I didn't think we wanted engagement photos. My partner hates being the center of attention and has requested we try to find a wedding photographer who won't act like paparazzi. But a lot of the photographers I'm seeing have packages that include an engagement session.
I don't think we want to do them, even if they're free. What do people even use them for? Is there any reason to do them? -spacadet
So here's something weird about free engagement shoots: they're really not about the photos that are produced or what you do with them. They're about practicing.
Photographers who are smart often include free engagement sessions for their wedding photographer clients, because the "need to practice" issue is hugely important for both the photographer AND the couple! The couple needs to get comfortable both with being photographed and with the photographer… and the photographer needs to get comfortable with the couple's personalities, styles, and quirks.
This is especially true if your partner is camera shy. Those of us who hate being photographed can get really awkward around cameras, and are prone to doing things like always making the same terrified/frozen smile every time the shutter snaps. A good photographer will work to get both of you comfortable, and look for ways to make you relax and settle in so that they can capture more natural, honest expressions.
As for what people do with engagement photos, here are a few of the most common uses:
- Cards (save the dates, thank yous, or holidays)
- Gifts for parents (who are probably still displaying your high school portrait)
- Facebook profile pictures
That said, even if you literally NEVER look at the engagement photos, the huge value of a trial run for both you and the photographer makes them completely worth your time. While I'd never suggest anyone feel like they need to pay extra for an engagement session, smart photographers include them in a wedding package — and smart couples take them up on the offer.
Oh, and if part of why you're hesitant to do them is because you think engagement shoots are all about contrived lovey-dovey poses, here are a few of our favorite engagement shoot concepts that we've collected in our Engagement Shoot Inspiration Pinterest board.
PS: If you're hesitant about doing an engagement shoot, you may also want want to read this post: The "less-than-photogenic" couple's guide to engagement pictures.