We always encourage our couples to think about having an engagement shoot / couple shoot before the big day. There's too many reasons why you should, but we'll discuss only a few in this post.
Some of our favourite photos of each other as a couple, are from our own personal engagement shoot; were we got to be ourselves, hung out in our favourite places in Lisbon and had a professional photographer capture these moments.
As photographers, some of the best weddings we've shot are the ones where the couples' have had a shoot with us beforehand. It's really an invaluable experience for both the couple and the photographer ; and whilst it is an additional cost leading up to the wedding, it's one that will be totally worth it in the long run.
Here's our top reasons why we think you should book an engagement shoot with your photographer....
1. Feel more relaxed in front of the camera
Being in front of a camera, getting your photograph taken can be a stressful experience for some people; especially if it's not something you've done before. We're not all models! This added stress on your wedding day is not necessary and definitely not something couples want. Booking an engagement shoot before the wedding gives you both the opportunity to get comfortable behind the camera and shake off those nerves or preconceived ideas of getting your photograph taken.
In our experience, couples who are nervous about the session, end up having a lot of fun. By the end of the 1 hour session, they're relaxed and enjoying it; a lot more than they ever imagined!
So instead of worrying about being photographed on the day of the wedding, you can just focus on enjoying your day, without the added pressure of getting your photograph taken.
2. Get to know your Photographer
Every photographer has a different style or a different way of doing things. Some photographers like to give a lot of direction, while others like to capture a story or a feeling between the couple. Having an engagement shoot in advance, lets you see what to expect on the day of your wedding. You get familiar with how your photographer works and directs you, so on the wedding day you know how things will go. Nothing is new or unfamiliar.
Couples who've had an engagement shoot with us before the wedding, trust us more on the wedding day. They know how we work as a team and they have an idea of the subtle prompts we might give to bring out their natural reactions. It feels like we're just hanging out with friends for 30 minutes as opposed to being photographed by strangers!
3. Good practice for your Wedding Day
On the wedding day we usually only have a short time frame to capture great couple photos. During golden hour when the sun is about to set, is the perfect time for this. But sometimes there's just not enough time to perfect a shot or try out multiple poses.
That's where engagement shoots come in useful! Usually engagement sessions last around 1 hour, sometimes more. During this time we get to try out different poses, capture various angles and see what looks best on each couple. Then on the wedding day, we already know what works so all we have to do is focus on finding the perfect location for photos.
If couples don't get an Engagement Shoot before hand, we need to rely on them getting comfortable behind the camera as quick as possible. We do this with gentle prompts and make it as fun as possible.
But like I mentioned before, couples who've had a session with us before the wedding, always get the best shots on the big day. Practice makes perfect and all that...
4. Let's your photographer see what poses looks best on you
I've touched on this one slightly already, but understanding what works best on each couples is so important for capturing the best possible photos on the day of the wedding. Some people have a good side they prefer to be photographed on, others feel or look awkward in certain poses and a height difference can mean various poses need some adjustments. Engagement sessions allow your photographers to perfect these imperfections in preparation for the big day.
You may also find, when you get your engagement photos back, that you like certain poses or dislike others. This is the perfect time to tell your photographer in advance what you prefer. We as photographers have a natural preference for certain poses and this sometimes doesn't always match what you like.
An engagement shoot is a practice run for poses for the big day.
5. See how your hair & makeup trial looks on camera
Chances are you've booked a trail for your hair and makeup and what better way to utilise this new and improved look than to get professional photos taken! On a practical note, you get to see how it will actually look in photos and make any adjustments or changes before the big day. Some brides think they want a certain type of look, then realise during their trial that it's either not practical, doesn't look good or doesn't work as well as they'd hoped. For example, letting your hair flow free, then realise it covers your face for most of the poses or get caught in the wind etc.
An engagement session allows you to get a practice run where not only poses are concerned, but also hair and makeup.
6. Have memories & photos to keep
If you come to our home, you'll see that many of the photos taken during our engagement shoot take pride of place in our bedroom, living room and hall way. We've also used them for facebook profiles and other social media platforms. As much as we wanted to showcase all of our wedding photos around the house, we loved the natural ones of us in normal clothes just as much.
We have great memories of the planning phase and still reminisce about the first time we met our photographers during our engagement shoot. These memories all help us piece together the good times surrounding our wedding. We enjoyed the session more than we thought we would (because as photographers we're used to being behind the camera, not in front of it); and we've planned many more shoots with professional photographers since. You can never have enough great professional photos of each other as a couple. Let's face it, when we try to take our own, there's always one person that ends up being the "instagram bf or gf"!
7. Use the images for save the dates, wedding invitations or wedding websites
For our own wedding, we made a wedding magazine for our guests. We included a funny bio of our bridal party, the order of the day and some fun facts about us as a couple. This is when the professional photos taken on our engagement session came in handy.
For a lot of our couples, they've used these photos for their save the dates or invitations because they want good quality photos where they look and feel their best.