You probably know what an engagement session is at this point. If you haven’t experienced one yourself, you likely know someone who has or you’ve at least seen some engagement photos online through different outlets. But do you know WHY engagement sessions are so important? Your first thought probably goes straight to the fact that you’re getting photos to memorialize this monumental moment in your life. An engagement is a big deal. Just like buying your first house or having your first baby. There is so much more to engagement sessions than just getting pretty photos though. I want to explain those things below in list format because I’m Type A and love numbering things ;-).
- Learning what it feels like to be in front of your wedding photographer’s camera. Here is the kicker to this statement…”your wedding photographer’s camera.” Every single photographer is different. When you pick a wedding photographer, you them because you like their personality and their photos. You know what makes their photos unique? They do! It is impossible for any two photographers to operate the same exact way because they are two different people with two different brains. The most beneficial thing you’ll learn is how your photographer interacts with you. The way they pose you, talk to you, and coach you through your engagement session. Some photographers are VERY vocal, some aren’t at all, and some are in between. Some photographers have very fluid posing, some very static, some very emotional, and some very stoic. Some photographers shoot with prime lenses and are changing lenses often while others leave one zoom lens on the entire time. Because of all these things, I highly encourage all couples (not just AMP couples) use their wedding photographer as their engagement photographer. That way, when it comes time for your wedding day portraits, you already feel comfortable with that person and know exactly what to expect. Now, it’s not always possible with military couples, out of town couples, or fiancés with jobs that require travel. When it’s just not feasible, I recommend following your wedding photographer’s blog and social media and almost “studying” their work so you can get as close to knowing what to expect as possible! Also, having lots of conversations with them to get to know them better as a person.
- Your wedding photographer learns what it’s like to shoot you as a couple. Just as you’re learning how it feels to be in front of your photographer’s camera, your photographer is also learning what it’s like to have you in front of their camera. They will make mental notes on the way the two of you interact, poses that unfold more naturally for you, and how to get you comfortable in front of their camera. Some couples are giggly and make jokes the whole time while others are super stoic with their model faces. Some love smiling at the camera while others want more of a candid vibe. Prompts used as posing tools also work great with some couples and not so much with others. Your engagement session is a time to learn all of this so when the wedding day rolls around, you don’t waste time figuring these things out. Rather, you can hit the ground running and use your very small window of time efficiently!
- You get to wear something you are super comfortable and confident in. Your wedding day is going to be images of you looking the best that you’ve probably ever looked. All dolled up with professional hair and makeup with an AMAZING dress and suit, wearing your fancy watch and your expensive shoes. Your engagement session is meant to document you more where you’re at in this stage of life. What you look like, the style you love, and the colors that you’re drawn to. It is an outward reflection of the person that you are as a young engaged couple. It’s something that you are super comfortable in and makes you feel beautiful/handsome. Not that you don’t feel beautiful and handsome in your wedding day attire, but let’s be honest… those things can only be so comfortable.
- You get to pick a location that represents you in this season of life. This is something else that is important! I work with my couples to pick a location that is representative of them. For example, if they love visiting new breweries and enjoying a pitcher on the patio with live music, then I’ll encourage them to end their session at one of their favorite spots. If they love the lake and spend every summer weekend wakeboarding, then I like to take them to a location that has water as part of our backdrop. If couples like the more urban setting and enjoy strolling around downtown, then I’ll recommend a downtown location. As much as you love your venue and all of its gorgeousness, it may not necessarily reflect the things you love to do in everyday life. And that is a-okay… it totally doesn’t have to… that’s why we do that in your engagement session! And sometimes your venue does represent the things you love in your everyday life and in that case, we can totally use your venue for your engagement session as well!
- You get AMAZING lighting for our entire shoot. This is a big one. On the wedding day… sometimes it lines up to have your bride and groom romantic portraits at sunset, but most of the time, they have to happen earlier in the day and we just get 5-10 minutes at sunset. And even then… we are crossing our fingers that we even have a sunset because obviously, it’s not guaranteed! For your engagement session, we not only get to schedule your session to be entirely in the golden hour lighting but we also get to reschedule the session if it’s forecasted to have cloudy or rainy weather. This is huge because having good light can completely and totally change the vibe of a session!
- You get an ample amount of time. In the first two points where I talked about the learning part of your engagement session… well, that works best when you have time to do it! The best part of an engagement session is that there is absolutely no time constraint. On the wedding day, you will likely be limited to 30-45 minutes of time to get everything you want of the two of you. But in your engagement session, you can start two hours before sunset and the only thing limiting you is the fact that the sun is going down in two hours. Which, in almost every single case, that is more than enough time to do all the learning, get all the variety, change outfits, change locations, and maybe still have an extra chunk of time in the end to get a couple extra shots!
- Involve your animals. Every now and then, there are pups well behaved enough to show up on the wedding day, but most of the time, the dogs get reluctantly left at home for the main event. Mostly because there are a hundred things going on and no one has time to take care of a dog. Also because you’re in a white dress that shows every speck of dirt and he’s in a dark suit that shows every single dog hair. But you love them and you want them a part of it… so meet in the middle and bring them to your engagement session! You should first clear this with whoever is your wedding photographer, but also, you should be prepared. I wrote a post a couple years ago about things to bring with you to help the pup… you can read it here. That was for a 30-minute family portrait though, so for an engagement session, I would also add that you should bring a dogsitter to meet us at one of your engagement session locations and take care of the dog while it’s not in the photos!
I love love love engagement sessions and for all these reasons, I include a complimentary one-hour engagement session for all of my AMP couples that book my 8 hour or full-day coverage package. They are just invaluable and I don’t want anything to prevent us from having that time together! That being said, I do allow couples to trade them for things of equal value when it isn’t feasible to do them, so just shoot me an email if that is you!
Thank you so much for reading this month’s Wedding Planning 101 post! I so enjoy sharing things that I’ve learned throughout my time in the wedding industry since 2010! I hope it helps!
I’m a Knoxville Wedding Photographer that loves to travel…I shoot anywhere! Click here to contact me with any questions you have about pricing or booking! If you liked what you saw above, go ahead and follow me on Facebook or Instagram to see my daily updates of the latest sessions!
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