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Planning An Engagement Session

Unique locations, amusing themes, and stunning outfits - engagement sessions could be a whole lot of fun! But only if planned well! If you’re new to wedding photography and don’t know where to start when it comes to helping couples plan an engagement session, start here! If you’re a seasoned pro, see how many of these you share with your couples already and consider adding the rest to your list! Either way, feel free to pass these tips on planning an engagement session along to your clients if you think they’re feeling stuck. Because at ShootDotEdit, we’re all about both you and your couples getting the best shots possible! So let’s get started!

Planning An Engagement Session For Photographers

A couple posing for an engagement session in the middle of a road with LED Letter lights displaying - VENICE above them.Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @photography_by_orlando

The first thing you might want to do when planning an engagement session, and consider doing this before any other planning, is to make sure you, as the photographer, and your couple are a good fit! Talk to your client and try to make sure that you and the couple are on the same page in terms of the vision and expectations before they finalize you as their engagement photographer. Don’t hesitate to share your work with them if they are yet to zero in on you. You can opt to show them some sample poses from some of your previous engagement sessions. Once they select you as their wedding photographer, you can move forward with planning an engagement session for them.

5 Tips On How To Plan An Engagement Session With Your Couples

Here are a few tips on how you can proceed with engagement session planning with your couples. These tips touch upon some of the topics that you can discuss with your client before moving ahead with the shoot.

1. Suggest Ideas And Decide On A Theme

First things first, if your clients have reached out to you, they are in all likelihood counting on you to help bring their dream images to life. And as their photographer, it is your responsibility to guide them and help them realize that dream. So explore your creative side as a professional photographer and thrash out ideas with them. Remember that your clients might be all too excited to try out various things to document their story in their own way. However, there are high chances that while scouting for themes and ideas, your couples could get a little confused and lose focus. So it is up to you to understand their requirements and suggest ideas that could help them in that journey of creating memories together. You could start by asking your client what’s on their mind. Find out how they see their engagement session unfold or if they have a specific theme in mind. Are they planning an indoor or an outdoor session? Before you settle down on anything, it is time to brainstorm ideas with your client. You can ask your couple to jot down their ideas and focus on themes that tell their story in a unique way. You could either opt to go with a theme or portray a specific emotion. If your couple is finding it hard to settle for a theme to take them through the session, you could perhaps narrow it down to revolve around a location to make it simple for them!

Related Read: 12 Engagement Photo Themes To Fit Every Mood And Budget

2. Decide On A Location

engagement session outside the rainbow room and nbc studios in new york cityImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @photography_by_orlando

Every place has a story, and the location your couple chooses to tell their story will leave a lasting impression on their images. Therefore, it is important to decide on a location when planning an engagement session. Think about places that are meaningful. A local park is a classic option, but also think about the streets of your couple’s town or city. You could go for a historical landmark, or the spot where your couple got engaged or first met. Even their favorite café can be a good spot for photographs. You could consider seasonal locations, like a pumpkin patch in the fall, or the beach in the summer. What’s more? You could even suggest planning the photoshoot at your client’s home if they are intrigued by the idea and are looking for a private setting befitting their theme.

3. Set A Date & Time

Usually, planning an engagement session occurs two to three months before your wedding date, but sooner can be better so you have the chance to use the photos for the couple’s save the dates! Sunrise and sunset are the best times of the day for your engagement session. The light is most flattering during these times, and your photos are likely to be extra dreamy at the “golden hour.” However, it is important to discuss the date and timing of the session well in advance so that both you and your clients do not have to accommodate time for the session in your calendar at the eleventh hour.

4. Help With The Sartorial Choices

If your couple has taken out time for an engagement session, they would also probably want to look the part for the images! When planning an engagement session, choosing outfits could cause half the stress! But do not let your couples worry! There are lots of tips and tricks that can help your couple make sure their clothing looks great on them, and in the photos. You could suggest them the following tips:

  • First, choose outfits that you already know you love. You don’t need to buy something new (unless you want to, of course!).
  • Start with colors you love, or something you wear that you already feel really confident in or get compliments on when you wear it.
  • Also decide if you’re going to do something dressy, casual, or sporty… or any combination!
  • Moreover, changing clothes for a second look is an option, so don’t feel like you have to narrow it down to just one outfit!
  • Usually, photographers often recommend staying away from loud and overly colorful prints, but honestly, if that’s what makes you You, bring it on.
  • Most importantly, don’t feel like you need to match your outfits. It’s OK to match, but many couples choose to coordinate instead, going with colors that look good together.
  • Lastly, try to avoid anything too tight or too loose - if you’re uncomfortable in the clothes, it’ll show in the photos!

Suggested Read: Engagement Session Posing 

5. Hair & Makeup

Many couples, especially to-be brides, opt to go for a hair and makeup session before the engagement shoot. While the choice to have a spa time that helps them amp for the day and the photos ahead is entirely that of your couple, it always helps to build in some extra time in your timeline for that. Even though having the hair and makeup done do add to the photos in their own ways, it isn’t always necessary. What’s more important is that your couple feels comfortable, relaxed, and happy in whatever they decide to do.

6. Plan The Logistics

Other than the outfits, hair, and makeup, one integral thing that requires your attention as a photographer while planning an engagement session is to plan the logistics behind the scene. Are you doing a multi-location shoot? If so, how far are the locations from one another and how are you planning to travel there? What are the visiting hours for that particular place? Do you require a specific photography permit? Are there any camera charges? Are there any eateries nearby where you could take mini breaks? Do you need the help of your assistant or will the bride and groom be including their kids or pets? If so, do they have someone to take care of them for the rest of the session? You need to carefully analyze all these aspects and more, everything that keeps the show running smoothly behind the camera.

7. Remember The Ring

close up of engagement ring in black and whiteImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @brandiallysephoto

Incorporating the engagement ring and other special details could be a great way to personalize your couple’s engagement session. The engagement ring could be photographed alone or in your couple’s hands or on their finger, but in each of the cases, they are part of the story! If you are going to incorporate the ring in the image, just make sure the ornament is clean, because the camera captures more details than you would expect. A local jeweler can clean the ring for your couple or your couple could purchase an inexpensive ring cleaning solution. In a pinch, toothpaste will do! Yes, really! Check this HuffPost article out on other ring cleaning hacks!

Related Read: 10 Creative Wedding Ring Photography Ideas 

8. Add Extra Time In Your Timeline

In the midst of getting the best shots and perfect timings, do not forget to set apart some time in your timeline for your couples to have some fun. Remember, the more you make them feel at ease, the more likely you are to capture fun moments. Instead of asking them to force quirky poses, funny faces, or strike dreamy expressions, allow them to naturally enjoy the time together. This is likely to build up moments of laughter and merriment that you can then capture in your photographs.

A Photographer’s Note For Couples 

black couple dancing and kissing during their engagement session
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @dianenicolephoto

 What things (clothing, locations, hobbies) make the two of you, well, you? How are you when you’re around each other? What is important to you? Are you a couple who wants to do something theme-based? Or are you more classic and love close-ups versus far-away shots? Sit down with your partner and make a list of all must-have photos you want and what you think your style is. List everything that is important to you - the ring shots, or the props if you have them. Research poses and bring examples if you want! Determine the kinds of loving, funny, or silly poses you want with your partner.

Now, most importantly, make sure to bring lots of energy and enthusiasm to the shoot. Get plenty of rest the night before or try to relax during the day if your session is at sunset. With more energy, you will have a blast and it will show in your photos. Because these are photos you will cherish for generations to come.

Suggested Read: Nailing Engagement Sessions: From Planning To Execution

If Planning Fails, Prepare To Improvise

A couple portrait displaying a guy hugging his partnerImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @jenmcleodphoto

You and your couple have decided on everything - location, timings, outfits, and the theme. Everything seems to be planned out! But on the day of the shoot, something comes up, whether it rained and you had an outdoor engagement planned or maybe the outfits the couple donned didn’t work out as planned or didn’t look as flattering on camera. Even though planning well does eliminate hiccups such as these for the most part, you may still hit a few roadblocks that might derail some of your carefully laid-out plan, and when that happens, it helps to have a plan B in place. Try to improvise and see how you can make the best out of the current situation. It might not always be what you hope for, but sometimes, it could even turn out to be better and can interestingly add to the story of your couple’s engagement session day.

Further Read: Outdoor Wedding And Engagement Photography For Inspiration

At ShootDotEdit, we love sharing photography tips and stunning images created by our customers that can inspire and help you grow as a wedding photographer. What we also love doing is to help you build your wedding photography brand and meet your business needs. And we do that by providing professional photo editing services to bring down your post-production workload. To learn more about how we can help you, check out our pricing plans.


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