How to Prepare for Engagement Photos

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Failing to plan is planning to fail, I always say! Just kidding, I don’t ‘always’ say that, but it does make sense when thinking of how to prepare for engagement photos. I’m excited to share some of my top tips and tricks to help you show up feeling prepared and excited for your engagement photos!

People of course want me to help them feel at ease in front of the camera, and I definitely do that – it’s a huge part of my job. Here’s the secret though: helping people feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera starts way before the actual photo shoot!

An easy way to feel comfy and confident in front of the camera is to prepare for engagement photos logistically leading up to the session. The goal here is to have things worked out ahead of time so  on the day of you’re relaxed and as stress-free as possible, which makes a big difference in how your session goes. With all the logistics squared away before the session even starts, you’ll know you’ve done everything to set yourself up to have a great time at your session!

Below is my list of logistical tips and tricks for how to prepare for engagement photos alongside my recommended timeline for when to start/complete each item. Yay!

Have your hair and makeup done professionally by an at-home stylist.

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  • When you’re scheduling your photo session, at the same time contact the referrals I send for hair and makeup artists to see if they’re available.
  • Work with someone who comes to your home and does your hair and makeup where you live. That leaves less room for stress to creep into your day by eliminating travel time to and from the salon.
  • Having hair and makeup done by a professional also eliminates stress from your day because those are two huge things you don’t have to worry about doing yourself!
  • A lot of my couples don’t typically wear a lot of makeup and some don’t wear makeup at all. If that’s the case, I still recommend having hair and makeup done for your engagement session. The hair and makeup artists I refer all specialize in natural-looking makeup that enhances your features without making you look made-up or overdone. You will look like a slightly more polished version of yourself.
  • If you wear little or no makeup for your session, in the photos your features will look blended together. I learned this lesson the hard way when in my first headshots, I wore nude lipgloss. My lips blended in with the rest of my face and I looked like a lip-less lady! Not cute.

Put my style guide and style references to use.

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  • Right after you’ve booked your session and hair and makeup are scheduled, start planning your outfits.
  • If you’ve booked with me, I’ve sent you a style guide as well as some Pinterest links and blog posts to help you prepare what to wear for your session. (For reference, you can find those posts herehere, here, and here.)
  • My intention in providing that information is to help you understand how to coordinate outfits with your fiancé(e) in a visually pleasing way. Also, certain colors and patterns of clothing lend well to my style of photography and will enhance the final product.

Plan an outfit change.

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  • I recommend folks do one outfit change. One because there is only so much good light and we don’t want to use up a bunch of time/light changing outfits multiple times.
  • I recommend changing outfits because it gives you a little more variety in your images.
  • I suggest wearing your formal outfit first, so that it’s not the one you’re folding up and packing away to carry with you at the session. That way it’s less likely to get wrinkled.

Decide whether you want to include your pet.  

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  • After you’ve gotten some of those bigger logistics squared away, make the final decision on whether you want to include your pet.
  • Pets are part of the family and I’m happy to have them at your session if you want to include them! More on that here.
  • You can also consider how you’re going to coordinate your pet’s leash, collar, and/or harness to your outfits.

Review my engagement session blog posts.

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  • To prepare for engagement photos, about a week before your session, take a look through my engagement session blog posts.
  • Make a list of two or three of your favorites to show your fiancé(e).
  • Go over the posts together so you’ll both have an idea of what will be happening at the session and the types of poses you’ll be doing, as well as the types of images you’ll be getting.

Pre-plan your travel and parking.

  • This is a big one! Our session is scheduled based on making the best use of light, so if we start late, the good light will run out and we won’t get all the photos we want. No one wants that!
  • The week of your session, I will email you my suggestions on how to get to your location (whether driving, metro-ing, Uber/Lyft is the best option) and where to park.
  • Once you have my tips the week of your session, plan what time you will leave (sparing time for traffic), how you will travel to the session, and where you will park if you’re driving and how much time it will take for you to leisurely walk to our meeting spot from your parking space (we don’t want any sweat marks!).
  • Planning all this in advance eliminates any chance of bickering on the way there, which in my experience is more likely to happen if you’re running late 🙂

Clean your ring.

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  • The night before your engagement session, clean your ring so it’s ready for its close-up.
  • Click here for some tips on how to clean your engagement ring at home.

Did this post get you excited to book your own wedding, elopement, or engagement session?! If yes, send me a note and we can chat about what you have in mind: contact me

Hi – I’m Rachel! A wedding, engagements, and headshots photographer in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and northern Virginia. I love taking photos of elegant people who love to laugh, as well as of much in-love couples. If you’re a dog owner, that’s a plus! I’m currently booking 2019 portrait sessions, as well as 2019 and 2020 weddings.

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