Tips: How to Take Great Engagement Session Photos

Looking ahead at my calendar this month, I am very excited to see that it’s filling up with engagement sessions! And to make it sweeter each one is going to be so different. We are very lucky with all of the beautiful locations we have at our fingertips here in the San Francisco Bay Area. With that in mind I wanted to take a moment to talk about what the benefits are to choosing to do an engagement session before your wedding, and offer photos tips on making the most of it once you have decided to go ahead with it.

An engagement session is a great thing to do before your wedding, and I feel like it serves a much more significant purpose than just getting great photos for your save-the-dates. Many of the couples I work with have never been photographed professionally before and I find that the engagement session is a great opportunity for us to have fun and spend time together before the wedding day. While I am perfectly thrilled whenever I get the chance to photograph someone’s wedding, with or without an engagement session, I undoubtedly feel like couples who do an engagement session with me beforehand are far more comfortable having their photo taken on their wedding day. And as for my experience as the photographer, I’ll go into the wedding knowing if a couple is goofy, playful, or a little bit shy, and I’ll remember which types of photos had really worked to bring out the best of them when we did our engagement session. And they’re fun! Really, I’m not making it up. It always makes me so happy when a couple emails me after their engagement session, before they’ve even seen the photos, to tell me that they really enjoyed themselves.


Hopefully by now you’ve decided to do an engagement session, so now what? First and foremost, I like to determine where. Sometimes a couple already knows where they want to do their engagement session, which is awesome, and other times they don’t even know where to start. For those who don’t know where to start I like to recommend thinking of something that will be different than your wedding location so you have some variety. If you are getting married inside or in an urban setting why not do your engagement shoot surrounded by nature? And of course vice versa, if you are getting married at a vineyard or in a garden, why not find some cool cityscapes as your engagement session backdrop? Another cute idea that I love is revisiting a place that you went to on your first date. Check out how cute these engagement photos are of Amanda and Mitch who went to the Seward Street Slides in San Francisco on their first date.


Once we have determined where, we can figure out when. I’ll use my best judgement to figure when in the day we will get the best light for our location. If we’re photographing in a very forested area or indoors we can photograph at most times of the day. Often when we are photographing by the beach or outside I like to schedule the shoot for the afternoon before sunset to utilize what photographers call “golden hour.” It’s that time of day when the sun is about to set and everything has a warm glow cast upon it. It’s a very flattering light, and a photographer’s best friend. Here is the very definition of a golden hour engagement session below.


The big question I usually get from my clients is “What should I wear?” I recommend that you plan your outfits to complement one another’s. If one person is wearing a pattern the other person should wear a solid complementary color. You don’t want to wear anything too similar nor different patterns that will clash. Embrace this opportunity to dress up a little nicer than normal. It could even be a good time for a bride-to-be to get her hair or make up done.


Another tip is to plan on showing up a little early to your shoot, or make sure you have left enough time for delays in traffic, getting a little lost, or time to find parking. Just a 15 minute buffer should be enough. It’s less about being on time than making sure you show up relaxed and excited for your shoot. When couples are running late they tend to bicker and argue and you want to avoid that when you are about to start an affectionate photo shoot with your partner.

Creating a pinterest board is an awesome way to figure out what photos you love, and definitely share it with your photographer if you create one. It’s your shoot so feel free to throw out ideas as they come to you during the session. My only suggestion is not to start to imagine what you think the photos should look like when the photographer is taking them. You don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment since it is impossible to guess how the photos will look until you have them in hand. This is why you choose a photographer you trust, because they will take a photo in their style and add their own magic to your ideas.


And if that is all a lot to take in here is the most important thing; don’t let the small stuff stress you out, have fun! Ultimately it’s a time to enjoy your fiancee’s company and get great photos.


Thank you for visiting M Sibthorpe Photography’s blog. For more photos please also visit the main website here.

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