1. SHOULD WE DO A SHOOT?
If you're on the fence about celebrating your engagement with a session, I'd say the pros outweigh the cons (and yes, I'm a bit bias). Since you'll be having a professional photographer at your wedding, most couples like to know what it's like in front of the camera together before their wedding day. It will help you two relax, and know what to expect if you're working with the same photographer (which I would advise to do if you can!) It can also be a great time to get dressed up, be together and enjoy a nice evening in a lovely setting, and you get to leave behind your wedding planning for a night. Some couples also like to include a photograph or two for their Save-The-Dates, formal invitations, or their wedding website - all of which are great reasons to step in front of the camera with your loved one (below are 2 examples of how my clients have used their engagement photos for a display at their wedding and for their invitation)
I always love and appreciate getting to know my clients before their wedding, and an engagement shoot is a great setting. I can learn what makes you laugh, what kinds of poses look best specifically for you, and hear more about your upcoming wedding.
2. WHAT SHOULD WE WEAR?
I always have my clients wear 2 outfits - a casual outfit and a dressy one. A small tip I always use is to encourage couples who are unsure about what to wear is to start with a color that compliments your eyes. For the two of you, wearing outfits that compliment each other but don't perfectly match photographs really well. Since most of my engagement shoots take place outdoors (not all but most!) and in nature, wearing good footwear is a big help. Instead of 4-inch heels, wedges, flats, or boots will photograph well and you'll be a lot more comfortable walking around in a grassy field, on a dusty trail, or the alleys of LA. Being practical, comfortable, and stylish is a fun task to master. Here are a few clients who I believe pulled off all three really well (while looking like themselves):
3. SHOULD WE PICK WHERE WE SHOOT OR DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS?
It's a team effort. First and foremost, if you have an idea - say it! Whether it's your first-date spot, a hike you like to take together, your favorite park, or coffee shop. If you don't have a specific place you'd like to be photographed at, a genre or aesthetic route helps. Do you want to be in nature? (Then we can break it down and shoot for mountains, hills, trees, trails, lakes, etc.) Do you have a love for a certain Downtown (using more textured walls, alleyways, stairs, etc.) Or do you want a mix? (Hit up a trail head and a downtown spot in one session!)
As a photographer, location scouting is a huge part of my job. I have a running list of about 50+ go to places I like to use in the LA/OC area. And a big part of location scouting is knowing where to park, how much it is, if photography is allowed, if a permit is need, if too many people will be around etc. These are all factors I think about going into a shoot. I'm always happy to choose spots based off of your style and taste, and crafting a good shoot (thinking about light and location) is one of my favorite parts of the job.
4. WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM THE SHOOT?
Once locations have been determined and a game plan is set, on the day of the shoot we will meet up at the first location (unless coffee or beer is suggested beforehand, in which case I will always say yes) and start shooting. Since most engagement shoots will happen towards sunset, I'll keep an eye out for the best light and our timing, and when we should head to the next location.
When you look at my work, hopefully you can see a good mix of posed and candid frames. I'd say I'm smack dab in the center when it comes to posing + letting candid things happen. I want my couples to feel comfortable, so giving direction is a big part of the shoot. I will often ask my couples to move around - walk, dance, skip (lightly!), swing your arms - and all of this contributes to capturing more personable and candid photos. Expect to enjoy being together, expect to move and walk a bit, and expect to enjoy the process. The shoot goes by fast and your cheeks may hurt a bit after, but it's all worth it.
5. CAN WE SHOOT WITH...?
Your dog? Yes. Surfboards at sunset? Yes. Your VW bus? Yes. If you have something special that you'd like to incorporate into your shoot, let me know and we will work together to make it happen. Feel free to bring a blanket, a floral crown to add to your outfit, a book you two love - you can always bring it and if we shoot with it, great. And if not, no worries. Bringing an extra layer like a jacket or sweater (depending on the weather) is always great to have on hand too. All in all, an engagement shoot is a fun time to get dressed up and document an amazing season in your lives. If you want to incorporate things you love, that's great. If you want to keep it simple and focus on the setting and the two of you, that's great too. It all comes down to your personalities and what you think best represents the two of you.