May 21, 2009

Engagement Shoot Tips #3

One of the things that I want all of my clients to understand is that their engagement session is a BIG DEAL! It isn’t like showing up to the Sears portrait studio; this is their ONE CHANCE to get really great photographs that tell the story of who they are as a couple and how much they love each other. So…

Engagement Photo Tip #3: Stage your photo session from beginning to end, top to bottom.

I know, I know. When you see the word “stage” associated with a “photojournalistic” photographer, you get a little freaked out. However, the reality is that–unlike a wedding where things are happening all day long–portrait sessions are controlled. We choose the environment. We choose the lighting. We choose what you are going to wear, how you are going to stand and what “look” you’re going for. These are all very “staged” things. And then, within those boundaries, I try to give you the most natural photographs possible.

Couples often email me asking what they should wear or where they should do their session. As much as I don’t mind offering advice, the truth is that you should be taking these decisions very seriously. They should be personal and carefully thought about.

Here’s my advice: don’t just think about what location you like. Don’t just think about what shoes you will wear. Think about how the shoes will fit the location. How your earrings will go with the tie your fiance is wearing. And, at the risk of sounding very New Age, how will these things make the photo FEEL?

It is immensely important that you can come up with a few words that will describe your engagement session: flirty, sexy, edgy, urban, natural, chic, vintage? Then, work to make all of the elements come together to create that look.

Instead of posting photographs that I’ve taken as examples, I thought I’d post some photographs that I wish I had taken (this may be a good, regular blog feature). All of these photos are taken by the lovely Jasmine Star–one of my favorite photographers out there. They perfectly illustrate what I mean by “staging” the look of your engagement shoot.

I love how urban and contemporary this photograph is. Notice how the graffiti plays off of her dress. His tie matches her shoes. Their body language even feels edgy.

This couple decided to bring along a bike and some wildflowers. The flowers play really nicely off of her dress and boots. I would describe these as bohemian chic.

Again, another couple not afraid to use some props. A little bit country, a little bit rock n’ roll. And can you say HOT PINK HEELS?