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 NOCO 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 NOCO 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.
Communication Tips: If you believe you have a best side or angle, or you’d like to downplay (or play up!) particular features, be sure to let your photographer know. Also, share some photos that you like or that you’d like to recreate. We also encourage you to be open to your photographer’s creative expression and talents. Your love story is one-of-a-kind – so shouldn’t your photos be truly unique, too?
“The best photography starts with great communication beforehand,” explains Ryan Dubree, Owner, Complete Weddings + Events Tulsa. “Communicate and share your Pinterest boards, how you want to look and feel on your wedding day, and, most importantly, what you’d love to show off after your wedding!”
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 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.
Engagement Photo Outfit Ideas and Tips
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?
“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,” suggests Cassie Boyce. “One thing I love about clothes is that you can highlight as well as hide any part of your body that you choose!” She also recommends selecting colors that coordinate with your home decor, so that you can blow up your favorite images and artistically hang them on your walls.
Again, consider asking friends, family members, and even your photographer for personalized advice on what to wear. You can even ask someone to take several informal smartphone photos of you in the potential outfits for an impartial preview, then decide which ones work best. But, in the end – as with hair and makeup – make sure you ultimately choose the outfits that make you feel your best.
Choosing Your Photography Style
Photography styles are wide-ranging and include traditional, artistic, documentary, candid, dramatic, black and white, portrait, natural, romantic, vintage, and more. While some photographers tend primarily towards a particular style, other wedding photographers are less specialized and successfully dabble in multiple styles. The best way to ensure you receive the stylized shots you desire is to share sample photos with your photographer. But always keep an open mind – if your theoretical preference is for outdoor candids, you might be pleasantly surprised to discover that the indoor studio shots end up being your favorite images! Again, communication is key.
Remember that your engagement photo session is the perfect time to experiment with different photo styles. “Take the time to look back at your engagement photos and share with your photographer the photos you loved so you can recreate them on your wedding day,” encourages Ari Reynolds.
With a little advance planning and a lot of open communication, the images you are now envisioning are sure to become reality. Simply follow our expert photography tips to create an array of memorable engagement and wedding photos that you will treasure for the rest of your lives together.
Find More in our Guide to Loving Your Engagement & Wedding Photos
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