Each year, I photograph around 40-50 engagement sessions. Over the past 7 years, I’ve photographed hundreds. Engagement sessions are great for a variety of reasons:
-They allow me to better know my clients before their wedding date
-It gives them an opportunity to begin to trust me as their photographer
-I’m able to make a bit of additional income on the session and products
-Sharing images after the session creates excitement for the couple’s friends and family
-Photographs from the session that are shared become free advertising.
Just like hosting a dinner party, an engagement session doesn’t happen without preparation, experience…and most importantly, fun. It requires steps and effort to make it a success! At the point in which a client decides they are interested in hiring me for their engagement session…we begin planning. Planning is imperative.
1. Choosing a Location
The location is one of the most important parts of planning a session. I ultimately leave the final decision up to my clients but love to assist in the process.
*TIP: Blogging will tremendously help grow your business! Because I’ve blogged every past engagement session from the inception of my business, this gives clients a landing spot for where to begin their location hunt.
Once clients begin to get a feel of the type of environment they’d like to shoot in based on those blog posts, we determine a precise spot and set a date based on availability. In my opinion, this is the hardest part of planning! When we have the location and the date…we’re well on our way!
2. Contingency Plan
Living in south Louisiana, rain is a common theme. The weather is SO unpredictable here. One morning you could have a warm sunny day, and the afternoon could easily turn into a windy, cold rain. I usually encourage my clients to wait until the last possible moment to make a call. But the decision is always to either reschedule or go for it! If we go for it, we’ll typically switch to a location with covered areas for shooting and/or indoor areas. A clear umbrella is an excellent accessory and if they want to make the rain part of the styling, so are boots and raincoats!
3. Session Tips
I remember about four years ago opening my engagement gallery and feeling a strong sense of inconsistently throughout my images. Not only in locations and images, but even in what my clients were wearing. I wanted to achieve a stronger brand presence and in order to do this I knew changes needed to be made. I began putting together a list of tips for my clients. The tips ranged from bringing water and eating before the photo shoot….to ideas on outfits and accessories. I’m very specific with these tips. I’ll mention things not to wear (like graphic tees) and suggest neutral color palettes. I cannot EVEN begin to explain how much this helped in creating the desired look for their images!!!! I was no longer feeling scattered when we met up for the shoot. I assisted them in the preparation and they followed through. Win/Win.
4. Outfit Selections
Each of my clients has their individual aesthetic preference and I want this to be expressed. However, I’ve also realized over time that some things just tend to photograph better than others! For example: I find that dresses always photograph better on women than jeans. I always ask clients to bring MORE than what they will wear. We meet early (usually about 30mins) and go through outfits together. We make a plan for not only what they’ll wear but also the order in which they’ll wear them. I usually start with the dressiest outfit first in order to get the “paper picture” and formal images. And as the vibe gradually becomes more casual and loose..so do their outfits.
Communication is key throughout the entire process of planning the session and becomes the MOST important part of the actual shoot. Being able to clearly communicate poses and emotions to my clients has been the steepest learning curve for me. And STILL, I’ll have moments when I say something and then my clients and I giggle together because they do what I’m saying….But it’s not the interpretation I was aiming for. LOL
If you’re having trouble with posing my best advise would be to practice. Try different things and make it a point to analayze others’ work who make good habits of naturally posing their clients. Sue Bryce also has a wonderful creativeLIVE course on posing. Crowded areas, bad weather, and location limitations can cause a bit of anxiety at times during a shoot…but communication and working together is the best way to guarantee great images no matter what.
6. Whole-hearted Energy
It really wasn’t until my own wedding experience that I realized the value in having vendors who truly cared. Not only were they doing their job, but they were giving it their all. And it meant the WORLD to us. The smallest things go such a long way! Doing things like : offering them water, remembering everyone’s names, smiling and being willing will leave a lasting impression on your clients. Client experience is so important. I’ll say this again: Client experience is SO important. Not only do you want to provide beautiful, timeless….heartfelt images. But you want your clients to have fun and enjoy the process of their photography. What’s the saying? “People may forget what you say but they never forget how you make them feel”….I couldn’t agree more.
If you give it your all, clients will not only walk away loving your images but loving you as well. Be sure to download my free tip sheet below on engagements.
Products shown: 8.5×11 Photo Book in gray fabric and 5×7 Folio Box in oatmeal and teal fabric with a stack of ultra-thick Folio Prints inside. Folio Boxes now have a hidden USB compartment option for boxes 1” or deeper.
For questions regarding business, photography, etc feel free to reach out to me at my website or on Instagram or Facebook. Happy Shooting!
Download my FREE Tip Sheet!