Your Engagement Session: Your Role in Making it AWESOME

I absolutely LOVE engagement sessions. I get to hang out with my couples, I get to know more about their relationship. I hear a few of their inside jokes, I get to watch them move together. They are simply worth MORE than their weight in GOLD when it comes to prepping me for photographing their wedding day. I also think couples use their engagement photos as much as they do their wedding photos in their home. This is sometimes the first time a couple has had “real” photos taken of themselves and there is just nothing like it. Needless to say, my job is VERY important on engagement session day. These images will be used to forever document the beginnings of your marriage. But, there are some things that every couple can make their engagement session glorious. Because we want it to be glorious, right?

1. For the the girls: Hair and Makeup.

Get a pro to do the job. I tend to be ok doing my hair, but I could’t do my own makeup for photos to save my life. Makeup for photos is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than everyday makeup. Even a super natural looking face needs a professional makeup artist to make it look its best for photos. I wish I had some examples of my own face with professional makeup and my face as if I had done it on my own (maybe I should do this) but there is just no comparison. I consider myself pretty decent at everyday makeup (when I wear it), but in photo, that same makeup looks no bueno. I am a super strong believer in using a pro for the day. You are having professional photos done, so you owe it to yourself to do professional hair and makeup. It’s a treat and it is a totally worth it. On hair, it is always nice to have someone do your hair… it just looks better. Find a stylist that is good at styling – someone hip and modern that can bring your idea to life. Bring pictures and maybe look at some hair they’ve done (most stylists use social media now to show their work)

2. For the girls (and the guys): Don’t be afraid to DRESS UP!

I have some super stylish couples, I am just lucky like that. I love love love when they go all out and dress up for their session. These photos are going to be used FOREVER. You want to wear something that is killer, right?! I thought about what would hold ME back from wearing a super dressy dress and it brought to mind a few things. One, I would hate to spend a ton of money on a dress that I would probably only wear once. Also, it seems a little silly to put on a super fancy dress and go around town taking pictures. THEN, I thought from the prospective of the end result of the photos. My favorite engagement photos are always when my couple is dressed up within their natural environment – whether that be urban or some place out in nature that they like to hang out. Dressing up just works.   You and your love look gorgeous and you are creating images that your grandkids will be looking at thinking about how fine MiMi and Papi once were.
I have a solution for the first angst too – if you don’t want to invest in a dress that you’ll never wear again, you need to look into Rent the Runway. In the past, when I have had an event (and even a photo shoot) and I wanted to wear something really cool, but didn’t want to spend a ton of money (you’re welcome husband) I have used Rent the Runway. It is a website where you can rent designer dresses (in two sizes) for a period of 4 – 8 days and return them after you are done. One word: AWESOME.  A few of my favorite designers are on this site and I wish I went to fancy places more often because I would use it even more. I pulled some examples of dresses off to illustrate my point:




In order the dresses above are:  1)  Badgley Mischka  – Rental $90 (retail $620)    2)  Nha Khanh $80 (retail $425)   3)  Nanette Lapore <<one of my faves>> – Rental $90  (retail 400)     4)  Sachin+Babi – Rental $80  (retail 600)    5) Reem Acra – $70 (retail $3,000)

This site is a really awesome solution to not wanting to wear/buy a fancy dress for your engagement shoot.  For less than $100, you have an AMAZING designer outfit and you have preserved awesome memories looking your absolute rockin’ best.  Now, I have couples all the time that have gorgeous wardrobes of their own and they show up with some incredible thing from their closet and that is wonderful too.  But, if you are like me and NEVER wear dresses and rarely dress up, this is a super good solution.  I think at least ONE of your outfit choices for the shoot needs to be dressy.  I know you are going to be dressed up on your wedding day, but those are wedding clothes.  This is different.  This is a chance to wear non-wedding clothes and have some really amazing photos done in those clothes.

3.  For the guys (and the girls):  Drink a beer.  

Ok, please don’t be offended by this if you don’t drink, but I think all my guys and girls can benefit from having a tiny cocktail or a beer before we shoot.  Let me be specific – ONE drink (think The Bachelor, several drinks = no bueno).  For so many people, guys especially, this is your first time in front of a professional camera.  This can be daunting.  My job is to make it fun and not scary at all – I promise my couples always tell me this when we are done.  The guys usually say something like, “I had a surprisingly good time!”  Ha.  I love that.  But, it never hurts to have a drink and do a little pre-loosening up before we shoot.  I will tell you this, I am a weirdo in front of the camera.  When I have to be IN photos I get all tense, I flair my nostrils, it’s just not good.  I should definitely start the whole one drink rule before being in photos myself.


4.  For the girls AND the guys:  Pretend you are a model.  

This probably sounds super dumb, but I think it actually works.  One of the things I notice when people have a camera in their face is that they get self-conscious.   My job is to take away this anxiety and I do that pretty well.  But, when someone is super anxious I find myself telling them: pretend like you are a model and I am paying YOU to be here, own your fabulousness and let’s get to it.  Guys may be shy to be affectionate with their girl, but if you pretend you are modeling for a Calvin Klein ad and own it, it seriously looks SO GOOD in photos.  Confidence is probably better than any outfit you could ever wear.  Sometimes, I have to pull that out and that is totally fine.  But, if you go in loving how you look and being totally okay showing my camera how much you love your mate, man does that translate into a beautiful shoot!!!


Ok – those are my tips on how you can rock your engagement session.  I know I have plenty of those coming up and I cannot wait to see what you guys have in store for me.  I promise I will be bringing my A game, and I know you will too.  I cannot WAIT to get my camera in front of all of you lovelies this year!

-xo, Whitney



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