I get it, your fiance hates pictures. You’ve already forced him (or her!) to come to thirty venues, taste 57 cakes (which really, who would complain about that?), meet with 20 photographers, 15 DJs, a bunch of florists and then help you decide on everything… And then question all the decisions five times before you really decide. Oh, and then there are the meetings with the pastor/church/priest that you need to go to. You already have pictures of the two of you together that you like. It’s a pain to find a time. It’s hard to convince your significant other to give up one more Sunday afternoon for an engagement portrait session with your wedding photographer, especially since you both know you’ll both have your fill of pictures on your wedding day…. So why do it?
I’m a huge proponent of engagement portraits. Ok, honestly I’m a huge proponent of pictures no matter what the reason, but engagement portraits are my 3rd “most necessary” photographs to have done… And I believe it is most important to have them done by the same photographer that will be covering your wedding day. (What photographs beat these out in my order of “importance”, you ask? 1. Wedding Photography 2. Newborn Portraits – both which should be done by a professional that specializes in those portrait types… but more on those another day). But engagement pictures are probably also my favorite type of portrait session to photograph. They have all the love and connection of a wedding day, with none of the stress, time limits, drama or wardrobe considerations!
Ok, those are a couple of the reasons I love engagement sessions… but why should that matter to you? Here are my 8 reasons why you should do an engagement session with your wedding day photographer:
1. Get to know your photographer.
You’ll probably have at least one meeting with your wedding photographer. Hopefully you’ll have more than one meeting with them… but sitting in a coffee shop for an hour discussing wedding plans isn’t quite the same as hiking around a park for two hours with someone. Usually the first time I meet with a bride and groom, it is a year or more in advance of their wedding. While I would love to meet up a few more times to go over everything and get to know each other better, sometimes location and schedules don’t always allow for that. Brides and grooms that are planning weddings are busy! Like I mentioned before, you have meetings with everyone. With exception of engagement portraits, most of the photographers work is on the day of or after your wedding. Unlike the reception venue that needs everything planned out to perfection beforehand, we work harder after the wedding… which means there is less of a necessity for multiple meetings unless it is just to finalize details a week or two before, or the engagement session. You’re stuck with your photographer for a full, busy, hectic day… Having some knowledge of who they are before the big day will cut down on one possible area of stress.
2. Get to know how your photographer “poses” you.
Yes, photographers pose couples for engagement pictures. Even the most “photojournalistic” photographers give some direction to get couples together. The un-posed pictures on pinterest that you love? Yup, those are posed… at least somewhat. A good photojournalistic photographer can get you into a certain pose that conveys the love you feel without it feeling awkward. I’m not talking about the high school portrait studios that make you tilt your head “a little more… ok, now a little more” until you are left with your ear touching your shoulder and your face looks frozen in a confused smile because you still aren’t sure you’re how they wanted you. Yes, I have been through that too, and felt just as confused as you did. But knowing what your photographer means when they say “I just want you to cuddle together” without having that confused “am I doing this right?” look makes the wedding day portraits go so, so much smoother!
3. Get comfortable with each other.
You are madly in love, and obviously pretty comfortable with each other since you are planning to get married… but how often are you followed around by someone with a camera and told to “act naturally in love”? I’ve read all the tips on “how to ace your engagement session” and one thing all the articles say is to just be yourselves together and just enjoy it. Ok, that is great… but honestly my husband and I don’t just stand around in parks cuddling together, or walk with our arms wrapped around each other just to stop and kiss in front of a gorgeous sunset. As much as I wish that was my everyday, it’s not… and it’s probably not yours either. When we go for walks, sometimes we hold hands. We occasionally look at each other and laugh, but more often we are looking at the ground to make sure we don’t trip, looking at the trees (ok that’s me) or the dogs other people are walking (that’s him), and very occasionally do we stop and hug… and when we do, it’s not done while gazing into each other eyes: I’m short enough that his arms wrap around my shoulders and effectively block out my head from anyone that might be taking a picture. Oh, and if we were being followed by someone with a camera? Well that would be even weirder (and this is coming from a photographer!). So no, acting like your natural self when you are together doesn’t work for everyone…. even the most in love. But it is so important to have that experience before your wedding day, when there are a billion other things on your mind, a timeline that is quickly running away from you, an intense wardrobe to work around, and 4-20 of your closest friends watching you “pose naturally” together.
4. Let your photographer know your personalities.
I have had super cuddly couples, and super crazy couples. There have been the ones that pick each other up and flip them upside down, and the ones that I don’t even have to say “cuddle up” to and they are already doing it. Every couple has a different personality together, and it is my job to make sure that is what I capture. Yes, I can pose you to look adorably in love and super sweet… but if you’re a couple that would be more likely to make crazy faces at me or have a water balloon fight, then I’d rather capture that. Ok, probably not a water balloon fight on your wedding day, but you get the idea. It gives your photographer a chance to know how you show your love with each other.
5. Practice run for the wedding day.
This kind of sums up the rest of my reasons, but an engagement session really allows you to see how your wedding day on location portraits will go and know how they will turn out. Wedding days have a lot less time,a lot more stress, and a lot more “must have” shots than engagement portraits, so having an idea of how your photographer moves you from one pose into another, and being able to trust that the images are going to be spectacular takes that stress away. Yes, some poses during your engagement session may seem awkward to you, but when you get the images back and love the pose, you won’t be questioning your photographer as much on your wedding day, because you will know that she knows what she’s doing (yes, you’re photographer could be a guy, but I’m a girl, so I’m going with “she”….).
6. Make your significant other hate pictures less
Yes, this is a reason, and does happen. As I mentioned before, I try to make engagement sessions fun. I try to let both the guys and the girls personalities shine through. These pictures are about both of you, and I want you both to enjoy your time with me, so I try to make them as painless as possible… and hopefully make anyone who usually hates having their pictures done maybe hate it a little less.
7. Get some “non-wedding attire” pictures of the two of you.
Chances are you don’t have professional portraits done of just the two of you all the time (especially since if you’re reading this you may be questioning having even engagement portraits done). Yes, you will have tons on your wedding day, but you will also be in all of your wedding attire. Engagement pictures allow you to get some couple portraits done where you look and feel like yourself and aren’t as worried about keeping your hair perfect, avoiding any possible dirt, restricted movement or anything else!
8. Have pictures for Save-the-Dates, table numbers, or a guest book for your wedding
This is the obvious one that most people think of. Engagement portraits give you gorgeous pictures that you can use for your wedding. You can incorporate them in Save-the-Dates, as table numbers, in a sign-in book for your wedding, bridal shower Thank-You’s, wedding invitations, wedding day decorations, or a ton of other things!
Did I miss anything? Leave me a comment below if you have other reasons to have your engagement portraits done!!