I often get asked whether or not booking an engagement session is necessary, especially from couples who are a little camera shy! OR, ones that are having an elopement. While it is always completely up to you, I want to share with you the benefits of having an engagement session.
If you're having an elopement, for some reason many couples don't think it's necessary to have an engagement session. And while often this may be true, I still wanted to provide you with reasons that you may end up wanting to have one.
From this post, you’ll understand the benefits of an engagement session, what to expect, and how you can use these photos.
How I approach an engagement session
First, I want to chat about how I approach engagement sessions. I actually call my engagements sessions, or any couples sessions, an adventure session. In a nutshell, everyone has their own definition of an adventure. I believe that having great photos together are important, but this is also a time that you can document your life together. Yes, we will get the smiling photos to give to others and to hang up. But don’t you think it will be cool to look back on things you do together? To share with your kids a fun date you had when you were younger?
This is why I started to change my approach. While I love getting the nice cute photos in a field, how about we add a picnic that you two always do? Or hike up your favorite mountain? Or go to a new town to explore together? There are so many fun ways to make an adventure, and it makes the photoshoot a little less overwhelming too! I want you to feel comfortable. When you look back on the photos, I want you to feel like 'you'. I typically will give prompts and ways to help you keep moving and in the moment. But the way I approach the session is more of a documentation of your time together.
The benefits of having an adventure session
Benefit #1: Get used to being in front of the camera and get your nerves out.
I know the idea of a photoshoot can seem daunting for a lot of people, I totally get that! Especially for more introverted folks, getting in front of the camera more than necessary doesn’t sound appealing. BUT let me tell you why it can actually make your wedding photos even better!
Maybe you’ve never had your photos taken as a couple, and you’re convinced that you two will be “the most awkward people ever” in front of the camera. Or you’re nervous about how to “pose” or what to do with your hands. I hear that alllll the time. Let me assure you though, an engagement session is the time to work out those nerves, figure out what feels uncomfortable, and break that LIE that you “are unphotogenic!”
Benefit #2: Build a relationship with me beforehand.
Booking an engagement session with your wedding photographer is SO important. Even if you already took photos with another photographer, I highly recommend setting up a session with the photographer you booked for your wedding! I personally want to get to know my clients, and have them know me, before we get to the wedding day! A lot of people will look at a photographer as a check on their checklist. But your photographer is someone who is with you the entire day and is documenting YOUR story.
In order to truly capture and create the most authentic photos from your day, having a relationship is crucial. I want to know all the details of who you guys are as individuals, and as a couple. I need to see how you interact, because every couple is different. What you love, what you do, who you are: I want to know it all!
Benefit #3: Celebrate this exciting time in your lives and document the adventure
Celebrating your engagement or just this time in your life is a perfect excuse for a photosession. Again, this doesn’t need to be an awkward all about photos hour. Incorporate things that are important to you or ways that you can look back and say “this is the time when we were engaged!”. This is a special season for you guys as a couple. You’re only a fiance for a short time, afterall!
Benefit #4: Explore a place you’ve been wanting to visit, or possibly location scout
Engagement photos don’t have to be boring, or even local! Break out that bucket list and let’s go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, or maybe somewhere you love going together! You never need an excuse to plan an adventure out to the mountains, but what better way than for an engagement shoot with your honey!
If you’re planning an elopement, this can be a great way to explore an area you’re considering for the vows or what the terrain is like. I have a list of great locations ideas, in and outside of New England, that my clients are always welcome to! I am always happy to help with the planning for any session or elopement, and can offer advice on how to make your vision come to life!
Benefit #5: Take advantage of your hair & makeup trial
If you are planning on getting your hair and makeup done, this could be a great way to use it. Take advantage of it and get your photos taken while you are looking and feeling your best!
Tips to get the best photos on your engagement session
Unless you are a model or fully enjoy being in front of the camera, I cannot sit here and say “come on, it’s easy!”. I can say first hand how awkward and weird I feel in front of the camera, but I have some tips I’ve found make it a bit easier!
Tip #1: When in doubt, look at eachother
When you’re focused on a camera being on you, that’s where the anxiety can set in. Keep looking at one another and just be in the moment together. Generally I will ask one or both of you to look at me to get the nice looking at the camera photos. But you want this to be a documentation and a photojournalistic style to look back on. So keep your eyes on one another!
Tip #2: Don’t stop moving
The more movement, the better. By moving constantly, you’ll get a bigger variety of photos. The movements can be simple to. Simply rub eachothers arms. Or sway back and forth. Or hold hands and swing them. Movement also allows you to be a bit more comfortable then just standing still and feeling awkward.
Tip #3: Play with eachothers hands
When we get anxious, we often use our hands. Whether it’s bite our nails, twirl our hair, fiddle with our fingers, etc. It’s the same thing in a photoshoot, except play with eachothers hands. It’s a fun way to keep your mind off the camera. You can just rub eachothers hands, hold them, keep them warm, kiss them, or play thumb war!
Tip #4: Enjoy the environment
Most of the time, we are taking photos in beautiful places. This may be a mountain, a field, the beach, or even right in your home. No matter what, there is something to enjoy and take in to be in the moment. Take a deep breathe and take in the environment, just like you would do if I weren’t there. Check out this stunning adventure session in Acadia National park here!
Tip #5: Bring or do some activities
Bring or do activities you love to do together. This could be a board game, a picnic, a hammock, going on a hike - literally anything. By bringing something you two enjoy doing together, it allows you to feel like you can be yourself. It also takes off a bit of the pressure and keeps you smiling!
Adventure sessions are such a beautiful way to celebrate a milestone in life together, or just even continue to update your lives with breathtaking photos. You're always off on fun adventures, but never get to just sit back and enjoy it. Hire a photographer, go off and do something fun together, and have the memories to look back on forever.
A New Hampshire + Vermont based adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer team for the adventurous souls. We specialize in New England and destinations worldwide, empowering you to create the most beautiful, adventurous day and give you the memories you'll be able to look back on for all the years to come.
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