Engagement sessions are a great way to slow down and really capture this moment when you and your partner are engaged. Beyond being a fun experience for the two of you, you can also use the photographs for things like your wedding announcements, save the dates, invitations, guest books, posters, etc. In this blog post, you’ll find the answers to all your questions about how to prepare for and get excited about your engagement session with us!
WHAT TO EXPECT
Unless you’re a professional model, you’ve probably never been in front of a camera for more than a few minutes at a time. The great thing about an engagement session is that you don’t need to have any modeling experience! In fact, it’s better if you are coming to it fresh without any previous habits!
Being in front of a camera can feel scary and disorienting which is why we have a tried and true system that will make you and your partner feel great! You’ll never have to worry about what to do with your hands ever again!
Before your session officially begins, we like to start by spending a few minutes chatting and getting a chance to know you both better. From there, we will teach you our core poses. These poses are ones that anyone can do and look great for all body types! We teach you the core poses ahead of time so that when we start the session you will already feel more relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera.
Even though we use poses, we still believe in creating an authentic moment. Each of our poses allows for genuine emotion and moments to happen so that you will look natural in your images!
We recommend bringing two outfits (More on that in the style guide that is coming up!), one formal and one that is a little more casual. We like to start with the more formal outfit and then have you switch to your second outfit halfway through the shoot. This way, you get two different looks to your images!
HAIR, MAKE UP and ACCESSORIES
Since this is a special moment for you and your partner, we recommend going all out for your engagement session! Engagement photos are a special occasion and we recommend treating it like one by looking your best in your images! This is a special moment before the two of you are married and a way to immortalize the season of life that you are in!
Before coming to the shoot, make sure to have your ring(s) cleaned either by a jeweler or with a kit at home. We will be taking detail shots of your rings while you are switching your outfits and they look best when they have a little extra sparkle! Don’t forget to do this the day before your wedding too!
It’s not just about your ring, but the ring on your fingers too! We recommend having your nails done for the engagement session so you can show off that bling! This is a great way to try out the type of manicure you might have for your wedding. That way you can test out the style ahead of time and see how it looks in your images!
HAIR & MAKE UP:
Just like having your nails done, having your hair and make up done are a fabulous way to have you looking your best in your images. This is also a good time to try out the hair and make up you will have for the wedding with your hair and makeup artists. You’ll do the trial run for your beauty style for the wedding and look like a movie star in your engagement photos.
This is also a good time for your groom to test out his wedding day look when it comes to his hair and face. This is a good way to see what the two of you will look like together in each of your styles!
Pro tip: Wear a lip stain instead of a lip stick or gloss. It will stay on and not get on your partner and you won’t have to reapply constantly through the shoot!
Just like the hair and make up, your engagement session is a chance to look your best and that applies to your clothes as well! Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Trust me when I say that if you look like you are in love, you will look perfect. However, I know that even I feel self conscious when I’m getting my photos taken so I have a few extra tips on how to dress to feel great! Neutral colors or muted solid colors work best on camera. Large or bold prints can be fun but may distract from your faces which is why solid colors are a good choice.Be sure to choose comfort so that you will not be preoccupied by how the fabric looks on you so you can focus on nuzzling up to your future bride or groom! Be sure to try the outfit on ahead of time so that you can make sure it is flattering to your shape and makes you feel like a million bucks!
A few things to avoid are small checkers, stripes or lines on fabric. These patterns can cause a distortion in colors and patterns in the images called chromatic aberration. Once that happens to image, no amount of photoshop will fix it. They can also be distracting and take away from the moment that the two of you are sharing.
Great looks for ladies are: solid colors, flowy skirts or dresses. Dresses or outfits that you might wear to a formal occasion or wedding are perfect for the first half of the shoot then for the second half, transitioning into something a little more casual yet still polished such as another dress/ skirt and blouse combo or pants with cute boots and a fun top!
For the gentlemen: You can never go wrong with a well fitted suit. We recommend wearing a suit or slacks, a button down and a blazer or sports coat for the first half of the session. For the second half you can have a more relaxed look in jeans and a polo, button down shirt or sweater. If you decide to wear a white shirt, just make sure to wear a jacket/ blazer with it or a solid color tie. That way the white shirt won’t become overly bright in the images and distract from your face.
And don’t be afraid to add a fun accessory such as a scarf, pocket watch, pocket square, hat or some fun shoes! You want to have a more formal and elevated look while still keeping your personality in the mix!
Colors & hues that look awesome on camera: creams, pinks, blues, greens, plum/wine.
Not only do you get a photographer, but you also get a style consultant as well. Feel free to reach out to us with all your questions or potential outfits and we’ll help you two pick out the perfect look!
LIGHT & TIME & WEATHER
The best time to have your photographs taken are during a time of day called golden hour. Golden hour also known as magic hour happens right before sunset and right after sunrise. During this time, the light is soft, flattering and has a nice glow. Because of the way the light looks it is essential that you have your session during golden hour. There is a reason that almost all romantic pictures are taken during this time because it looks much more dreamy and flattering than a time like high noon where the shadows on faces becomes hard and creates dark circles under the eyes and creates weird dark and light parts on an image.
Since there is a limited time of golden hour, we strongly recommend being on time. Golden hour is a very specific window and there is not much flexibility on moving the session later without risking images that are too dark and not as flattering.
Before setting a time for your session, we always take a look at what time the sun sets. If it sets at 7pm, we like to start the session at 5:30/5:45 to make sure that we have enough time with the best light of the day. This changes throughout the year depending on the season but we’ll let you know the best time for your session. For each of our sessions, we like to add on a complementary 15 minutes of time at the start of the session to check in with you, teach you the core poses and do a few warm up shots before we officially get started.
We always keep an eye on the weather before a shoot. If there is a chance of rain or if the weather is going to be unbearably hot we almost always reschedule. That way you won’t be drenched by the rain or sweaty in the heat when you’re trying to look romantic. We want your session to be as fun and as stress free as possible!
The season of the year plays a huge role in the look and feel of your engagement session. For example, if flowers are really important to you, Spring is a really good time for your session. If you want lots of moody fog, summer at a location in SF is perfect. If you want lots of color and great weather, Fall is the right season for you. You don’t need to do your session during the same season that you will be married in. If you pick a different season, you’ll have a variety of looks. Whatever season you choose, just remember that the look of a location varies by month and season. If you have a specific look or season in mind, just let us know and we’ll help you pick out the perfect date!
Once you have selected the date and time, the next step is to find a location that is perfect for you! We are always on the hunt for more fabulous locations for our engagement sessions. We have a current list of favorites but you can also pick a new location that fits you! All of our engagement sessions take place in the Bay Area, but if you have a special spot in mind outside of the Bay Area, just let us know and we can add on a travel fee.
Before we shoot your session, we will scout your location ahead of time so that we know all the best spots with the best light. This way, you won’t have to wait around during the shoot while we hunt for the perfect location.
A few locations require special permits and extra fees. We will let you know ahead of time what those are and if you are unsure, just ask us!
A Few Of Our Favorite Bay Area Locations:
Ocean/Beach: Ocean Beach (SF), Baker Beach (SF), Sutro Baths & Lands End (SF), Pacifica, Half Moon Bay, Palace of Fine Arts/ Crissy Field (SF), Martinez Shoreline (Martinez), Crown Beach (Alameda), Ft Point (SF), Marin Headlands, Point Reyes/ Inverness (Marin), Tomales Bay Shipwreak (Marin), Point Reyes Lighthouse (Marin), Drakes Beach (Marin), Kehoe Beach (Marin), Muir beach (marin)
Forest: Joaquin Miller Park (Oakland), UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens/ Redwood Grove, Golden Gate Park (SF), Lands End (SF), Regional Parks Botanical Garden (Berkeley), Lovers Lane in the Presidio (SF)
Lake: Lafayette Reservoir(Lafayette), Lake Anza (Berkeley), Stow Lake (SF)
Park/Garden: Heather Farm Garden (Walnut Creek), UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens, Crow Canyon Gardens (San Ramon), Allied Arts Guild (Menlo Park), Gamble Garden (Palo Alto),
Other: V. Sattui Winery(St Helena), outside the Legion of Honor (SF), Palace of Fine Arts (SF), SF City Hall (SF)