Tips for Styling your Engagement Photos
1. Props – Adding props into you photos can be a fun way to provide some personal insight into a relationship. When used simply, and in moderation, props can add an engaging element to your shoot through additional storytelling and thematic cohesion. Think of props as an element of design used to bring the shoot together, by tying together a theme and/or complimenting the story of your love. Your photographer or wedding blogs are often a great resource to direct you to prop rental companies. There are different types of props that can be used during an engagement photography shoot. Personal props generally have special significance (like a family heirloom) or reflect the couple’s lives together, like a vintage car or Vespa scooter. Creative or cute props are used with the intention of adding whimsy and flair to the shoot. For instance, a large colorful balloon or handmade banner adds a pop of color and a graphic element. Finally, location-based props, like a rowboat on a lake, come with your chosen location.
2. Storyboarding – Storyboarding is a tool often used in filmmaking, which also works really well when planning out an editorial session that has a certain intended flow to the story. A storyboard is a layout of the various shots you want to get throughout shooting, from beginning to end. Creating a storyboard does more than just help you plan your session, it stimulates your inventive mind, nurturing new ideas, colors, and direction.
3. Mood Boards – If you’re looking to capture your lifestyle in your shoot, consider creating a mood board. Mood boards are generally a collage created out of related colors, images, and textures as a design palette. If you’re creating a mood board for inspiration, try starting with an image that is central to your relationship or your chosen theme and build from there. Pinterest is an excellent tool to create a moodboard and share it with your vendors, so they can give you feedback or suggestions and get a good idea of the style you are going for. CLICK HERE FOR OUR ENGAGEMENT PINTEREST BOARD FOR IDEAS.
4. Wardrobe + Styling – One of the first questions couples ask their photographers is “What should we wear?” Keep in mind that many photographers aren’t stylists. Stylists are a wonderful resource that you can collaborate with to come up with the perfect wardrobe for your shoot. If these kinds of services are too pricey, companies like J. Crew and Nordstrom’s offer free personal shoppers to help pick out clothing that flatters your shape and complement each other. Besides looking through inspiration on blogs and photographer’s websites, Pinterest (you can tell I love Pinterest!) is also an amazing resource, and you can get lots of inspirational images by typing in search words like ‘engagement outfits’ or ‘What to wear for an engagement.’ Shooting in a few different outfits allows you to have lots of options when buying/framing prints for your walls or lots of visual interest when creating an album of your session afterwards. But most importantly, make sure your clothes represent who you are.
- Wear solid colors
- Mix and play around with texture/fabric for dimension (chiffon, wool, tulle, etc.)
- Wear something comfortable and timeless
- Be a little dressy (it's not everyday professional photos will be taken of you two as a couple!)
- Wear clothes that fits your figure/height and looks amazing in every angle.
- Wear busy patterns (small narrow stripes, checkers, pin-sized polka dots, tiny florals, etc. - they do not photograph well and will cause an optical illusion in digital photographs)
- Ill-fitting clothes (I'm looking at you guys! Be sure your pants and suit jackets/tops are not too loose - look up men's magazines and ask for fitting guides in your favorite store!)
Location & Timing
Location is key. But finding that perfect spot is really dependent on your personalities. Do you love hiking & the outdoors? Then maybe a woodsy type area would be great. Or you both share a love for old architecture? Maybe the beach? Do you have funny & sentimental memories of the simple things? Maybe a fun and unique session at the laundry mat will work. Or just strolling through the pier or market for a relaxed vibe. Remember to be engaging, have an activity or story, like a road-trip to the coast, a picnic in the orchards, or a date to the county fair. I have a lengthy list of previous locations I've shot at - so just list what you're looking for and I'll put something together for you! Tip: Some venues require photography fees, so please call the venue (ex. The Mission at San Juan Capistrano) to double-check!
Other Location Ideas: Kimberly Crest Mansion, Beaches (Carlsbad, Malibu, Rancho Palos Verdes to name a few), The Mission at SJC, L.A. Aroboretum, Griffith Observatory and park, ranches/farms, Libraries, Botanical gardens, vineyards, deserts, peach orchard, almond orchards, orange groves, Salton sea, nature preserves, Heritage Square Museum, Joshua tree, Vasquez Rocks, Balboa park, cherry blossoms, boat docks, LACMA, green houses, LA art district, butterfly farms, Palm Springs hotels, Langham Hotel, cotton fields, tulip fields, lavender fields, so many more!
Timing: You can schedule your engagement session one year before your wedding or just a few weeks before your wedding. Schedule an earlier date (4-6 months prior to wedding date) if you're planning to use the photos for the save-the-dates/invitations or for the photo guest-book. The best light to shoot is 1-3 hours before sunset. Also keep in mind the seasons. Spring vs. Autumn; very different moods, color palette, and styling options!
Some tricks of the trade
- Taking eye drops one hour before the shoot to take the red out of your eyes
- Get your hair and make-up professionally done – you’ll look and feel fabulous! Or do the 'test' run with your wedding makeup artist so you'll know how well it'll be photographed.
- Try to stay with a certain color palette or scheme with your props and wardrobe, avoid tiny or busy prints and ultra thin lines since they tend not to photograph well.
- Bring touch-ups like a brush, makeup, large hand mirror, and bobby pins. Flip-flops are a must if you're wearing heels. Also stash a bottled water for energy and hydration!
- Have extra outerwear (cardigan or jacket), shoes, or accessories if you don't want change but want more variety & looks in photos.
- Bring a friend - sometimes they know your angles better and are not shy to call you out!
- Practice in front of a mirror - yes, it sounds cheesy, but understanding angles, smile, and posture before-hand can give you confidence, and confidence is key in photographs!
- Have lots of fun, be playful, relax and let your photographer guide you!