Engagement Session Details
Don’t be afraid to dress up
Make sure you and your fiance wear complimentary colors
One or two looks for each of you
Flatter your features - you know your best angles
Go pro for hair & makeup (make your appointments now!)
Hydrate, and get some sleep!
Plan a date night afterwards to go out on the town!
I am so excited for your engagement session! I’ve created this guide to help you get the most out of your photos, and after you’ve read through this, you should have all your questions answered and feel more than ready and prepared for your session! Keep in mind that this is written to help inspire you, but these are not hard and fast rules. Every he, she, and them will have a different style, so wear whatever is going to make you proud to look back on in 30 years. And relax. I’ll take care of the rest! Your only job is to be yourself, laugh a lot and let me create photos you’ll love forever. I can’t wait to get you in front of my camera!
We will photograph using natural light as it makes for some stunning photographs! Portrait sessions should begin roughly two hours before the scheduled sunset during “golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. I use a sunset calculator for this, based on location of the shoot and time of year, and we’ll schedule accordingly, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your portrait session date, especially if you’re taking off work or have evening plans afterward. To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early to your session and be ready to start on time. Your photos will look best with natural light still in the sky, so we’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your favorite one for the second half, and if you’re wearing one, arrive in that.
SELECTING THE RIGHT LOCATION
The location of your engagement session is up to you! For most sessions, outdoor environments are always the first choice. I love shooting in wide-open natural spaces, but cityscapes can also create interesting scenes, light, shadows, and texture to your images. It is best if your engagement session location is meaningful to you, which may be the area where you met, where you live, your favorite park, etc. I can offer suggestions for some great spots throughout your area, but you might want to…
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
This is the time to think outside the box! I encourage you to brainstorm unique locations that you might have special access to that most people don’t. For example, maybe you, or someone in your personal or professional network, can secure permission to a location that would otherwise be off-limits, like a beautiful private estate, country club, resort, or even off-hours at your favorite restaurant or bar’s outdoor space or garden. Maybe it’s a family’s cabin, upscale hotel, or even an airplane hangar. The sky is literally the limit! Spend a few minutes thinking about it and checking around. You’ll be surprised with what you come up with. Plus, if something seems out of reach, just remember: you never know until you ask!
STYLING YOUR SESSION
Want your engagement images to look more editorial? Bring a little extra something with you! A freshly-picked bouquet or some meaningful object or piece of jewelry that helps tell your story can be really lovely. Whether it’s larger items like classic cars, or smaller ones like blankets or hats, even incorporating just one extra styled item, could be a fun way to make your session more unique.
GO PRO For HAIR & MAKEUP
This totally depends on the look you’re going for and what your usual hair & makeup situation might be, but I encourage you to go professional for hair and makeup if you can. It’s usually on the top of most checklists because it looks amazing and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. Whether it’s booking an appointment at DryBar, your barber, or getting someone at Sephora to touch you up, pro hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. This is also the perfect opportunity to have your trial with YOUR own makeup artist for the big day. Have them apply your makeup in natural light, if possible, so that it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, that’s the type of light we’ll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Some may feel like their makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than you would wear on a normal day, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry! Good makeup artists know how to get it just right for the camera — and you’ll always love the final result. If that’s not going to work well for you or isn’t in your budget, or hell, you’re not even planning on wearing makeup for the big day, then my only advice is to shower and hydrate! Your body and skin
SKIP THE SPRAY TAN
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.
SHOW OFF THE RING (and your nails!)
I will always try to get a shot of the ring on its own and on your hand during your engagement session. Your ring will be center stage, so give yourself permission to get it cleaned and your nails done, too! They don’t need colored polish, but a fresh clean up will look great! To make your ring really sparkle in photos, have it professionally cleaned by your jeweler (they will clean it for free!) or use appropriate jewelry cleaner before your session.
A GOOD SUIT
A well-tailored suit can be striking and polished and now’s the perfect time to invest in something you’ll wear for the rest of your life! The best part? It’s a lot less expensive than you might think! While custom suits can cost thousands of dollars, some of the most well-known brands have off-the-rack suits in their stores for a fraction of the price. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye.
Next time you walk by a storefront, you’ll notice most mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust me when I say that it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, sweaters, vests and coats up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, you could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt (and maybe a tie) underneath or a flowy scarf. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
Long pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated masculine looks. They draw attention away from the legs and feet and place it where you want it: on the face you fell in love with. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home, too. Suit pants, dress pants or colored pants work best. Brown leather dress shoes complement almost every look, whether you’re wearing a full suit or a blazer and colored pants. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp complements to any suit. If you bring two suits to the session, you can start with a traditional necktie and belt, then switch to suspenders and a bow tie for your second look. If two suits are too stressful, no problem! One look will do the trick! You can still mix and match accessories to complement your partner without doing a full change during the session.
After the shoot
Plan a nice night out! You’ll already be all dressed up and you’ll have just made some awesome memories of a fun time together. It’s worth celebrating every minute of this time of your life!
DON’T BE AFRAID TO DRESS UP
Have you thought about rocking a romantic gown, a tulle skirt, your new custom suit, or your red leather jacket, but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your engagement session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! Dresses and skirts, or even long open coats and cardigans add gorgeous movement to your images and photograph really well. However, if you’re in for a more dramatic or moody look, then by all means go for it.
ONE OR TWO LOOKS
Most couples will choose two outfits will bring one “wow” outfit, and then another more casual one for the “us on a date” feel. You don’t have to bring two looks if it’s too stressful or you’d rather just stick to one fabulous look. One outfit that you love will be so much better than one outfit you love and another you’re not very excited about. So, one or two? It’s really up to you!
When choosing colors for your outfits, we recommend selecting lighter tones and more muted shades or mid-tones for anything close to the face (shirts and scarves). By avoiding ultra-bright colors, it will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on the way you feel about each other. The camera loves shades of soft earthy tones, mixed with sophisticated neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather, deep browns, and white. However, you can’t go wrong with a dramatic red dress or a leather jacket and if that fits your style!
COORDINATING THE LOOKS
As you’re coordinating your outfit with your fiance’s, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palettes coordinate, but don’t necessarily “match.” You should each aim to wear a different dominant color, but stay within a similar color palette family. A nice rule of thumb is to have some accent color of your present in your partner’s outfit to tie things together.
FLATTERING YOUR FEATURES
Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos. Three-quarter length sleeves or long sleeves cuffed create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Heels elongate legs and closed-toed heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show.
MAKE A STATEMENT
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not be as noticeable on camera. Belts, bracelets and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention. Fresh florals in a crown or bouquet can be a really romantic touch as well.
HOW TO PREP
Most people aren’t overly excited to take photos for one to two hours, because they don’t have an expectation of what’s to come and why it’s so important. Take fifteen minutes to educate and empower yourself and your partner. Read through this together. You might be more excited than your partner, so to get them on board, think about why you chose me and my style of photography. Show them some of your favorite images, explain to your partner why you love them and express to them how much it means to you. Trust me, once your partner knows it’s important, they’ll light up the camera for you! The most common thing I hear from folks before photo sessions is this: because of a bad experience in the past, they don’t like taking photos or don’t think they’ll be good at it. By the time I’m done, though, they can’t believe how fast it went and just how much fun they had!
Rest And Hydrate
Your body and skin will thank you!
Engagement SessioN Checklist
Set date, time and location with Alena
Review guide for style tips
Schedule hair and makeup appointments
Choose your outfits
Get your nails cleaned up or polished
Clean your ring
Pick a fun post-session date night spot
Pack a bag with:
Flats for walking between photo spots
(Optional) Outfit two (including shoes and accessories)
Coat or cover-up (for colder sessions)