Picking an Engagement Photographer
The world is full of photographers and trying to pick one can be a daunting task. But I hope to be able to make that process easier for you. Through looking at what your budget is, what vision you have for your photos, what feel you want your images to have, and what kind of relationship you want to have with your photographer. Engagement photos are not only for you, but a great and impactful way of announcing to the world your future nuptials.
A budget is a primary consideration for picking a photographer. Prices seem to be all over the place when it comes to photography. The average cost for a one-hour session is $500 for engagement photography. This can seem quite pricy and by all definitions is. However, understanding the time, effort, and equipment costs involved make that price much more sensical. Experience also goes into pricing as well. I can't tell you how many horror stories I have heard from people that went with a budget photographer. The story usually always starts with "I hired someone that promised me the moon for $100 and now I hate all my photos." This is a common occurrence in the photography world, and they have a nickname 'turn and burn photographer'. The goal of a turn and burn photographer is to make a quick buck with a cheap enticing price, a ton of promises, and a quick, easy, poor finished product. They quickly stop returning calls, emails, and texts once the photoshoot is finished. That is why a proper budget is so important. So, while $500 may seem excessive, it is the average and that is where you start to find your photographer, give or take $100.
The image you have for your engagement photos should closely match the vision you have for your wedding photos. The reason for this is that an engagement shoot is almost like an audition for your Wedding Photographer. How you connect with a photographer is a very key aspect of how your photos will turn out. Have you ever seen pictures where the people in them look like they're taking a photo? Now this isn't to point blame at anyone, this is just a reality of social behavior. I too have had sessions where we didn't match, and the photos showed it. But every photographer has had many sessions where everyone just clicked, and it makes for some beautiful memories. That is where having a like vision with a photographer and being a good social match is important for your engagement photos.
Be able to talk with your photographer or perspective photographer is really important. I personally go through several avenues with my clients. First is face to face meetings, either over coffee or Zoom is my preferred way to meet for the first time. Now when discussing what they imagine their pictures to look like, some are great at articulating what they want, others can be a little intimidated as they don't know the jargon, they think they're supposed to use, and that's okay! For those that struggle putting into words what their wants are I usually ask them to put together a vision board on Pinterest of all the colors they see, the styles they like, and photos that make them go "wow! that's how I want to look!". They say images are worth a thousand words, and that is very true. A single image can convey entire ideas that a 20-minute conversation could never achieve. Also make sure times and location are discussed during these meetings. This allows everyone to bounce ideas off each other to make and even more individualized photo session.
I've Picked my Photographer
Congratulations! Now that you have spent all that time finding the right fit for you, comes contract and deposit. Contracts are a necessary evil for both parties, but they should offer protections for both sides. You shouldn't be penalized if the photographer does something, and the photographer shouldn't be penalized if you do something outside of their control. Deposits are usually the easiest part to understand. Any photographer that has been doing this for a while will require a deposit. Deposits assure the photographer of your commitment. You would be surprised how booked up a photographer would be, but how little business they would do if deposits were not a thing. Normally deposits are 50% with the remainder due a week before the photo session is scheduled to take place. Once the contract and deposits are done, you're on board and found your Photographer!
Getting Ready for Engagement Photos
Now that you have your location, time, and photographer picked out. It is time to figure out what you're wearing. Some couples like to coordinate their wardrobe and go matching. Others like to be themselves and wear what is their differing but compatible identities. The suggestions I have is make sure you pick something appropriate for the weather and location you have picked. If it's winter out, don't show up in a shear dress or shorts to an outdoor mountain shoot. This has happened and it makes for an unfun time. Also making sure that you two are matching in style also goes a long way. You don't want one in basketball shorts while the other is wearing formal wear.
As for multiple outfits, most photographers are comfortable with 2-3 outfits. Now a pro tip on outfits is making them quick change, meaning layers. having a top layer that when shed, reveals something matching but that gives the outfit a whole different feel. This can save both of you time, as well make much more variety in your photos.
Now I personally don't wear makeup, but that doesn't mean I don't have a couple of suggestions on it. The human eye and the camera see colors in very different ways; so sometimes makeup can interfere with those beautiful photos you're about to take. Some simple suggestions are not using shiny highlighter, super contrasting colors, and be light on foundation. These items can show up much different in camera than in person. They really don't show up in a flattering way either. That is why i suggest rolling them back a bit for the camera.
Day of your Engagement Session
It's the day you commemorate your newfound commitment to each other. You should receive a confirmation from your photographer that everything is ready to go and that you are expected. Make sure you check the weather and dress accordingly. Also check maps to see how long it will take you to get from where you will be to where you will need to be. I will usually show up to a location 10-15 minutes before the Engagement shoot to make sure everything at the location is going well and if my couple is there early, even better. If my couple has arrived early, I will do a basic walk through of the location with them so we can bounce some photo ideas off of each other and even further plan what we will be creating together that day.
Now to start, I usually start with basic posing as this gets everyone talking and moving. It starts getting you used to the idea of having a camera moving around you. I'm a photographer and cameras pointing at me still make me nervous. Being posed can be awkward I usually tell my couples this too. But trust your photographer, that awkward feeling pose can make for some great images.
End of the Session
Once the photoshoot is done, everyone can say their goodbyes for the moment. Turn around is the anxious wait by the couple for their photos. I understand this, and I do a quick turnaround of a week for my couples. That way they can start sharing those photos with friends and family immediately; also, it gives them more time to start getting wedding invitations together. Once your session has ended, it's not the end of the relationship with your photographer. Once you start having your venue and dates locked down for your wedding. Give them a call back up, I'm sure they would love to hear from you.