What to expect from your engagement shoot / Part One / Before the shoot

Over the past few years it has become common place for wedding photographers to offer their clients 'Engagement Shoots', sometimes also referred to as 'Pre-wedding Shoots' as part of their services.  

If you have been researching wedding photographers lately, you have probably noticed that many of the 'collections' or 'packages' offered include such a shoot, but unless you have come across the term before, or have friends that have gotten married recently, you may not fully know what to expect from such a session and so I thought that it would be helpful to explain how I run my engagement shoots to enable you to consult with your prospective wedding photographers a little more clued up.

So over the next three blog posts in this series I'll take you through everything you need to know. Essentially an Engagement or Pre-wedding shoot is an opportunity for the couple to take some time out in the wedding planning process, usually a few months before the big day, to spend some time with their wedding photographer, creating photographs that will mark their engagement to one-another.

A Sunset Beachside Engagement Shoot in Old Felixstowe, Suffolk / www.rossdeanphotography.com

I see there being two main aims for inviting my clients to an Engagement Shoot:

  1. To celebrate the engagement!  An obvious one perhaps, but often not thought of.  I think in some cases the engagement falls a little flat after the big proposal and the ring has been exchanged, but in fact its a really amazing time for the couple as they enter this new chapter that precedes the big day and so should be celebrated.  One way to do this is to create memorable photographs with their photographer, which can be enjoyed for years to come.
  2. To work with the photographer before the wedding day.  Choosing an engagement shoot as part of your wedding collection allows you to be photographed by your wedding photographer before the wedding.  This means you are able to get to know each other a little better, discuss any likes or dislikes and just get used to how your photographer works.  This way, once the wedding day comes around, you'll be totally at ease and knowing exactly what to expect.  After all, the photographer is usually the wedding vendor that you'll spend most time with on the day!

It is usually around 3 months before the wedding day when I contact my couples to arrange their engagement shoot.  Although they can be booked at any time, from booking their wedding photography, and so couples sometimes get in touch ahead of time, if there is a particular time they would love to run the session.

I love to get their input and so really welcome ideas for the shoot itself and so I ask them if there is something they particularly like to do together, something that we can capture at their shoot.  I really love to bring further meaning to the engagement photographs and so if we can perhaps shoot at a place they love to go together, or even go back to the place where the proposal took place, it will really make for special memories every time those photos are enjoyed in years to come.

Once a location and convenient time have been agreed, we're good to go.  Some photography studios like to offer extensive guides around what to and what not to wear on the shoot, but I believe that an engagement shoot should capture the true essence of the couple themselves and they should feel as comfortable as possible.  With this in mind,  I like my clients to make wardrobe decisions for themselves, simply offering the following short tips.

  • I advise not to wear branded clothing with large logos or heavily patterned clothes as this can often detract the eye from the subjects in the photo. 
  • I advise that if you want to get your hair cut before the shoot, that you have it done around a week or so before the shoot.  This allows for the hair to settle a little and generally looks better in the photos.
  • I advise that where make up is applied, it should be applied in the same way that you would apply it day to day, depending on the outfit and environment.  E.g Day to day make up for a relaxed beach engagement shoot & more glam for an evening city engagement shoot.

In the next blog post in this series, we'll go through the shoot itself, again taking you step by step through what to expect.  As always, if you have any questions about engagement shoots, please leave me a comment below.  I do review and reply  to all the comments myself, so I look forward to hearing from you.