What Photographers Want You To Know About Engagement Photos
Yep. We are talking about engagement photos. Again. Why? Because they are a pretty darn important part of your experience as an engaged couple. Your engagement can be a stressful time and doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for learning the ins and outs of planning your engagement photos. As a professional Knoxville engagement photographer, there is a list of things I want couples to know when they come to me. All of these things are really designed for one goal: to make your engagement photography session go as smoothly as possible. I mean, with only one or two drinks post-engagement session! Ha!
Schedule The Darn Thing
Ok. I know that this may seem like a “duh” section, but trust me when I say this: your engagement is going to go by faster than you think. And before you know it, days, weeks, and months have flown by. And guess what? You haven’t scheduled your engagement session. Your time may be even more crunched depending on the length of time between your engagement, selecting your photographer, and your wedding day.
Getting a date early with your photographer will also allow for any rescheduling if needed. Your life is in-flux during these years, and you may be graduating school, getting or changing jobs, or maybe even moving to a new city during this time. You also don’t want to wait until the last minute and then have a surprise thunderstorm pop up and ruin the shoot with no time to reschedule. Because guys, guess what? It happens. There are times where we just can’t fit in an engagement session due to timing.
The smoothest shoots are almost always the ones that are planned in advance. Spontaneity is great in your love life but can lead to complications in your engagement photography session. And we don’t need undue stress (let the in-laws be the cause of that;-)). When a couple is stressed out because of timing issues, then their happy selves do not come through in the photographs. Your special day is going to be forever captured. You want things to go as smoothly as possible when it is.
Understand the Timeline
Every heard of Golden Hour? It’s that super yummy time of day right before the sun sets. During this time the sky takes on a nice warm tone that adds, well, warmth to the photo. In addition to a nice natural color grading, the sun’s position also means that much more of the light is coming from indirect sources. This means that the shadows are going to be softer and more visually appealing. Softer indirect light also reduces the chances of overexposure. Basically, the Golden Hour is a golden opportunity (pun intended) to capture your best moments with the love of your life in the best light.
So, guess what? The sun moves. Well, the Earth actually moves, but I digress. Of course, the hour or two before sunset varies a bit depending on the time of year that it is! Here are some general guidelines for when to shoot.
In the winter it seems like you are already driving home in the dark. Outside of the winter months, the golden hour is also after a typical person’s workday. During December through Mid-March you can plan on your engagement session taking place around 3-5pm. However, the time changes in Mid-March and so that will make the start time one hour later. During this time, I take engagement photos during the weekends only. Once daylight savings changes, I am back shooting on weekdays.
Once Spring is here, we are off and running on the sessions! The redbuds are blooming and the grass and trees are finally starting to turn green! The sunset time drastically changes throughout the course of these two months and so our shooting times change as well. You can plan on approximately 5:30-7:30 in April and 6:00-8:00 in May.
Summer engagements, just like all engagements, take place two hours before sunset. This will hopefully mean that the shoot will be during the cooler part of the day as of course, it gets super hot during these months. Or as I like to say, the “Swassy Months.”
The East Tennessee color is coming out in full display and Fall is by far our busiest shooting season! The sunset time changes (again) drastically during these three months. In September, you can plan on 5:30-7:30pm until the third week. Starting in Mid-October, you can plan on a 5:00-7:00pm shooting time. After the first week of November, we are back to shooting on weekends between 3:00-5:00pm.
I have clients come to me where one, or both, of them, are nervous. Some people are camera shy, I get it. It is impossible, however, to capture the love you have for each other and give you photographs that you will look upon fondly for years to come if you are stiff, wooden, or otherwise not your self.
One of the best ways to achieve the perfect engagement session is to just RELAX! When you show up as yourself, and only yourself, the photographs always turn out to be the best. When you just BE, when you are silly, or cry happy tears, those are the best moments. Most importantly make the most of this once in a lifetime session with their one true love. Relax, let loose, be silly, and be your one and only self.
The good news is that just by reading this post, you are on the right track to making sure that you are as prepared for your session as possible. Eliminating any unwanted surprises and knowing exactly what to expect is one of the best ways to ensure that you show up to your session as relaxed as possible. And if you have any questions about the process that may make you apprehensive, by all means, don’t be afraid to ask! Photographers don’t bite!
Choose a Meaningful Location
I don’t mean this to be a section on deep, meaningful locations. If you have one in mind for your engagement session, then that is great! If not, then photographers just want one thing: for you to be purposeful with your choice. It can be something that just speaks to you, whether it be your favorite cafe, your living room, your favorite lake or park. Heck, even your street! Going to a location that you are familiar with will lend a hand in helping with you acting naturally in a common space. Remember, having a beautiful backdrop can add to a photo, but if it stops you from being yourself then the location is not doing its job.
Think About Your Outfits
So, here is the deal on this. Photographers got it in their head that your engagement outfits have to be totally curated, styled, and freaking to-the-nines shoot. They don’t. Unless you want it to be. They are, after all, YOUR photos about YOUR engagement. Your engagement photos are about capturing the real you and not some fake version. Don’t worry about impressing the camera or anyone else. Be yourself.
But I do want to mention a single concept to make engagement photos look purposeful (there is that word again). You’ll want to match your attire to the location. A summer session in the Little River of the Smokies in a turtleneck is as out of place as a lace dress in the middle of Starbucks. If what you want to show is a Fall, outdoor session, then aim to schedule a session at peak of foliage (late October-early November here in East Tennessee), and head into the woods wearing plaid and jackets. If the photos are going to be taken at the old abandoned windmill that you used to sneak off to meet each other, then dress like the sneaky bad-a**es that you are. Just remember: don’t overthink things and think yourself right out of who you are as a couple and into some boring, cliche, free-with-the-frame couple.
Total side note, but totally applicable for this section: Dear Ladies, don’t wear stupid shoes. I say that with all the love in the world. Some of the locations photographers take you two require a lot of walking (such as Seven Islands State Birding Park). It takes effort and those cute high-heel shoes make not be up to the task. If your dream is to wear those heels in the woods then I’m all for it. We aren’t walking to the location in them.
Total second side note: I have written a way-too-long article for my own good about what to wear for engagement photos. If you want to read some more pretty text, feel free to check it out HERE. If you are just in it for some outfit suggestions, don’t forget to see our Pinterest Board.
Preparing Your Fiance’
If you’re a little anxious about how your fiance’ is going to react to this whole “picture” thing, you’re not alone. My husband is the same way. I receive so many emails from brides or grooms who are worried that their partner won’t be into it or I have great news for you: you are more photogenic than you think. And guess what, I have prompts and games for you two to enjoy, so you will be focused on each other instead of the big black box in front of my face.
Your engagement session is supposed to be fun and relaxed, not forced or awkward. As you prepare for your shoot, there are a few things that you can do to help your partner know what to expect. First of all, I highly recommend sitting down with them and showing them my blog! Spend some time together scrolling through a few posts. Or better yet, take a look at this little video we made! This will allow them to gauge what their expectations should be.
I also recommend that you allow for plenty of time to get to your shoot! There is nothing worse than when a couple shows up late, and they have been arguing in the car. I’m not kidding. It happens. It happened to me and the hubby over a wrinkled shirt – him, not me! Last but not least, remember to have patience with your partner and don’t assume that he or she is not going to have a good time. And that’s OK! We are not born of the same clothe and that makes the world we live in even better.
Thou shalt have no decision-making in regards to your photos! Er, um, nope. We want your input. We want your questions. But, we don’t want shot lists. Trust your photographer. While looking at inspiration on Pinterest can be fun, you don’t want your photographer spending the entire session recreating a bunch of photos that have already been done. You are a new work of art, and not for replicating. You hired your professional photographer because you love their work, and if you let your photographer have creative freedom, your photos will turn out 1,000 times better! I promise.
Knoxville Engagement Photographer
My name is Erin Morrison and I am a Knoxville Engagement Photographer. Nice to meet ya! Feel free to view my engagement portfolio and contact me at any time! I would love to meet you and your fiance’!