• Wedding Wednesday

to think about, but only 5-7 years ago, engagement portraits were NOT what you see today!  If you’re working in the wedding industry or are a bride just getting started with your planning, I think it’s important to realize just HOW MUCH this industry has evolved in the last several years. It’s really transforming into something TOTALLY different than what it used to be! I’ve heard several people that aren’t associated with the industry say things like “What are ENGAGEMENT portraits? I’ve never even heard of that!!!”.  Well when I hear that, I think “WHAT?! Engagements?! It’s like a right of passage for the wedding day!

You HAVE to have an engagement session!”…. Then I quickly realize that this is my LIFE… I shoot weddings and engagements for a LIVING… so of COURSE I would feel that way. I think it’s so important for photographers to put themselves in their client’s shoes… we HAVE to educate them on EVERYTHING we do and WHY we do it… because if we don’t, they will get all of their knowledge from wedding magazines and Martha Stewart’s 50 step guide to Planning Your Wedding (that doesn’t really exist… but it probably will one day!).  There is nothing wrong with wedding magazines, but I think every photographer would agree that they would rather be the ones teaching their client what to expect during their photographic experience, rather than a client having expectations from a magazine article that wasn’t even written by a photographer!! So if we’re going to help our couples understand this whole process, we have to start at the beginning. I’ve been very blessed to have couples that LOVE engagement sessions and REALLY desire to have one done before their big day! However, I do occasionally get asked “What’s the big deal about engagements?”.  Some couples are super busy and carving out time for an engagement shoot is hard to do…. but there are SO many more perks to an eshoot than just beautiful portraits! Here is why and engagement shoot is SO HELPFUL and NECESSARY! :


1.  Your engagement session is like your trial run… this is your no-pressure practice time in front of my camera! I have NEVER worked with a professional model…. all of my clients are normal, everyday couples with no experience whatsoever being in front of a camera.  The “model” face is always a foreign concept and posing doesn’t always come naturally…. this is why an engagement session is AWESOME.  Without the pressure of the wedding day timeline AND the nerves that come along with a wedding day… and engagement session allows my couples to get super comfortable in front of the camera! By the time the wedding rolls around, they have MASTERED their poses and they feel confident in front of the camera instead of timid and shy.  It takes about 20 minutes for a couple to warm up to the camera 100%….. and so at a wedding day, we don’t have 20 minutes to spare, I need my bride and groom to be ready to rock and roll… and luckily, because my couples have an engagement session included in their package, they are always ready to show off their modeling skills on the wedding day!!

2. Confidence is key! When you’re confident, it shows in your images. After my couples have completed their engagement session and have seen their money shots on the blog, they have sense of confidence moving forward to their wedding day. I’ll be the first to admit that when it was MY turn to be the bride, I felt 100x more confident in my wedding portraits because I had already seen my engagement images! Confidence is not something you can just MAKE someone feel instantly, you have to instill confidence BEFORE the wedding day! …. And that is what an engagement shoot is for!

3. Who doesn’t want some extra decor?!  SOOOOO many of my couples mention that their engagement portraits are the ONLY quality images that they have of the two of them. The reason engagement portraits are so great for decorating is because they are CASUAL. You’re not in your wedding attire and so these images serve as just some nice, casual images of the two of you that can fill your entire home without looking like you’re OBSESSED with your wedding! (I mean, I have a WHOLE wedding WALL in my living room so I guess I fall into the “obsessed” category!) Not only do engagement portraits allow you to have images to decorate your house, you can also use these images to display at the reception as well!


4. Last but not least, your engagement sessions is your time to GET TO KNOW YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER! Some of my favorite memories with clients are during their engagement shoot. It’s so incredibly relaxed and I have 2 hours to just get to know my couple! I can’t imagine showing up to a wedding day and NEVER meeting the bride or knowing their story beforehand.  An engagement sessions allows everyone to just get COMFORTABLE with one another.  In my opinion, this is the BIGGEST point of this whole post because I run my business relationally! When I KNOW my clients…. then I can accurately capture their true personalities!!  It’s REALLY hard to capture amazing portraits when you have no connection to the subject.  Being emotionally involved with your subjects creates emotional, powerful images! If I CARE about my clients… that should show in my work!! …. And I think it does. However, I wouldn’t be able to get to this place unless I have time to get to know my couples! Again, another reason the engagement shoot is a MUST!!!


So for those of you out there are contemplating getting your engagements done but don’t REALLY think it’s necessary….. it is.  Any photographer that runs their business semi-close to the way I do will WANT you to do a session and I highly recommend it!!!!



xoxo, Katelyn
17 Comments Wedding Wednesday
  1. Stephanie Stewart reply

    Katelyn, I completely agree with you!!! Engagements sessions are SO important, and it really shows on the wedding day, like you said, with confidence! Love this!

  2. Abby Grace reply

    “Being emotionally involved with your subjects creates emotional, powerful images.” SO TRUE. I love explaining this to couples who don’t think they need one and then seeing the lightbulb go off. GREAT insight, Katelyn!

  3. Rebekah Hoyt reply

    Amazing post! It breaks my heart that about half of my wedding clients this year aren’t doing e-sessions, and I’m now realizing that it’s my responsibility to share with them WHY they are so important (and awesome!) Plus, TOTAL surprise to see me and Matt reappear on the blog today! So honored :)

  4. Amber Gregory reply

    I totally agree, Katelyn, though I still encounter people who feel that only narcissistic, self-involved rich people get engagement portraits (“They just like seeing themselves on camera,” type of judgmental comments). Ridiculous but it does still exist! I also believe that engagement portraits are really important for all the reasons you mention. It really helps me connect with the couple, plus it helps THEM be comfortable in front of the camera and see what kinds of things they need to correct for the wedding. For instance, I had a groom who kept looking away from the camera during their engagement shoot. His wife-to-be put the kibosh on that behavior at the wedding! :P

  5. Deborah Zoe reply

    so good Katelyn:)!

  6. Alethea Fitzpatrick reply

    So fun to see the engagement photos alongside the wedding photos!

  7. valerie reply

    **standing ovation**

  8. jamie d reply

    I wish my engagement pictures were like these!! and that i also knew it was time to get to know my photographer as they are with you all day!

  9. Beth G reply

    It is so true that things have really evolved in the last 7 years. I see so many great things on your blog and think, “Why didn’t we do that in our engagement/wedding?” And then I realize that its because those things just weren’t popular yet back in 2004! (Just think how much more popular blogs are now…not to mention that Facebook was just a tiny college business at that point.) Glad to see you started in the photography world at just the right time!

  10. Kimber Wassenberg reply

    This is such a good post! All your points are so true…anytime I get to do an engagement session before the actual wedding day it just seems like I know the couple better. And I’m following in your example and offering a free engagement session with every wedding I do. :)

  11. molly stillman reply

    AHHHH! yay! so fun! i love this and YES – we felt SO comfortable on our wedding day (also, i love that i have canvases of BOTH of those engagement photos!!!) :) :)

  12. francine reply

    i love how you compared the sets of engagement photos and wedding photos!! also, i forgot how much i adored that laundry mat sesh!! ahhhh, it still makes my heart skip a beat! i love it so much!!!!

  13. Annetta reply

    You are sooo right Katelyn. I agree whole heartedly. I do e-session for all my clients except the couple that is getting married this week. Everything happened so fast for them we didn’t have time and I’ve known them for years but I’m still abit nervous about it.

  14. Kristin reply

    So true!

  15. I know | Virginia Wedding Photographer | Katelyn James Photography reply

    […] already done a post about the importance of an engagement session… you can read that HERE!   Today I just simply want to emphasize that engagements should be done with your WEDDING […]

  16. How to Have an Amazing Engagement Session | Heart Love Weddings reply

    […] So What’s the Big Deal with Engagements? – Katelyn James Photography […]

  17. Engagement Shoots » Rebekah Hoyt Photography reply

    […] wedding photographer, Katelyn James, wrote an awesome blog post about this a few months ago!  Check it out (and you may see a familiar […]

Reply to: