Today’s guest post is provided by amazing Oakland wedding photographer Emily Gutman of EmilyTakesPhotos.
What’s the point of an engagement shoot?
There a lots of uses for the resulting photos- they can be used on Save-the-Date cards, holiday cards, or just framed and hung in your home to remind you of this fantastic time in your life, but the best reason (I think) to take engagement photos is it gives you a chance to get to know your photographer and get comfortable in front of the camera. Of all the people at your wedding, your photographer is one of the people who will be with you all day; so a little practice run with them can’t hurt. Not only will the practice help you, but also it will help your photographer, too, since they can learn how you photograph the best (we all have a good side) and how to make you feel comfortable in front of the lens.
Where should we shoot?
I always tell my clients to either pick a location that holds some significance to them and their relationship or to just pick a location that looks pretty (you really can’t go wrong with pretty). Look for clean “backdrops” in less obvious locations- perhaps a big brick wall in the industrial part of town, or some wildly overgrown trees in a regional park (city parks are too manicured for my taste). It’s a good idea to have nearby backup locations in mind, since the weather can change without warning or areas could be closed off to the public.
What should we wear?
When choosing what to wear, the best advice I can give you is you and your partner should complement each other, rather than match. Don’t think so much about the colours you wear as much as the style and dressiness of the outfits. If one of you is wearing a cocktail dress, the other probably shouldn’t wear sweats. Bring a few options with you, a couple casual, and a couple dressy; if you’re not sure what to wear, your photographer can help you determine which outfits will look best together. Bring clothes that you feel your best in, avoid shiny fabrics (they tend ot make people look bigger in photos) and for the love of all that is holy, iron out the wrinkles before shooting. The most beautiful clothes can look bad if they’re horribly wrinkled, and it’s a lot easier to fix this with an iron than with Photoshop!
Ok, we’re in front of the camera. What do we DO?
Unless you’re a model who takes photos for a living, this will probably feel awkward for you! Ask your photographer for suggestions on how to stand, what to do with your hands, where to look, etc. I think the best photos are the ones where the couple is moving instead of just standing still and smiling. Hold your partner’s hand and take a walk, tickle them for some big smiles, or just pull them in for a big kiss! If you have a pet, ask your photographer if you can bring them- having a pet in the photo can help you relax, and you’ll be less likely to focus on the giant lens pointing at you.
Just remember to make your engagement shoot your own. If you want to spend a half hour in one location with one outfit, or if you want to hire a stylist and go nuts with details, I’m sure the pictures will turn out great! Relax, put your trust in your photographer, and have fun with it! Hopefully by the end of it, you’ll have a few awesome photos of the two of you, and by the time the wedding rolls around and your photographer shows up with their gigantic camera that could make even the most photogenic people cower, you’ll handle it like a pro, party like a rock star, and look fabulous in all the photos.