March 2, 2020

Planning an engagement shoot

Engagement pictures are are a very sweet way to capture a little snippet of this time in your life. Not only can you use the photos to create some great wedding content (invites, guest books, etc) but years from now you can look back and appreciate a slice of life that often flies by in a blur. I’ve put together my top responses to the most frequently-asked questions I get about engagement shoots. If you have questions to add please leave a comment below, or send me a message!

a couple walks along a cliff with the narrows of st johns in the background

how do we make this fun and not awful?

So many couples are nervous about doing a shoot but end up finding it a really fun experience. You’re not going to wal-mart’s photo studio – you’re going for a walk with your best friend somewhere really cool. After a couple of minutes of hanging out it’s easy to forget that you’re doing a photo shoot and not just hanging out. 99% of the pose-prompts are ‘walk in that direction, hug until you squat them, sit over there and drink your beers, oh look, some blueberries – let’s pick them together’. There’s no awkward posing or modelling – it’s all very chill and will feel normal once we get into it.

It’s a great idea to plan your engagement shoot as a date night. Get your hair and makeup done or get a fresh cut and shave, bring a backpack with some snacks, bottles of your favourite craft beer or a lil bottle of bubbly, and make reservations at a restaurant you’ve been meaning to go to for when the shoot is over. You’ll look and feel amazing – and it’s a great time to celebrate and enjoy an evening out without any of the stress of regular life or wedding planning!

a man hugs a woman from behind. they are both laughing. she has her eyes closed. they are on a grassy cliff, and she is wearing a black and pink floral dress.

planning your outfits: should we match?

For clothing, it’s ideal to bring two outfits; one a little more casual, and one a little more formal. If you don’t want to fully change, you can just bring a sweater or jacket to mix it up to give your images some variety.

Ideally, for women-identifying folks a flowey dress or skirt that will sway in the wind is perfect, or a simple dress-shirt, jeans, and long dress coat for colder weather.

For male-identifying folks a sharp button-down shirt, jeans or khakis, and a wool sweater to change into are great, or a casual blazer if you’re feeling fancy.

Plain t-shirts and jeans is always in style for any gender! You can also keep it easy and wear your most comfortable everyday outfit so it’s truly a slice of who you are right now. You look your best when you feel comfortable in your skin, and that should always be priority.

two women stand on a ledge overlooking the ocean, holding hands. one is wearing a brown leather jacket and the other is wearing a jean jacket. The window is blowing their hair.

If you have a great sense of personal style, show it off and wear the outfits that make you feel the most fabulous, regardless of whether it’s trendy or not.

You don’t need to perfectly match your partner, but you should look like you’re going to the same party. If one of you is wearing a ball cap and gym shorts and the other is in a floor-length gown, your friends are going to make fun of you. Be warned.

a couple is sitting on a rocky ledge. he has her wrapped up in a big bear hug and she is laughing. the sun is shining on them.

can you edit me out, and edit in a model?

Before we go any further – you don’t need to change who you are or what you look like to fit society’s standards of beauty. We are constantly bombarded with all sorts of messed up views of what makes a person attractive, and a lot of us are entrenched in media that perpetuates a damaging image of self-worth. I’m beyond happy that as a whole we are finally veering in another direction and agreeing that all bodies are beautiful, encouraging diversity, and loving imperfections.

So with that in mind. I’m human too, and I also get nervous being my fullest, most wonderful self in front of the camera. For those who are insecure about receding hairlines, scars, acne, or other normal human things; this is a common request. If you let me know beforehand that you’re a little self-conscious about something and you don’t want to display it to the world, I really don’t mind doing the teeniest bit of editing so that you feel a little more confident.

Editing isn’t always an option, so make sure your clothes fit your body well, you’re well-groomed, and you feel as good as you possibly can when you leave the house. It’s near-impossible to edit out bra lines, hat hair, or chipped nail polish, and if you have long hair, it’s likely going to be pretty wind-swept and that’s not something you can really edit back to it’s original state. Keep in mind!

I refuse to use photoshop to make you to look like a different person, but small enhancements like removing pimples, receding hairlines, or acne scars are pretty easy so you don’t have to worry if you wake up with a break-out the morning of the shoot, or if your cat scratched your face the night before.

I’m also more than happy to show you the back of the camera as we go to make sure we’re getting your best angles. My goal is to make sure you look like you – the best, most happy and full version of you.

a woman holds her hair back in the wind as a man hugs her. lights peek through purple fog around them.

picking a location: where do we go?

Picking a location for your shoot is my jam. We’ll start by figuring out what sort of look you’re going for, and maybe an activity you’d like to plan your shoot around. From that starting point, I’ll recommend some places that I think would be a perfect setting.

Hike on a gorgeous cliffside? Boil-up in the woods? Picnic in a field overlooking the ocean? Casual stroll through downtown, stopping at your favourite cafes and watering holes? Once we’ve got an idea of the direction you want to go, we can focus on narrowing down the locations.

a couple walks away from the camera on a trail in a grassy field. she's wearing a flowy pink dress and has a flower crown, and he is wearing a grey jacket. a red and white lighthouse is visible in the background.

I usually send a few samples of images that you can choose from once we’ve decided on the general feel of the shoot so you can okay it before we go. Oftentimes the locations are a little off the beaten path – I’ll give you an address where we’ll meet, and then we’ll either walk the rest of the way together or I’ll have you follow my car. Generally I never plan a shoot at a location that’s longer than a 15-20 minute walk to get to, unless you’ve chosen the location yourself. We can always keep it simple and stay close to town if you’re unsure about hiking or taking your car on the back roads – thankfully we live in an extremely photogenic city!

Picking the location is the most fun part for me – I spend almost all of my days off searching for new photo shoot locations, so you don’t have to stress about this part. I love finding new gems and sharing them with you. 🙂

a couple stands tiny in the lower left portion of the image. on either side, large cliffs rise up, enveloping them and the ocean. the man is leading the woman, who is wearing a long, blue patterned gown

And that’s it! To recap:

  • Have fun and make it a date night
  • Wear clothes that make you feel good
  • Don’t stress about how you look
  • Go somewhere really cool

Do you have anything to add? Please comment below – I’d love to hear from you.


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