a note about this guide:
am so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait for our time together during your engagement session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I always tell people that I still get nervous before having my photos taken – and I do this for a living!
I am a big fan of engagement sessions for a few reasons.
First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how I pose. Timelines can be pretty tight on weddings days and 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits – which is why I’ve found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time.
econd, you can showcase your personalities in a more casual setting that is significant to the two of you (and even include pets!). While they’re great for save-the-dates, I’ve taken engagement photos anywhere from 18 months in advance to a few days before the wedding.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a session and since I get asked the same things over and over again, I thought it would be the most beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know.
I’ll cover what to wear, whether to bring pets & how to manage them, location ideas and more.
a note to:
I get it. Having your picture taken for 1-2 hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera. But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun. I look forward to it because it’s a great opportunity for us all to hang out a bit before the wedding day.
time & light
Is there a "good" time to take photos?
I AM A NATURAL LIGHT SPECIALIST BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT natural light, from the sun and its reflections, creates photographs that feel fresh, timeless and truest to you. I begin all portrait sessions two hours before the scheduled sunset during “the golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. Use a sunset calculator online to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session. Then, just subtract two hours to figure out your start time. Remember, the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your portrait session date, especially if you’re taking off work or have evening plans afterward. To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early to your session and be ready to start on time. I'm only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so I'll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your favorite one for the second half, and if you’re wearing one, arrive in that.
Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few days before the wedding.
Then for sessions held in-home or inside mid day is typically best.
I schedule sessions during what I believe will be the best light of the day – which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before we’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises.
While I shoot most of our engagement sessions between April and late October sessions can take place all year. Most of my couples choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot.
A few things to keep in mind during each season:
HOT COCOA/COFFEE & COZY COATS
If you're planning to have your session done in the winter, keep in mind that if your session takes place in the evening, we'll be starting as early as 3pm. I recommend dressing in layers, so that in between photos you can warm up. Make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues just in case if nose begins running.
styling your session
WANT YOUR PHOTOS TO LOOK MORE EDITORIAL? BRING a little extra something with you! Fresh flowers bring an extra “wow” factor to just about everything, especially when they’re attached to something else, like a bicycle basket, tree swing, tent, picnic basket, balloons or car bumper. Whether you want to incorporate larger items like classic cars or bikes, or smaller ones like blankets or hats, even planning for just one extra styled item could be a fun way to make your session more unique.
THE LOCATION OF YOUR PORTRAIT SESSION IS UP TO you! Like you see throughout this guide, most of my clients choose to showcase the natural beauty of our home state. For most of our sessions, outdoor, open-air environments are always our first choice. I love shooting in wide-open natural spaces because the light is divine, especially during golden hour. There are great options all around the state, so even if you've never seen me photograph in a specific spot before, I'm always up for exploring a new spot together!
I love when couples choose a location for their session that complements their wedding. For example if you’re planning a chic, elegant wedding, it may be fitting to take your engagement portraits among the classic architecture in downtown, while a open field or flower-filled fields may be more fitting for a couple planning a more nature affair. The best session locations are often meaninful places to the couple; however, I’m also happy to make recommendations. From a more urban feel to a lake view to blueberry picking and college campuses, the options for engagement session locations are endless!
DESTINATION ENGAGEMENT SESSION
Your portrait session includes travel time anywhere in the Orlando area. If you’d like to go somewhere outside the city, I'm up for the adventure! The travel fee for 60-90 minutes drive to places like Tampa, Sarasota and Flagler Beach, St. Augustine is $150. To Miami is $400. I love traveling and I am actually on the road quite a bit. I've done different types of sessions from coast to coast, everywhere in between, and even in Canada, too, so if I'm already going to be in or near an area you’ve always dreamed of doing your photos, and we can coordinate our schedules, let’s set it up. I’d love to make it work! If you’d like me to meet you in a destination outside of Orlando for your portrait session where I don’t already have plans to visit, just let me know and we can get you a custom quote.
save - the - dates
If your wedding is local, save the dates should be sent between 6 and 8 months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, you’ll want to send them out 8 to 10 months before the wedding.
If you’re hoping to use your engagement photos for your save the dates, I recommend scheduling your session at least two months before you plan to send out your save-the-dates. Between inclement weather, editing, designing your save-the-dates and printing, two months is generally a safe amount of time to make sure your images and cards are ready.
style tips for her
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
D R E S S I T U P
Have you thought about rocking a romantic gown, tulle skirt or flower crown 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 portrait 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 our clients love Rent the Runway for their session because it’s such an affordable way to feel like a million bucks. Other clients love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!
There’s no such thing as too dressed up.
say to the dress
Dresses and skirts look most stunning because they really flatter every female body, especially on camera — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pantsuits! We recommend avoiding pants and shorts for your session, and saying yes to a dress or two instead.
Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the field, forest, gardens or beach. Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images.
Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses photograph beautifully as well.
When picking outfits I recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom-to-be is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride-to-be may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.
one or two? it’s up to you!
YOU CAN BRING ONE OUTFIT SET OR TWO! Most of my clients who choose two outfits will bring one “wow” dress, and then another slightly more casual dress that has a “date night” feel. But if you want to bring two “wow” dresses and forgo the more casual dress altogether, give yourself permission to do it! The camera loves runway-esque apparel and so do I !
Remember, though, you don’t have to bring two looks if it’s too stressful to coordinate or if you’d rather just stick to one fabulous look. One outfit that you love will be so much better than one outfit you love and another you’re not very excited about. And if you stick with one outfit set, you won’t have to spend any of your time changing half way through, so we’ll be able to sneak in a few more photos! So, one or two? It’s really up to you!
WHEN CHOOSING COLORS FOR YOUR OUTFITS, I RECOMMEND selecting softer, lighter tones and more muted shades. By avoiding ultra-bright, bold colors, it will 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.
IN MY EXPERIENCE, EVERY WOMAN, REGARDLESS OF HER shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos.
THREE-QUARTER LENGTH SLEEVES create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so we recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.
HEELS ELONGATE WOMEN’S LEGS making them look fabulous. Closed- toes heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!
Bring a pair of easy-to-kick-off flats to wear when moving from place to place in between photos. Your feet will thank you later!
make a statement
PARING AN ACCESSORY OR TWO WITH YOUR OUTFIT CAN REALLY HELP bring some extra dimension to your images, and be a nice tie-in when you’re coordinating with a group. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not be 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 crown can be a really romantic touch for you or your girls as well.
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, we recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.
go pro on hair and makeup!
PROFESSIONAL HAIR AND MAKEUP IS ON THE TOP OF most of our clients’ checklists because it looks amazing on camera and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. This is the time to treat yourself! Whether it’s lash extensions or 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 I’ll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Most of my clients feel like their professional makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than you would wear on a normal day, or that they're false lashes look too big, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry! Good makeup artists know how to get it all just right for the camera — and our clients always love the final result. If you need a recommendation for hair and makeup, I work with the best in the business and have a go-to team! They’re sweet as pie, talented as heck, unbelievable professionals and wonderful people. You’ll LOVE them! Just let me know and we’ll send you their information. I know they’ll take good care of you!
Here is a link to my Pinterest for some inspiration!
style tips for him
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
T H E B E S T F I T
LONG, FITTED PANTS AND CLOSED-TOED SHOES ARE the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on his handsome face. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home, too, as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted dress pants or fitted colored pants work best on camera. 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. We also recommend staying away from graphics and logos.
mix it up
Many of my guys love to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color. It adds some extra visual interest, and break up the color tones. We’re big fans 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 us when we 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 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!
it's all in the details
BROWN LEATHER DRESS SHOES COMPLEMENT ALMOST EVERY look, whether he’s wearing a full suit or a blazer and colored pants. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp complements to any outfit for men and boys alike. If you bring two outfits to the session, you can start with a traditional necktie and belt, then switch to suspenders and a bow tie for your second look. If two looks are too stressful, no problem! One will do the trick! You can still mix and match accessories to complement both of her dresses without doing a full change during the session. So, either way, it's a win.
how to prep your man
MOST MEN AREN’T OVERLY EXCITED TO TAKE PHOTOS FOR TWO hours, 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 us and our style of photography. Show him your three favorite sessions that we’ve done, explain why you love them and express to him how much it means to you. Trust us, once he knows it’s important, he’ll light up the camera for you! The most common thing we hear from guys before photo 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!
"What do I do with my hands"?
When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make the two of you laugh – and that’s the photo I am actually looking for.
Throughout your session, I’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together!
My dog is huge part of my family, which is why I love when couples choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location or in-home session.
I recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend take them home. I don't use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots.
If you’re going to bring a pet, I recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pets favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot.
If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t get dressed up all that often. Which means that the day of your engagement session is the perfect occasion for a date night (or brunch if your session is in the morning!)
The engagement session is another part of celebrating your love and heading off to dinner is a great way to end the session!
When I can, I always try to take a photo of your ring during your engagement session – so it’s a good idea to have it cleaned or clean it yourself before your shoot! To clean at home, soak your ring in warm water with dishwashing soap for 20 to 40 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.
one final note
I KNOW I JUST GAVE YOU A LOT TO THINK ABOUT. I CREATED this guide to help make your portrait session experience something you’ll look back fondly on for years and years to come. 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 memories are the most important thing to me, and I want your 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!
If there is something I missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email or txt/call.