Engagement-portrait sessions might seem like the time to just capture that one shot that will go on the magnets or postcards or whatever method you choose to tell folks to save the date. But you also could think of it as a sort-of a playdate with your photographer.
I tell my clients that engagement photos are a time for us to get to know each other photographically, says Amanda Patrice, an Orange County, Calif.-based photographer. We both learn what type of photos they like. I think on the wedding day theyre able to loosen up a bit more. I always recommend an engagement session. Theres nothing but benefits.
But its not all prep for the wedding day. Patrices philosophy: Engagement photos should stand up to the wedding photos. Theyre a great way to show who they are right now in this time of their life, Patrice says. I dont want them to get swept under the rug!
Location, Location, Location
Big, expansive places like parks and fields are a great place to start, as theyre relaxed, casual and allow the photographer to show off the atmosphere. A recent shoot was a couple who had met over comic books, so part of their shoot entailed chilling out at the park with their favorite graphic novels.
One of Patrices go-to spots is the Orange Circle area of Orange County, a historic area with lots of visually striking brick buildings. Structures are great, she says, because they simply give the couple something to lean on.
But Patrice recommends getting off the beaten path.
Her all-time favorite shoot: Hopping in the car and driving down the freeway for an hour. Her and the couple ended up stopping at a concrete factory, where props like red pallets and concrete tubes lent their way to one-of-a-kind photos.
Poses and Props
I always give people a little pep talk, she says. I know theyre not used to being in front of the camera. Ill tell them where to go and how to pose and where the light looks good. Its what they do in a photo thats going to make the photo special.
Props and other personal touches dont hurt, either. Like her comic-book couple, Destiny and Chris, folks often bring blankets and books, she says. Another recent session the couple showcased their love for LEGO.
Patrices ultimate seal of approval for a great session: silence.
If Im quiet, theyre doing something right. It gives them permission to chat with each other, dance around, loosen up; it doesnt have to be super formal and stiff.