For some of us, planning an engagement session can be a bit daunting. There are a handful of factors to consider and decisions to be made. But, fret not! I’m coming at you today with my top 10 tips to help you plan your engagement session that ensures it’s as simple as possible – and fun!
Today I want to break down some of my key tips as a Dallas engagement photographer, to help walk you through the planning process.
*Side note: a lot of these tips can be used for other types of portrait sessions as well; family, senior sessions, bridal sessions, etc. But we’re just going to keep the focus on engagement sessions for today.
10 Tips to Help You Plan Your Engagement Session
1. Plan to start your session around 1-2 hours before sunset.
The softest and most flattering natural light happens during this time leading up to sunset. (Often referred to as the “Golden Hour”.) It’s extra dreamy and romantic and a great time to schedule your session.
It’s also worth mentioning that the first couple of hours after sunrise are equally as beautiful. However, unless you and your fiancé(e) are morning people, I don’t advise this as often as the idea of waking up at 3am to start prepping doesn’t usually excite too many people.
But it is an equally great option, especially if the location you chose tends to get crowded. Hello beautiful location all to yourself!
If you’re interested in capturing sunset/sunrise photos specifically, plan for your session to end at least 20mins after sunset (or at least 20mins before sunrise). Sometimes it can take a minute for the colors to be on full display. That is, if, Mother Nature decides to cooperate, of course.
2. Be comfortable & Be you
Let me tell you from experience that the last thing you want during your session is to be worried about your clothing. If you’re at all hesitant about an item, find something better! The less attention you can have on your clothing, the more in the moment and genuine your photos will be!
Don’t be afraid to get creative and showcase your personality through your clothes! Clothes are an extension of your personality, so whether you choose a more casual look, a dressier look – or both! – make sure it’s representative of YOU.
(Also, if you plan on wearing heels, bring a pair of easy slip-on sneakers or flip-flops to walk around in as well! You’ll thank me later for this one.)
3. Complement – Don’t match
Instead of thinking about how to “match” one another, think about how to “complement/coordinate” instead. It livens up the photos to have different colors and styles that represent your personalities!
For instance, navy and coral go well together – but navy and black – not so much. Different colors within the same tones also work great. As do neutrals with pops of color. Also, light patterns are okay, but be careful of bold and busy patterns as they will distract from the main focus of the image: YOU.
If you need some more outfit inspiration, Pinterest can be a great tool! Or simply keep scrolling here or the blog for more outfit inspiration!
4. Choose somewhere meaningful
I truly believe that choosing a location that is meaningful, in some way, will make these images that much more special to you. It tells a richer story and is therefore going to be more authentic for you and something you’ll cherish even more deeply.
Whether it be the coffee shop you went to on your first date, a park you walk through often, your favorite beach, the fair where you first met, where the proposal happened, etc. Engagement photos are meant to document your relationship and what it looks like in this season of life together. So, what better place to capture that than somewhere that’s been meaningful to the two of you?
If you need additional help with choosing the perfect location for your engagement session, check out this blog HERE. Or reach out to me, I’d be happy to help!
5. Consider props (or pets!)
Props can be such a fun addition to your session! It can add a lot of dimension and highlight your unique personalities. Whether it be the usage of signs, a picnic, a hobby you share, your favorite wine, your favorite sports team apparel, a car, meaningful memorabilia, balloons, bikes, bubbles, candles, board games or an instrument – don’t shy away from the idea of props!
You can also consider doing an activity you love as part of your engagement session. Or adding in your fur babies – after all, they’re part of the family too right!?
6. Communicate with your photographer
If you have any concerns before the session: share them with your photographer! We will do everything we can to deliver the best possible images. But, if you have specific requests, concerns or worries, please let us know right away so we can address them accordingly.
If there are any specific physical features you may be self-conscious about, that’s very important information to communicate ahead of time. This way we can be mindful of that during the session and focus on accentuating your favorite features instead!
The last thing we want is for you to be self-conscious during your session. So, get all of your concerns out in advance so that you can simply be present and enjoy this time with your significant other!
7. Clean your ring
Your ring will have its moment in the spotlight during the session. So: make sure it’s clean! If you have more than one outfit, I usually take some detail shots of the ring as you’re changing into outfit #2. Otherwise, we’ll always get a close-up of it on your hand – so be sure you’re happy with how it looks!
8. Pamper yourself
An engagement session is a great time to pamper yourself! I always recommend a good manicure, pedicure (especially if you’re wearing open-toed shoes) and professional hair and makeup!
Professional makeup, especially, makes a huge difference in photos. The right contouring and even some fake lashes go a long way. Not to mention that it’s a great opportunity to have a trial run with your makeup artist for the wedding day! (If you’re searching for great hair/makeup artists, I have a couple of favorites I’d be happy to recommend. Simply send me a message!)
If you choose to do your own makeup, that’s totally okay too! Just remember that, for photography, you’ll typically want your makeup a little heavier than you would wear it on a normal day. Makeup photographs differently than it looks in person and if it’s too light – it could wash you out – and we want you to pop!
9. Plan to arrive early
This is so important – and I know that it seems like a no-brainer – but you would be surprised by how many things will come up last minute as you’re running out the door. So, set yourself up for success by giving yourself plenty of buffer time! (Hair/makeup is also notorious for running late. So be sure to schedule your appointment so that it ends well before you need it to – just to be safe!)
You want to be able to take full advantage of the time allotted and your photographer can’t stop the sun from setting if you’re running late. So plan to get there early! Worst case, you get to casually arrive and relax in the car for a few minutes before beginning. Engagement sessions are far more fun when everyone is happy, on time and relaxed!
10. And last, but definitely not least: HAVE FUN
This is such an exciting time and you should be enjoying every minute of it!! If you’re nervous about being in front of the camera, don’t be! All you have to do is show up and we’ll take it from there. Trust your photographer and come ready to enjoy this time with the love of your life!
I hope these 10 tips to help you plan your engagement session have been useful! If you’re looking for even more tips to help you plan your engagement session, I’ve got you!
Bonus Tips to Help You Plan Your Engagement Session:
- Bring comfortable shoes to change into while walking around, if wearing heels.
- If waxing, do so at least 3 days prior to your session to give your skin time to heal.
- If it could be cold, bring a sweater or blanket that you can wrap up in in-between shots to keep warm.
- Avoid the sun – sunburns & peeling skin are not photo-friendly (and very difficult and expensive to edit out).
- Drink plenty of water leading up to and ON the day – it’s important to keep hydrated and it’s great for glowing skin.
- If bringing a fur baby, make sure to bring someone along to watch them while you’re shooting and toys/treats to get their attention.
- Eat something before your session – and bring snacks! Modeling takes a lot more energy than you’d think and it will start to show in your eyes.
I hope you found these tips to help you plan your engagement session helpful! If you’d like to chat about planning your own dream session, reach out here! Or if I can help you on your hunt for Dallas wedding photographers, I would love to connect!
Otherwise, if you’re looking for more engagement session inspiration or wedding/portrait tips: head back to the BLOG!