Your engagement session is intended to create a snapshot of you, to depict who you are at this point in your lives together. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly who you are sometimes though, and even more difficult to figure out how to translate that into a photograph; that’s where your photographer comes in! Often times thinking about ‘engagement photography’ calls to mind images of couples dressed cutely and wandering through the park together hand in hand. While these photographs are often beautiful, light, and fun, if the idea of having your photo taken in the park with your partner makes you anything less than excited (read, strikes fear into your heart and creates instant ‘t-trex arms’ in front of the camera), please remember that your engagement session can be absolutely unique and different! I’ve put together a list of questions to ask yourselves that can help plan a kick-ass engagement session that feels right for you. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to create an engagement session from your answers by the end, feel free to send them over to me and I will help create a series of activities, locations, and styling that will leave you saying ‘damn, that is so US.’
What is one of your fondest memories of an activity you had fun doing together?
In the age of Netflix, it’s common to be met with blank stares when I ask what couples enjoy doing together. That’s completely okay! Everybody loves curling up on the couch and watching a good (or bad) series together, but your fun engagement session activity doesn’t have to be something you do all the time together, just something that you enjoy when you get the chance to do it. While real life often gets in the way of spending days at the beach together, or going to your favourite hiking spot, that doesn’t mean we can’t do this for your engagement session! I’ve done everything from photograph couples going fly fishing together, to making a beloved family member’s best sticky bun recipe in the kitchen, to visiting the stationary store that is their guilty pleasure when they want to treat themselves. Of course these activities don’t happen every day, but they were something that my couples felt really defined some of the most important time they spent together.
If you could plan your dream date day, what would you do?
I always try to emphasize that an engagement session shouldn’t just be squeezed in after work one day. It’s as much about the experience as the photographs, so it’s way more fun if you really take the time to get into the right mindset together to have fun, feel romantic, and really enjoy the opportunity to spend some time doing something you love together! Whether we’re going out to photograph you cruising your favourite wine bars in downtown Toronto, or taking photographs of lazy late summer afternoons at the cottage together, try to use it as an opportunity to plan a real date together (with me third wheeling of course). Get into the romance of a date, the fun of getting dolled up to go out, or escaping the world together to enjoy drinks and snacks outside at the cottage all afternoon, this will help us create photographs look and feel so much more real. We’ve planned shoots where we hop from microbrewery to microbrewery together, or get ice cream down the street and stroll the boardwalk at the beaches. Everybody has a different favourite date, and I love getting to photograph these!
When you look back at this time in your lives together, what do you want to remember?
Maybe you’re proud of the first home you’ve created together, or want photographs of your sweet pup you share and treated like your child all through your 20’s. Maybe you’ll look back fondly on evenings spent making new meals in the kitchen together, or blasting your record collection while you’re getting ready to go out for dinner together on Saturday nights. Whatever it is, if it has meaning to you, we’ll be able to turn it into a great photo shoot. Along this theme I’ve photographed couples dancing around and making a beautiful meal of homemade pasta from scratch together, riding their tandem bicycle to their favourite coffee shop, or simply taking their pup for a long walk through the dog park and then snuggling on the couch with a second cup of coffee in the morning. Think about the little things you do together that don’t necessarily feel like anything special right now, but will be a defining feature of your young lives together one day in the future.
A few other questions to ask yourselves to get those creative ideas flowing:
- Would you rather be indoors or outdoors? (we can do both!)
- How much time do you have to devote to your shoot, do you want to stay local or travel somewhere a bit farther away?
- What hobbies or activities have you started doing since you met your partner?
- What kinds of things have you taught one another or introduced each other to?
- Is there anything meaningful about your first date or days together that you would like to throw back to? (a location like your university, or a season like all the winter ski weekends you went on)
- Is there a space you love spending time together? Whether this is your parent’s living room, your family cottage, or that air B&B you rented for your first weekend away together, special places are great to photograph!
- What sort of activities or details can you include to make it more ‘you’? For example, instead of saying ‘we love cooking together’, say ‘we love cooking together. On Sundays we go to the market for fresh coffee and ingredients , then my partner makes a mean homemade pasta with pesto, while I play with the dog on the floor and bring him herbs from our balcony garden’. Instead of saying ‘we like spending time outside’, say ‘we like spending time outside, and recently rented a plot of land in the local community garden where we’re learning to grow tomatoes, lettuce, flowers, and whole tonne of weeds!’
- What can you tell your photographer about yourselves BEFORE your engagement session? I often learn so much about a couple while we’re taking engagement photographs that I wish I had known before! Don’t feel weird about sending me whole paragraphs about who you are together, or a list of point form notes of all the activities you’ve done together before getting engaged and devoting all your free time to wedding planning.
Finally, always remember that nothing is too ‘weird’ or too ‘boring’ for your engagement photographs. I want to design a shoot where you will feel comfortable, enjoy yourselves, and will look back on fondly for years to come. Also, if you’re still feeling stuck for ideas, locations, or style tips, checkout some of my other engagement session blog posts, or shoot me a phone call or email to talk it out together and plan the perfect shoot!