Congratulations! You’ve just said yes to a bright future together. Now, take that shiny ring and start planning the wedding of your dreams! Because this is such an exciting and once-in-a-lifetime experience, why not also make it unforgettable by having a professional photographer capture the adventure through engagement and wedding photos?
“You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again,” observes Trevor Wiltgen, Photographer & Lead Photo Editor, Complete Weddings + Events. “You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it for the rest of your life.”
If you’re dreaming about creating truly memorable images, there are several things to keep in mind. Below are some expert tips on how to select the right photographer and plan the essential photoshoot details to give you the results you’re looking for: beautiful images that you will love for a lifetime. Let’s get started!
Engagement & Wedding Photos Guide
You may be surprised to learn that engagement photos can serve multiple purposes. Not only will these images convey the love, romance, and intimacy of your early days together, you can also use the session as a trial run to experiment with different beauty looks and photo styles for the big day itself. Engagement photos also make great backdrops for save-the-date cards. Most importantly, an engagement photo session will help you determine whether your chosen photographer is the best fit to commemorate the upcoming, magical moments of your wedding day.
Choosing Your South Carolina Photographer
Feeling a little overwhelmed? It’s no wonder. There are already so many things to think about when planning a wedding and – let’s face it – the South Carolina market is saturated with potential photographers. So, how do you go about picking the right one? As you begin to explore your options, there are some important elements to consider.
To begin, take a look at the potential photographer’s wedding portfolio, website, and all social media outlets. “It amazes me how many people inquire about the packages before they even looked over the galleries or blogs of weddings,” says Cassie Boyce, Photographer & Media Manager, Complete Weddings + Events Springfield, MO. “If you are not a fan of the style or gallery of work, it is a waste of your time to get pricing from that photographer.”
A wedding portfolio and/or online gallery should give you a good sense of the photographer’s experience and preferred photography style(s). Explore whether they tend more towards artsy candids, traditional posed studio shots, a photo-journalistic approach, or a range of other stylistic possibilities. You can also see whether they’ve photographed past weddings at your specific venue, or at similar venues to yours. On-location experience can be helpful, though is by no means essential.
Because a portfolio consists of a photographer’s best images from a number of different events, Boyce also recommends asking to see a full album from a single wedding. This will give you a more realistic impression of image quality from start to finish.
Once you’ve found several photographers whose images you like, it’s time to ask about availability and pricing. First, see if they are free on your preferred date(s). Next, while exploring cost, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. In other words, do the photographers under consideration include exactly the same things in their wedding packages?
Finding the right wedding photographer is about more than just seeing their pretty pictures and hearing about their affordable pricing. In order to capture the best photos possible, you want to find someone who you feel completely comfortable working with. Don’t underestimate personality – finding a photographer you like allows both you and your fiance to relax, which means more authentic, beautiful photographs for your photographer to work with. Before committing to a particular photographer, schedule a phone call or – even better – an in-person meeting with the most promising one(s) and use this time to get a sense of their personality. Ask questions about how they would approach your photo session.
Posing for Engagement & Wedding Photos
Wedding photographers take a variety of approaches when it comes to posing the happy couple during a photo session – but in all cases, good communication between the couple and the photographer is essential to create powerful images.
Timeline Considerations: When taking photos, Photographer Cassie Boyce factors in the realities of a short timeline – particularly on the wedding day, “We don’t have a ton of time for bridal pictures, so I like to turn one pose into several poses. First pose, ‘Look at me’; second pose, ‘Look at each other’; third pose, ‘I need the bride to look at me and the groom look at the bride’; fourth pose, ‘Switch’; fifth pose, ‘Kiss’; sixth pose, ‘I need the bride to look at her shoulder and the groom to kiss her temple.’ Done! I now have six different poses and it took me probably five to ten minutes.” But it’s not all about striking poses; she also tries to keep things light and fun to capture genuine facial expressions. To do this, she throws in several playful prompts.
It’s no secret that your wedding day is going to be jam-packed, so be sure to allocate enough time at your event to capture all the shots you desire!
Capturing Chemistry: Along with a focus on lighting and composition, a good wedding photographer aims to capture the unique chemistry between a couple. “Any decent photographer can pick nice settings and compositions or poses that will make a pleasing image, but the better photographer is someone who is able to encourage your openness to one another and the camera, and allow you to be yourselves in any setting,” says photographer Scott Stanley. “The result is that you will see something authentic, genuine, and meaningful in the images, rather than the memory of being posed.”
Bottom Line: For the most memorable and meaningful photos, communicate your initial preferences, but then try to relax and have fun with each other (and your photographer!) during your photo session.
Hair and Makeup Ideas and Tips
From lush lashes and glossy lips to waterfall braids and twisted chignons, brides have no shortage of both classic and trending beauty options when it comes to hairstyle and makeup. The good news is that there are never any right or wrong choices, just creative ones! To narrow things down, take some time to look through lots of photos and see which styles most appeal to you. You may even want to do a trial run with your hair and/or makeup artist to ensure that your selections are flattering.
“Makeup should be applied as if going out in the evening,” suggests Stanley. He also recommends that because most engagement photo sessions involve a couple of different looks, “Hairstyles need to work for both outfits, or be able to be easily changed for the additional outfit. A lot of times that means avoiding hair spray, and complicated curling or braiding patterns.”
When it comes to hair and makeup choices for either your engagement photos or your big day, you may want to ask the opinions of several (honest) friends or family members. You should also ask your photographer how certain makeup looks will photograph so you’ll look stunning on film as well as in person. But remember, the most important thing is to select styles that make you feel beautiful – both inside and out. This is your moment. Enjoy it!
Engagement Photo Location and Tips
When it comes to finding the perfect spot for engagement photos, consider places that are meaningful to you as a couple and/or reflect your combined interests and personalities. Ask yourselves: Where did we first meet? Where did we get engaged? Where do we hang out as a couple? What activities do we enjoy doing together? Whether it’s hiking outdoors in the fresh air, cooking gourmet meals at home in your pajamas, dressing up and going to the theater, or snuggling in front of a fire underneath fleece blankets – the more meaningful the location, the more comfortable and natural you will feel during your photo shoot. As a result, the image quality will reflect this.
Of course, you can also explore specific local venues such as parks, gardens, waterfront areas, or historic buildings to find a beautiful engagement photo location. Be sure to work out the exact spots in advance of your shoot if it’s an area you’re not super familiar with. Or, if you’re still really not sure where to take your photos, ask your photographer for recommendations. They will already be familiar with some great places for romantic photos – and, of course, there’s always the option to do a simple studio session.
Once you’ve selected a location, ask your photographer when the lighting will be most optimal and schedule accordingly. If outdoors, photographers generally prefer times closer to sunrise or sunset to avoid harsh sunlight and shadows. If you’ve chosen a public space, you’ll want to confirm that there won’t be any major events impacting your photo session – unless it’s an event that’s meaningful to you! But in most cases, couples don’t envision crowds in the background of their engagement photos. Also, to be on the safe side, look into whether you need a permit to take photos at your chosen site.
No matter where you ultimately book your session, remember that the most important feature is capturing the love and intimacy between the two of you. Attractive surroundings are simply an added bonus!
Find More in our Guide to Loving Your Engagement & Wedding Photos
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