It's easy to get nervous before your engagement session. Most likely - this will be the most extended amount of time you've spent in front of a camera in, well, years if not ever. Don't feel bad for not being "a natural". A good photographer will get you and your future spouse feeling comfortable and at ease in front of the camera in no time.
My super-quick pro-tip? Flirt! Yes, like smile and laugh and flirt. Look over at that crazy goofball you are spending the rest of your life with and throw them a wink or silly face. You’re getting married soon! You're planning a wedding! A photographer is following you around and snapping pictures like you're a Kardashian! It’s joyous and hilarious. So drop those shoulders and feel free to laugh about it all. And if you're still really really nervous - have a drink before your shoot. Aint nothing a good glass of wine won't fix. :)
1. Location, location, location
Be thoughtful about what location(s) you choose for your engagement session. Whenever possible, choose places that are meaningful to you and your future spouse. Don't rule out the taco joint or coffee shop where you had your first date, or the park where he proposed. They may not be as picturesque as the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset, but they are important to your love story! And that will be reflected in the final pictures.
2. Be on time
I totally get it, traffic, hair delays and fashion emergencies happen all the time! My dog has a tendency to jump up on me for snuggles just before I'm about to leave the house and then, bam!, fur everywhere. But please plan in extra photo shoot prep time for any or all of these potential issues. I’m a natural-light photographer, so the sun dictates how long I can photograph you. If you're late, the sun will still set at the same time that day. And I want to make sure we use all our time wisely! :)
3. Get some rest
Every time I hear "oh, but you can just edit that out in photoshop, right?" I cringe. Photoshop is a tool to enhance or edit image details, not alter it dramatically. There is only so much that I can do about dark circles and bags under eyes without making your image look photoshopped to death. I can edit out blemishes and whiten teeth a bit, but not without limitations. You want your photos to look natural, not over-edited. Get a good 8-10 hours the night before and we'll be all set!
4. Be you!
Wear outfits that reflect who you are. If you love pink and it’s your trademark color – wear that. From Texas? Wear those cowboy boots that you love. Leave that pair of “I have to lay down to button these jeans” at home and go for something that you feel free to move around in. If you have some super-awesome heels you want to wear, but you’ll be walking in sand…. try bringing flip-flops and just wearing the shoes for the actual shot.
Get more ideas on what to wear from my What to Wear Guide made especially for engagement shoots, on Pinterest!
5. Dress on the same scale
If your groom-to-be is wearing a snappy suit and tie, a boho chic dress with torn sleeves and a fringe hemline might not be the best option. Dress as if you're both going to the same event. Outfit changes are part of the package – so have one outfit that’s casual and fun, and one that’s dressy. A good rule of thumb is to have one outfit that is "picnic chic", and another outfit more appropriate for a cocktail party or fancy night out at the theater.
6. Feel free to go glam
I highly, highly recommend using your engagement shoot to do a trial run of your wedding hair and makeup. This way, you'll get to see what they look like in photos. Gentlemen, about a week before (please, not the day before!!) I recommend you get a fresh haircut and maybe even (gasp!) a manicure. C'mon guys, my dad gets them all the time - aint nothing wrong with keeping those hands well taken care of!
7. Share your concerns
Everyone has parts of their bodies they feel self-conscious about. I hate my hips and sometimes when I laugh, I have a double chin in photographs :(. It's awful, but I know what to do to trick the camera and minimize my insecurities in pictures. Tell your photographer these things ahead of time! More than likely, we'll have some posing tips and tricks to help you out.
8. Have a survival kit
That's right, a survival kit! No, your engagement shoot isn't the zombie apocalypse - but it doesn't hurt to bring along a little "just in case" bag. I recommend including: a few water bottles, mess-free snacks (think trail mix or a granola bar), make up for touch-ups, a hair brush, tissues to dap perspiring faces, and comfortable walking shoes for post-shoot relaxation.