The main purpose of the engagement session for me (and the reason why they're a permanent part of our wedding packages) is getting our clients comfortable in front of the camera.
The engagement session is a warm up for the wedding day. Most couples have never been professionally photographed before, and we hear from a lot of them (especially the grooms) that they feel awkward in front of the camera. In 2017, I took an entire course specifically on posing so I could be even better at helping our couples look and feel natural on camera. And I want them to ENJOY their session too!
I start our engagement sessions by teaching my clients my simple four-part posing structure. In just 5 minutes, they've learned everything they need to know. I know that the photos I take during the first 5 minutes or so are going to feel a bit awkward and look a bit staged. That's totally normal, because most people are used to taking selfies, not professional portraits. These are our practice shots. After we walk through the posing structure and my clients are feeling more confident, we can move on to locations with really beautiful light and get a posing flow going.
But trust me, even with all that teaching and instruction, I never leave my clients out to dry and expect them to 'just be cute' for the camera! I always tell them that it's my job to give direction, and they don't need to worry about what to do with their hands or when they should look at the camera.
Not only does the engagement session help our couples, but it helps me as well! The engagement session shows me what kind of direction each couple needs and what poses are best for them. How do they interact with each other? Do they need reminders to stand up straight or to relax their hands? (Next time we see each other, ask me about spatula hands!) How does their height difference influence posing? (Certain pose variations work best with different height ratios, so the engagement session gives us a chance to work out which poses work best for a particular couple.)
When the couple is comfortable in front of the camera and I know what direction they need and what poses work best for them, we can fly through wedding day portraits! And we usually don't have a lot of time on the wedding day. If our clients choose to do a first look, we might be lucky enough to have an hour and use multiple locations around the venue. But it's not very unusual for me to have only 30 minutes (or even less!) for bride and groom portraits when the couple chooses not to do a first look, so we don't have time for a warm up on the wedding day. We have to dive right in and get moving!
We've worked with many couples who weren't initially interested in doing an engagement session, because they didn't understand how it would impact their wedding day! I always tell couples who aren't sure that it's not really about getting pretty pictures at all. It's worth doing an engagement session even if you don't think you'll ever use the photos. Because your wedding day portraits will be THAT much better!
The engagement session is exactly what they need to go into wedding day portraits with confidence!
Want to read more tips for your engagement session?
Choosing a Location
My Favorite Hampton Roads Locations
What To Wear
What Not to Wear
Shopping for an Engagement Session Dress
What Happens if it Rains
Getting to Know Your Photographer
How I Chose My Outfits
10 Final Tips