¡Hola! I'm excited to share one of my recent favorite engagement sessions: Clare and Sage's. This couple has been planning their big day for a while, and just a few days before their wedding, they kicked things off with a couples photoshoot in Old San Juan with me.
I also wanted to talk more about engagement sessions and how to get the most out of them by planning effectively. These suggestions can also help you while planning your wedding photos.
Choose a Photographer That's an Ideal Match.
If you're planning a photo shoot, there are a few things you should think of beforehand:
- Plan out where you'll take the pictures. The backdrop and kind of activity will help you determine what outfits you'll need to bring. I have an article on Puerto Rico photoshoot locations here.
- Think about what style of posing style you'd like to try. Laid-back, styled, or candid? Are you doing these poses, or do you need help from the photographer?
- Consider whether you'll want props or accessories.
- Does the editing style match your preferences?
The previous things on this list will inform the selection of your photographer.
For example, do you see props or elaborate posing on their portfolio? Do these match your vision? Are your skin tones well-represented and edited in their portfolio? Is the color treatment to your liking?
It may feel obvious, but I think it necessary to remind you that one should expect images just like the ones in their photography portfolio, and it's okay to ask them for sample images if you don't see what you're looking for.
Unpopular opinion: comfort goes first; aesthetic goes second.
Dress For Success.
You must ensure your outfits are comfortable with the activity and location you will visit. Then choose styles and colors that match.
Sweat, wind, humidity, and landscape colors are some elements that will impact your outfit decision and make you look harmonious and comfortable for your portraits.
I have an article on outfit planning for your Puerto Rico outdoor photo session, but I want to emphasize that choosing outfits that feel true to you and your body will make them feel less like costumes and more like second-skin.
Anything that you need to tug and fix every time you move, consider leaving it at home.
And don't forget the shoes!
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Before even booking your couples shoot, talk through your ideas and expectations with your photographer, but also with your partner.
If you're unsure of something, ask questions. As I've mentioned before, drawing inspiration and relating to previous works in the photographer's portfolio is essential: this is how your pictures will look, too.
Also, communicate with your partner about what excites you and worries you about the photo session.
This will open up opportunities to set yourself up for success and ensure everyone is comfortable and happy with the final product, even before the shoot.
Trust Your Photographer.
It will help if you trust your photographer: this will help you relax and perform better on the portrait shoot. They've been doing this for years, and they know what works.
Please don't feel pressured into anything, but let your photographer create and trust their vision.
Sometimes, I tell my couples, "let's try something; if it doesn't work with you, you still have a hundred more images to use and choose from!"
Have Fun –And do the work!
You've probably heard the saying "be yourself" before. It means being true to yourself and not worrying too much about other people's thoughts.
However, when it comes to photography, you might feel that your photographer expects you to act in a particular way. I don't need you to be or pose in any specific way: I need you to get there happy and in love. I'll do the rest!
Your photographer needs to see the real you so they can photograph authentic images of your relationship. I like to tell my clients I want them to forget about everything happening around us and focus on each other.
Build trust with your photographer, follow and connect with them on social media, and do the self-work to bring your best self to your portrait session.
And on that note, I don't want to end this blog without sharing a message on mental health and REAL body positivity.
Coming out of this pandemic, many of us have gained a little bit of weight, struggled with our mental health, and experienced rockier wedding planning processes than pre-pandemic couples. We've also been holed up for a long time, using social media as our only outlet.
There is science-based evidence that social media creates depression and low self-esteem in many people. In addition to everything offline life throws at us, we now have unattainable financial, aesthetic, travel, wedding, and relationship #goals.
As a result, I've seen many more couples struggle to enjoy themselves in the portrait session dynamic. They put too much pressure on themselves, each other, and me as a photographer for "perfect pictures."
It may sound counterintuitive for a photographer to say this, but: engagement photos aren't that big of a deal. They highlight and bookmark a specific step in your family and love story; that's all.
Allow your hair to look slightly blown off by the wind, have natural skin with pores and melanin that react to the elements, and don't be hard on yourself for not having yet arrived at that fitness goal. Instead, honor your body and process: we are all unfinished versions of ourselves and will continue to be for as long as we live.
Wedding planning can spark up a lot of hidden insecurities, unresolved family dynamics, and bring new issues to any relationship. Counseling and therapy may be a great tool at your disposal during this moment.
I am, first and foremost, a photographer of authenticity. You are perfect as you are. I want my couples to forget about their bodies, focusing instead on their souls and how they reach out to each other.
At this moment, you and your partner are in love; and have loved each other through many other moments. Our appearance will keep changing; how about we like and remember this moment in our relationship as imperfect as it is?
In Clare and Sage's case, this meant a quiet stroll across Old San Juan, stopping here and there for cuddly images. Nothing big or dramatic, but just perfect and true to them.