Engagement Photo Planning Guide
Guide To Preparing For An Engagement Session
You said YES and we assume have an engagement session booked. So now what? How to you prepare for it? Here is our guide to preparing for a engagement photoshoot with Joe and Robin.
Location | Where to do an Engagement Session in Colorado.
Mountains or City.
We love the mountains and certainly prefer them but we will never complain about a 15 minute drive to go Downtown Denver. Some factors for the decision between which you go with will be your timing, pure preference, or if you want something different from your wedding location. For example, if your getting married in the city perhaps getting some engagement photos in the mountains might give you more diversity for printing photos and putting stuff up on the walls. If you look close on the blog you may see people who did both mountains and city. This was possible because the mountain location was close to downtown, they did a longer engagement session (2 hours or more), and there wasn’t traffic or events delaying travel. Often when a couple has wanted both they mix up the mountain sunset with the downtown night photography style. We base the shoot time on the time we start to the time we finish. We do this so that a 1.5 hour engagement session doesn’t turn into an 8 hour drive all across Colorado engagement session.
Timing | When to do Engagement Photos.
Sunrise or Sunset Preferred.
We can shoot ANY time of day with our use of lighting. That being said we prefer to shoot at sunrise or sunset. Sunrise will be the most calm time of day in Colorado – particularly for the mountains. The sky will generally be clear whereas in the evening it might have clouds from afternoon thunderstorms. If you are concerned about blowing hair and want a predictable time of day then sunrise will be great. Sunset is when most people will get photos. Depending on where we are the sun may set over an hour before the actual sunset due to the topography of the mountains. I say that we can shoot ANY time of day because we can and still get good stuff but its often not as good. Midday around noon is probably the worst time to shoot due to lighting. Imagine holding a flashlight above your head. With our off camera flash we can overpower the sun but do have to be careful with getting shadow lines on your face. We also are not super excited to shoot night photography at 3AM as we love to sleep but hey we are open if that is what works well for you!
We LOVE Sunny Days! We backlight you with the sun which makes for more dynamic looking photos. The perk of this is you are not squinty looking into the sun and it makes you pop a little more vibrantly in the photos. Sometimes people seemed confused by our backlighting until they see that we are lighting you up with a powerful off camera flash. So we love sunny days and will try to encourage it as much as possible. Cloudy days are fine for many photographers as it makes for even lighting without a flash. We however really don’t prefer them as things are more flat and as we like to capture the mountain backgrounds they just get lost in the clouds. We have shot in everything from -20 to what felt like 120. At the extremes I will say our enjoyment drops some. In the extreme cold our fingers will freeze requiring gloves going on/off. Equipment wise the powerful off camera flash will lose battery a little faster and in extreme heat it may shut itself off for safety if exposed to the sunlight.
We reschedule engagements for active rain and snow. This is Colorado so wait 30 minutes and things could change. If we push for a reschedule please know it is not that we just want to ruin your plans but rather we do it with the motivation to get quality imagery for you. Our equipment is weather sealed so it can take a little exposure to the conditions but the problem is precipitation coming between you and the camera. Most people favor snow over rain as snow is more romantic and rain just makes you feel like a wet dog when you get soaked. The problem is that falling precipitation will create streaks and blotches from anything that comes between you and the camera. The second part to the problem more noticeable with snow is that the cameras will focus on the snow flakes rather than you. We strive to get really sharp images as that will allow you to do more with it. In any active snow or rain if we zoom in to your face you will see a softness in almost every photo. While we could try to manual focus things we believe it would inhibit the going for a natural in the moment kind of photography and you would still have spots all over the images. As much as we love Photoshop we also won’t put in the 15-20 minutes time per photo to clean snow flakes off of you. Imagine 20 minutes for 200 photos. Math then becomes 66 hours editing your blurry photos. Believe us that we would love to shoot in any condition as we could shoot more but ultimately the motivation is better imagery for you. If your now worried about your wedding day know we have had 0.6% of our weddings inhibited by precipitation. There are ways to make things work in rain and snow but they are just not ideal so if we can shoot in the sun why not try for it?
Weather Examples of What We Want to Prevent:
Heavy Snow Example
Notice that there is a definite blur in this image and a mix of sharp snow flakes with circular blotches of white from blurred out flakes closer to the camera. There is not much you can do to fix the photo. Soft photos with blur will always be soft photos with blur. This was a shoot that was supposed to be cloudy and instead it just started to dump snow on us.
Snow Flurries Example
This is certainly not as bad as the heavy snow one above. In fact you might even like it. Sharpness is slightly soft but not too bad. The image however is speckled throughout and there are some sharper flakes closer to her. In this case for this couple the snow had to go on and we were able to make things work.
Heavy Rain Example
We love our weather sealed cameras and have put them to the test in these kind of conditions. The effect of heavy rain is similar in effect to snow conditions. We assume that most will not be interested in shooting in this kind of weather but we find it might help to show examples.
Light Rain Example
Outside of looking wet in the photo you will have droplets in the image, streaks if the camera shutter is slower, and overall the image will be prone toward being not as sharp due to the camera focusing on the rain and not the couple. It is like snow just translucent and falls a little faster. Almost no one wants these conditions based on the wet look.
Effects of Wind
While most people are only concerned of rain or snow they are actually less commonly going to impact an engagement shoot. Wind will vary based on the topography and if it is a steady wind or gust. There are times in Colorado certain locations will have gusts up to 90+ MPH. As you can see from the diagram certain levels of wind have a negative effect on hair but also any baggy clothing.
Clothing | What to Wear on Engagement Session.
We recommend you wear clothing.
Clothing is preferred by most couples but if you are not into clothing there is always couples Boudoir . . . Just kidding – really Grandma will prefer you wear clothing. Clothing is one of those things that can really help accent the location. We believe you should wear something your comfortable in while balancing that with what fits the location. Here are some universal recommendations and the reasoning behind them:
- Form Fitted Clothing: Clothing that is baggy or bulky will make you look larger than you are or create awkward clothing folds when an arm goes around the clothing. Don’t go so tight that you cannot breathe – you want to be comfortable.
- Contrast + Complimentary: The key of this is to not wear the same color as you might blend together and you may look larger while at the same time having some complimentary colors. A key way you can do this is to have a shirt that pulls out a color from the other shirt.
- Solid + Pattern: You can both wear solid colors but another way to accomplish the contrast + compliment is to have one were a pattern shirt and the other a solid were the solid picks up on a color in the pattern. Often one may wear a plaid shirt and the other a solid that matches a color in the plaid.
- Appropriate for Conditions: You don’t see many people hike in Tuxedos. Consider the nature of the location. In general, mountains equate to a more casual look of jeans and a nice top. Urban Downtown like locations can fit the casual but also the more dressy look. Mountains will be cooler than the city but really it is about the sun. Sunny days will feel much warmer. If there is snow on the ground you will likely step on it at some point. Shoes are sometimes overlooked for the conditions.
Makeup / Hair Notes:
Standard levels of makeup is perfectly fine for an engagement shoot. We want you to look like yourself rather than go overboard. The main thing we would note is that if you use an SPF makeup what we have found is that on sunny days we get more facial shine. This is particular to how we shoot. For hair if you were to get your hair done professionally this would likely make the biggest impact on the overall look. The downside to this outside of some cost is that if you need to reschedule due to weather (rain, snow, wind) then you might not want to due to how hard it can be to get another appointment. This means you might go forward on a shoot where you look great but the conditions are less than ideal. This may nullify the benefit of having your hair done.
Clothing Examples With Commentary:
Considerations: Hair will blow in the wind. We can certainly work with this so don’t feel like you need to put it up or change it. Consider the 4 legged friend paws which may jump up on you. If you invite your dog(s) and they are free to make it consider contrasting with their fir coat. So if you have a black lab and one of you wears black you might blend together some.
Considerations: Good example of mountain colors along with how to make a change of clothing work while not loosing a lot of time. The blue tones can work well on blue sky days in the mountains as it will give you some contrast from the trees and field. If it is a snowy day you might want to consider a different color tone than a white or light blue.
Considerations: Notice the boots. These can be quite stylish for the mountain settings and work well in the summer or winter. While they could be a little warmer on summer days they still look good. Contrast of pants to compliment with the shirt was something unique but not something we think you must go do. Clothing was a little flow for her shirt but we made it work.
Considerations: Mountain Dressy and Casual blend. Socks in tall boots work well for the snow and dress. Dress is something that you can still sit down in out in the mountains. Scarf mixes up the color tones of the dress to make things more interesting.
Considerations: Wear what fits you while at the same time something that looks good. T-shirts can work on the guy if he is ultra casual but do more neutral colors. Jeans with the boots with socks coming out looked stylish. There wasn’t a color pulled out which is perfectly okay. This is a good example of both not wearing patterns.
Considerations: Dressy can work for the mountains but normally will require more time to change unless you are cool with going naked while you change. Dress works better when around a man made structure. Note glasses might produce some capturing of light or reflection of surroundings. If you can go without them it will be better than wearing them.
Considerations: Good balance of colors for the non downtown Urban location. Leash color works and isn’t too crazy. The length is good and gives some options for your furry friend. Again good contrast between the couple and the dog. On a non snowy day you could wear a light white like color but with a white dog the colors they chose were good.
Considerations: Hoodie worked for the first location. Fitted jackets at the second gave the urban casual look. They also had gone inside to sport just the t-shirts from their favorite band. Note that the pants stayed the same in both locations to make changing clothing more simple and faster.
Considerations: Dressy night out downtown Denver. Black clothing will work during the day time but would be lost for night photography. Good using the tie to pull in the color of her dress. Good dress choice being fitted but having some playful flow to it.
Considerations: Night photography works best for a downtown Denver location. her dark dress is lost a little in the wider angle but with the city lights has some contrast to it. Dressy example yet still with a casual flare due to the sport coat vs a full suit.
Preparation | How to Prepare for An Engagement Session.
“Our photographer said we need to cuddle more.” We are somewhat joking but actually rather serious at the same time. The goal is not that you come up with ways to position yourselves but that start to engage that playful cuddly side. The more natural it is to be cuddly with each other the more natural it will feel on the engagement shoot and more natural it will look in photos. Sometimes couples surprise us with some things that are natural for them such as her thrown over the shoulder or her over his head. While we don’t require athletic moves if you feel that it will be your thing we welcome having some fun with the positioning.
“My Photographer said I need to go get an IPA before my photoshoot.” Do you really need an excuse to go to a craft brewery or hit up a local happy hour? It isn’t a requirement type of thing but for some people who might feel like they are stiff it might help. I think our only caveat with this would be to not go too far and become intoxicated. That is always the recommendation but we mention it as I think we have seen it go to the tipsy end in the past. If it is out in the mountains we have seen a couple bring a cooler. If you happen to pick up a variety pack and do the cooler route – if you aren’t as hoppy of a couple know your photographer likely will love you more!