As a part of my interest to educate my clients and future brides-to-be, I’ve been writing a series of Notes, where I talk about each and every single part of the wedding photography process, and give tips about how to make the most of my service based in what I’ve learned in seven years of experience.
The engagement session has probably much more to it than you think. I offer these session because it’s a great opportunity for having informal, relaxed, intimate and fun images before the wedding… but it’s also a great chance to get to know your photographer better, and for building trust and comfort while working together.
I love shooting these sessions, because they build up the confidence of the couples in front of the lens, and helps us work our creativity in a relaxed environment, which ends up in photos clients love! There’s no ONE specific way to make an Engagement or “Love Story” session, but here I’m talking about what works for me:
How long takes a session? What do we expect from it?
Couple sessions are fun, relaxed and their duration is usually from one to two hours. They basically consist on placing the couple in beautiful light and let them be: ¡funny, awkward, romantic, sexy! I don’t do much posing, but I’ll help around if you feel uncomfortable in front of the camera. Most couples start off as shy, but they end as if they were born for this!
The real question is: For what do you want the pictures?
- Save The Dates: These are a pre-invitation for your wedding. Important details will go in the formal invite, but they might not be yet in order, while you still want your guests to save the date for your event. These are usually sent 4 months in advance to the event. It a couple of weeks of editing, and the time it’ll take for you to plan & design the stationery. For this purpose, I’d recommend the session 6-5 months prior to the wedding.
- Guest Books / Canvas or Decoration for the event: Guestbooks, are signing books where guests can enjoy your engagement photos as well as leave you a special message that will last forever. If you want a guestbook your session should be at least 2-3 months prior to the wedding.
- Making of a slideshow, publish them on the social metia, etc.: To make sure your photos will be ready before the wedding, we should do them at least a month before the event.
Select a location that really describes you as a couple. Common places are parks, beaches and plazas. Walking through the city and stopping here and there is also a good option. Do you have a hobby in common? I’m happy to travel to that special place you love so much. Another great idea is to visit the house you just bought, be it incomplete or decorated. My goal is to make the photos as meaningful as possible, and when couples are actively involved in the choosing of the venue, it’s so much easier! Of course, I’ll be happy to help you choose if your ideas need a bit of development. You can also see this article on choosing the perfect engagement session location in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is a beautiful archipelago in the Caribbean, comprised of three principal islands, Isla Grande (the main one), Vieques and Culebra. They all provide almost every scenery imaginable: desert, paradisiacal white/black/seashell sand beaches, mountain ranges and lush rainforest. Located strategically near the Equator, we have constant summer temperatures (~85F/30C) throughout the year.
Easterly trade winds pass through our Island all year round, bringing us a rainy season on summers. Humidity is usually high, and in the lowlands the temperature barely goes down from the 80s during November-January.
What does this all mean? We have a perfect day dress & bikini weather all year round. Layered outfits are discouraged, and a water bottle should always be handy… Because I don’t like my clients to pass out mid-session. 😛
If you care to learn a bit more about how can you handle Puertorican weather for your destination wedding, keep reading here: How to Deal with the Heat on Your Wedding Day on Puerto Rico.
Care before the session
- Keep your skin moisturized on the days before your session. Your complexion will look fresh on close-ups!
- Try to sleep as much as possible the night before. Tiredness, as well as discomfort, show right through the pictures.
- Guys: shave/trim your beard and have your hair done the day before.
- Try to avoid excessive tanning, it will look unnatural on the images.
- Do your nails, hair, make-up. If you’re like most of us, the last time you had a pro take a portrait of you was at school.
- Eat and drink plenty of water before the session. It’s quite a workout, believe me!
Make-up & Hair
- A good idea is to try to schedule your wedding hair & make-up trial for the same date as your engagement session. Remember to match your outfit with your look.
- Most outdoor places are windy. Bring bobby pins, and consider the option of at least having a half-do.
- Mineral make-up reflects a lot of light, which could make your skin too oily in pictures.
- Bring powder, lipstick, wipes, a mirror, and a comb for touch-ups between photos. Blotting papers are really helpful for minimizing these instances.
- Bring outfits with different formality levels, but always in your own style. Try them for a full day before the session (also the shoes!), if you’re uncomfortable, at least you didn’t find out right in your session.
- Keep jewerly and accesories to a minimum. Just one or two statement pieces.
- You don’t have to perfectly match outfits, but at least try to not clash with one another.
- Use colors you like and that look good on your skin.
- Use comfy shoes, or bring flip-flops for walking in between shots.
- Wear nice socks, remember they might show in a picture or two.
- Clothing with patterns, too much sparkle, big logos, neon colors. These distract from your expressions and reflect strange colors on the skin.
- Dressing in the same color from head to toe.
- Outfits that might be too revealing on windy moments.
- Clothing you’d never wear for another occasion. Discomfort can be seen a mile away.
- These colors: sparkle, neons, the same color of your skin, white.
- Always keep as close as possible with your loved one, without squishing your faces together.
- If you’re the kissing type, avoid tightening your lips too much, relax and it will look great!
- Don’t look at the camera all the time, but acknowledge its presence: keep your body & expressions toward it.
- If you’re shy or uncomfortable smiling to the camera, try practicing in front of a mirror.
- Risky photos like piggyback and jumping… practice at home first!
- You can bring details to incorporate to your session: love notes, your oldest photo, the (polished) engagement ring, balloons, giant candy, bikes, umbrellas, flowers… Use your creativity!
- You can try your own ideas for the session, but they’re not necessary: you’ll look great anyway!
Is there something I missed? Feel free to comment your own ideas or questions in the comment box below!