterward and celebrate!!
PARKING FEE | This may not apply to your shoot, but you always want to plan in advance for a cash-only parking fee that we may encounter or any tolls. We’ve had instances where this has caused some stress, and stress is what we want to avoid!
CLOTHING | I’ll explain this more in-depth in the next few pages, but generally, my couples like to bring one casual outfit and one dressier outfit! If you’re unsure about a few pieces, feel free to bring all the options, and I can help you decide.
LIP COLOR & HAIRSPRAY | You may need to apply more lip color after one outfit change and a few kisses. (If you have a bold lip color, try to have a matte finish so it won’t transfer to your groom as intensely!). Hairspray and a brush will be helpful if your hair struggles in the humidity!
FLIP FLOPS | If you’re wearing shoes that are difficult to walk in but look awesome, bring some comfy shoes to change to while we walk to each shooting location!
Believe it or not, you have so much control over the outcome of your shoot and what it looks and feels like! What you choose to wear is a big decision that often causes a ton of stress for the bride beforehand. However, I hope that with a little education, you will be able to determine the style and feel you desire for your shoot, and then that will make your outfit selection so much easier and less complicated! Let us start by debunking some very common outfit myths that a lot of people believe about what they should wear to their session!
1. MYTH ONE: Avoid neutrals, they wash you out! Whoever started this myth couldn’t have been further from the truth. Sure, some colors don’t work for some people, but I spent the vast majority of my life believing that I could never wear neutrals, and I was missing out! The truth is, neutrals are the most photogenic color for portraits.
2. MYTH TWO: Always wear black, or you won’t look thin! Sure, black is slimming, but it’s always very heavy in portraits. There is nothing wrong with black, but if you’re only wearing it to look thinner and deep down, you’re hoping for light and airy portraits, it may not be the best choice.
3. MYTH THREE: You two need to match! Please, for the love of all things beautiful, please don’t try to match your significant other! Instead, try to coordinate! Coordinating is an entirely different concept from “matching.” Coordination means you are usually choosing different colors that look good together but are not close to being the same.
4. MYTH FOUR: Your location determines your style more than your outfit! False! Your outfit has way more impact than your location. Your location is just a setting in the background, but you two will still be the main focus of the images.
5. MYTH FIVE: You have to buy something new! False! If you know you look awesome in an outfit that you already have and it fits the style you want for your engagement session, that would be a great choice!
What’s Your Style?
These choices represent the three main decisions you will have to make in regards to your outfit choices. There are no right or wrong answers! Maybe you want one outfit to be dressy and the other to be casual. Maybe you want one outfit to be very light and neutral but you want to wear more color in the next outfit. These categories will hopefully help you determine what you’re hoping for in your engagement session. If you’re feeling stuck and can’t seem to determine what you prefer, that’s very normal!
Here are some general “rules of thumb” when it comes to styling during an engagement session. Once you read through these, you may have a better understanding of what you prefer and you can start planning your outfits. These “rules of thumbs” are based on my experience and aren’t concrete rules that can’t be broken. However, if you have questions about one of them in regards to what you want to wear, just email me and we can talk about what would be best!
Things to Avoid:
- Colors to avoid: bright reds, neons, bright oranges (they reflect color onto the skin and can be difficult to edit!)
- Avoid patterns smaller than a quarter: Tiny patterns cause something called “Chromatic Abberation” in digital images. Men’s checkered shirts are fine if the “checks” are on the larger side.
- Alternate Heaviness: If one of you is wearing very dark jeans, the other may want to wear lighter pants. If one of you is wearing a navy top, the other shouldn’t wear a dark/heavy colored top. To a certain degree, alternating the “heaviness” of your outfits can make your images look more balanced.
- Avoid one of you being casual while the other is more dressy: This can look a bit awkward in photos. If one of you is dressed up and the other is casual, it can look a little odd in your images.
- Other things to avoid: Tennis shoes, Graphic tees, Bold logos on shirts, Sunglasses & Baseball Hats
If you’re hoping for a more romantic style of shoot that includes “light” and “airy” colors, you can actually make outfit choices that will lend your images to turn out brighter, softer and extra photogenic! Here are some ingredients that go into creating a romantic styled shoot. It’s important to note that you do not need to choose all of these ingredients in order to have a light and airy style to your images but the more ingredients you include, the more romantic it will be:
- Neutral Colors: Blushes, tans, light pinks, faint blues, and light minty teals, creams, grays, and whites will always result in more of a light and airy look in your images. These colors photograph softer and more romantically!
- Long, Flowy Skirts/Dresses: Dresses and skirts with feminine ruffles, multiple layers of fabric and the ability to blow and move in the wind will always photograph beautifully! You would be amazed at how impactful moving fabric softens an image.
- Khakis vs. Jeans: If you really want your images to be as bright as possible, consider having your groom wear lighter pants instead of dark dress pants or dark jeans.
Bright & Bold Style
Just like the “Romantic” recipe, you don’t have to apply all of these “ingredients to get a perfectly BRIGHT & BOLD look to your engagement session. These ingredients include:
- Only one wears a pattern: If one of you has a bold pattern, it’s very important that the other doesn’t. The more bold the pattern, the more important this rule is!
- Bold Backgrounds: A lot of time, if my couples are going for a bold and bright look, I will notice solid colored backgrounds to use for part of their engagement session! It’s a double win if the background coordinates with their outfits!
- Only one bold color: If you really want a bold and bright look but you want to do it well and tastefully, I would suggest that only one of you have a bright and bold colored outfit and the other stay in a solid neutral to avoid over-doing it!
- Large Patterns are Preferred: If you really want to wear a pattern, my only request is that your pattern is on the larger side. Patterns that are smaller than a quarter can be difficult to photograph. This isn’t true of all patterns but it’s a good general rule to go by!
– I photograph engagement sessions on weekday evenings because my weekends are dedicated to photographing weddings! On some very rare occasions, a weekend may be available.
– I love shooting at gorgeous locations. I recommend two locations max for engagements. A general rule of thumb is the more locations and outfits, the fewer images, but the more variety you’ll have!
– I can do sunrise sessions if necessary! I require sunrise shoots for those who want to take portraits in a very crowded location like the city or popular locations.
– I love to travel to our shoots! However, if I have never been to your location desired, I may need some advice on where to park!
December – March
3:00pm – 5:00pm
During December through Mid-March, you can plan on your engagement session taking place around 3-5pm. However, the time changes in Mid-March and so that will make the start time one hour later.
April – May
The sunset time drastically changes throughout the course of these two months and so our shooting times change as well. You can plan on approximately 5:30-7:30 in April and 6:00-8:00 in May.
June – August
6:30pm – 8:30pm
Summer engagements, just like all engagements, take place two hours before sunset. This will hopefully mean that the shoot will be during the cooler part of the day.
September – November
The sunset time changes drastically during these three months. In Sept, you can plan on 5:30-7:30 until the third week and then you can plan on 5:00-7:00 until Mid- Oct. After the first week of Nov, 3:00-5:00pm.
Pre-Paring Your Groom
If you’re a bride that is a little anxious about how your groom is going to react to this whole “picture” thing, you’re not alone. We receive so many emails from brides who are worried that their groom won’t be into it and I have great news for you…. you both are more photogenic than you think! We are constantly surprising couples by discovering their hidden modeling skills and the most common response from our KJ Grooms is, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought! It was actually fun”. Boom! Mission accomplished!
When the groom says that taking pictures was FUN, we have done our job well! Your engagement session is supposed to be fun and relaxed, not forced or awkward. As you prepare for your shoot, there are a few things that you can do to help your groom know what to expect. First of all, I highly recommend sitting down with your guy and showing him 2-3 of your favorite engagement sessions that I have photographed. Spend some time together scrolling through a few blog posts, this will allow him to gauge what his expectations should be.
I also recommend that you allow for plenty of time to get to your shoot! There is nothing worse than when a couple shows up late, and they have been arguing in the car! That is definitely going to put your groom in a bad mood! Last but not least, remember to have patience with him, and don’t assume that he’s not going to have a good time… I think you’ll be surprised how much you will both enjoy your session with us!
Makeup and Hair: This would be a good time to have a trial run done of your hair and make-up. Depending on where you are at in your wedding planning, you may not have looked into make-up or hairstylist yet – and that’s okay! You can never plan things too early for your wedding! Do your research to make sure the artist(s) specialize in bridal make-up and hairstyles.