If you want your engagement session images to look and feel more editorial, I recommend bringing a few small, simple props, like fresh flowers to hold or a blanket to sit on. Let me know if you want to set up a picnic or incorporate another unique element into your session! Maybe you have access to some larger props that have a real “wow” factor, like a boat, classic car, vintage bicycle, or hot air balloon. This is the time to dream a little bit and decide what truly feels like you! Props aren’t a must by any means. Some of my couples love them and go all out. Some pick one or two items to bring. Others stick with just their outfits –– and that’s great, too! The most important things you need to bring to your session are love and laughter. I’ll take care of the rest.
Dress It Up
Have you been eyeing a gorgeous dress but never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember: there’s no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your engagement session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to spend a ton of money adding a new permanent piece to your wardrobe, many people love Rent the Runway for their engagement photos because you don’t have to spend a lot to feel like a million bucks. Plus, you can send the outfits back when the session is over. Some of my clients love having an excuse to go shopping and purchase a new permanent piece (or two!) for their wardrobe –that’s okay, too! Whatever works for you!
Say Yes to the Dress
There’s nothing more romantic than a long, flowy dress. Dresses and skirts tend to look most stunning on camera because they really flatter people’s figures — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pantsuits! I recommend choosing long, flowy dresses or skirts because they’re flattering on all body types, look amazing on camera and bring extra movement and dimension to your photos. Maxi (or floor-length) skirts and dresses will give us the best “twirl factor,” add more romance to your walking photos, and look incredibly gorgeous when juxtaposed with nature, like the desert, forest, fields, or beach. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses or midi skirts photograph beautifully as well. My clients who choose to bring two dresses will sometimes select one of each! I recommend avoiding pants and shorts for your session and saying yes to a dress (or skirt!) or two! You won’t regret it!
Most clients who choose two outfits will bring one “wow” dress and another shorter cocktail-length dress or midi/maxi skirt for a more casual “us on a date” feel. But if you want to bring two “wow” dresses and forgo the more relaxed 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. If you’d rather just stick to one fabulous outfit, that’s fine, too! One look that you love will be so much better than one outfit you love and another you’re not very excited about. So, whether it’s one or two is really up to you!
If you’re having a hard time making up your mind, feel free to shoot me an email with pictures! I’d be happy to help you narrow down your options or give you my opinion about what will look best on camera!
Tops & Bottoms
In the same way that a dress is very flattering, a blazer, sport coat, or suit jacket has the same flattering effect. You can’t go wrong with a dress shirt, slacks, blazer, or a well-tailored suit.
For colors, I recommend neutrals and soft, warm tones that complement your partner’s look. When selecting your pieces, I recommend choosing a different “weight” for the pants and coat. So, for example, navy pants (darker) and a heather gray coat (lighter). Or gray pants (darker) with a soft powder blue shirt (lighter).
When selecting a suit for photos, the most important part isn’t the price. It’s the fit. It’s critical to have a suit jacket that fits snugly (but not too tight) and pants that are the correct length and don’t have too many breaks. Just like how high heels make people look taller, bunched-up fabric stacked on top of a person’s shoes makes them look physically shorter than they are. If you already have a suit you like and want to wear at your session, try it on a few weeks beforehand (with the shoes you’ll be wearing) so you have time to make alterations if needed.
If you don’t have a suit, now’s the perfect time to invest in something you’ll wear for the rest of your life! The best part? It’s a lot less expensive than you might think! While custom suits can cost thousands of dollars, some of the most well-known brands sell really nice off-the-rack suits for a fraction of the price that, with a few alterations from a good tailor, can be made to fit like a glove.
Solid shades of gray or navy complement most partners’ outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye, so stay away from too strong of prints and opt for solids instead.
The next time you walk by a storefront display, you’ll notice that the mannequins and models are always wearing several layers. Layers look great on camera, and you can do layers in warmer temperatures. Adding extra layers will bring added dimension and visual interest to your photos. If the temperature permits, you could 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
Long pants and closed-toed shoes create the most sophisticated looks. They draw attention away from the legs and feet and place it where you want it: on the face. So, it’s best to leave the shorts and sandals at home for your session. Suit pants, dress pants, or colored pants work best. Brown leather dress shoes complement almost every look, whether you are 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 suit. If you bring two suits 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 suits are too stressful, no problem! One look will do the trick! Many couples wear one suit and change their dress shirt and/or pocket square/tie. Other people wear one pair of pants and change their jackets. You can still mix and match accessories to complement both outfits your partner wears without doing a complete change during the session. So, either way, you win.
Flattering Your Features
In my experience, many people (regardless of size or shape) have an area of their body that they are self-conscious about. Recognizing the places you’re self-conscious about when selecting your outfits is vital. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love how you look in your photos. Three-quarter-length sleeves create a fantastic slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer-length sleeve. If your dress has shorter sleeves (or no sleeves), consider bringing a cute jacket, blazer, cardigan, or pashmina to incorporate into your look. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on the arms of the camera. For most people, slim straps actually make arms look BIGGER. So I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is slimmer-looking arms. If it’s colder outside, I suggest bringing a warm coat (the longer, the better!) to wear when we’re not shooting so you don’t freeze in your outfit.
For shoes, keep in mind that heels elongate a person’s legs and force constant tension in the calves, making them look more toned. 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. You can never go wrong with a pair of neutral pumps! If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session, so your toes have a little extra sparkle to them in the photos. Lastly, bring a pair of flats to wear when moving from place to place. Your feet will thank you later!
Not a heel wearer? I completely understand. You want to be comfortable and cute! Flats work with all outfits. Pants, dresses, skirts. Black, navy, nude, and brown are great options that keep the look neutral. However, darker colors will keep the style more dressed up. If you’re going with solid colors on top, consider a fun pattern for your flats to add some dressy flair.
When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting lighter, neutral tones and more muted shades. Bright, bold, or neon colors are distracting and take the focus away from where it should be: you two and how much you love each other. You can never go wrong with light neutral colors like cream, taupe, camel, or light gray. The camera loves shades of soft pinks and muted blues mixed with sophisticated light-colored neutrals. That softer, more pastel-leaning color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments –– and especially complements the earth-toned northeast! If you’d like to do a bold color, keep it small and simple, so it is more complimentary. For example, I had a bride with pink hair; the rest of her look was neutral-toned so that she got the pop she wanted while not taking away from the moment captured. Some other ideas include a pop of color as a layer underneath a jacket or cardigan.
Coordinating the Looks
As you coordinate your outfit with your partner’s, remember that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palette and wardrobe pieces coordinate but don’t actually “match.” Coordination is the key because it produces a great contrast in the overall look. You should each wear a different dominant color but stay within a similar color palette family. That way, you both get to stand out in the image. So if you’re wearing a blush dress and nude shoes (blush being your dominant color), your partner could wear a navy coat with gray pants paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square. Now your partner has their own dominant color (navy) while still incorporating a few touches of your color palette. Most of my couples pick out one outfit and then put together their partner’s outfit based on that.
Clean Your Ring
Your ring hand will be featured in many photos, so if you have time before your session, I recommend cleaning your ring and treating yourself to a manicure.
Skip the Spray Tan
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I 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 most beautifully.
Sep 21, 2022
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