How to tell your story with your engagement shoot

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The engagement shoot is becoming an essential part of the wedding photographer’s offering, and I think for good reason. As I’ve written about before, it provides an excellent opportunity to get to know your client – and for the client to get to know you – without the stress of the actual wedding day. On a recent shoot this past weekend, it also occurred to me it can be a fun and rewarding way for a couple to “relive” their romance and share their unique love story in pictures.

I normally do engagement shoots outdoors in locations selected by the bride-to-be (as 99% of these shoots are booked by brides-to-be). I suggest we use a location that has some meaning to the couple and that affords us a few areas we can wander around in and through, for those spontaneous serendipitous images that arise when you are looking to find them. An outdoor shoot can happen at any time, but the nice warm light of sunrise or sunset adds a special quality to the images that I often suggest we try to work with.

Sunrise and sunset create lighting effects much revered by photographers and these hours are often when the most interesting types of images can be found. Because they are time dependent, and fleeting, there is a kind of urgency in capturing them and a rush of excitement when done well. In this case, we met at 6:30, just a little before sunrise and were already warmed up by the time the sun made its way through the thin cloud cover rising up over Lac St. Louis.3P5A0352 - Version 2

Working with people you’ve never met before, early in the morning, is not for everyone, but it is par for the course as a wedding photographer. Part of what I enjoy and find so useful with engagement shoots is the chance to get to know a couple a little bit well before their wedding day. Or in this case, a chance to get to know them and their two dogs, Lucy and Roland who were for the most part extremely well-behaved and a fun addition to the regular challenge of taking candidly posed shots of people early in the morning.

3P5A0413 - Version 2My client had selected the site for the shoot and she did and excellent job as it provided a good mix of backgrounds, as well as a gazebo
where the couple could do a little ballroom dancing (recreating the story of how and where they met). I actually thought it was quite romantic to see them dancing to a music only the two of them could hear, the sun rising up behind them, with their two little friends waiting patiently at the edge of the dancefloor.

3P5A0517 - Version 2A few other key elements that were important to my client and meaningful in terms of their relationship were the hubby-to-be’s motorcycle (they are wonderful travellers), and their two dogs so we made sure to incorporate these into the shoot.

As it turns out, he’s a Maritimer so I wanted to also include a shot or two with water in the scene to reference his East Coast origins.

If you are planning your wedding and thinking about doing an engagement shoot, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Use the shoot as a way of telling your love story in images
  • Choose a location (or locations) that are meaningful to you, or have some elements of something meaningful to you (water, woods, etc)
  • Bring along your pets if they’re a part of who you are as a couple!
  • And for the grooms-to-be out there: be a good sport! It’s just the first of many times you will have to smile in support of something you may not feel 100% like doing 😉

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