Engagements are one of my favourite parts of the entire photography experience with my couples! We get to know each other, and we get to look like idiots in front of each other because I’ll make you two kiss in front of a stranger (me) and I’ll probably trip at least ten times over myself. I’ve done tons of engagements, so I’ve found a few things that help so much in order to get those candid + gorgeous shots! Here are my two cents on how to prepare for engagements :
What you wear.
You want your outfits to compliment the environment and each other.
Choose something that compliments the environment we will shoot in. Think of the environment when picking colours! Most of the time, any neutral colour will compliment whatever environment we shoot in. Neutrals aren’t just tans and greys and white, there are neutrals of every colour! For example, mustard is a neutral of yellow. Forest green is a neutral of green. Navy is a neutral of blue, and so on and so forth.
Fluorescent or bright colours usually draw your attention away from faces, so avoid wearing anything that is bright and overly colourful.
Reds, pinks, maroons, and oranges have the tendency to reflect onto your skin. So if your fiance wears a red shirt, your skin will most likely end up looking really pink in all of your photos. This is why neutrals are a great choice, as they won’t affect your skin colour!
Lastly, remember to not wear overly distracting patterns. We want photos to be about you two and your love. Not what you wear.
Here’s an example of an outfit that compliments its environment with neutral non-distracting colours:
Here’s an example of a distracting colour choice that doesn’t flatter the environment:
Bridals are always a blast and such a good thing to do before your wedding day! You get so many more shots of the two of you in your dress and suit, and in pretty lighting! There’s no stress on time, as wedding day portraits usually go. These are usually the pictures people use the very most out of everything. A few things to know for bridals to be sure they go as smoothly as possible:
If you hired a hair + makeup artist, be specific as to what you want.
Almost every time a bride shows up for bridals, they are redoing their hair, wiping off makeup and putting their own on top of it, etc. Being honest and specific with your hair and makeup artist will help them know exactly what you’re wanting, and if you are unsatisfied, TELL THEM! It breaks my heart when my brides aren’t excited about their pictures because their hair is too curly, or their makeup isn’t natural enough. Your hair and makeup artist wants you to feel beautiful and confident, and they won’t be offended if you aren’t loving what they have done. Don’t be afraid to get what you want!
Truth be told, lighting is key in photography. I’m a natural lighting photographer with a background in fine art. I live for gorgeous natural light, incorporating flash only during the reception after the sun’s gone down. I don’t want to recreate the lighting on the wedding day; the goal is to capture a wedding’s warmth; how it felt. There are a few times where a little preparation can make for more flattering photos. Since lighting is too often overlooked on the wedding day, I wanted to bring this topic into the limelight.
As a wedding photographer, I never want to dictate the timeline of the wedding day, but I’d love to share a few tips to help you plan for lighting at different times during your wedding day that will make your photos extra gorgeous.
Just a note: don’t feel like you have to incorporate all or any of these tips into your wedding day to get great photos. Weddings are about love, family, and emotion. Great photojournalism is about capturing moments and encapsulating the mood of the day and there are too many variables for this to be the end-all guide in lighting. It’s in no way a rulebook and great photographers will be able to take on tricky lighting with ease and will often come up with really interesting compositions when faced with harsh light. However, any consideration for lighting will usually be more beneficial than not.
Getting ready images are a perfect way to start the narrative of your wedding day. So many really great moments are happening and good lighting can help capture them in a more elegant way.
The best conditions for lighting would be a room with large windows and enough light coming in through the windows to light the room evenly with the lights off. An ideal getting ready area would be an interestingly decorated space with windows and light walls for lots of reflective light.
This is why I recommend looking at renting out homes on AirBNB or getting ready at cozy bed and breakfasts instead of stuffy hotel rooms (which unfortunately are usually full of no-smoking signs, sprinklers, and questionable chairs and carpet choices).
Lighting to avoid: anything with mixed light (example: a little bit of daylight + mostly orange tungsten bulbs, tungsten + fluorescents lights, daylight + florescent light, etc).It’s hard to see with the naked eye, but in photos, it can lead to odd skin colors.
Natural light is most flattering, like this example using soft window light!
Outdoor ceremonies are my favourite, but if you’re going to be in direct sunlight (no shade or just spotted/dappled light from a tree), try to avoid the hours between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Mid-day is not only the hottest time of the day, but it can also leave harsh shadows under eyes (making you appear to have dark circles under eyes) and noses (shadow moustaches! it happens). It also makes for more interesting landscape photos of the ceremony site if it’s a bit later in the day and the sun is a little lower, but not necessarily at sunset. In summer months, the ideal time would be about 2-3 hours before sunset.
Below you’ll see an example of a wedding that was facing into the sun, which caused everyone to have squinted eyes and those face shadows. If they had faced the wedding in the other direction towards the sun, the light would have been softer and they would actually be able to look at one another! If you need help with figuring out which way to face or position your ceremony, I’m happy to help!
There are so many variables here and lighting varies stylistically from person to person and venue to venue, but my vote is always natural looking warm light. String lights are a beautiful way to add pretty bokeh (the out of focus orbs in the background of photos) to backdrops. They’re ideal for outdoor yards, to make a border around dance floors and eating areas, and they help to light the perimeter of the reception in a beautiful way.
Try to plan for harsh light but if you’re worried about it being overcast on your wedding day, don’t! It’s just like a giant softbox in the sky. Overcast light is light that you don’t have to worry about at all, it makes everyone look great and timing for portraits doesn’t have to be as crucial because it will be consistent for most of the day.