I realize the title of this blog post is a pretty tall order.  Usually the engagement session happens pretty soon after you book your wedding photographer, while you're still trying to iron out all the details of your wedding, and possibly starting to feel the stress of it all.  I sometimes get requests from couples to take the engagement session out of their package, for multiple reasons, but I strongly suspect that a big reason is that they just don't want to have to worry about having one more thing on their to-do list with wedding planning.  I get it!  I promise I do!  It may just seem like more decisions on your all ready full plate of things to do (Where do we go?  What do I wear? Will this be even be worth it?) Hopefully these few tips will help set your mind at ease and maybe even convince you that an engagement session is actually the perfect way to take a break from all the planning.  And actually, if we do it right, it will feel like the best date the two of you have ever had!

TIP #1:  Location, location, location: where do you feel most "yourselves"?  

I think a lot of people have this idea that to have amazing photos, they need some spectacular backdrop (yep, I drool over the mountain top engagement sessions too!).  Yes, pretty locations are awesome, but I'm not Ansel Adams so I'm not out there to shoot the best landscapes I can.  I am there to capture you two and all the wonderful, unique things about you, so let's actually go to where you feel most "at home."  Wherever you are most comfortable is where you will really look and feel the best!

A few ideas to get the brain juices flowing: where would you two go if you had a free day all to yourselves?  Would you hit up a local hiking trail?  Would you explore a cute downtown area together?  If you feel most comfortable getting lost in the bustle of the big city, let's go!  Or think about places that have significant sentimental meaning to both of you.  Did he propose at the the beach?  

Angel and James are lovers of the outdoors.  I loved the coziness of this shoot!

Katie and Brad's favorite place is the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans.  I kind of cringed when I saw the line to get in that Saturday (it was a 30 minute wait!). But dodging the crowd was so worth it and actually tons of fun.  I think we laughed half the time we were shooting!

TIP #2:  What NOT to wear. . . basically whatever everyone else is in their photos.

Ok, I'm going to go a little against the grain with this one.  I don't recommend jumping right onto Pinterest and checking out what everyone else is wearing in their photos.  I would even go as far to say don't go out and buy new outfits.  Why not wear what you guys would wear on your normal date night?  (But if getting a new outfit would make you happy, treat yo' self!)  Just don't feel like you need to wear the same super girly, long, flowy floral dress you see on all the photography blogs (unless that's totally you!).  Again, you guys will look and feel your best with something you are comfortable in!  Also, feel free to text or email me photos of what you are thinking of wearing.  In case you need some extra reassurance. 

(Bonus tip:  Most couples wear two outfits for their engagement session!  Usually the first outfit is more casual, and the second outfit is a little more dressy.)

TIP #3:  What to do with your hands. . .

how about, "forget about them!"  This is actually my favorite tip and I think it will be yours too!  I think we all know what it's like to feel awkward while having your photo taken.  I would say 80% of my clients mention to me at some point, "I'm not good in front of the camera."  And then, honestly, I get excited because I know that after 20 minutes, we are all going to loosen up and have a blast!  (I'm a nervous ball of energy the first 20 minutes too. . .just to be honest.  I love that I never stop having that "butterflies in my stomach" feeling before shoots!)  I'll have some tricks up my sleeve to help you guys loosen up, and hopefully forget that the camera is even there.  I'll give you some gentle direction on posing, but for the most part, I'll have simple actions for you guys to do that are fun and really bring our your personalities.  Because when it comes down to it, we aren't there to capture your outfits, or the location, but really how amazing you two are together!  So how your mom told you a million times growing up, "it's the inside that counts". . .it really is true and that's what I'm trying to capture in this session.  It could be how he makes you laugh like no one else. . .or how you make all his worries disappear when you're around just by being yourself.  That's the good stuff.  That's the stuff that matters.

Here are a few of my clients being just having fun together.  I have a few more tips after these!

Here are a few more suggestions to make this experience the best!

4.  Try to make a day out of the shoot.  The shoot will only be for a few hours, but I suggest planning to do something fun beforehand (go grab a cup of coffee just to unwind, or watch your favorite show on Netflix), or afterwards (dinner!) just to really make the day something you look forward to!

5.  Hair and makeup or no?  This is totally up to you!  Some my brides do a trial run for their makeup the day of the shoot and then get their hair done.  It just takes some of the pressure off of you and it's nice to be a little pampered beforehand.  This is totally not necessary though, you are beautiful as you are!  

6.  Fill out my questionnaire!  I'll be sending a short questionnaire your way about a month before the shoot.  This helps me prep for the shoot and get to know the two of you a little more.  If you can fill it out together, it makes it even better!

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