Lots of couples openly ask me, “Should I bother with an engagement shoot?” I’m going to share with you both the pros and cons so you can decide if it’s something you’d like to bother with ?
My name is Victoria Green and I am a documentary wedding photographer based in Kent with over 8 years experience. As well as being a professional photographer, I publish my observations on wedding photography to help give couples practical advice.
1/ For some camera shy couples, it can help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
If you feel a little bit shy or feel nervous about how you’ll be directed on your wedding day, an engagement shoot can be the perfect way to ease you in. My couples that are anxious about being photographed, are surprised that they enjoy themselves and they don’t feel bossed around or embarrassed in anyway. That’s because, if you’re going for a natural storytelling (or documentary) photographer like myself – you will be getting on with your own business and your photographer will be snapping away. You look comfortable and you look natural which means you look your best.
However, there is a balance. And a really good documentary photographer won’t just be passive and disappear and let you go completely off on your merry way. They’ll advise on the lighting opportunities, the best backdrop possibilities and they’ll gently and kindly art direct you.
The ‘little nuggets’ (as I call them) of practical advice you pick up on your engagement shoot, you naturally find yourself doing on your wedding day.
2/ Get to know your photographer better.
My engagement shoots are extremely informal so lots of chatting and often end in tea and cake! It gives you a huge opportunity to visually show your photographer what you like and don’t like about being photographed. Or maybe it’s just personal things (I hate my side profile, for example. No-one else will see it but it’s personal to me and I don’t like photographs that get my side).
But let’s not over egg this either. Yes, it gives a big opportunity to chat and share with your photographer and get to know them better. But my couples who are camera shy and decide not to have a pre-shoot still have ample time to chat to me, share any concerns and feel they know me pretty well.
It’s just an ADDITIONAL opportunity. And it can really help and provide reassurance to some couples to feel a wee bit more relaxed.
3/ Lots of couples love the time together and thoroughly enjoy it.
Most of my couples are a little bit nervous when they first meet me for their engagement shoot. They don’t know what to expect as its feel weird being the centre of attention. To date, I have never had a couple who have not enjoyed the experience. It is better to get those nerves of the unexpected done and out the way and then it’s one less thing to worry about on your wedding day.
Most couples love getting ‘dulled up’ and end up having lots of fun. What’s not to enjoy? We go to your favourite local beauty spot, go for a lovely walk, I don’t get you to do anything you’re not comfortable with. You can see my couples look giggly, happy, loved up and relaxed. It is a lovely way to mark your engagement as part of the wedding planning journey. Many couples love sharing those pictures with their family and friends.
4/ You can incorporate your photos as fantastic personalised stationary on your wedding day.
There are fantastic ways to incorporate your engagement photographs into your wedding stationary. I have seen my engagement pics used on my couples’ wedding invites, save the dates, menus and table plan. It adds a real personalised touch!
1/ The Expense
For some couples, it’s simply an extra expense to the wedding budget. It isn’t an essential but a nice to have.
2/ It could feel like an unnecessary extra trauma if you’re very shy or dread having your picture taken!
Not everyone who is camera shy / doesn’t like their picture being taken, will want to go through the ordeal twice with two photo shoots. And that’s fair enough. A good, understanding photographer will understand this and there should be zero pressure. There are lots of things a photographer can incorporate into your pre-meeting / the wedding itself, to make you feel more comfortable. Look for a photographer that is patient and understanding. I passionately believe only comfortable couples look comfortable and get the resulting best pictures. The focus should all be around what makes YOU happy.
3/ There might be a personal reason why you don’t feel it is necessary.
Couples who have been engaged a very long time, have children or been married before sometimes feel less inclined to mark their engagement with a pre-shoot. That’s perfectly fine! Everyone is different how much fuss they’d like made.
I hope that’s given you a balanced view on the pros and cons on whether you should bother with an engagement shoot.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog and it’s been helpful, I’d really appreciate a comment in the below box. If you have any questions about whether to bother with an engagement shoot, do feel free to message me. Or pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.