I've heard a lot of opinions on doing engagement sessions, and they differ a great deal. For some couples it's a given that they'll have engagement photos taken, while others just can't see the point. I wanted to give some insight into the topic from a photographer's perspective. From my end, engagement sessions are absolutely wonderful - I cannot overstate how much I love shooting them. Of course, in part because I'm doing what I love and it's just so much fun, but also because it allows me to really get to know couples and see how they interact with each other and in front of a camera, which can help prepare me for their wedding. Of course, the benefits for me are just a tiny part of why I encourage all of my clients to do an engagement session! From a client standpoint, having an engagement photography session is a really smart idea for a ton of reasons, including these:
Getting used to being in front of the camera.
Many couples have never had professional photos taken together, and they might be a little (or a lot) uncomfortable with the idea of being in the spotlight. Engagement sessions are the perfect way to remedy this discomfort before the wedding. The sessions are laid-back and relaxed, and allow couples to take their time adjusting to having their picture taken. Not only do they get comfortable, they have fun! I've a had a lot of couples tell me at the end of their engagement session how nervous they'd been about being photographed, and how quickly they felt at ease and had a good time once we got started.
Getting to know your photographer.
The relaxed nature of engagement sessions also makes them the perfect way for us to get to know each other. The more I know about you, your story, and how you interact with each other, the more able I am to capture your personalities and emotions. The more you get to know me the more comfortable you'll feel getting your photo taken, and having me around on your wedding day.
Ideal weather + great locations + lots of time = Amazing photos.
Another huge reason to do an engagement session is simply for the photos! Unlike the wedding, engagement sessions can typically be rescheduled to wait for the perfect weather. It's hard to put in words just how much the right light can benefit a photograph, but it can really make a world of difference - just in case it rains on your wedding day (knock on wood!) it can be great to have these beautiful outdoor photos with ideal lighting. Plus, since there's no real time crunch, we have a lot of time to really take advantage of each location and try different things, and you end up with a great collection of photos! Usually about halfway through the session, we head to a new location and you have the opportunity to change outfits, adding to all the variety your photos will have.
To document an important time.
An engagement is a right of passage, the transition into married life. It's a time to really appreciate your significant other, to enjoy the life you've started together, and to plan and get excited for what the future holds for you. It's a time that you'll want to remember, and this is what a photograph does for you. It preserves a moment in time, allowing you to always look back at this point in your life.
Everything you can do with them.
Engagement photos give you some variety in the professional photos you'll have together as a couple aside from those in your wedding attire. You can frame prints for yourself, or give them as gifts so your parents can finally replace the senior portrait of you on their mantle. Share them on social media, use a shot of you alone for your LinkedIn or for your Facebook profile picture. Get crafty and use Mod Podge to make your prints into coasters. They can be especially practical to incorporate into save-the-dates or wedding invitations. A lot of people create a guest book album with their engagement photos to put out at their wedding, making the book a keepsake not only for it's messages from loved ones but also for the photographs it holds. The possibilities are endless!
I promise you'll have a good time at your engagement session. Basically, you're going on a date with the person you've chosen to spend the rest of your life with. You'll stop at several beautiful locations, walk hand in hand, hug and kiss, and take in the scenery. Bring a bike and go for a ride, or a blanket and wine and have a little picnic. Choose a place you love or that's meaningful to you, or have me suggest locations that I know you'll love. The only difference with this date is that I'll be tagging along getting to know you, and taking photos!
You still might feel like an engagement session is not for you, and that's fine! Some couples are just not into it, but it's good to be fully informed about the benefits before making your decision.