Engagement Session Styling Tips

It can be hard to settle on a style for your engagement photographs.  It’s a chance to say so much about yourselves, and can quickly get overwhelming, especially if you start looking through lots of other engagement photographs!  I’ve put together a small list of tips, tricks, questions to ask yourself, and things to avoid when planning your engagement session outfits.

How can your outfit compliment the location you’ve chosen?

Think about your outfits in relation to the location you’ve chosen for your engagement photographs.  This will quickly help pare down your options.  If we’re going hiking, maybe put those summer dresses back in the closet, if we’re at the cottage then suddenly a bathing suit sequence could be part of the shoot, and if we’re going out to your favourite wine bar for a night on the town, consider opting for something a bit more dressy than your daily jeans and white T-shirt combo.  

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 Dress like yourselves

Don’t try to put on a persona for your engagement photographs.  This is an opportunity to document who you are in your lives together at this point in time.  If you’re feeling cool and want to ride your motorcycle around the neighborhood for your shoot, let’s do that in your favorite worn in leather jackets.   If you’re outdoorsy and live in your Patagonia half zip, then let’s go hiking in Tobermory and wear those fleece tops!  If you love hats, wear a hat, if you never put on dresses then why squeeze into one for your shoot? Above all, you want to look back on these photographs, sigh contentedly, and say ‘hot dam those photos are so US’.

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 Be comfortable

I always say ‘don’t be fidgety and don’t be freezing’.  This is pretty self explanatory, if you don’t feel comfortable in your clothing, you won’t look comfortable in your photographs!  If we’re taking winter engagement photographs, steer clear of shorts and summer rompers, wear your favorite cashmere turtleneck and camel coat instead.  If you really want to wear that new top you just bought, but feel like you have to keep tucking your boobs back in, maybe save it for a night out and not your engagement photographs.  If you have to keep worrying and fidgeting with your outfit you will have a hard time getting into the flow and relaxed movement of an engagement session.

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Lean towards lighter colours

If you’ve chosen me to be your photographer because you like the light and bright style of my photographs, then style your engagement session to play this up.  Choose clothing that is lighter coloured, and more pastel in hue.  If you’re deciding between black jeans or light wash, go for the light wash.  If you’re deciding between your fave LBD or and organic flowing linen number you love, go for the linen.  My work is very organic, soft, and light coloured, and if you love this we should make sure to style your engagement session appropriately.  The exception to this is of course if you prefer wearing dark colours, anything works to photograph in the right environment! 

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 Book your hair and makeup trial

Sometimes people book their hair and makeup trial for the same date as their engagement photographs.  This is a great idea IF the hair and makeup style you choose compliments your outfit and activity (glam buns and lashes out to there will look out of place at the park with your dog).  If you’re booking your hair and makeup trial just to get to know your stylist more, then opt for a look that will compliment your engagement photographs instead of serving as practice for your wedding day.

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Things to avoid

While I never want to tell people what not to do (there are always exceptions to every rule!) here are a few things I’ve found are usually best to avoid when styling your engagement session outfits.  We want to actually be able to see your face in your engagement photographs, so avoid covering up with something like a ball cap.  Hats are okay, and can play perfectly into your style, just make sure we’ll be able to see you easily and without too much dark shadow over your eyes.  Avoid neon colours.  Again, this might play up your style, in which case go wild, however I generally find that really bright and neon colours reflect light up onto your face and create strange skin tones that are difficult to normalize.  If you don’t absolutely love it, steer clear of that pylon orange t-shirt.  Finally, I recommend avoiding extremely large and graphic logos.  They look distracting in portrait photography, and could say something or represent a brand that you’re not going to love so much years from now.  Unless you’re high up on the Levi’s food chain and want to rep that company, maybe opt for the simple white T instead. 

Katrin, Michael, Muskoka Docks, & Dogs

I met Katrin and Michael for the first time at their family cottage in Muskoka, shortly after they moved back to Canada.  I was welcomed to the cottage by Michael’s family and two lovely dogs, both vying for all the love and attention throughout the whole shoot.  I love when people include their dogs in their engagement sessions, and always find that it helps people feel so much more comfortable infront of the camera as soon as they have a sweet pup to play with and focus on!  These two were so sweet, and hardly left us with a moment alone as we explored around the property, walking their favourite forest hikes together, and soaking up the late afternoon sun on the dock.  I was hard pressed to find photographs in the mix that didn’t have these two sweet pups hanging out around their feet, but you won’t find me complaining!

Aside from the pups, these two were so sweet and welcoming to me, and I absolutely cannot wait to photograph their wedding later this winter at Canoe in downtown Toronto!

Xo
-c

A Dockside Engagement in Muskoka

Can we take a moment to talk about how fantastic it is getting to photograph weddings and engagements in Muskoka?!  There’s something so lovely and intimate about being invited to my couples’ cottages, and getting to document them spending time in a place where they love hanging out together.  It always makes for the most fun, relaxed, and outdoorsy engagement shoots, and I jump at any opportunity to photograph couples in cottage country!

I met Jenny and Nate on a warm, sunny summer day in July, and in classic Canadian cottager style, they were immediately warm and welcoming as soon as I rolled up.  They introduced me to some family, then we grabbed a few drinks and headed up to the top of the boathouse to relax and chat for a while before starting our session. 

We spent the next few hours relaxing, photographing, and spending time doing all the things they love to do together during a weekend at the cottage.  We enjoyed beers on the boathouse roof, took Nate’s fishing boat out for a spin around the lake, basked in the gorgeous sunset light falling across the water, and finished by taking a jump off the boat house roof and swimming in the lake as the sun sank below the horizon.

I wish I could always convince couples to go for a swim during their engagement session, and I’m already so stoked for the next round of cottage photographs to begin again next summer!

Xo
-c