I saw an article pop up in my facebook browsing this week that had me intrigued, confused and mostly just a whole lot of ‘oh no you didn’t’ … The article was the 5 reasons you shouldn’t get engagement photos (let me insert a big fat sad face right here to start). This was one of the rare cases where I couldn’t just keep scrolling SO with this bonus extra blog post for the week I’d like to tell you why I think you SHOULD have engagement images!
Granted there’s really no way that this ‘rebuttal’ doesn’t come across as self-serving (you know, because I’m a wedding/portrait photographer who, yes, sells and profits from the creation of engagement portraits – eh). BUT, I promise, I want you to get engagement portraits even if I’m NOT the photographer who creates them for you (and I’ll tell you the reasons why below).
ONE – It’s the most in-depth wedding photographer interview you can ever hope for! You hire your wedding photographer 6 months to 2 years in advance. Hopefully, you’ve done your research and have viewed past wedding work, whole galleries, finished albums, heard reviews from past clients (maybe even personal referrals of friends), etc etc. You’ve met with them or at least chatted with them and you feel good about your choice. BUT, of course, they showed you their BEST work, they put their best foot forward to impress you and win your business. More than likely what you see IS what you’ll get, but wouldn’t you like to KNOW for sure?
What if you could work with this photographer and be photographed by them on a before your one and only wedding day? This would give you a little preview of how they work, let you see if you interact well with them, if they get you, if they make you feel comfortable. AND if they can give what they’ve promised. You’ll be able to see if you like their images of YOU (not just past clients) before your big day. Imagine how confident you’ll be when they walk in at the wedding when you already KNOW they can produce images of yourself that you love and deliver on everything they promised, because they already have once; at your engagement session!
TWO – It helps your photographer prepare for your wedding day! Just as much as it can be helpful for you to work with your photographer before the big day, it can be even more helpful for them to have previously photographed. As a photographer, I study people. I study your face to see what angle is most flattering, if you have one eye that closes a bit more when you smile, if you’re a squinter or fake smiler, and I work to pose you in ways to highlight your best features! Time and time again my client’s will have more favorite images toward the end of their sessions for this reason. It takes me TIME to see these things so the images of you just get better and better as I photograph you more.
I am also able to see what images of yourself you liked best. Did you fall in love with the romantic fun images we encouraged or did you gravitate toward the traditional portraits we posed and crafted? This information lets me custom-tailor your wedding-day photography to what YOU love most. If I know you or your fiancé is a little more reserved or shy when there is a crowd we might plan to have some solo portrait time where you can both relax and be yourselves away from others. On the other hand you may both be more comfortable and come alive in front of your friends and family and feel too ‘in the spotlight’ when it’s just us…. I could go on and on about all the things I’m able to learn about you from 45-90 minutes at your engagement session but it might start to sound a little creepy (just know that I’m watching…. bahahaha <<< see creepy!).
The fact is, engagement sessions HELP me create better wedding day images. And as Ms. Emma Mcgowan (writer of that article I mentioned above) points out in her article, weddings are expensive so might as well get the best bang for your buck and ensure I can do the best job possible on your big day.
THREE – They are more authentically YOU! Ok, sorry Emma but this is in direct contrast to her reason number two NOT to get engagement portraits because they can be inauthentic according to her. This reason of hers actually made me LOL. Just curious how many times you wear a frilly white gown and your man is in a tux surrounded by all your friends in matching chiffon, taffeta and holding or wearing flowers. My guess is this is not how you spend most of your weekends.
No, your wedding day is not authentic to your daily life, nor should it be, it’s a BIG event, do it up! But I often suggest to my clients that we do showcase who you are on a more regular basis with your engagement session. Wear what’s more typical for you, choose a location that might have personal meaning or at least showcases your personalities a bit. Maybe we revisit a favorite date location, proposal spot or iconic home town monument. The fact is your engagement sessions are your opportunity to be authentic. To tell your love story! Which leads me right into reason four….
FOUR – They tell your story… As we already said above these portraits can tell your story at a depth we aren’t always able to create in the time we have on a wedding day. But your story isn’t really ‘told’ until we have a medium to showcase the images. Personally, my favorite way to do this is with one of our custom-designed guest books (see some designs below). This replaces the old tradition of just having a lined book where guests sign their names (who ever looks at THAT after the wedding day?!?!). Instead of this, we create a beautiful custom album design featuring 20-45 of your engagement images, showing off your whole story (locations, outfits, personalities, pets!) with blank areas for your guests to sign their names and leave well wishes for you to hold onto forever. Now imagine flipping through THAT book with your kids or grand kids in the coming decades!
We also create wall art for nearly 80% of our wedding clients with images from their engagement sessions. The fact of the matter is that your dress (however stylish today) will be outdated in a decade or less (think about your mom or grandmother’s dresses… were there shoulder pads? a huge veil/headdress? long fluffy sleeves?). So a portrait of you on the wall in that dress in 10 years is going to LOOK 10 years old. But what about a portrait of your engagement session … in love, yes! outdated, no!
FIVE – Just a bit of time that’s all about you and your LOVE. My absolute favorite part of my own engagement session (and even my husband’s as well) was that it was a little bit of time, carved out of our lives where it was, not only all about us, but it was all about being in and showing off our love. In the hustle and bustle of our lives how often do you just stop, slow down and hold your man? How often does he just stop and run his hands through your hair in a movie-worthy long slow kiss? Not often enough, I tell you!
But on your session… that’s exactly what we do! We laugh, we play, you kiss, you hug… you slow down to just focus on the fact that you LOVE each other and it’s an amazing thing.
SIX – Because you WANT to! (Ok, I really planned for this to be 5 reasons but I guess there really are MORE reasons for than against hahaha). After all this it’s really just a bunch of she said, she said… Whether you listen to Emma or me, the last real reason to have engagement images is because you WANT them! At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if I think you should (and I do) or if Emma things you shouldn’t. You are only at this time in your life once, enjoy your engagement just as much as you do your wedding (and all that comes after it) and if engagement images are part of that joy for you do it! Don’t let anyone steal that from you. And if you DON’T want them, I’m really surprised you read this far, but you’re free to go on not having them taken.
Thanks for sticking with me through this out of the box blog post for me! The most fun part was getting to flip back through some past engagement portraits!!