Engagement shoots are the marmite of the wedding photography world.
There’s no way around it, engagement shoots are embarrassing! They just are. Very few of my couples are comfortable in front of the camera, hence why they’ve chosen a documentary style photographer.
Having done my own engagement shoot quite some time ago, I remember how awkward and unnatural it felt to pose for the camera. Your body stiffens, your arms hang uselessly around your waist and out comes that awkward fake smile.
Unless you’re a super model, being in front of a camera for an hour is quite a daunting task. But this is your wedding and you should do something special. You’ve done the research and you’re pretty sure an engagement shoot is a good idea…
So should you do it? Will it be worth it? Keep reading for some reason for and agianst.
IT’S GOOD PRACTICE FOR THE WEDDING
Hmm maybe? Your wedding day is a juggling act, scheduling every moment, not a minute to spare and for someone who’s camera shy, allocating an hour for couples photos seems a little over the top.
Every wedding photographer will have a different approach. Some will put heavy focus on the portrait shoot, so if you know you’re having an hour or so for photos, an engagement shoot will be good practise. However, I find the majority of couples I work with prefer to prioritise the candid, documentary style shots over the couples photo session, and tend to allocate a smaller duration of about 10-15 minutes.
On top of that and maybe more important, an engagement shoot can’t prepare you for how you’re going to feel on your wedding day. Your blood is pumping, everyone is taking your photo, you are the centre of attention. I can’t think of a time when you would care any less that your photographer is going to take some photos of you both. It’s a completely different experience to an hour long engagement shoot, just the three of you walking around a park or a city street. So yes it can be good practise, but I feel it’s not as needed as other photographers might say.
THE CLIENT-PHOTOGRAPHER RELATIONSHIP
Pre pandemic I would always meet with potential couples over a coffee or a beer. We’d discuss their plans for the day and get to know each other a little better. Over the last year, phone and video calls became the only way to ‘meet’ your clients and whilst we’re back to normal (sort of), the majority of people are still booking without a face to face meeting.
So an engagement shoot can also be an opportunity to get to know your photographer. You can talk through your day, ask them questions, get recommendations and generally use them as font of knowledge for all things wedding related. You’ll also get used to their style and better understand how they work, which in turn will help you stay calm and relaxed on the day.
MAKE IT YOURS
If you’re undecided about an engagement shoot because you don’t fancy an hour kissing your partner in a dreamy meadow, just remember an engagement shoot is essentially you buying an hour of time from your photographer. What you choose to do in that time is entirely up to you.
Maybe you want some photos at a cocktail making class, or you could go bowling in fancy dress, plant flowers at your allotment, or just stay home and play twister? Whatever it is, don’t waste it on something you think it should be, make it something completely for you.