For many of us, our engagement photos are the very first time we've ever "modeled" for a camera. And it's terrifying. So what's a girl (or boy) to do? Well, we've enlisted the help of Lance Nicoll - photographer behind some of those beloved e-sessions that make their way around pinterest and instagram and the eye behind some of SMP's most popular weddings. And being the great guy that he is, Lance is breaking it all down for us so that despite our nerves...killer engagement photos are just a click away.
Make it an Adventure
Choosing your location for your engagement or couple’s session is one of the key components to any great shoot. Sometimes, we have amazing scenic settings right in our backyard, but if not, don’t be hesitant to turn your engagement session into an adventure. Hopping in the car and road tripping it to neighboring towns, places and spaces is a sure way to ensure that your backdrop is inspiring to you. If it's inspiring, it will set the foundation for incredibly photography. Or if you are really up for something special, making a mini-vacation around your engagement session can also be a great idea as well. Be adventurous and make your session location a lifetime memory in itself.
Take the Time to Plan Your Attire
Give special consideration to your wardrobe for the day. Possibly asking your photographer for their insight can be a great way to start. I always tell my couple’s that dressing up looks fantastic but it is important to feel like yourself as well. For ladies soft, flowy solids are always beautiful. Brilliant colors like reds and blue can also be stunning. I personally recommend staying away from complex patterns as they can take away from you and your surroundings. For my guys, I say dress accordingly to your fiancÚ. Casual pants and a sport coat can be a nice first look or a nice button down without the jacket can be great, then for your second look just step it up a bit - a nice tailored suit without the tie can be a perfect option. When you feel good in what you are wearing, a natural confidence or softness comes thru and the imagery is that much more lovely.
Lose yourself ... In Each Other
It sounds counter-intuitive, but I tell my couple’s “it’s just you two here, no one else. This is the person you love more than anyone else in the world, forget I am here and just be in love.” I love to give easy simple directions and allow my couples to get swept away in how they feel for each other. Usually after the first few minutes I can sense our couple’s getting comfortable and just being in the moment. This is another reason why location can be so important, private spaces can lend to more intimate beautiful imagery.
That said, even to the most in love pair, putting aside nerves can be a challenge. And yet the solution is often really simple. Talk to each other. Tell each other about your day or recount a funny/charming/romantic moment that you had together. Start with a joke. That is usually all it takes to crack the tension and give you the space to relax and just let the day unfold.
Take Your Time
Creating authentic and engaging images with your photographer means not feeling rushed. Take your time. Having more than one location and planning smartly with your photographer is key. Having a sunrise location and a sunset location can be a great way of ensuring plenty of time for amazing images. Take your time, I’d rather my couples have 100 lifelong memories rather than 1000 rushed images. As a photographer who shoots with film, we are innately trained to slow down, to talk to our couple’s, shoot a few frames, and then step back and assess how we can capture our couple exactly as they are.
For photographer’s out there, talk to your couple during the shoot, ask them questions - simple ones and more storied ones - and sometimes just step back and watch them, don’t shoot. Familiarize with how they interact naturally. And let that be your guide.
Follow the Light.
It may be a tip that you've heard before...but only because it's so important. Plan around ideal lighting. This may mean getting up very early for that beautiful morning light and being ready in the evening for that golden hour before sunset. Shooting with soft golden light brings an un-paralleled beauty and warmth to your collection.
Also, be prepared to be flexible. If traveling in for a session I always like to have a back-up time slot, so for instance if we get rained out or weather isn’t cooperating we can shoot the next morning.