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Five reasons to have an engagement session

If you are getting married and looking to hire a photographer to document this important day, consider booking an engagement session as well. While it is not mandatory by any means, I highly recommend it. Engagement sessions are not just about getting some pretty pictures of you and your fiancé, there are several more benefits than that. Below you will find five compelling reasons why you should have an engagement session prior to your wedding… including pretty pictures!

1. Get comfortable in front of the camera

The biggest reason that I suggest couples schedule and engagement session is to get comfortable in front of the camera. While individuals may have done senior portraits or headshots for their job in the past, most couples have not done a professional session with their significant other. On top of that, a high percentage of couples will profess that one or both of them are uncomfortable in front of the camera or they believe they do not photograph well. I assure you that the latter is not true, but even if it were and you were uncomfortable being photographed, why wouldn’t you want a test run before the most photographed day of your lives? You’ll likely do a food tasting, a trial for hair and makeup, as well as a dress fitting… an engagement session can be thought of as a no-pressure test run for your wedding day portraits. It’s an opportunity to learn what it’s like to be photographed as a couple, to work through nerves and self-doubt, and get some practice before the big day.

2. Learn what posing you like and don’t like

Almost every couple that I photograph tells me that they do not want to be posed. They want images that are “natural” and “candid.”. I want this too, but I assure you that 99% of those “natural” images came with some direction. Being photographed is not natural or spontaneous. Sure, photographing real moments, as they happen, does not require posing, but we’re talking portraits here.

As a photographer, it’s my job to get you feeling comfortable and looking your best. For some people this is easy. For most it is not. We have all seen the romantic wedding portrait with the guy’s hands in his pocket. That’s not natural in a romantic moment, but it may feel like the most natural thing at that contrived moment when they don’t know what to do with their hands! Engagement sessions let is practice different poses and queues that get you looking and FEELING natural.

Additionally, couples have a tendency to always do the same things when being photographed. Look back at vacation or holiday pictures… there’s a good chance they look mostly the same except with different backgrounds and clothes on. It’s my job to help you mix it up — go for a walk, snuggle, switch sides, among so many other things. I want to provide you a variety of poses and options. In doing so, I learn how you interact and “pose” best, and you find out how you feel best in those images when you receive them. I have no false expectation that you will love 100% of the photos that you receive, and through an engagement session I can get direct feedback from you prior to the big day so that we don’t waste time doing things you know you dislike.

3. Save the date imagery

One of the reasons couples want to have an engagement session is for their wedding collateral… save the date cards, wedding website, etc. This is a great way to get some current imagery, including images that fit with your design aesthetic. Need something that you can place type over? Sure thing. Want images from the area you will be getting married, or around where you live? The engagement session is a great way to get fresh images to use in the year or so leading up to your big day. You’ll be surprised how many places they will get used!

4. Meet your photographer and vice versa

A big advantage of scheduling an engagement session is to get face time with your wedding photographer. Presumably we have already met, either in person or via Zoom, but the engagement session is an opportunity to really spend a little time together. I find this to be very beneficial, as I am the one vendor who will be with you or within close proximity to you for much of the wedding. I have found that portions of the day such as getting ready, family portraits and couple’s portraits go more smoothly — or at least comfortably — when I have met my clients prior to walking into their hotel room. Certainly, without an engagement session we would have interacted and developed report, but the time spent wandering around, chatting, and creating images for you creates a shared experience that carries over to the wedding day. Selfishly, I have found in almost all instances that my clients who have taken part in an engagement session are more excited about their wedding day photography than those who did not.

5. Engagement sessions are fun!

Finally, engagement sessions are just fun! They are an opportunity to (maybe) dress up, to visit somewhere important to you as a couple, and spend some time solely focused on you. Sure, many couples are nervous going into their session, but without doubt they walk away saying, “that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” or “that was a lot of fun!” I try to schedule engagement sessions somewhere that is meaningful to my couples. It could be a family lake house, a favorite beach or town, or actually participating in an activity that they love. The reasons for this are two-fold. For starters, having clients pick a location that is meaningful to them makes the session part of their story, not just a pretty, convenient location. While a huge focus will be on the actual wedding day, your story is not just one day. The engagement session let’s us tell a little bit of that back story as well. And secondly, having clients choose their location, it allows them to be at a place where they are comfortable… not defaulting to a place where I am comfortable. I would much prefer to be meeting clients on their “turf” than my own! After all, the more comfortable my clients are during their engagement session — and in turn their wedding day — the better the photographic results will be!

To recap, scheduling an engagement session has many benefits that go well beyond pretty pictures, when thinking about your wedding photography collection. They are fun, informative and help build comfort being photographed and with your photographer. To find out more about Engagement Photography and having Eric McCallister Photography document your next major life event, contact me.