Infographic displaying - How to Plan for COVID Engagement Sessions

This is a post on how to plan engagement sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic. At ShootDotEdit we are here to help photographers succeed. But we do not support photographers doing anything that makes them feel unsafe. We also recognize that some photographers want to (and have to) be photographing right now. No judgement should be passed on any choice. We do not believe you should be photographing if you’re not ready to be out there, and if you ARE ready to be photographing (and your couples are ready to be booking) engagement sessions, these tips might help! Please stay healthy and stay safe.

The COVID pandemic has turned the world upside down, and its economic side effects have impacted industries globally. Wedding photographers also took a huge hit due to the pandemic as it forced couples to push pause on their wedding plans. While some have simply postponed their weddings, others have canceled them. And this change in plans as well as people’s personal situations have also led to an increase in refund requests. But despite all this chaos, seeing their couples dealing with – and overcoming the pandemic – for the sake of love has been a motivation for wedding photographers to adapt to the changing world.

Now, as lockdown restrictions ease, and businesses start to come back to life, couples will be looking forward to booking engagement photo sessions. And even though we are still in the middle of the pandemic, you could take some steps to ensure that your clients remain safe and comfortable while shooting with you.

Booking COVID Engagement Sessions

How to Plan for COVID Engagement Sessions

Engagement sessions during the pandemic are a feasible option. If one of the partners popped the question recently, it’s the perfect opportunity for photographers to get some intimate shots. It is also a lower risk activity if you can choose an outdoor location and stay six feet apart while wearing a mask. To ensure safety at your end, during the engagement session, suggest limiting the session to just the couple and you and possibly a second shooter or assistant.

If you are having a tough time booking wedding photography sessions during the pandemic, check out our blog on Top 18 Ways to Book Weddings in the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Even though there are not many people involved in the process, you still need to make sure that everyone is safe and that all the precautionary measures are in place. Here are a few useful points that you should keep in mind while doing an engagement session in the middle of the COVID pandemic.

  1. Wear a mask throughout the engagement session.
  2. Sanitize your equipment before starting the shoot. Try to assure your clients that you are taking all the safety measures.
  3. Carry a sanitizer as well as soap and water for yourself and your clients. You can wear gloves too.
  4. Keep an appropriate distance from your clients. Remember, you no longer have the liberty of touching your clients to get them to pose perfectly. The mask also hinders communication so try to work on your communication skills. If you are good at charades, you should be able to guide your clients with your body language from a distance.
  5. Use longer lenses. You can still get amazing pictures of your clients without getting too near to them.

Try to Get Involved in Your Couple’s Engagement Session Planning

How to Plan for COVID Engagement Sessions

1. Suggest Outdoor COVID Engagement Sessions

Your clients probably have their own ideas about their sessions, but as their engagement session photographer, you should try and advise them on locations that would be safe right now. If their ideas are too risky for the current scenario, help them modify those ideas to fit with the current safety guidelines.

2. Try to Avoid Indoor Sessions

Indoor sessions are not your best bet right now. According to experts, you are at a higher risk of contracting the virus if you come in contact with someone in an enclosed space. Plus, if you offer your studio, you’ll probably want to get your space sanitized before and after every session. This will add to your costs.

If you couple wants to do an indoor engagement session, you could try to have a chat with them and discuss why you are apprehensive about it. If they still want to go ahead with an indoor session, try to go to a place you know you will be safe, for example your own studio or if the couple is willing, their home. There is still risk involved, but ensure that you and your clients follow safety rules.

According to experts, there’s considerably lower risk of contracting the virus in open air spaces. Plus, it would be easier to maintain social distance, and depending on the day, you might just get to play with natural light. Also, if you are shooting outdoors, you could take some amazing pictures while incorporating elements of nature into your images. Just let the couple enjoy each other’s company and watch magic happen!

3. Destination Engagement Sessions

couple standing facing camera in new york city lower east side by bridge

If your couple is up for it, you could also go the extra mile and opt for a destination engagement session. The choice is up to you and the couple, but since we are in the middle of a pandemic, you should try to do some research on the destination and its COVID situation. Also, keep travel restrictions and quarantine rules in mind. If zeroing in on a location is getting tough, you could perhaps speak to your clients about what kind of scenery they’d want to shoot in – beaches, mountains, forests – there’s plenty of options.

4. Virtual COVID Engagement Sessions

You can set up virtual COVID engagement sessions through FaceTime or Zoom or other similar apps. All you need to do is instruct your couples to pose and then you just take screenshots of them. There won’t be any big cameras or equipment involved in this case, but editing will be able to create some magic. You could edit and retouch the photos to add beautiful backgrounds, and improve lighting and quality. You can also turn the images black and white. Be forewarned, though, that the images will not be high resolution and make sure to discuss what this means with the clients in terms of the final product.

A virtual COVID engagement session is a new concept and you could consider reducing your fees for this kind of session. . . You and your clients don’t have to worry about safety during a virtual engagement session and you won’t be together physically. During the pandemic, many couples are turning to this option to stay safe and still get some lovely photographs together.

Tips to Keep Your Clients Connected With You

By connected we don’t mean just business emails or phone calls.. It’s more about being connected as friends. Yes, they are your clients and they pay you for your service, but don’t forget to stay kind and help them relieve some stress. This has been a difficult time for them as well, so extending a helping hand when they need one will make them feel like you’ve got their back.

1. Let Your Clients Know That You’re There for Them

Keep the lines of communication open with your clients. This is a very scary time for a lot of couples. Since no one really knows how COVID is going to impact weddings over the next few months or even years, it’s understandable that many couples are feeling uneasy. Try to reach out to them and comfort them if you can. You can use email, phone, or text. Let them know that you’re excited to work with them and are looking forward to their engagement session.

2. Turn Stylist For Your Couples

couple kissing by bridge in pittsburgh

This is your chance to get into fashion! Try to give your couples some tips about dressing for the camera. Help them out with color coordination and try to show them how cool it looks in photographs. Encourage them to repurpose old clothes, and get creative. If they are looking for something fun, you could suggest them to dress like their favorite stars!

3. Flexibility is Key

Yes, your contract should be protecting you in case of cancellations or postponements. But the coronavirus pandemic is uncharted territory for you and your clients. Choose empathy and have a discussion with your clients if they are requesting a refund. They might need the funds more than you right now, so consider refunding a portion of their deposit. Many people are going through a financial crunch right now, and showing some flexibility with postponements or even refunds is something your clients will appreciate. .In a time when other vendors may not be so forgiving, showing a little compassion can set you apart from the rest.

Our blog on Navigating Wedding Cancellations and Refunds During the Pandemic might give you some ideas on how to deal with the situation.

4. Teach Your Couples How To Pose During COVID Engagement Sessions

A couple leaning their foreheads towards each other while holding hands with a white dog in the background

This is nothing new for you, but it might be for them. Try to be their guide when it comes to posing. You may not be able to touch them and fix their pose, but you could still find ways to help make them feel confident about their poses. You could even share some posing tutorials with them or decide according to the selected location.

Further Read: Nailing Engagement Sessions: From Planning To Execution

Pre-Planning is Key!

Plan your COVID engagement photo sessions carefully. Do not forget about the safety measures and think of your final result as happy and satisfied customers. We all have to restart our lives and get back to work, but we can only do that if we follow all the safety protocols and stay safe.

At ShootDotEdit, we believe in offering tips to photographers to achieve success faster, whether it’s in blog posts that help you navigate the global pandemic or just ones that just plain make you a better photography (and get you back to doing what’s important) by editing your wedding images for you. Want to know how we can help? Check out our pricing guide here!

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