Get The Most Out Of Your Engagement Session: Tips and Tricks


Often times my couples will ask me for tips on what to wear and location suggestions for their engagement session. Well, I figured I would write it all down here for reference, and if any of you wedding photographers find this blog post useful, by all means please feel free to use it!


After picking a date for the engagement session we discuss the time of day the session should start. Now, sometimes when I suggest a late start time (two hours before sunset) my clients think I’ve lost my marbles! “Will we have enough light?” to which I respond with an emphatic “YES!”- and not just any light, but that warm, golden sunlight that photographs so well and will leave you weak in the knees! In Southern California we are truly blessed with super, golden lighting that is unlike anywhere else. Take advantage of it!



Next, we need to pick a location. Now, shooting somewhere the photographer is familiar with is definitely a perk… but we also love a new challenge (within reason) and different locations than what we are used to. It inspires me so much to find hidden treasures at a location I haven’t mapped out my routine yet. When it comes to locations, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. How fun would it be to send out your Save the Dates and your home serves as the backdrop for engagement photos? If you like looking more candid, a lifestyle session is right up your alley. You can cook something together, have a pillow fight, listen to music- I will be there to make it look like I wasn’t there at all! You’d be giving friends and family an exclusive look at what you two are like in the comfort of your own home. Why not find an adorable coffee shop, or used book store? Again, that would be different than what most couples do, and so much fun!

Personally, I love me some good natural lighting, so if an outdoor session is more your style there are plenty of options. Perhaps you have your heart set on a nature scene. I love photographing couples in nature settings. Although settings like the beach and woods are beautiful (and lucky for us SoCalers who have all types of nature scenes at our disposal), let’s continue to think outside of the box. A really good photographer will find a hidden gem in just about any location. The desert may seem desolate and dry, but with the right lighting and a cute couple you have the makings for a masterpiece!



The most asked question I get from my clients is what they should wear to their session. The number one rule of thumb, wear something you 100% love the way you look in. If you picked out a dress that doesn’t fit you properly and you aren’t completely comfortable in, that discomfort WILL show in your photos. Try on different outfits and get opinions. If you wear something you feel beautiful in (handsome for the gentlemen), you will exude confidence, which will all around benefit your engagement session.

When it comes to colors that photograph best, my personal favorites are neutral, more subdued colors or light colors. Every now and then I do love a bright, bold red dress, but that depends on the scenery. Black is also very slimming and works well for a more formal look.

Have different options. you don’t have to wear the same thing for the entire session. In fact, I encourage outfit changes. It’s best to have at least ONE formal outfit. These are your professional photos, how often will you get to dress up and get pro photos taken of the two of you (besides the wedding)? Fancy clothing looks SO GOOD in photos. So gentlemen, please consider wearing a fitted suit, or at least a tie with your button up. Now that you have at least one formal outfit, you can also change into something more casual. You will get the best of both worlds! Always consider your scenery, a big ball gown might look exquisite in this desert scenery or in the woods, but would look out of place in a quaint coffee shop.

Ladies, you should consider getting your hair and makeup professionally done for these photos. This would be a great time to schedule a trial run with your makeup artist for the wedding day! Also, get your nails done! I have a slight obsession with photographing hands, so I WILL be getting closeups of your fingers and bling.

The last article of clothing to consider are your shoes. Yes, shoes. I will take photos from all types of angles… some close ups and some wide angles to take in the entire scene. Your feet will definitely be in these photos. Please avoid wearing flip flops to your session. Even with beach photos I take pictures within the city before heading to the sand. If you are wearing super stylish shoes, I like to take photos of them!

On a side note, incorporating some props can really liven your shoot! Flower crowns and bouquets, even for engagement sessions, are my favorite kind of props. We’ve even used custom swings, quilts, and rowboats in sessions in the past. Props are fun, but be careful they don’t come out as cheesy, we are aiming for classy!



Hopefully this guide will help you better plan out your engagement session to really get the most of it. The last tip I want to leave you with is to have fun! Getting your picture does not need to be painful. I am going to give you so much direction you don’t need to worry about a thing. Relax, have fun, and don’t forget to laugh a little.

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  • Leah Vis - This is great and so helpful!ReplyCancel

  • Brandon McBride - Awesome anniversary session with two of our favorite people Emily Fuller Gibby & Vincent Gibby. Good job Camarie McBride!ReplyCancel