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. 

Sophia & Terrence: A Summer Engagement Session on the Toronto Islands

Sophia and Terrence met at camp when they were teenagers, and have carried on the most beautiful long distance relationship between two different countries ever since. You can’t help but fall in love with these two when you meet them in person and see them interact!  I met them at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminals at the Toronto Harbourfront to fit in an engagement session while Sophia was visiting in Toronto.  We hopped on the ferry together and spent the afternoon exploring the Toronto islands, sipping coffee, walking with the sand between our toes, and enjoying some ice cream before Sophia boarded her plane back to Chicago.

            I had so much fun shooting with these two, and they have way too much fun hanging out together.  I can’t wait to share more photographs from their winter wedding in downtown Toronto right before Christmas last year!

xo
-c

Annie & Colin's at Home Engagement in The Beaches

I met Annie and Colin for a sunrise engagement session at their home in my favourite neighbourhood of Toronto, the Beaches.  We settled down at their kitchen table to enjoy a cup of coffee together to wake up and start out shoot on the right foot.  I was immediately smitten with them both.  Their home is filled with music and instruments, displaying Colin’s profession, and decorated with all things retro, folky, and funny, true to Annie’s unique style.  They have a large painted portrait of The Dude over their fireplace, next to a piano, across from a mid century modern sofa, where they sat sipping a second cup of coffee from some of Annie’s antique mugs.  I adore these guys.

            As the sun rose higher we headed out the front door for a short walk to the beach where we strolled the shoreline together, skipped stones, and sat on the breakwater soaking up the early morning sun.  Sunrise engagement sessions are always the best start to the day, and getting to work with these two made it even better.  Looking at them you can just tell that they are one another’s person, they just fit, and I absolutely can’t wait to share photographs from their beautiful, musical wedding on the waterfront later this past summer. 

xo
-c

Best of 2018 Engagements

From Toronto, to Muskoka, to New York, to the Rocky Mountains, engagement sessions are one of my favorite experiences with CFP. With almost every couple I photographed this past season booking an engagement shoot, life was busier than ever, but I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend some real time with so many couples. Engagement sessions are a pillar of my business, creating the chance to get to know each couple I work with, learn who they are and what they value together, and create a relationship so that I can walk into each wedding day as more than just their wedding photographer. I got to spend time enjoying drinks and meals at their favorite restaurants, rolling on the floor with their furry family members, cruising the sparkling lake waters together in their boats, and exploring so many new and wonderful places.

It was a challenge pulling together some of my favorite engagement session photographs from 2018, but looking back through it all made me so freeking excited for all the engagement adventures ahead this year!

Samantha and Farhan’s Colourful, Magical, Engagement Session at U of T

I met Samantha & Farhan for their engagement shoot on the University of Toronto campus. As the sun was setting over the city we set out through the iconic stone buildings and arches, finding pockets of greenery and beautiful light to shoot in.  There’s magic that surrounds these two.  Real-life, Hollywood-love-story, magic.  To sum them up, when I asked them to strike up a little dance during their engagement session I was expecting to photograph an little bit of ‘embrace and sway’ type dancing, but they DANCED.  I’m talking breaking into a spontaneous ballroom dancing number with dips, spins, lifts, the whole nine yards.  Samantha’s elegant skirt swirled out around her, Farhan was the picture of chivalry with one hand on his lapel and sharp Fred Astaire style moves, and I had to stop taking photographs to pick my jaw up off the ground and stare.

            Needless to say, I was loathe to put down my camera and say goodbye by the time the sun went down. This shoot left me absolutely itching to photograph them again soon at their three day Indian wedding in the country!  I can’t wait to share photographs from their big event soon, but in the meantime take a scroll through, marvel at their amazing outfits, and join me in wishing that my own life also unfolded in perfect, on-command, musical-worthy moments like these two.

            Thanks for being so amazing and unique you guys! xo 

Beth & Alex: A Sunny Engagement Shoot at their Georgian Bay Island Cottage

We spent an afternoon enjoying the warm summer breeze at Beth and Alex’s private family cottage on an island in Honey Harbour.

I first met Beth and Alex after work at Rooster Coffee in downtown Toronto, and instantly knew I wanted to work with them as soon as we started chatting dogs and cottages.  They have a friendly, laid back, Canadian-cottager vibe that carried through to all aspects of their relaxed and fun-loving engagement and wedding.   Alex is an avid outdoorsman, and Beth nurtures a secret talent for woodworking, learned from her grandfather and honed during summers at the cottage.  I could talk camping trips for hours, and am instantly awed by anyone with creative talent, so I couldn’t wait to spend time with these two over the course of our working together!

They invited me up to their family cottage to take their engagement photographs, tucked away in the islands of Honey Harbour. On a hot and sunny summer day, I was picked up in a little tin fishing boat at the nearby marina to start the afternoon. We cruised through sparkling waterways, past classic Canadian shield islands dotting the waters of Georgian Bay to reach their cottage. The family home was perched on top of a rocky island, and came complete with a welcoming crew of family and dogs.  These two clearly come by their friendly, happy natures honestly, how could you not when coming home to the cottage means being greeted on the dock by dogs, beer, and cookies!

I always ask couples to incorporate activities they love or places that are important to them into the engagement session, and Beth and Alex knocked it out of the park planning this shoot!  We started off across the island, fishing rods and beer in hand, heading to their favourite watering hole overlooking Giants Tomb across the bay.  The fish weren’t biting, but their pup, Brodie was happily occupied swimming after each cast, trying to catch the bait himself.  They enjoyed beers on the rocks, toes splashing in the warm water, took the tin boat out for a cruise, and finished by hiking through the island to a small wooden platform in the woods, furnished with Muskoka chairs, with a view over the bay.  This is where Alex proposed to Beth, surrounded by tea lights in wooden candle holders she had made that summer, smelling like pine trees, and with a view over the most meaningful place in the world to them. It’s so much fun to visit the spot where a couple got engaged and spend some time reminiscing together!

We had the best time taking their engagement photographs together, and I can’t wait to show you details from their relaxed and heartfelt wedding I photographed in Toronto this summer!l

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Erica & Simon's Country Engagement Session

Erica and Simon hosted me at their property just outside of Toronto for their engagement session.  I knew we would get along well right away when they told me that they would like to include their big beautiful dog in the photographs.  We spent the afternoon lounging in their terracotta tiled sunroom that Erica has filled with plants, and walking the many trails and fields they explore together on long dog walks and hikes.  It was the most simple at-home engagement session, and so much fun to capture with such a wonderful and welcoming couple.  Engagement sessions get me so excited for the real wedding coming up soon!

Best Of Engagements 2017

Following last week's 'Best of Weddings 2017' post, I decided to put together a collection of my favorite engagement photographs from 2017.  Once again, I selected my single favorite photograph from every engagement session I photographed the past year. 

I typically choose photographs that have a backstory I love.  The moments that are spontaneous, that tell a story of who the couple really is, how they relax together, laugh together, and love each other.  Without having had the chance to get to know all these wonderful people the way I have, it might be difficult to understand some of these images, overall though you'll see laughter.  That's my favorite thing to photograph, and I will always strive to get couples laughing together throughout their engagement session. 

As always it was difficult to choose my favorites here, I hope you enjoy some of them though, and maybe pull out some inspiration for your own engagement session. :)

Thanks for looking!
xo
-c

Vivian & Curtis's Downtown Toronto Engagement

One of the foundations of what I do is getting to know my couples as well as possible in the time leading up to their wedding.  As such, I always include an engagement session in my wedding photography packages, and encourage couples to plan an engagement session with me that really feels like 'them'.  Instead of what you typically envision when you think of engagement photos, I try to treat these shoots like mini wedding day practice sessions, slash a massive couple/photographer hangout time, and do my utmost to keep it all as relaxed and 'un-posed' as possible.  This makes my job much easier when I show up for a wedding day and already know who I'm photographing, and I get to have a wonderful time getting to hangout and photograph so many unique and interesting couples!

Vivian and Curtis are getting married later this summer and I absolutely can't wait to see what they're creating for their wedding after photographing this awesome and unique engagement session with them.  They really took it to heart when I suggested picking several locations around the city that resonated with them as a couple, and we ended up moving around three locations in the east end of Toronto, Odin Coffee, Wonder Pens, and Cherry Beach.  I always love starting at coffee shops or cafes where we can sit down for a drink, chat, and take a few photographs on the side to get everyone relaxed and feeling comfortable.  From there we headed down to their favorite pen store they visit whenever they're in the area, and got to learn more about Vivian's love for calligraphy and her budding creative business.  Finally, we finished by taking our shoes off and strolling along Cherry Beach, taking photographs, and talking more, because who doesn't love being barefoot by the water on a warm summer day? 

Take a look through some of their photographs below, and don't hesitate to get in touch about brainstorming the best engagement session activities and locations for you.  Whether that's making dinner at home, walking your dog in the park, or mountain climbing, I'm always up for any kind of adventure and am already looking forward to getting to know you!

xo
-c

Anthea & Andrew's London Diner Engagement Session

Anthea and Andrew took me for a tour of their early relationship for our engagement session together.  I traveled to London to meet them and visit their university stomping grounds, the old classic diner where they spent many late nights and early mornings together, and even the room where they first met when Anthea asked him to take a picture for her.  It was so special getting explore these nostalgic places together, and so much fun getting to photograph these two as they reminisced, giggled over old inside jokes, and marveled at where life takes you.  Enjoy.

Engagement Session at The Beaches

Meredith and Oliver came into the city to meet me for their engagement session in Riverdale and the Beaches.  We had so much fun exploring and shooting together, I walked away head over heels in love with this couple, and absolutely can't wait to photograph their wedding this upcoming summer!  Highlight: every time he told her she was beautiful, he would follow it up with something like 'and smart' or 'and you make me laugh', Meredith, well done ;).