By far, the best way to know your photographer before your wedding!
Lyndale Rose Garden
Harriet Island Park
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Downtown St Paul and Phalen Regional Park
St Paul Conservatory
Bruce Vento St Paul MN
Saint Anthony Main & Brewery
Winter Session Snow
Table of Contents
Why an Engagement session?
I offer the engagement session in every wedding photography package. It allows us to better know each other. So the day of your marriage, I will not be a stranger anymore. So it is quite a stress relief! Thanks to your engagement session experience, you will feel more comfortable with me and in front of the camera. You will also understand more easily what to do (and especially not to do)! So the results will be much better the day of your wedding!
Where does the engagement session take place?
Mostly outside. It has to be in a place you like and where you feel comfortable.
Not crowded location is better. We would prefer a beautiful landscape and lots of natural light. It could be next to a lake, to a river, on a beach, next to the castle, on your granddad’s field, on the top of a mountain, on a rooftop, or in the Twin Cities downtown. Or you can choose a more unexpected place: a ranch with horses, a street full of graffiti, a museum, an opera, etc. Check the photo session location if you need ideas where to do your engagement session. You can also check the locations for small elopement wedding.
When does the engagement session take place?
It could take place several months before your wedding, or a few days before. There exists no rule. Nevertheless, most couples chose to do it several months before in order to confirm their choice regarding the photographer. If you have the time, I would suggest a warm month with leaves on trees. If you need the pictures during winter, there are options!
Use Your Engagement Session’s Pictures
If you have your pictures taken early enough, you can use them to design your save-the-date card. You can also use pictures to make a projection on the D-Day.
How should we dress for the engagement session?
Here again, there is no rule. Most of the couples dress in casual (upgraded) clothes. Of course, I strongly recommend that you coordinate tones (read below).
However, some couples want to to dress in a more sophisticated way with beautiful robe and suite. And some other couples use a wedding dress and a wedding suit. — This last case happens often with Asian couples, easily allowed by the cheapest price of Chinese dresses—.
Clothes Define Your Identity
I will choose your close, whereas you are more traditional, more chic, more romantic, more bohemian, rockier, bikers, more rebels or more eccentric. Clothes create your style, so it means something. So if you have clothes you really like to wear, even if it does not seem to be “engagement session clothes,” don’t be afraid to bring them. That is what will make your engagement look like who you are.
Here a quick list of tips for your clothes selection:
Clothes to avoid
Some clothes won’t help you have good engagement pictures. I have blacklisted them below. Of course, if that is part of your story, then it’s an exception. For instance, if you are two athletes and you meet buying running shoes, then that could make sense to wear some sports shoes during your session. So, try to avoid:
- Sports shoes
- Loose pants, sweat pants
- Down jacket
- Pajama style
- Funeral and/or grandmother clothes: p
- Hunting or military clothes
- Glasses that turn sunglasses with sun
- Suede Leather Shoes which could easily get wet by puddles or the morning dew.
Material is king
The material composing your clothes is important. Material tells the story. Wool is warm and soft, it’s a noble material, while blue jeans are rough and popular material (who became fashion lately).
Also, try to avoid imitation material, like fake leather. Sometimes it’s hard to see the difference, but some time you can “fill” the difference looking at the images. A real cashmere pullover will look better than a cotton one. And a real cotton sweater will look better than a synthetic one. An authentic fur coat will look better than a fake one (even if for fur, there is today some excellent imitation). Anyway, Material is important!
What Colors for your engagement session
About Neutral colors
The definition of a neutral color is all nuances of gray you have between true black and white.
First, avoid wearing only neutral colors. Always add some touch of colors!
Second, neutral colors work almost all the time in addition to any other color.
Coordinate and Complementary Colors
The key is to play with complementary colors to match and adjust contrast.
A simple way is to choose 2 complementary colors and add a neutral color, or 1 color and two split complementary ones.
If you have forgotten all that, have a look here: https://lifehacker.com/learn-the-basics-of-color-theory-to-know-what-looks-goo-1608972072
An amazing tool to help you is the Color Wheel from Adobe. Choosing complementary colors. https://color.adobe.com/fr/create/color-wheel
Chose Your Color Tones Regarding the Weather and Location
Given we will probably be outside, take in consideration the season. Some colors work better in winter or during summer.
In winter, touch a warm muted color works great (light/dark yellow, light/dark orange, brown, dark red, and all pastel in between). The warm color (yellow-red) will contrast with the cold white/blue/dark colors of winter and snow.
Some clear pure saturated colors (blue, red, green) will work better in summer than in winter.
Same idea with the location you chose, take in consideration its colors to choose yours!
If you chose a street with some brown brick wall, then play with dark brown, muted warm color and a touch of a cold color.
Avoid too flashy colors, or dare it
Sometimes too much color (and especially flashy and fluorescent color) can dramatically attract the attention.
The goal of the color is to bring a warm atmosphere, but it should not turn the attention of you. It does not mean that you should absolutely avoid colors or flashy colors! For example, a nice red open night dress would work great.
Avoid Dark Tones for Poor Weather
A cloudy day will make the thing look like dull. So, I strongly suggest that you avoid all dark tones during poor weather, and that you prefer bright colors (like white, or pastel color).
Avoid Clothes With Patterns
Pattern can quickly catch all the attention (like flashy colors). So you may love this beautiful dress with colored birds, but avoid patterns for your photo session!
Clothes and Wind
Winds blowing through a dress can be elegant. So if you have a long prom dress (that doesn’t look too much princess dress), please bring it!! Light clothes that take the wind will create pictures with more dynamism, more dramatic, more majestic.
You Can Bring Several Outfits
Engagement session is not a fashion show. But you can easily bring 2 outfits (or 3 but not more).
Clothes That Fit You
That is pretty obvious! Chose some clothes that really fit you and make your body look great. If you bring clothes that are too tall, too small, or just don’t match with the shape of your body… well, we will notice it on the pictures!
Take advantage of it and show your curves! Curves are beautiful! Especially if you have some large ships, use the contrast with your waist. And don’t be afraid to show your arms.
Hiding your body with great clothes will probably deserve you.
The way you wear your clothes
It’s pretty obvious to, but sometimes you are so stressed that you don’t think about that (specially guys). There are some clothes that you can wear in different ways. And some approaches are more relaxed than other ones.
For example, if you are wearing a shirt don’t button up the top button, and roll up your sleeves to look like more relaxed!
Accessories can help style your engagement pictures. The one you can hold with your hands will give you something to do.
So feel free to bring
- sun glass
- special shoes
- fur coat, fur hat, fur scarf (in winter)
Different Engagement session Props
Bring any props you want to personalize some pictures.
- Funny props. It could be some funny props to make a funny picture (ex funny sun glasses, an animal mask).
- Message: It could be a card, or a panel for your save the date, some letters (ex: the scrabble ones).
- Glitter, if you like glittering and confetti bring some, we can make a funny picture.
- Soap bubbles work great!
- Smoke bombs
- Sparklers (for night or dark location)
- Ballon bouquet! It’s a must. Bring a bunch of helium-filled balloon for a poetic touch!
- If you smoke (and are not afraid that your parents discover it). You can smoke during the engagement session. Even if it’s not always politically correct, it sometimes turns pretty well in images.
- A bottle of champagne and glasses to share at the top of the mountain
- Blanket (to keep you warm, or to set on).
- An old and amazing American car or motorcycle (that we can use as background). A special cab.
- If you share an activity, something that remembers this activity (ex: golf club)
Heels or not hell?
Heels usually help to shape a nice body. But the most important is that you feel comfortable in your choses! If there are some choses with heels, you want to use (with your prom dress) then bring them!
Take in consideration: Usually the man is higher than his wife (in the pictures it provides the guy a protective figure). So I you have the same size as your fiancé, wearing 10 inches high-heels is maybe not the best idea.
Include animal in your engagement session
Pets and dogs for engagement session is a good idea!
If you have pets, like a dog, and want to include it, you are more than welcome to bring it/her/him! may not do all pictures with him, but it could be funny! Animal, likes kids, carry something fresh and authentic!
Other animals that would bring a touch of life in your engagement session.
If lots of people include their dog, they are not the only animal that works great. In fact, almost all animals would work great in pictures. It’s about interaction between the couple and animal. Therefore, all mammals would be a good idea. Let’s include a horse (especially are you to ride a horse), or some more “funny” animal like a llama, Monkey, or Parrot.
Include Vehicle in Your Picture
More than the only beauty of the mechanical object, the idea is to create a context, a story about you. You are bikers and like liberty, or you love to enjoy the afternoon taking the sun and drinking cocktail on your Yatch. This part may be quite similar to the list of location ideas for your session.
Cars and Bikes
Those are the two kinds of vehicles that typically work well for pictures and are easy to include. We won’t do all the sessions with those, but they usually help us in the background and tell a little about you. So if you have a nice sports car (like a Corvette), or antique car, or a nice bike (like Harley Davidson), bring them!
Other Vehicles That Walk for Engagement Session
I guess the only limit is your imagination. Let think about:
- Small Airplane
- Air balloon (I would love that!)
- Paraglider hang-gliding
- Traditional boat like wood Yatch or sailboat.
- Funny vehicle of transportation in water, like pedal boat, canoe, rowboat
- Truck and Bus
- Trailer (specially the silver trailer home)
- Bicycle and other funny bike engine
- Trains and Tram
Practical question about engagement session
Do You need a make-up artist and go to the hairdresser?
No rule. I now strongly recommend that you go to a good hairstylist. Don’t but 1 pound of gel in your hair! Your hair has to stay smooth and natural. They need to move in the wind. I don’t want you to have a Stormtrooper hamlet on your head! : D
The common mistake: fix one part of your hair with gel and have the other part of your hair swinging.
Makeup artist and hairdressers can really change a face (for the best with a professional or the worst if you are not used to).
But here again there is no rule. You decide what you want, what you feel more comfortable with.
Most experimented girls can easily do their makeup by themselves (when it’s light and simple one). If you have a good hairdresser you love (and trust), it could be an excellent opportunity to go. A good idea is to test your makeup artist and hairdresser in the morning, and keep it during the afternoon for the photo session!
The common mistake: don’t put too much makeup (photography is not the theater). If you have too much makeup that will be even more obvious in the pictures. If you put some foundation on your face, don’t forget your neck.
Don’t Experience the Day of the Photos Session
You want to be perfect for your engagement session, and you will try a new tutorial you have seen somewhere. Don’t. If it’s not well done, it can be a disaster. It’s better to have simple light make-up that you handle than a complicated one that will ruin everything.
Of course you can (should) test your make-up before your engagement session.
What is a good make-up for an engagement session
By advance, I apology if my words of French engagement photographer could hurt some feelings. You know French people say what they think, and the goal here is to have better pictures. So good make-up is a make-up you don’t notice!
I see very often some techniques where you make some part of your face brighter (like the nose), and some part darker (like the side of the nose). Let’s be clear. If it’s not well handled and the contrast between light and dark colors is too important, you will just look super weird (not to say ridiculous). Those technics a difficult and require subtly. The goal of a good make-up is to maximize your natural beauty, not that we can see that you have make-up.
More is not better!
What light to used to make up and how to test it to make sure it will work in pictures. This tip will also apply for your wedding. You need to have your make-up done under the same light where the pictures will be done. To make it simple, you have two kinds of lights, natural (mostly blue), and artificial (mostly yellow). The way our brain sees the colors will change regarding the light. For instance, look at your car during the day, and during the night. Do you see that during the day the color is great and during the night, under artificial light, everything does not look as good? Therefore, the same make-up could look great under artificial yellow light, and look terrible in natural light!
How to Test Your Make-up With a Picture
Go under the light you plan to have your picture taken. Face the light. Take a selfie. Does everything look wonderful? Push the contest of your picture. Does everything still look good? If the answer is no, then you went too far with make-up?
Clean Your Engagement Ring
It’s a tiny detail, but I will probably do some close-up pictures of your ring. So, if you wear it every day, clean it before the session. And if I forget to take your ring in pictures, tell me! (Sometimes I am so much in making you feel at your ease that I forget the ring!)
Share an Activity You Like
The thing I mostly try to capture during engagement session is complicity. Complicity is what the base on which you built love: without complicity, there is no love.
My way of catching complicity is by creating a situation where it can happen. I ask you to do things, to share moments. So if there is an activity, or sport you love to share, it could be a splendid idea for your engagement photo session.
Of course, all activity won’t work in pictures, but tell me and we will figure.
Share a drink
Bring something you want to drink. A fancy bottle of beer, or more classical a bottle of champagne. Also, alcohol may help you to be more relaxed. Indeed, it has a dis-inhibiting power. That’s why it’s not rare to see models drinks some champagne (with moderation) during some photo shoot.
If you don’t drink alcohol, you still have many choices. Again, here the idea is to create a story, a moment that you share!
Have fun at a fair
It can be as easy as going to a fair and having fun!
Jump into bumper cars.
Eat a candyfloss or a candy apple.
Or just enjoy a Ferris wheel ride!
Of course you would probably not choose the State Fair (and especially not on a weekend day), which can be crowded.
Instead prefer some small attraction park open all year long and try to go there during a weekday. The place would be ours. You wouldn’t make the line, and most of all you wouldn’t have random people in the background.
For instance, let’s consider Valley Fair in Shakopee, or Betty Danger’s Country Club, for a simple Ferris Wheel in Minneapolis.