BERNADETTE AND STEVE DALGETTY
For some--if not most--couples, getting your photograph taken can be unnerving! It’s not a common or normal experience. An engagement session is often the first time a couple has ever had professional photographs taken. From us to you, here are four ways to make the most of your engagement portraits so that, first, you and your fiancé receive images you're truly happy with, and second, that you have an incredible time during the actual session. In fact, the second point--having an amazing time--is critical because it directly influences the first--receiving photographs you’ll always cherish.
Your photographer is going to bring the artistic vision and necessary equipment to create a session that delivers portraits he or she hopes will truly connect with you as a couple, providing something lasting and meaningful for your relationship.
That being said, it’s important to realize that you are co-creators in this process. For your photographer to truly capture amazing images of the real you, the real you needs to show up, ready to join in. In a big way, that means being willing to let your guard down: be vulnerable and share your love, your joy, your laughter, your tears, and your honesty.
Consider: when it's just the two of you alone, and you feel truly connected as a couple, how do you act? How do you laugh? How do you embrace? How do you hold hands? How do you kiss? How do you look at one another?
Focus on those questions instead of on posing or how you think you look. The couple "poses" that look absolutely amazing in final images are usually the ones that simply show a couple being truly themselves, letting their love shine through. Authentic love is about as natural as it gets, and you don’t need to be professional models to convey that.
You just need to be you. Sometimes that's incredibly serious and intimate. Sometimes that's silly jokes and laughing to the point of tears. Whatever it is, let it be you. If you're willing to show that level of vulnerability with your photographer, we promise you are giving them an incredible starting point to create meaningful engagement photos.
We have been married for eight years. One thing we've realized about our own relationship is that it's crazy hard to just flip an emotional switch, quickly changing from being wrapped up in our individual busy lives to being truly present to one another. There have been times we've gone out on amazing planned date nights, yet haven't connected at all because we weren't in the right state of mind. If our minds are stuck on work, kids, or other life obligations it's impossible to switch on the spot to romantic date mode. The result is that those dates ends up mediocre, at best. For us, as a couple, to go on amazing dates we have to proactively enter into the right state of mind and leave everything else behind.
It's the same for photos. We just advised that you to show up and be your vulnerable, loving selves in front of the camera, but true to our own experience, we don't expect you to flip a switch at the start of your portraits and be able to do that on the spot.
Our best tip for making that transformation a natural one is to consider making the entire day of your session about the two of you, letting your portraits just serve as an extension of an already amazing time. Better yet, make the entire weekend about you! No wedding plans; no talk about work or school or family obligations. Think about the days that have been most incredible for the two of you as a couple, and and identify ways to recreate them.
Spend time doing some things you love, and you’ll show up to your engagement session in that state. It will help you be more present and connected.
Dress like you. Be comfortable. Fit the environment.
In other words, if you're going to be exploring fields and trails in the woods, leave the heels at home. If your session will feature a classy evening in the city and you love to dress up, then by all means, get dressed up.
At the end of the day, your clothing choices are not what the session is about. Yet it is important that your attire complements who you are as individuals, without diminishing your comfort level and emotional state.
Leave your phones in the car (unless there's a real emergency reason for you to be on call). Nothing kills being present like getting texted!
Images by the authors, via An Endless Pursuit Photography.
About the Authors: Steve and Bernadette Dalgetty are the husband and wife photography team behind An Endless Pursuit. For the past eight years they have documented stories, celebrating marriage and families throughout the greater Washington DC area and around the country. Steve and Bernadette currently live in a 125 year-old home in Leesburg, Virginia with their three kids. They met in college at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and named their photography business after their dating relationship that took a few tries to get right. They love the world of wedding photography because of the incredible witness it has been for their own marriage, observing the love of couples each weekend and seeing their joy as they make their vows.