Engagements are one of my favorite parts of the entire photography experience with my couples! We get to know each other, and we get to look like idiots in front of each other because I’ll make you two kiss in front of a stranger (me) and I’ll probably trip over myself at least ten times. I’ve done tons of engagements, so I’ve found a few things that help so much in order to get those candid + genuine shots! So here’s my two cents on how to prepare for engagements :)
// What to wear //
You want your outfits to compliment the environment and each other.
Choose something that compliments the environment we will be shooting in, and think of the environment when picking your colors. Most of the time, any neutral color will compliment whatever environment we shoot in. Neutrals aren’t just tans, grays and white. There are neutrals of every color! For example, mustard is a neutral of yellow. Forest green is a neutral of green. Navy is a neutral of blue, and so on. Fluorescent or bright colors usually draw your attention away from faces, so try to avoid wearing anything that is bright and overly colorful. Reds, pinks, and oranges have the tendency to reflect onto your skin. So if you or your partner wears a red shirt, your skin will end up looking pink. This is why neutrals are a great choice, they wont affect your skin color. Lastly, remember to not wear overly distracting patterns. We want photos to be about you two, not what you wear.
Here’s an example of an outfit that compliments its environment with neutral non distracting colors.
Here’s an example of a distracting color choice that doesn’t flatter the environment.
Bridals are always a blast, and such a good thing to do before or after your wedding day! You get so many more shots of the two of you in your dress and suit, in pretty lighting and an amazing location! There's no stress on time, as wedding day portraits usually go. These are usually the pictures people use the very most, out of everything.
Location, Location, Location. There is no rule that says your bridal portrait needs to be at the same venue as your wedding. It doesn’t even have to fit within the same theme. You’ll get hundreds of pictures at your wedding venue on the wedding day so why not take the opportunity to explore a different location, style or season? You’ve invested a lot in your dress and should have pictures that showcase it and you in various locations.
Here's a few things to know for bridals to be sure they go as smoothly as possible: If you hire a hair + makeup artist, be specific as to what you want.
Almost every time a bride shows up for bridals, they are redoing their hair, wiping off makeup and putting their own on top of it. Being honest and specific with your hair and makeup artist will help them know exactly what you want, and if you are unsatisfied, TELL THEM! It sucks when my brides aren't excited about their pictures because their hair is too curly, or their makeup isn't natural enough. Your hair and makeup artist wants you to feel beautiful and confident, and they wont be offended if you aren’t lovin what they have done. Don't be afraid to get what you want!
Truth be told, lighting is key in photography. I’m a natural light photographer with a background in fine art and journalism. I live for warm, soft, natural light; incorporating flash only during the reception, after the sun’s gone down. My goal is to capture a wedding’s warmth and documenting how it actually looked and felt. There are a few times where a little preparation can make for wayyyyyy more flattering photos. Since lighting is so often overlooked on the wedding day, I wanted to shine a light on this topic (hahaaaa… I’ll stop).
As a wedding photographer, I never want to dictate the timeline of the wedding day, but I’d love to share a few tips to help you plan for lighting at different times during your wedding that will make your photos POP.
Just a note: Don’t feel like you have to incorporate all or any of these tips into your wedding day to get great photos. Weddings are about love, family, and emotion. Great photojournalism is about capturing moments and the mood of the day. There are just too many variables for this to be the end-all guide in lighting and It’s in no way a rule-book. Great photographers will be able to take on tricky lighting with ease, and will often come up with really interesting compositions when faced with harsh light. However, any consideration for lighting will be more beneficial than not.
Getting ready images are a perfect way to start the narrative of your wedding day, it's a beautiful time to get those genuine pre-wedding shots. So many really great moments are happening and good lighting can help capture them in a more elegant way.
The best conditions for lighting would be a room with large windows and enough light coming in through the windows to light the room evenly with the overhead lights off. An ideal getting ready area would be a unique & pretty space with big windows and light walls for lots of reflective light.
This is why I recommend looking at renting out homes on AirBNB or getting ready at cozy bed and breakfast instead of stuffy hotel rooms (which unfortunately are usually full of no-smoking signs, sprinklers, and questionable chairs and carpet choices).
Lighting to avoid: anything with mixed light (example: a little bit of daylight + mostly orange tungsten bulbs, tungsten + fluorescent lights, daylight + florescent light, etc). It’s hard to see with the naked eye, but in photos, it can lead to odd skin colors.
A first look shoot is when you see your boo for the first time in more private setting before the walk down the isle. It doesn't have to be a big staged moment. It can be simple, genuine and intimate. I always recommend doing a first look for three reasons:
1. It calms the nerves. There is nothing that relaxes nervous hearts more than finally seeing each other and enjoying a few moments before the official events begin.
2. It gives you time to take it all in. You can share what you're feeling. You can hug, you can actually say all the things you can't say when you're at the front of the isle with everyone watching.
3. It makes the timeline easier to work with. If you can see each other before the ceremony, we can do all the family portraits and bridal party photos before too. Your family can go enjoy the cocktail hour right after the ceremony and we can get to the couples portraits right away. Which means you miss less of your cocktail hour too!
*If you've always dreamt of the walk down the isle as the first glimpse of each other then that's the way it will be ;) It's your day and these are just suggestions!
I recommend two portrait time slots for images of just you and your boo together: first looks - or if you're not into that, right after the ceremony for about 20 minutes. And a quick sunset session. Why sunset? because it's when we get the best light, at sunset we'll get great warm golden light. And right after the sun disappears we'll get some of the best moody light that I love to shoot in. If your timeline dose not account for this, don't worry, I'll figure out a way to get some great portraits in there. The most important thing to ensure we get great photos is trust. If you trust me to create the photos you'll love, I'll be able to do my thing, guide, & direct you. It's all about collaboration and trust!
Ceremonies out in nature are my favorite: the setting, the light, and the freedom for me to shoot from every vantage point. For outdoor ceremonies, light and sun are super important factors. Spotty sunlight and harsh uneven light is not ideal. So, if you're having your ceremony close to midday, try to always back-light yourselves. If you’re going to be in direct sunlight (no shade or just spotted/dappled light from a tree) try to avoid the hours between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Mid-day is not only the hottest time of the day, but it can also leave harsh shadows under eyes (making you appear to have dark circles under eyes) and noses (shadow mustaches! it happens). It also makes for more interesting landscape photos of the ceremony site if it’s a bit later in the day and the sun is a little lower, but not necessarily at sunset. In summer months, the ideal time would be about 2-3 hours before sunset.
Below you’ll see an example of a wedding that was facing into the sun, which caused everyone to have squinted eyes and those face shadows. If they had faced the wedding in the other direction facing away from the sun, the light would have been softer and they would actually be able to look at one another! If you need help with figuring out which way to face or position your ceremony, I’m happy to help! But an easy way to figure it is to have the sun always hit your back and never your face ;)
If you are having an LDS temple sealing, try to schedule your sealing later in the day if you can, the lighting is softer and better for pictures! Above, you can see what morning sealings look like vs afternoon sealings vs evening sealings. Light in the morning is harsh and casts those hard shadows, and light in the late afternoon is much softer and early evening light is ideal.
Try to plan for harsh daytime light (by always having the sun at your back) but if you’re worried about it being overcast on your wedding day, don’t! It’s just like a giant soft box in the sky aka PERFECT. Overcast light is light that you don’t have to worry about at all, it makes everyone look great and timing for portraits doesn’t have to be as crucial because it will be consistent for most of the day.
As you know, capturing the mood of your event is very important to me. This is why I don't use flash for anything other than party/dance floor time. There are so many variables here and lighting varies stylistically from person to person and venue to venue, but my vote is always natural looking, warm light. For a romantic mood market lights and candles are great, and if you use enough, they provide great light for photos. Just try and stay away from using only candles, or super dim lighting, which will make focusing trickier for me. If you're unsure about you setup just ask me and I'll help!
DJ Lights : While the colored/flashy lights that your DJ provides are awesome for party times, they can destroy the romantic mood of your first dance and other special dances. If you having colorful lights, I ask that they be turned off for special dances. But for party times lets go crazy with all the colors!
A FEW MORE THINGS…
Receiving lines // They can be very time consuming, especially for a medium/large wedding guest list. They can also get very exhausting and take away from the burst of excitement right after the ceremony. However, I do love the energy right after you walk down the isle, and your wedding party or family walks out and greets you, hugs you, kisses you, etc. So, having a few minuets there to laugh and love is great! I just recommend that it not become a 20-40 minute event. Of course, its up to you and I'll work around your schedule!