A Guide for Engagement Sessions

There is no right or wrong way to do an engagement session, but here are some tips that we’ve come across through the years for taking great engagement pictures.

When should we schedule our engagement session?

Answers vary. It really depends on what you are using them for.

For SAVE THE DATES: Save the dates are actually a pre-invitation to your wedding. The fine details may not be in place yet, but you want your guests to block that day off. You wouldn’t want your favorite aunt to miss your wedding day because she had non-refundable tickets to the Rick Springfield cruise. Save the dates usually go out at least 4 months before the wedding. It takes us a couple of weeks to process/edit your images. Then, you may need a couple of weeks to produce the save the dates. So, for this purpose, you should schedule your session at least 5 months from your wedding day.

For Guest Books: For guest books, you’ll want to schedule your engagement session at least a 5 weeks before your wedding. That way, you have 2 weeks for us to edit and another 3 weeks to order your guest book (if you’re ordering the guest book from us, we usually have it to you within 10 business days).

Just because: If you have your save the dates and guest book covered (or aren’t doing them at all), then you can schedule your engagement session whenever you are ready.

Pre-requisite: Remember, it’s never too early to schedule your engagement session. But, there is one pre-requisite we do have. You have to be ready. Mentally ready. Don’t be rushed to do an engagement session. We want you looking and feeling your best. I know a lot of people wait for specific weather (fall, summer, or spring)…or for things to settle down at work…or are maybe waiting to look their best (we’ve personally postponed our own holiday session 3x already because Alfred and I are trying to lose some weight…I just hope we get them done before Ella moves out for college). Whatever the case may be, whenever you are ready…we’ll be here. Cameras loaded and ready.

Where should we have our engagement session?

~Choose a location that best describes you as a couple. The usual spots are parks and at the beach. You can hardly ever go wrong when choosing your favorite park or a picturesque beach. Urban crawling is also good… picking the best few blocks in the city and roaming around.

~Our best engagement sessions so far are the ones where the couple is actively involved in where they want to have their pictures done. They know the walls they want to use, the cafe they want to sit at, or the park bench that they sit on every Sunday. They have this idea in their head that they want to achieve. Guidance like this helps make your dream e-session come true. We can’t guarantee we can replicate what’s exactly in your head…but we’ll try our hardest! This doesn’t mean we can’t help you choose where you want to have it done, it just means that it’s always best when you choose a place that you want remember always.

What do we wear?

The important thing to note is that what you wear should help enhance your best features, and make the focus be about you. You don’t want to wear anything too distracting.


~Make this session special! Go for casual chic or even an evening wear look. Is it summer out? Then a breezy, summer outfit. We don’t want you to feel uncomfortable, so please wear something that fits your personality—but spice it up. It will probably be a while before you get another chance to get all dressed up (except for your wedding—of course) for professional pictures, so please take this chance to bring out your Sunday’s best.

~Coordinating outfits are great, but avoid getting too “matchy”. You can, instead, choose accessories that compliment each other. -Wear colors that work well on you. Nothing that might wash out your complexion. -Clean lines look really good (i.e, avoid bulky clothes) -V-necks (for her) are usually a good choice.

~Wear shoes that are comfortable! Or, at least bring them with you. You can always bring your oomph shoes and you can switch between your fancy shoes and your comfortable ones. You don’t want to give out 30 mins into the session because your feet are throbbing.

~Nice socks for guys. Sometimes our grooms forget that we will definitely catch a glimpse of those socks…

~Mani/pedi? If you’re in doubt, and if it’s within your budget, GO FOR IT, because we will get a close up shot of that ring and you don’t want to be distracted by dry nail beds!

~Purse? If you can help it (some women feel something is missing when they don’t have their purse with them) and it’s not part of your shoot, then just bring the essentials. Because there will be times when we won’t be able to keep an eye on your valuables because we’ll be out and about.

~Outfit change? Sure! We can usually fit one outfit change into a session (as long as you’re comfortable getting dressed in the back of the car.

Things to avoid:

~Matching white tops. We want to avoid the “whiteboard” effect. Not to say that white tops look bad…try to break up the white with some punch of color, through accessories.

~Busy prints or big logos. -Shiny fabric or shiny makeup. (Let’s keep the metallic clothing, circa 1984, at home for personal shots.)

~Wearing something you wouldn’t normally wear. We can’t photoshop discomfort.

~The “hair/makeup trial”. You may be tempted to combine the hair and makeup trial and the engagement session. Just make sure that the updo/hairstyle you’re getting for your wedding matches the formality or casualness of whatever it is you’re wearing to the engagement session. Imagine wedding day up-do paired with jeans and a t-shirt? Not that it shouldn’t be done, but maybe bring a mirror, a small comb, and some hairspray…in case you feel you want to “change up the look” towards the latter half of your shoot.

~Eyebags. Getting a great night’s sleep is so much easier, and more flattering than photoshopping away eye bags. Rest and relax! You’re going to have so much fun.

~Dressing inappropriately. If you’re shooting in San Francisco, be wary that the weather is unpredictable and almost always WINDY! Bring a light jacket and avoid clothes that may not be windy-friendly. We also find that empire style waists are not very wind friendly.

How can we help take great photos?

~When you’re having your picture taken, take a page out of Tyra Banks’ show and “find the light!”

~Always get as close to your fiance as you can, without squishing cheek. Squished faces don’t look good on anybody!

~When kissing for a picture, avoid fish kissing…you know the fish kiss…pouted lip against pouted lip—fish kisses do not look as good as relaxed lips in a kiss. It might not be the way you regularly kiss, but for the purposes of a great photo…relax those lips.

~Be aware of the camera, but don’t be afraid of it. If we ask you to walk down the street…walk with some gusto, turn back and smile at us, be cuddly, and don’t be afraid of PDA (public displays of affection). We promise we won’t tell you to get a room.

~Relax and have fun.

~If you are “camera shy” or hate the way your smile looks in pictures, practice laughing. I guarantee that it may start as a “fake” laugh, but quickly turns into a true smile/chuckle and it’s guaranteed to make your partner laugh as well. This method has been tried and proven.

~Don’t forget…you can bring props and fun things to incorporate into your photo shoot. Balloons, a large lollipop, some vintage suitcases, or fun parasols are always good for a great picture.

~If you want to incorporate a lift or a dip in your shots, practice with the fiance at home. Makes for a great Thursday night!

~Have matching bikes? Why not ride along a romantic pathway for some action shots? Your engagement shoot is limited only by your imagination. Just don’t ask us to cliff dive or bungee jump with you… I don’t think our equipment can handle it.

Slimming techniques:

(Note: I added this section, because I’m no size 2, so I’ve had a bit of practice trying to trick the camera!)

~To avoid arm spreadage, make an effort to make angles. Bend your arms, and try not to have your upper arm resting on your body. Imagine a beauty contestant if you will. Notice how they stand, with their elbow bent and hand resting on their hip? That space between her arm and body is the difference between a lean looking arm and having “arm spreadage”. We’re all familiar with the arm spreadage.

~Nothing makes for great looking calves then some killer heels. Can’t walk long in heels? Bring a pair of flip flops and we’ll swap them out when it’s time to take a longer stroll.

~Afraid of thigh width? Practice sitting on one hip (the objective is to get those thighs off of the chair). The more you get that thigh off of the chair, less “spreadage”. I’ll keep adding to this section…so keep this bookmarked!


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