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double exposure of a couple in love

Weddings

How to Plan Your Engagement Photos — Tips for Success

Hello, I'm susannah.
I believe that moms need to be in photos with their families. Today. While your kids are still shorter than the kitchen counters and your home is cluttered with LEGOS, stuffies, and piles of laundry. 
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Plan Your Engagement Photos — Tips for Success

How to Prepare for Your Engagement Photography Session

Boulder, Colorado Engagement Session

I have had engagement sessions on my mind–I recently did an engagement session giveaway and have been planning e-sessions for my 2020 and 2021 wedding couples. How do you plan your engagement photos? Keep reading for tips and ideas!

a man hugs his soon-to-be-wife

1. Consider the overall theme/feel you want in your engagement session photos.

*Do you want an indoor or outdoor engagement session? (Most of my couples prefer outdoor sessions, but indoors makes sense to capture lifestyle images of you and yours in your home…snuggling, playing instruments, drinking coffee…you know the kind I mean. But if we do indoors, let’s brainstorm something a bit MORE than the same old, same old!)

*If outdoors, do the mountains speak to you, or are you imagining a more urban look? For urban spots, the alleys that many of our cities have work great. Or steps. Or the murals. For mountains, options are limitless! I suggest pushing the envelope and choosing spots that may not be quite so obvious.

*Is there a meaningful location you would like captured? A first date hiking spot? The mountain peak where you got engaged? A family cabin in the woods?

*Does anything else speak to you? Smoke bombs, sage brush, cowboy hats…

*Do you have a pet you want to include?

Consider all of this as you plan your engagement session photos. And a quick idea list:

  • Hiking
  • Skiing/boarding
  • Fishing
  • Van Life
  • Mountain biking
  • Picnic
  • Hot Tub (with fancier photos first!)
  • Graffiti tour
  • Roof top
  • Storefront
  • Gritty city
  • Alleys

double exposure of a couple in love

three images of a couple getting coze during an outdoor mountain engagement session

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2. To plan your engagement photos, consider wardrobe and your final look.

I personally have a thing for flowing maxi dresses, long hair, and red lips. I don’t know too many people who wear bright red lips IRL, but man it photographs beautifully! Of course, this may not be your cup of tea…be sure to pick an outfit that you are comfortable in and that you feel good wearing!

Also…

*Do you want dressier photos or more casual photos? If we are going for a hike in the Indian Peaks, casual makes sense, but you could rock a dress too. My only requirement would be sensible shoes (whatever that means) and layers forĀ  safety (I can carry extra gear for you as needed!). Again, if you want dressy, I suggest paying attention to shoes and the terrain you’ve chosen!

*Are there any accessories or finishing touches that will elevate the photos? I personally like BIGGER accessories in photos…chunky necklaces, longer earrings. I love mixing and matching texture. I love bow ties and scarves and hats.

*If you are getting hair and make up done for your wedding, I will always suggest doing a trial run before your e-session and arriving all done up. This is not a requierement by any means, but, again, man, Melissa looks amazing and the red lips help finish the look!

two images of a stunning outdoorsy couple during their engagement session

a couple lean apart from each other while holding hands

two images from an engagement photo session

3. Also consider props.

Having a few props can help you relax during your session (although that is my job, and don’t worry!). For a hiking session, you could bring a blanket and picnic gear. For skiing, you could bring a flask. For urban, you could bring a special scarf/sunglasses/hat. You get the idea!

Your pet makes a great prop!

a dog peaks out from tall grass during an e-session

images of a couple in love and their dog

a couple pose in beautiful light with their handsome dog

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4. And, to plan your engagement photos, finalize location and time of day.

Ideally, you have a couple clear locations in mind after reading the rest of the tips. If not, share this info with me, and I can help brainstorm some more.

Some locations require permits, so we need to make sure there is enough time to secure one for your spot. Some permits do require a fee. (I have a permit for all Boulder Open Space locations.)

I prefer to start engagement photography sessions an hour or so before sunset. Of course, this isn’t always feasible, so it’s not 100% mandatory or anything. But, if possible, that’s the best time. Early mornings are also an option. Middle of the day can work as needed, especially if there is a mix of sun and shade!

a couple look down at their hands

a couple stand in front of green mountains

three images of a couple holding hands during their summer engagement session

 

5. What to expect during your engagement photography session

I work to keep the two of you relaxed.

I find setting up a series of movements (walk to me, walk away from me, hold hands) that I direct helps put couple at ease.

And I’ll direct as needed throughout your session…lean on the fence, get close, just hang out there…I’ll tell you where to put hands if you aren’t sure.

Sessions length completely varies. If we’re on an epic hiking adventure, the session could take a few hours. We’d hike a bit, I’d take non-posed of the two of you, I’d take posed photos as the location and lighting warrant, we’d hike a bit more, repeat… If we’re at a park with nice views, the time would be much less…an hour give or take.

But, I don’t time photo sessions. I just try to read your energy and push it or not depending on the location.

a couple kiss in front of a mountain

two images of a couple during their summer e-session

two images--a man and a woman

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A couple more quick things:

See photos of Melissa and John’s Arapahoe Basin wedding day.

And, in case you’re a photo nerd, these images were taken outside of Boulder with both digital and film cameras.

For film cameras, I had a couple on hand during the session–my Pentax 645N medium format 120 mm camera and my Holga plastic camera.

The Find Lab developed and scanned the images.

Can you guess which were are digital images and which ones are film scans? And are you interested in film for your engagement photography? Talk to me!

a couple stand in front of a green mountain in boulder, co

a couple walk down a dirt path

two images of a couple in love in a green outdoor location

a couple kiss in the foothills

 

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I'm
Susannah

I've been photographing families professionally since 2006. I am a wife, mama to 2 boys, companion to 2 cats who are named after members of the royal British family, a former preschool teacher. I love running, hiking 14ers, sparkly clothes, the band Phish, river float trips, St. John USVI, farm CSAs, and Colorado blue skies.

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