Engagement photography is one of my favourite sessions to photograph. So much so, I heavily discount them in my wedding collections and even wrote a blog post highlighting the reasons why an engagement session matters and why you should have one.
For many couples, an engagement session is the first time you’ll have your picture taken professionally. Unlike the corporate headshot or dreaded school yearbook picture, my engagement photography is all about connect and there is a lot of movement and interactions. The focus is on the couple – celebrating who they are and what they love about each other.
With that in mind, there are a couple things you should think about when choosing what you will wear for your engagement photography session. But at the end of the day, if there is a particular item you really love or has a special meaning or memory, please by all means disregard these suggestions and do what’s you. Your memory of each other is far more important than these guidelines and any “do’s and don’ts”.
What outfits should you wear for your engagement photography
Because you are probably planning to use your engagement portraits for your save-the-dates, wedding website, or even your guestbook as well as to decorate the walls of your home, I get the stress that comes with choosing the right outfit.
While I can’t climb inside your wardrobe or be your personal shopper, I can offer some advice to point you toward the perfect look for your engagement photography. I also made you a Pinterest board so you can get loads of visual inspiration.
Wear something you can move in
Like I said in the intro, these engagement sessions are all about movement, interactions and connection. So make sure you choose something that fits you well. If the outfit is too tight, loose or just doesn’t fit right, don’t wear it for your engagement session. Especially if you’re fussing with the fit, pulling, tugging or sucking in.
I personally really love it when the bride-to-be shows up in something that drapes nicely or has some flow to it. This can be a flowy skirt or dress, lace kimono or something like a light, oversized cardigan or coat – or even a neutral coloured blanket to wrap up in and also gives you something to sit on! All these options add a bit of dimension and looks lovely with movement or a bit of wind. While not crucial by any means, how the outfit itself moves is something you can think about when deciding what to wear.
Coordinate – but don’t go overboard
Mums twinning with their offspring on Instagram can be cute, but for your engagement photography you risk some unflattering looking photographs. Basically, everything can become one awkward visual blur of sameyness. Where you don’t know where one body part begins and the other ends.
But don’t go to the opposite extreme and pick colours or patterns that clash or compete with each other – it can just be too distracting for the eye in a photograph. If you’re wearing something with florals, have your partner stick to solid colours.
A safe bet is to create just a bit of contrast and choose complementary outfits. But you can also go a bit samey like these two below – their look was perfect for nautical beach vibes.
Have everyone’s eyes on you
There are lots of elements that can influence the human eye and how we “consume” an image. Things like the curve of your arm can create a leading line and draw the viewers eye to examine an image more closely and those are often thus more visually pleasing to the eye. Without going into all the sciency bits of photography, there are just a few other things you should consider when picking your outfits so as not distract the eye and detract from the image.
Namely and above all, note that small patterns and textures can be a real eye sore. And I mean that literally, they can create what is called a moiré pattern – which is basically a fancy word describing how a camera freaks out when trying to render these patterns. This issue is more likely to crop up on man’s button-down or suit jacket, so check over the texture of the top. Though this is something I can often reduce in post, it is better to avoid altogether.
The best colour clothing to wear are light neutrals (grey, white and beige), or light and muted pastel colours – particularly on the top half of your body. I recommend this for both individuals as certain clothing choices will limit how I can best photograph and can result in a more posed session to avoid colour casting on skin. If your partner is wearing a an all black top, for example, and you go in for a cuddle, the shirt will create harsher contrast and shadows on your face – this can make you look more tired or bring out wrinkles (black suits are fine with pale dress shirts to counteract). A light top on the flip side, will reflect light and brighten your face and create a brighter image overall – perfect if like a light and airy look to your photographs. For this reason, I also recommend avoiding bright or rich colours – particularly on the taller person in your relationship as the colours from their top will cause a colour cast on the shorter person’s skin.
Keep it classic
You’ll want these pictures to be timeless. Wether you want to dress up or keep it casual, I typically suggest it is best to avoid fashion fads. That also goes for rocking up in something with a giant brand logo. These images should be about you and your relationship, so unless you are massive Beatles fans and only wear their memorabilia, skip being a Nike brand ambassador for the day.
I don’t really recommend bringing a bunch of stuff to change into – as that reduces time to take photographs and means we have to carry it around with us – but there are some quick wardrobe changes you can do. If you want to have some different looks, but didn’t book a two hour+ engagement session, it is a great idea to layer your outfits. If you wear a blazer, for example, you could take that off for some more casual photographs. You could also wear a jumper and have a different top under that or change your jewellery.
These images are for you to enjoy for the years to come. Wear what you feel great and comfortable in. You and your memories are more important than any rules or guidelines. If you feel great, you’ll look great and love your pictures. End of.
I photograph a lot of surprise proposals. And if I can make people who were just sobbing moments ago look good and didn’t put much effort into their outfit that day, I promise I can do the same for you!
Just look at this Brighton engagement proposal in the pouring rain!
If you haven’t yet settled on an engagement photographer, have a look at my packages here. For couples that book me to photograph their engagement, and later their wedding, there is a discount on some of my collections. This is ideal if you haven’t yet settled on a wedding date or want to do a test run before you buy – so to speak!
To get more engagement photography inspiration, check out my engagement photography category on the blog.
Till next time,
Kelsie Scully Photography – Brighton engagement photographer serving areas in East Sussex such as Lewes, Rottingdean and Newhaven as well as West Sussex locations such as Haywards Heath, Hove, Horsham, and Worthing.