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 Michigan 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 Michigan 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.
“Look for a photographer who is not so much about setting up a photo shoot, but is more about creating a space in which the experience of being photographed is a by-product of you being together over that period of time,” recommends Scott Stanley, Owner & Photographer, Complete Weddings + Events Jacksonville.
“Become comfortable with your photographer so you can show your love for each other in front of the camera,” says Ari Reynolds, Photographer & Sales Manager for Complete Weddings + Events Minneapolis. “An engagement session is much more than photos that highlight this exciting time in your life. It’s a trial run with your photographer. Utilize these two hours to build that relationship. It’s a time to learn different poses and what feels more natural to you. Everyone is different.”
Engagement Photo Outfit Ideas and Tips
Most engagement photo sessions take an hour and a half to two hours and involve a couple of different outfit changes. This is great news for couples who can’t quite decide what to wear, and it doubles the odds of nailing one of your looks!
When selecting your two ensembles, you may wish to pair a casual outfit with more formal attire – or choose one outfit appropriate for indoors, then one for outside. When deciding on your attire, consider the practicality of photo location, season, and weather. After all, you probably won’t want to be posing outside for two hours in the middle of winter wearing a strapless dress! Instead, coordinate clothing choices with your surroundings. For example, how about trying earth-toned sweaters and scarves with jeans and cozy boots against a background of fall foliage? Or, what about wearing shades of blue and white against a beach, lake, or other water-themed backdrops during summertime?
“Try to pick clothing styles that reflect your personal style and tastes,” adds Scott Stanley. “Coordinate your looks with each other by staying in the same color palette such as spring pastels, autumn earth tones, winter warm, or summer breeze.” He also recommends that you avoid large, bright, shiny jewelry pieces, since they will reflect more light than anything else in the image and be an unwelcome distraction from your facial expressions.
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!
“When it comes to picking out outfits for engagement photos you should pick something that makes you feel confident, beautiful and that fits your body type. If a client comes to me asking what they should wear, first I am going to address what they love about their body as well as what they are self-conscious about. One thing I love about clothes is that you can highlight as well hide any part of your body that you choose! Another tip I like to give is think about how the colors you are picking will look hung up on your wall. My house is full of greys and blues so I personally like to choose color schemes that will compliment them, because I know I will be blowing up some of these images big to hang on my wall.” -Cassie Boyce, Photographer, Complete Weddings + Events
Find More in our Guide to Loving Your Engagement & Wedding Photos
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