I really do appreciate it when wedding professionals think to reach out to our blog, to share some advice on certain topics in the wedding industry. My personal advice goes so far, it's the professional input that makes all the difference. Such is the case with today's piece of advice, sent to me by veteran photographer Rob Holley. He's sharing with us his excellent advice as to why couples should get engagement shoots. Here's the scoop:
The most frequent question that I am asked by potential clients is this; "Why do we need an engagement shoot?"
My answer is always the same; "Let me count the ways...."
Its time to take a fresh look at the engagement session. I believe it is the key contributing factor to the success of my business.
In order to give life to my clients' vision, my work starts well before the wedding day. The engagement session allows me to develop a rapport with the client, have a chance to observe them as a couple and establish an atmosphere of relaxation. Many insights can be garnered during the process.
• Is the couple comfortable with each other?
• How is the "chemistry" between them?
• How is their love demonstrated?
• Are they at ease in front of the camera?
The answers I get from these questions dictate which direction I can take with the session.
Lets dive into a specific example. The client was booked through email and the engagement session is the first meeting. I would start the session with a discussion of their expectations and concerns. The majority of people will convey "they do not photograph well" or "they always look awkward and stiff".
Start off by walking them through the process. Explain to the client exactly how the shoot is going to unfold. Chances are they have never worked with a professional photographer before so now is the time to explain how the process is going to work.
Begin shooting the couple doing something simple. Have them walk while holding hands and chatting. It is not important that these images may not end up being used. The idea is to get the couple into the process. Let them have the experience of being shot by a professional. Encourage them, scold them, play with them, but most of all keep shooting. You never know when that perfect moment between two young lovers will appear.
I like to equate an engagement session to a dress rehearsal before the “big show.” It is designed to be a more casual photo session of the couple but lessons are learned that serve us well on the wedding day. Most couples hire me for my creative approach but the engagement shoot helps me to determine just how creative the couple wants to be. My ability to produce a unique photos on the wedding day is greatly enhanced by an understanding of the personalities of the bride and groom.
Following the engagement shoot I meet with my clients to share the photos and compare notes. I find that a thorough discussion of the engagement session enlightens both the client and me. This meeting builds confidence in my abilities to achieve the goals the client sets forth. Most important, it provides me with another chance to observe the bride and groom together. I look for the ways that their love and commitment expressed itself, so I can document some of those same emotions at the wedding. In my view, good wedding photographers are paid to capture love. Great photographers also archive the hopes and dreams of a couple about to start their journey in life together.
Great advice! Engagement shoots are dress rehearsals to the big day. That's a great way to think of it, for both the photographer and the couple.
Many thanks to photographer Rob Holley for providing us with your excellent advice, and your gorgeous engagement photography!
Rob Holley, Sterling, Virginia
If you are a wedding industry pro and would like to share advice for our readers, we're always open to what you have to say. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.