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Tips for Planning an Engagement Photo Session

PNW Snoqualmie Engagement Photos

WHY ENGAGEMENT PHOTO SESSIONS ARE SO IMPORTANT

Are you newly engaged and ready to take some beautiful engagement photos to mark this exciting step in your relationship? If so, congratulations and you’ve come to the right place! I absolutely love engagement photo sessions with my clients because it allows us some time to get to know each other before the big day which can be so helpful in creating a more relaxed environment for your wedding day. And who doesn’t want to be more relaxed on their wedding day? Think of your engagement photo session as a practice run for your wedding day; a chance to get out all the jitters and get some amazing photos to celebrate this exciting time!

Another reason engagement sessions are so wonderful is that they allow you to have updated photos of you and your partner to use throughout your wedding planning process. Engagement photos can be a great way to announce your engagement and they can also be used for ‘Save the Date’ cards, guest books, wedding websites and framed photos to display on your wedding day. With so many ways to use your engagement photos, you can’t go wrong!

Keep reading for a complete list of things to keep in mind when planning your engagement photo session.

THE BEST LOCATION FOR YOUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS

The most important thing to consider when choosing a location for your engagement photo session is YOU! Picking a location or an activity that means something to you as a couple is the best way to get beautiful and authentic photos that are a true representation of your relationship and your personality. Do you like to go wine tasting together? Or maybe you are both part of a bowling league. Whatever it is, think of something that you enjoy doing together and try to incorporate it into your photos. This helps make your engagement photos completely personalized and tell your story at the same time. Be creative when it comes to location and don’t be scared to do something a little out of the box. I like to approach engagement photo sessions as a ‘date’ where I am the third wheel following you around, capturing all your favorite moments together whether it’s a coffee house crawl around Capitol Hill or a hike in the mountains.

Need some more engagement location ideas? Check out some of my favorite Seattle locations on my blog.

WHEN TO TAKE YOUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS

There are two main things to consider when planning your engagement photos: time of day and how far in advance to schedule before your wedding.

On average, you should schedule your engagement photos 8-10 months before your wedding day. If you do plan to use your engagement photos for Save the Dates, this will allow for enough time to receive your edited photos back from me (a process that typically takes a few weeks) and create and print your invites. If you are planning a destination elopement or wedding, you may want to allow for a little more time to allow your guests to plan and book their travel arrangements.

Although 8-10 months before your wedding is a good guideline, the time of year when you take your engagement photos is entirely up to you and can depend a lot on your personality and what you envision your photos to look like as well as the location you will be shooting (think beach, mountain, forest, desert or indoors.) Once you’ve visualized the perfect engagement photos, think about your location and which season would best help you achieve that look. In Seattle, we get to experience each of the four seasons and they all can create a different look depending on the time of year.

Spring

Spring is the season of growth and new life so if you are looking for a season to represent the start of your lives together, there couldn’t be a more perfect season.

Summer

Summer tends to be the busiest season for weddings. The days are longer and they tend to have generally accommodating weather which makes for an ideal season for outdoor photos.

Autumn

Autumn is one of the most popular seasons for engagement photos as many weddings are scheduled in the summer months and these months fall within the 8-10 month range. This is a beautiful time to get engaged as the weather is turning milder and the changing colors make for a beautiful backdrop.

Winter

Winter is the cozy season and automatically creates such a warm and intimate vibe. Whether you choose indoor photos cuddled by the fireplace, or outdoor photos in the snow, sipping on warm cups of hot cocoa, you are guaranteed to have a cozy and intimate vibe for your engagement photos.

Once we have finalized a date, it’s time to decide when to take your photos. I typically advise against taking photos in the middle of the day because direct sunlight creates shadows that are unflattering and won’t allow you to look your best. If we do shoot on a sunny day, I will be on the hunt for open shade the whole session to make sure you are getting the most flattering light possible!

Sunrise and sunset are some of the best times to photograph and are referred to as “golden hour” because the sun is not yet high in the sky and the lighting is soft, which allows for beautiful, even photos. Cloudy and overcast days also provide great lighting and are another wonderful time to photograph as they can provide more flexible hours if timed right.

Rattlesnake Lake Engagement Photos

WHAT TO WEAR FOR YOUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTO SESSION

The most important thing to remember is, to be comfortable. Make sure you choose outfits that reflect your personality and who you are. You want to look your best, but still be you! That being said, there are a few tips for choosing outfits that will help ensure your photos look their absolute best!

Choose colors in the same color palette.

Try to choose outfits that complement each other without being too matchy and avoid bold patterns. Cool or neutral tones tend to photograph best.

Consider the location and the season.

Try to choose clothing appropriate for the shoot location. If we’re shooting at a beach, a big hat, flip flops, and a flowing dress might be in order. If we’re shooting at a park, wear lots of layers and bring those rain boots and an umbrella in case it rains. Date night? Go all out! Wear those heels and that cocktail dress.

Don’t forget the accessories.

Accessories are a fun way to add personality to your outfits and they can even be incorporated as fun props.

What you wear matters and can make an impact on the overall look of the session! Wear something you won’t have to keep adjusting or worrying about throughout the shoot as you’ll want to be able to focus on your partner for these photos. Be comfortable and confident and I promise, that will reflect in your photos!

Want some outfit ideas? Check out my Pinterest board to get some inspiration for what to wear for your engagement photos.

An engagement photo shoot is a perfect excuse to get your hair and makeup done and it can also serve as a test run for the look you are considering for your wedding day. Pampering yourself for the shoot will make you feel great and give you more confidence which always shines through the photos. It will also reduce your stress level and allow you to relax and just think about the session. If you are looking for a hair and makeup artist, I have an amazing list of referrals I can provide.

City Engagement Photo Session
Couple Engagement Photo Shoot

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION

HOW LONG DOES AN ENGAGEMENT PHOTO SESSION LAST?

How long we shoot for your engagement photo session is up to you and what you would like to get out of your photos! I offer two options to my couples, one hour or 90 minutes. Sessions that are one hour will have one outfit and will take place at one location. Couples looking for a little more variety can book for 90 minutes and they will receive two outfit changes at two different locations that are close together. Longer sessions allow for greater variety in your look as well as the location, not to mention you’ll also receive more photos!

HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN ADVENTURE ENGAGEMENT PHOTO SESSION

If you’ve chosen the outdoors for your engagement photo session, there may be a few additional things to consider when preparing for your session.

– I always coordinate a meet-up location with my couples, and for my adventure sessions, it is especially important to do so as some of the locations do not have cell service.

– Pack necessities. Things like water, snacks, flashlights, bug spray, first aid, etc. are essential as we may have to hike a little ways to get to our location and it’s best to be prepared for any situation.

– Wear comfortable shoes. Knowing the type of terrain we will be adventuring on is so important when choosing which shoes to wear. There could be rocks or mud and you don’t want your nice shoes to get ruined or, worse, get hurt by wearing improper footwear on your hike! You can always change into a different pair of shoes if needed once we arrive onsite.

– Wear comfortable clothing (and pack extras.) Similar to wearing the proper shoes, you may want to consider wearing different clothes during our adventure on the way up to the location. If you are wearing a long flowing dress during your session, you may not want to hike in that all the way up. Here in the PNW weather can also be quite unpredictable, so it’s always best to be prepared for any type of weather and have a change of clothes in case it rains, or have an extra jacket or two to keep warm in between photos.

SOME OF THOSE SHOTS DON’T COME EASY

One thing I always tell my clients is if they want a mind-blowing set of photographs, they need to be willing to do anything! Some of the best photos appear so effortless and easy, BUT I’m here to tell you that the beautiful girl wearing the long white flowing dress with the 4-inch pumps and perfect hair swinging through the air by her fiancè did not get into that shot easily. She tromped through that wet grass in flip flops holding up her dress while I ran out there after her fixing her hair and straightening her man’s vest. They were cold, wet, and down to do what it took to get those shots! I’ll carry your shoes, my shoulders will become your coat rack, I’ll carry your bags, I’ll fix your hair, I’ll tell you you have something in your teeth…I’ve got your back, that’s what I’m there for. Go with the flow, turn awkward situations into funny ones, and be game for anything, and magic will happen.

THE CLOSER THE BETTER

The best shoots (and resulting photos) are always when the two of you are being exactly who you are–a couple in love! So, the closer the better. Don’t be afraid to be super affectionate with each other. And don’t overthink it…just relax and have fun together. You can think of me as a ‘third-wheel friend,’ occasionally taking some photos of you both enjoying each other.

My mission for every session is for us to have fun, laugh til we cry, and most importantly walk away thinking, “that was such a good time!” Candid moments are always the best. Be playful with each other–chase each other, jump in the air, get crazy! Don’t worry…I’ll get PLENTY of dramatic calm shots of you holding each other while looking into the sunset.

My favorite couples are always the happy ones, and luckily that’s all I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot. I’ve never had to say, “give me a laugh you guys!” and I hope I never have to. I like to catch REAL emotion and REAL laughter. Whether it means I’m acting a fool to make you laugh every 5 minutes, or you telling each other secret jokes…genuine funny moments will happen. And I will capture them for you!

COMMUNICATE!

I’m here for YOU. My goal is to make you look and feel your best. Feel free to tell me all about what you love and what you hate. Tell me what you’re looking for, what you want to get out of the session, what shots you want to be sure to get etc… If you’re not feeling good about elements of the shoot, stop me and tell me about it before it’s too late! I love feedback and hearing your ideas, so don’t hesitate to talk to me about anything.

HOW LONG CAN WE EXPECT UNTIL WE RECEIVE OUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS?

Every photographer is different, but I promise my couples 4 weeks from the time of the session to receive their engagement photos. This is because I take time to look at each of your photos and edit them individually because I want you to have the best photos I can possibly deliver to you. Additionally, I may have other clients that I am shooting or editing for during this time as well. The time of year can also play a large part in how much is going on so I promise 4 weeks for final delivery so all my couples can have the same positive experience.

Well, that’s all for now! Thank you for reading and I hope you found this post helpful for planning your engagement photo session. I am super excited to meet you and capture your story during our time together!

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