Preparing for an Eshoot

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really hard to believe that I have NEVER posted a blog post about how to prep for your engagement session. To be honest, I think the reason I have never posted about this is because I have never needed to. My brides are really good about picking out outfits and letting their groom know what to expect. However, I have received several emails from other photographers asking how I prep my couples for engagements and so I thought a blog post may be helpful for not only photographers but for brides as well!

When you’re prepping for your engagement session, there are a few things to keep in mind. This is supposed to be FUN! This is the shoot with no pressure. On the wedding day we’ll be crunched for time, your dress won’t be able to get dirty and there won’t be time to chat and get to know one another.  Your engagement session is your chance to get to know me, get comfortable with how I work and have FUN in front of the camera. Now don’t get me wrong, your wedding day will be a BLAST! But it’s so helpful to have a great engagement session before the big day so that you know what to expect! My couples that have an engagement session are PROS by the wedding day and it shows!

After you book with your photographer, whether it’s me or someone else, you’ll need to start thinking about when you want your engagement session to be done. Some couples prefer to have their portraits done in the season opposite of the season of their wedding. So if you’re having a spring wedding, it may be nice to have a fall engagement session. Now, you also have to take your photographer’s availability into consideration. We book sessions about 2 months in advance and we only shoot engagements on weekday evenings. This will vary with every photographer and every season.

Ok, so here are some steps to take to make sure that you’re 100% prepared for your engagement session! :

1. Outfits : Most couples have two outfits, one casual and one that is dressier. The BEST advice I can give about outfit selection would be to try to COORDINATE instead of matching. Try to stay away from really tiny patterns, they won’t show up in your images.  Also, bold jewelry, scarves, and colored shoes photograph really well! Make sure you look like YOU and feel comfortable!

2. Preparing your Groom: This is the part that all of you brides need to pay attention to! You know your groom better than anyone else and so only you can help prepare him for this shoot. If your fiance’ is completely unaware of this style of photography, he is going to think it’s really strange when I tell you two to “Nuzzle” or get “Nose to nose”.  He’s expecting a few pictures smiling at the camera, showing off the ring and that’s it! So it’s your job to explain to him why you love this style of photography and help him know what to expect! I suggest sitting down with him and showing him 3 of your favorite engagement sessions that I’ve shot to give him an idea of what he’s about to experience! :)

3. Relax & Trust Your Photographer : As you’re preparing for your engagement session,  remember that your photographer doesn’t expect you to be a pro at this. I work with normal, everyday couples ALL the time. I hardly ever work with models! I can’t speak for all photographers but I tell my couples that it takes a good 20 minutes to warm up at the beginning of their shoot. So relax and don’t be nervous! You’re going to be great at this! Trust your photographer, allow them to be creative and you’ll have an amazing shoot!

4. Be on Time: This is really important. What most couples don’t realize is that natural light photographers are 100% dependent on the sun and if their couples show up late, they will lose that amount of time during their session due to the lack of light. Now I realize that things happen beyond out control like massive amounts of traffic and accidents.  If at all possible, try to be on time so that you don’t lose any of your shooting time and pretty sunlight!

5. Location and Time: The best time to shoot any portraits is normally 2 hours after sunrise or 2 hours before sunset. This rule of thumb can be applied to any time of the year. When it comes to picking the location for your portraits, I love shooting engagements in locations that mean something to my clients! I understand that this isn’t always possible but I like to throw it out there just in case!


6. Hair, Makeup & Ring Cleaner: Some brides opt to have their makeup trial done right before their engagement session so that they can see what their makeup will look like in pictures before the wedding day! I highly recommend this! It’s always fun when a bride gets her hair and makeup done for her shoot! If you want to do your own makeup, make sure you apply your eye makeup a little heavier than normal for your pictures. Last but not least, I will be taking a ring shot! So if your diamond could use a little cleaning, that would make it really SHINE!

I hope those tips were helpful! And now, just because it’s super fun to look at, here are some of my amazing couples showing off their posing skills during both their engagement session and their wedding day!!


xoxo, Katelyn
17 Comments Ask Anything, Education
  1. Breanna Shaw reply

    Love those last two couples especially ;)

  2. katie reply

    I love those last two couples TOO! :) This is perfect Katelyn! I’m even more psyched for the e-session I have tonight! :)

  3. Carrie logan reply

    love this post!! such awesome tips!!! :)

  4. Morgan Leigh reply

    I love seeing the engagement photos next to the wedding day!! Love to see the differences and similarities between the two shots!

  5. Brannan reply

    Amazing tips as always!!! I sometimes ask my couples to practice snuggling and flirting with each other prior to our sessions. It helps And they usually have fun doing practicing. :)

  6. Allison reply

    So helpful! Thanks for the tips, Katelyn!

  7. Kimber Wassenberg reply

    Great advice….especially the info about cleaning your ring!

  8. Brittany Lankford reply

    This post was so helpful Katelyn! As someone who will soon be planning out engagement pictures this was full of things for me to keep in mind! Especially since neither one of us have any clue about these kind of things! thanks!

  9. Molly reply

    Great Advice! I was wondering – have you ever done a wedding where the bridesmaids dresses weren’t matching but where in the same color family (i.e. each bridesmaid was responsible for getting their own dress as long as it was the correct shade)? My friend is getting married and wanted to see an example and I thought I’ve seen one on your blog!! I’m a regular :)

  10. ashley link reply

    AWESOME post! love it! super helpful and i love the “before” and “After” pictures with the engagements/weddings! it’s so cool to see the bride and groom like that! :)

  11. Lissette reply

    Great post Katelyn!

  12. caroline reply

    Definitely passing this along to my friends!

  13. Abby Grace reply

    Awesome post, girl! I get emails asking questions about these sorts of things from my brides- I really just need to add it into my client lounge. I never thought of having my grooms check out a couple of sessions as preparation!

  14. Wedding Wednesday | Why everyone needs engagement pictures. | Prose and Koenn reply

    […] This is a seriously amazing blog post by Katelyn James about engagement sessions that you should rea… She’s awesome. She’s adorable. And she named her dog Bokeh. […]

  15. Preparing for your engagement session » Savanna Lee Imagery – Blog reply

    […] Miss Katelyn James has to be one of my favorite wedding photographers/bloggers of all time, so it was no shocker that she would offer such helpful and accurate tips.  I have previously told my couples a few of these things, but the thought behind each really makes sense, it’s definitely worth the read.  Go check it out here! […]

  16. Tatyana reply

    The timing aspect is soooo important! So glad you also stress this :)

  17. Libbi reply

    I adore your photography style! Your photos are wonderful, and I hope to have a similar portfolio someday! I’ve done photography for a long time but have decided this year to start turning it into a full time career doing what I love, and to begin building clientele. Do you have any tips for me?? Also, what do you shoot with and what is your favorite go-to lens? I’d love any and all advice! Thanks so much

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