the engagement session: locations, outfits & beyond

For the first official blog post on my new website, I wanted to write about one of my favorite parts of the wedding photography experience: the engagement session! This is the step of the process where I always wish I had a big ol' page with everything you could possibly need to know about the importance of engagement photos, where to go, and what to wear--and the day has finally come to make this dream a reality. *airhorn*

Although the internet makes it seem like every engaged couple knows exactly what to do in front of the camera, the fact is that most couples probably haven't had professional photos taken together--and definitely not like this.

Amy & Mitch Lake Cushman Engagement

Like most people who are not used to having a camera in their face, you might be totally nervous and have no idea why people do this and ohmygod what do I do with my hands and do I have to do stupid poses in public places in front of strangers and ugh I'm just not photogenic enough for this (which is false, by the way).

No matter where you fall on the spectrum, being prepared is the best way to make sure you feel and look like a million bucks on the day of your engagement shoot! And if you're still on the fence, I'll try to convince you otherwise.

But whyyy?

I heard the internet likes lists, so here's a list of reasons to embrace the engagement session for all its at-first-kinda-awkward-but-eventually-great-ness.

To celebrate your awesome, weird, unique love. 

This is the perfect opportunity to plan a special day with your person to celebrate your you-ness before the chaos of the wedding day. Wanna go on an adventure? Or even just explore parts of the city you don't make it to very often? Whatever you're feeling, go with your gut and you won't be disappointed. I'm up for any and all of it.

Get to know your photographer on a personal level.

I know lots of people who opt for "a friend with a camera" to take their engagement photos to save a little money, but it makes a huge difference if you've worked with your wedding photographer before the big day. I cannot stress this enough! After a few years of pursuing this career, I've started incentivizing couples to spring for the engagement session just to maximize the time we spend getting to know each other IRL.  If wedding guests are genuinely confused about why it feels like I'm best friends with the bride & groom, it's usually when I've spent time getting to know them personally.

Amanda & Jon Yosemite Engagement

Get comfy in front of the camera. 

I won't pretend that heavily-documented PDA is something most people are naturally comfortable with. With the help of an experienced photographer and direction over posing, you'll feel like total pros and wonder what you were nervous about in the first place.

Have professional images to use as decor on the big day. 

From framed 4"x6" photos on table settings to poster-sized prints mounted on the wall, photos add tons of interest to your wedding decor.

Katie & Doran Discovery Park Seattle Engagement

Location, location, location

If you've booked a session with me, hell to the yeah! I am more of a documentary style photographer and capturing natural moments in beautiful places is my bread and butter, so if there's anywhere particularly meaningful to you, let's go there! I'll give you some prompts and capture you being your best selves rather than having you spend the entire time posing, so prepare to frolic.

Katie & Jack San Francisco Engagement


What (not) to wear

Ahhh fashion. Some people care about it and some people don't. I'd like to think I'm somewhere in the middle, but moving from Seattle to the Bay Area has made me question my warm-weather fashion choices. Here are a few tips for making sure your outfits are on point! (Also check some of the photos in this post for inspiration and run with it!)

Molly & Pat Discovery Park Seattle Engagement

Comfort over everything. 

Be true to yourself and your personal style. Make sure that whatever you choose makes you feel like the best version of you.

Plan those outfits. 

Coordinate but don’t match. Consider your locations and weather, especially when choosing footwear. Layers are perfect for a quick change.

Consider colors. 

Try to avoid busy patterns, graphic tees, and basically anything that will overly distract from your beautiful faces or go out of style. Solid tones are always safe, with accessories adding a pop of interest. I mean, just look at Megan’s amazing earring(s):

Megan & John Orange County Engagement

Flatter your skin tone and body type.

There are plenty of articles with specifics on this topic written by people more qualified than me. Here's an extremely detailed one from InStyle.

Keep it simple.

Stick with two outfits; bonus points if they coordinate for cohesiveness throughout your engagement gallery.

Take a trip down memory lane.

Look at some photos of you two and choose a couple of poses to recreate.

Textures, accessories, and makeup are key! Here are some ideas to get the juices flowin'.

Fur, lace, velvet, leather, rings, a bold necklace, painted nails, lip color, badabing badaboom.

Amy & Mitch Lake Cushman Pacific Northwest Engagement

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