February 21, 2018
The Engagement Session (a.k.a. a Sweetheart Session) is one of my favorite parts of our time together because it gives you both a chance to be in front of my camera before you get married, which is going to make your wedding day experience feel so smooth, seamless and comfortable. Not only that, but we get to create something so special together. You’re going to be married for over fifty years, but you only get to be engaged for this short period of time. I’m so excited to capture the only time in your life when you get to be each other’s fiancés. These are just a few of my favorite tips that are in the guide I send to all of my couples before their Sweetheart sessions. It’s packed with all of my best secrets for getting the best out of your engagement experience, but here’s a little glimpse of what to expect!
DRESS IT UP
Have you thought about rocking a sequined gown, tulle skirt, or those killer heels, but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your engagement session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to add a new permanent piece to your collection, a lot of my brides love Rent the Runway for their engagement photos because you don’t have to spend a lot to feel like a million bucks. Plus, you can send the outfits back when the session is over. Other brides just love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!
SAY YES TO THE DRESS
Long, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the desert, forest, plains or beach. Cute, shorter-length dresses photograph beautifully as well. Dresses and skirts tend to look most stunning on camera because they really flatter the female body — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pantsuits! I recommend avoiding pants and shorts for your session and saying yes to a dress or two!
When choosing colors for your outfits, I love selecting lighter tones and more muted shades to really help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on the way you feel about each other. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments and especially complements the desert. I also love rich colors and soft prints, as something with a little pop always photographs well. I only recommend avoiding anything with stripes, a loud pattern, or anything that’s too bright, as we don’t want to distract from your beautiful faces! And if one of is wearing a pattern, it looks great when the other one is in a solid color.
COORDINATING THE LOOKS
As you’re coordinating your outfit with your fiance’s, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palettes coordinate, but don’t necessarily “match.” You should each aim to wear a different dominant color, but stay within a similar color palette family. So if you’re wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then he could wear a navy coat with gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square. Now he has his own dominant color (navy) while still incorporating a few touches of your color palette. Most of my brides choose their dress first and then put together their fiance’s outfit based on that. That’s why I have a section for each of you.
MAKE A STATEMENT
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not as noticeable on camera. Belts, bracelets, and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention. Fresh florals in a hairpiece or bouquet can be a really romantic touch as well.
GO PRO: HAIR & MAKEUP
Professional hair and makeup is on the top of most of my brides’ checklist because it looks amazing and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. From lash extensions to blown-out hair, professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. If you’re working with a makeup artist, have her apply your makeup in natural light, if possible, so that it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, that’s the type of light we’ll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Most of my brides feel like their makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than you would wear on a normal day, especially when it comes to false lashes, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry! Good makeup artists know how to get it just right for the camera — and my brides always love the final result.
AS LONG AS HE’S GOT THAT SUIT AND TIE
From James Bond to Don Draper, men look most striking in a well-tailored suit. If he doesn’t have one, now’s the perfect time to invest in something he’ll wear for the rest of his life! The best part? It’s a lot less expensive than you might think! While custom suits can cost thousands of dollars, some of the most well-known brands have off-the-rack suits in their stores for a fraction of the price. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye.
MIX IT UP
Many of my grooms love to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color. It adds some extra visual interest and can be more fun than wearing two full suits in a row. I’m a big fan of this fresh take on a timeless classic.
Next time you walk by a store like J. Crew, you’ll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust me when I say that it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring an extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests, and coats up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, he could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt and tie underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
HOW TO PREP YOUR MAN
Most men aren’t overly excited to take photos for an hour and a half because they don’t have an expectation of what’s to come and why it’s so important to you. Take fifteen minutes to educate and empower your guy. Tell him why you chose me and my style of photography. Show him your three favorite sessions that I’ve done, explain why you love them and express to him how much it means to you. Trust me, once he knows it’s important, he’ll light up the camera for you! The most common thing I hear from guys before engagement sessions is this: because of a bad experience in the past, they don’t like taking photos or don’t think they’ll be good at it. By the time we’re done, though, they can’t believe how fast it went and just how much fun they had!
THAT’S WHAT HE SAID
“I’m not the biggest fan of taking photos, but Tina made it really simple. During the session, Tina made everything fun and included me in conversation, which was cool because most photographers usually gravitate toward the female. I was very pleased with our photos and would recommend Tina to anyone.” – Ryan
“From the start Tina made me feel comfortable. As a guy who doesn’t love taking photos, the time spent with her never felt unnatural. It never felt like we were posing for photos, it felt like I was on a date with my girl.” – Chris
“Tina works quickly and efficiently, moving her clients from pose to pose so no one is doing the same thing for long. She also makes her clients comfortable by giving direct and explicit instructions which can help people who are normally uncomfortable feel like they know what to do.” – Kris
AFTER THE SESSION
Don’t forget to plan a dinner date! You’re already going to be all dressed up! Why not take advantage of it? I know the wedding planning process can feel all-consuming, so take some time after the session just for the two of you to relax and have some fun together. You deserve it!
ONE FINAL NOTE
At the end of the day, though, the location you choose and the outfits you select won’t matter nearly as much as the memories you make together. Your future marriage is the most important thing to me, and I want your engagement session to be a time for you to just be yourselves and enjoy it. Have fun together. Laugh a lot. And I’ll take care of the rest!
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Pure in Art Photography is a Wedding Photographer, Engagement Photographer, Boudoir Photographer, Portrait Photographer, and Destination Wedding Photographer based in Tucson, Arizona. Serving Arizona, including Tucson, Oro Valley, Marana, Vail, Green Valley, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Flagstaff, Sedona. Available for destination travels worldwide. Featured on The Knot, Wedding Wire, Best Tucson Weddings, and Tucson Bride & Groom. Graduate from The International Academy of Wedding Photographers.