Patrick and I photographed our first wedding in 2011, for a friend of ours. We had no idea what we were doing. We even asked them, "are you sure?!" Trying to give them a way out, even though we were honored and thrilled nonetheless.
We had attended and been guests to a few weddings in our lifetime and honestly, I don't even remember watching a photographer previously but in that moment of being asked to photography one, I wish I had. Patrick and I were dating at the time. I didn't know if I would be doing this solo, I didn't even know if I was going to like photographing weddings.
Honestly, the only things we had going for us at the time was a well built international portfolio, some family shoots, and great cameras. Let me tell you, we had 3 photographers at this wedding to make sure we did it right.
I didn't know anything about timelines, first looks, or Adobe Lightroom (I'm pretty sure it didn't exist then...I don't even know what program I used in 2011, I think Adobe Photoshop). There was no Pinterest or Instagram. The trend of a "first look" wasn't even on my brain. I "made" a timeline but really to keep myself sane.
I knew we needed to do an engagement session when we booked our first wedding client. At the time I was teaching at a private school in Baltimore full- time and decide it would be a good place to do their engagement session.
Our first engagement session taught us a lot and this is why we promote them and encourage our couples to do so. Now that we've done so many, we cater the e-session to personality, and their story.
Here's our feelings and reasons behind why we LOVE engagement sessions.
1. "Get them behind the camera." Seeing our couples prior to the wedding day allows us as photographers to see how our couples interact. The couples get comfortable with us and with each other. We see height, size, comfort and PDA (public displays of affection) levels. All of these things matter.
2. "Get comfortable kissing." Not every couple feels comfortable kissing in front of people, especially cameras. For some it feels very invasive and for others just feel weird. From our experience, those that do engagement sessions with us "warm up" in the first 5-10 minutes of the session and we have them laughing and coming to the realization, this isn't so bad. And when they kiss, it's totally natural. We don't make any of our couples kiss, but it's sure cute when they do. You definitely kiss on your wedding day, so this is a test drive with us.
3. "Deep and wide". Pinterest makes everyone feel thin, short, tall, beautiful, better, and empowered. The reality is that every couple is different and not all pictures are obtainable for every couple. Some guys are taller than their bride, some girls are bigger or smaller, taller or shorter than they want to be. I tell our brides and potential clients all the time that you can edit and remove exit signs, blemishes, but you cannot alter and change the emotion of a bride and groom on their wedding day. So to us, the engagement session is more time behind the lens. For our wedding clients, we learn what angles, shots, length of aperture, etc for what they like, don't like, and love. We aren't vogue magazine and that's not why folks hiring us. In asking our past and current couples, we've learned that the two main reasons folks hire us... our personality and ability to make them feel amazing, and our skill. That's for both engagements and weddings.
4. Lastly, we love engagement sessions for folks who plan to send out Save the Date stationery. We have many of clients that use their engagement pictures as images for their Save the Date magnets, postcards, etc. We LOVE seeing these in the mail. Couples also use these images in their homes, their social media, and at their wedding. If possible we try to "month swap" their engagement pictures. We encourage a spring shoot if getting married in the fall. A summer shot if getting married in the winter. This allows for a great variety of pictures, and you won't get bored when you have both sessions in the same season hanging on your wall at home.
At the end of the day, if you're considering doing an engagement session, we obviously recommend and suggest them. We are fans of you. We hope you'll be a fan of doing engagement sessions with us!