Engagement photography is a must from where I’m from, so when I immigrated to the UK from my Midwest American hometown in 2014, I was a bit surprised to discover they weren’t a given here. In the UK, there is somewhat of a cultural element that we need a good excuse to hire a photographer – like getting married or when a baby is born. But you shouldn’t need to have an excuse to create tangible memories and a lasting legacy of yourselves for your family. I personally can’t imagine a childhood that wasn’t spent browsing through photo albums and starring wide-eyed in amazement at how sweet, young and in love my grandparents looked at 22.
Because truly, nothing pulls at my heart strings more than hearing a couple say “We have no good photographs together” or hear “I can’t wait to have a nice photograph of him”. Life is too short and the fine lines and grey hairs of old age sneak upon us all too soon to only have an average picture taken on an iPhone by your mate.
Love is always something worth celebrating and is something to be treasured. Especially while you’re young and so very much in love.
Thankfully, I don’t feel so alone having this view as I’m seeing an upswing in couples wanting engagement photography. I recently reintroduced engagement shoots into my wedding packages. Though couples that book with me can opt out of the shoot in lieu of something else, this post is designed to help those that are on the fence (or need a little help convincing their partner!).
The how and why of engagement photography
Engagement photography is known by many names: pre-wedding photography session, couple’s session, E-shoot, and an engagement shoot to name a few.
Now that I think I’ve got my SEO keywords covered, just know this, they are one and the same. Engagement photography is a photoshoot session that takes place in the months prior to your wedding. And this blog post will help you decide if an engagement photography session is for you.
Why do an engagement photography session
If none of these reasons for having an engagement photography session resonate with you, you’ll know it’s not for you. But if something in this post does strike a cord, let’s chat about what an engagement photography session would mean for you so we can capture what matters.
Below are the main reasons why I am passionate about engagement sessions:
Gives you, your family and wedding guests more confidence
Because you’ve had photographs taken with me before, everyone at your wedding is going to be a lot more relaxed around me. They’ve seen what I can do and I often find when they see me, they remember the images and turn to their companions to start gushing over the photographs. There is then this precedence of sorts – an expectation – that I can take a great photograph of them and everyone at your wedding. A level of trust is developed in which people will let their guard down and truly enjoy themselves. The resulting photographs speak for themselves and is one of the main reasons I encourage couples have these sessions done.
And you’ll feel that way too when you know you can trust your photographer completely. Because let’s talk facts. This is probably the first time you two will have your photograph professionally taken. You might also have bad memories from your school photos.
I have to be truthful and say that there isn’t as much time to address this discomfort on a wedding day as an engagement shoot affords. Plus you can’t see the results until the wedding is over and done. So it’s good to quell this uncertainty in advance. As the saying goes, when you feel confident, you’ll look confident.
I’ve had many people passionately exclaim they cannot take a good photograph and drag their feet for much of the session, only to turn around on their wedding day and be the most eager and trusting clients I’ve ever had.
Gives your relationship some TLC
After one particular couple got married, I got a letter in the mail. It was a thank you letter. This bride was so thankful for her engagement shoot, in particular. Here is just a little bit of that note:
“The engagement session you did with us was the most wedding-related fun we had. You gave us quality time together. I can’t thank you enough”.
Wedding planning can get crazy and even pretty stressful. On top of work, saving like mad, and everyday life, we sometimes forget to just be in the moment. And year after year, we can get increasingly busy and end up forgetting to prioritise each other – to date, to woo, and shower each other in compliments or tokens of affection.
Because my wedding and engagement photography sessions aren’t poses after pose, they take on a new meaning for couples. I use prompts, actions and ask you two to chat to one another about specific things. The session thus becomes a time to connect and is a break from your daily routines. It’s a beautiful time where you have nothing but the enjoyment of each other’s company to pass the time. So without even having the photographs and tangible memories in your hands, you will leave the session with one of the best gifts you could give each other – your time and undivided attention.
And if you’re thinking, BUT I’M SO AWKWARD, keep reading and then send me an email to find out how I get all my couples past this. Hand on heart, every single couple I have booked has said this to some extent – and if you have a snoop at my engagement photography and wedding photography portfolio, you’ll see they look anything but!
Provides you with details to use in your wedding planning and decorations
You can use your engagement photography to create a beautiful save-the-date, snazzy wedding website or even invites or thank you cards for your engagement party. You can get creative with your guestbook and have images on each page or on the cover, create a puzzle from your favourite photograph, or you can opt for a framed print with a large matte border for guests to sign. Wedding favours like bottles of champagne or candy treats could also be personalised with a photograph.
The sky is pretty much the limit, unless your flying Royal Mail. Until recently, you could have used your engagement photographs to create a custom stamp with Royal Mail (as of July 2018, they put this service on indefinite hold). But you get the idea, from decor to sentimental gifts for mum and dad, there are lot of uses for your engagement photographs.
Ensures you get the tangible memories you truly deserve
When you’re old and grey, battling illness, a rut in your relationship or everything is just perfect and on you are on Cloud 9, photographs are powerful reminders of your love. They bring comfort, smiles, and elicit dormant memories that can sustain you through the ups and downs of life.
My goal as a photographer is to give you memories you can hold on to forever: ones that you can feel in your hands, share with friends and your future generations. I want you to have tangible memories that make you laugh, cry — remember.
In order to do that, and do it well, I need get to know you two as a couple and get a vibe for your chemistry, quirks and lifestyle. I look for, and actively seek out and help nurture moments of you two being you. Having beautiful wedding photographs is so precious and important, but so are beautiful photographs of you two as you are now. There is something to be said for having authentic snapshots in time of you two when you look your best wearing the kinds of things that reflect your style and all the things you partner loves about you.
Is the perfect trial run
Engagement photography can also put you at complete ease around me and my camera. An engagement session lets you connect with me as a photographer on a more personal level. This will enable me to capture more genuine moments of you two as a couple on the wedding day, as I’ll have learned so much at the engagement session. If you have any insecurities or really struggle, I’ll be able to slow down and teach you little tips and tricks to overcome insecurities and demonstrate what you can do if you feel unsure of yourself.
An engagement session also helps you two find the tempo and vibe you want for your photographs. Prior to the shoot, I ask if you have any pictures you’ve seen that you are really drawn to. While I don’t copy the images, I do use them to draw inspiration and establish the vibe you are attracted to. For example, are you drawn to dramatic, intimate images or photographs looking like they are having the time of their life laughing away? This is an important element to establish before your wedding, and you might be surprised which images you love must from the engagement session.
Lets you trial your hair and makeup
Whether you are getting your hair and makeup professionally done or plan to do it yourself, doing a trial run for your engagement session is a brilliant idea. You can tweak the look a bit so it’s different from the actual day if you’d like, but having a base to work with will make sure you really love your engagement photography. Lots of people are also sadly cursed with difficult skin, so this is also a great opportunity to see how your makeup will photograph and take away this potential stresser in the lead up to the wedding.
Take care of your memories
Take the time to document yourselves young and in love, with your beloved fur-child, at the place you first met, or particular spot that just fills your heart with joy. Because if not now, when?