Congratulations! If you are reading this blog, then it most likely means that you’re engaged and looking for tips on preparing for your engagement photo shoot. Getting engaged and married is one of the most exciting chapters in a person’s life. As professional wedding photographers, we’re not only excited to be part of this special time in your life but we also want to help you on your journey. We have some tips we’d like to share with you on how to prepare for your engagement photo shoot and we’ve divided our tips into two parts.
Preparing For Your Engagement Photo Shoot
Part 1 – Before the Photo Shoot:
Why have an engagement shoot?
If you’re contemplating why you should have an engagement photo shoot, besides showing everyone what a gorgeous couple you make, let us tell you that this actually has quite a few important purposes. First of all, the portraits you get from this session will be useful for creating your save-the-date wedding invitation. They also make great decorative pieces for the guest sign-in area at your wedding reception and ceremony. Even if you don’t plan to use it for the wedding it is probably the very first professional photographs of the two of you together. That’s definitely moments worth preserving. Secondly, and most importantly, the engagement session is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with your photographer, the photographer’s shooting style, and how he/she works before the big day. You want to make sure that your photographer makes you feel comfortable and delivers shots that are to your satisfaction. This would be the perfect time to work out any kinks with the photographer before your wedding day arrives.
When should we have the engagement shoot?
If you are planning to use the photographs from this shoot for your save-the-date invitations, then the sooner the better. (The save-the-dates are usually sent out 6 months prior to your wedding day.) If you rather just display an enlargement at the reception, we suggest scheduling the photo shoot at least 3 months prior to your wedding. If you are planning to have an outdoor engagement shoot like most couples, do your best to avoid having the shoot during the summer months at all costs (especially in Houston!) Houston humidity is really awful. You and your fiance will be miserable from the heat and will be dripping wet with sweat. Other times of the year is fine. Also make sure to have a few backup dates, because it’s not unusual to having to reschedule due to bad weather.
How do we choose the location(s) of our engagement shoot?
Choosing the location of your engagement photo shoot is very important. You should definitely choose a location or locations that has meaning to you both and tells your love story. Examples can include:
- The place where you first met
- Reliving your first date
- Where you first said “I love you” to each other
- Your favorite spot together
- A hobby that you both love and share
- Places that signify where you both grew up
- Or if you just want our suggestions on beautiful scenery, a hip backdrop, etc, just ask and we will be happy to guide you.
What is the best time of the day for the engagement shoot?
The majority of our engagement sessions are held outside since it matches our couple’s (and our own) style. The outdoors offer a naturally beautiful setting. It’s also a setting where couples find most relaxing, where many great candid shots can be captured and requires less posing. For any outdoor photo shoot, to get the best light that’s soft and radiant instead of harsh and sweltering, the engagement session should be done a few hours after sunrise or before sunset. This is mainly true for photos taken out in the park or at large fields. But if you rather have a shoot with an urban setting, we would need to start earlier since the availability of light will be dependent on the surroundings (tall buildings and such). If the location you have chosen is a public place, you should also consider having your engagement session some time during the week instead of on the weekend. This will help you avoid people wandering into your photo shoot and unwanted people in the background of your photos.
What should we wear?
When planning what to wear, think about bringing two outfits to the shoot: one casual and one dressy. For the casual look, you can wear jeans and a colorful top, or a pretty dress that you would find yourself wearing at a weekend brunch. For the dressy look, this is your chance to stand out and pop. Put on that dress that you’ve been saving for a special occasion and heels to match. For your man, put on a nice dress shirt, tie and blazer.
Since most engagement sessions are held outdoors, choose outfits that are comfortable. They should also fit your style, and have colors that complement your skin tone and make you look flattering. Also choose colors that stand out from your surroundings. If you are shooting in a park with grass and trees, avoid wearing shades of green or brown. Otherwise, you’ll be in camouflage.
Keep in mind what season it is and dress accordingly. Avoid very dark colors and clothing with writing on it. Solid colors or clothing with a little bit of a pattern are always good options. You and your fiancé don’t have to match exactly; if you desire to match each other in color, it’s better to choose complementary shades than to wear the exact same colors. And don’t forget to accessorize: necklace, bracelet, earrings, hat, belt, scarf, hair accessories, etc.
What type of props should we use?
First of all, props are completely optional. Don’t worry that you have to bring props in order have a great engagement photo shoot. We can do a killer photo shoot with or without props. Most of our brides are very easy-going and just want a simple session without having to worry about using props.
For those that want to utilize props, feel free to bring whatever you want to use. Props can be fun and help set the scene of your photo shoot. They can also bring out your personalities. When brainstorming on what props to use, think about your shoot location, your hobbies and what you like doing together. Here are some prop ideas:
- A picnic basket and blanket, or even a kite, for the park where you both love spending time together
- Books if you both enjoy reading
- And don’t forget to use what’s around you at your shoot location.
We hope these tips are helpful to you. To further your brainstorming, also take some time to browse through Pinterest for ideas. You can also follow us on Pinterest to check out our portfolio.
Stayed turned for Part 2 of our blog on Preparing For Your Engagement Photo Shoot.
Our lovely bride Catherine was having her wedding at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in the Houston Museum District and her reception at The Crystal Ballroom in downtown. Both locations are considered to be historic landmarks in Houston with their beginnings dating as far back as the early 1900’s. Since the venues that she has chosen are so unique and special, we all decided to have Catherine’s bridal session in the Houston Museum District, and in Downtown Houston.
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church has been a popular site for beautiful Christian wedding ceremonies for more than 100 years. The church’s architecture, tall English Gothic arches, gorgeous stained-glass windows, hanging lights, spacious pews and aisles, and majestic pipe organ provide many great photo ops and backdrops rich in detail and textures. It’s a great location for any bride that wants a centrally located venue for her wedding.
After we got done at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, we headed over to The Crystal Ballroom for the reception. The Crystal Ballroom is a 1913 historic ballroom located in the heart of downtown Houston’s Rice Hotel. It’s a wonderful venue for elegant wedding receptions. It’s also a great venue for other occasions like rehearsal dinners, engagement parties and bridal parties. This place is filled with crystal chandeliers, heroic murals, 35-foot ceilings and a full wraparound terrace. The amazing decor and lighting was spectacular, and we captured many great shots of Catherine.
By the way, Catherine did a great job at her bridal sessions! She wasn’t nervous at all. In fact, she even kept up with our fast-paced shooting style very nicely. She was a complete natural! We had a lot of fun and we’re honored that we got to take part of her special day. Here are just a few photos from the bridal session. We hope you like them!
When we only had Lauren, all our attention was on her, everything was about her. After Tommy was born, we inevitably had to divide that attention in half. Naturally, we don’t do special things for Tommy as often as we like, including photo sessions.
Well, today is different, Tommy is turning two. Our sweet, handsome boy is turning two!! I can’t believe how fast it went. It seems like it was just yesterday we are holding him for the first time in the hospital.
It’s a very special day indeed, so we took him out for a photo shoot and put everything else on hold. It’s not every day your baby turns two you know! It was more for us than for him though, he certainly didn’t enjoy it much. Just take a look at the outtakes in the end. HAHA! We know that years down the road he will appreciate what we did for him. Hope you enjoy these photos.
Taking a break from the session!
We are lucky to have all these blue bonnets and wildflowers throughout our neighborhood.
What a heartthrob! At least his mom thinks so 😉
And here are the bloopers. There were a lot of crying and screaming behind all those wonderful smiling happy photos.
Bribery works, but only for a split second.
Do you like this kids portrait session? Let us know if you need to have your kid’s photos taken. Contact us at: LINK
Unless you personally already know a professional wedding photographer, finding the perfect wedding photographer will take some time. And sometimes, even if you do know a wedding photographer, he or she might not be a good fit for your wedding. But be encouraged that the time (and money) invested in doing this right will absolutely be worth it. Your wedding day, as special as it is, will come and go quickly. You definitely want to have everlasting photographs that will help you relive the emotions, excitement and happenings of the day. You owe it to yourself and future generations to do this right.
If that didn’t convince you, here’s another reason why finding the perfect wedding photographer is important. No matter how well your wedding is planned, it will still be a stressful one. Would you rather spend the day enjoying every moment with your partner, friends and family, or a day where you constantly have to check to see if the photographer remembers to take all the photographs that you wanted? Finding the perfect wedding photographer that you like and trust is important.
Here are the steps to finding the perfect wedding photographer:
As soon as you’re engaged, start asking newlyweds and married couples that you personally know and trust if they have a wedding photographer that they would recommend. Then take your referrals online and check out their website, online portfolio, and reviews. Don’t forget to also see how they rate on popular wedding sites such as The Knot, Wedding Wire, Google search, etc. This will accomplish several things:
- Going through the photographer’s website and online portfolio will give you an idea if their style matches yours. Do the photos look adventurous and artistic, or plain and ordinary? Do they capture organic emotions or do they all look posed? When analyzing their portfolio, also look to see if they captured moments that you would want photographed on your special day. Look for thoughtful compositions, good use of lighting in the images, clarity and details, and if the people in the pictures are in focus.
- The online reviews will tell you whether if the photographer is one that you can trust with your important day. Look for reviews that give you insight into things such as – Did they perform the work as promised and deliver quality photographs? Did they offer good customer service and make the customer feel comfortable? And did they charge the agreed upon amount or charge the customer more than what they had expected?
If you don’t have any referrals to work with, then use the same websites (The Knot, Wedding Wire, Google search, etc.) to start your search. Choose several that stand out to you. Also evaluate their website, online portfolio and reviews.
Narrowing Down Your Options
Once you have a list of your top choices, take an in-depth look into their services and prices to begin eliminating candidates who aren’t a good fit. Determine which photographers are best to meet your needs and are within your photography budget. In terms of developing your photography budget, the best way to start is evaluate how important the photography aspect of your wedding is to the both of you. If it’s very important to you both to have gorgeous photos to remember the day by, then consider spending more to hire a reputable and experienced photographer.
Also consider how well the photographer will perform in different settings and environments, especially in a setting that would be relevant to the type of wedding you plan to have. This would also be a great question to ask them during your in-person meeting.
Schedule a Meeting
The next step would be to schedule an in-person meeting with the photographer, if it is possible for all of you to meet. Be sure to have a wedding date set before scheduling the meeting with the photographer, unless you are willing to schedule everything else based on the photographer’s availability. This will give you the chance to: ask questions, see if you like the photographer and if it’s someone you can work well with, talk to the photographer in detail about you and your wedding, and go over what your expectations are. Some of the things that you should ask the photographer during your meeting may include:
Ask what type of weddings (ballroom, Jewish, Indian, etc.) do they have experience with, especially about ones that would be relevant to the type you’re planning to have. Experience is key. Photographers who have been involved in many weddings usually have enough knowledge to know what pictures to take and when to take them as well as have enough experience to cope with any unexpected situations. For example, an unexpected situation would be encountering an indoor reception that has very little or dim lighting. A seasoned photographer would have the knowledge on how to deal with such occurrences and be able to produce great photographs despite the unexpected challenge.
- Compare Packages & Prices:
Ask what are the different packages that they offer, determine what parts of your wedding day will be covered, and how many hours of shooting are included in each package while comparing prices. Plus ask what additional fees that might be involved. Most wedding photographers include the engagement shoot in their packages. A package that includes both the engagement and wedding coverage is ideal since the engagement shoot will give you the chance to get comfortable working with the photographer and work out any kinks before the big day.
- Contract & Payment Terms:
During your meeting, if you believe you have found the one, go ahead and also ask about the photographer’s contract and payment terms. Know up front what their cancellation policy is, how and when they expect payment, and how long it would take to receive the final product.
Book & Sign
Once you’ve gone through your meetings, and you and your partner have decided on a photographer, quickly book them. If you both have a good feeling about a particular one, don’t waste too much time searching for other photographers to compare with. If you wait a couple of days, he/she might get booked for your date and finding a replacement will be even harder. But if you are not sure about which photographer is the perfect choice and you’re stuck between your final two candidates, just go through the online reviews again and go with what your gut tells you. Gut feelings are usually right.
When signing the contract, make sure you are clear in communicating and reiterating the details of what you want included in your package: the date/times, location(s), number of hours, engagement/bridal session, enlargement prints, albums, and etc. At the end, the contract is in place to remind both you and the photographer what services you all agreed upon.
We hope this blog was helpful to you and you’re on your way to finding your perfect wedding photographer.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
It was a gorgeous day for Shauneen and Eric’s historic downtown Houston wedding. Their wedding ceremony was held at the Annunciation Catholic Church, one of the oldest Catholic Churches in Houston. This historic Texas landmark dates back to 1869 and was the second Catholic Church to be established in Houston. Although the church is nearly 150 years old, it is wonderfully preserved and maintained. The church featured highly detailed European Gothic architecture, beautiful stained glass windows, a gorgeous altar, high ceilings and a larger than life basilica. Being in the church made me feel as if I was attending a royal wedding. It also reminded me of the elegant and timeless scene of Maria and Georg von Trapp’s wedding from the movie, “The Sound of Music.”
Right after the wedding ceremony, we headed just a few blocks down the street to another historic landmark: Magnolia Hotel Houston. This hotel was originally the home of the Houston Post Dispatch newspaper. It also later became the original corporate headquarters for Shell Oil Company. After extensive renovation, it reopened in March 2003 as the Magnolia Hotel Houston and is named by the Houston Press as the “Best Boutique Hotel in Houston.”
The Magnolia Hotel Houston was a great choice for Shauneen and Eric to continue on their historic Downtown Houston wedding. Not only is it conveniently located in Downtown, it offered many great features: extravagant suites, a grand ballroom, classy decor, delicious food, and a magnificent rooftop perfect for taking pictures. It was a grand celebration and everyone had a wonderful time.
If you’re interested in checking out one or both of these venues for your wedding, here is their contact information:
Annunciation Catholic Church
1618 Texas Street
Houston, TX 77003
Magnolia Hotel Houston
1100 Texas Avenue
Houston, TX 77002
This wedding was captured by our very talented associate photographers Chung and Quentin!