I talked my fiancé into doing engagement pictures basically because I believed the posts on Offbeat Bride that suggested engagement pics are a great way to get comfortable being photographed… and they are a nice memento.
Problem the first: My guy felt completely un-photogenic and had no interest in paying someone to follow us around a forest taking pictures of us making out. I actually struggle with low self-esteem, and am currently in therapy about it. So the idea of spending money on a photo shoot made me uncomfortable, but I figured if the pictures turned out well it would help us both feel more comfortable in our skin.
Problem the second: We currently live in the middle of Alaska. We're getting married in Seattle. Yes, most photographers offer free engagement shoots when you book them for your wedding. But I couldn't wait to get engagement pictures done, and my fiancé and I agreed that if we did get them, we'd want them to be mementos of the time we spent in Alaska. So, I needed to find a photographer in this small town who would do JUST an engagement shoot, and do it well enough that the final result would convince my fiancé that he's a hottie.
I was also fairly nervous because I convinced myself that when we did eventually find a photographer for the wedding in Seattle he or she would be angry with us that we'd already done engagement pictures, or he or she would insist we redo them (because of the valuable role engagement pics can have in getting a photographer and the couple on the same page), or would think we were cretins. I don't know. I have a lot of thoughts that don't make a lot of rational sense, okay?
But here's what happened, and what I learned from the experience:
- Our engagement photographer was FINE with us not using her as our wedding photographer. We had a clear reason why we couldn't — we are getting married in Seattle but living in Alaska. She did tell us she'd be willing to travel, but she understood that this was outside our budget. She didn't hold it against us.
- Our photographer in Seattle didn't hate us for already having taken engagement pictures. I read a lot of stuff online about photographers insisting you do engagement pics with them so they can get to know you, but this photographer did not insist we do a second set. That allayed of my fears.
- Taking the engagement pictures was MUCH LESS SCARY than I thought it would be. I spent weeks reading everything I could find about what to wear, how to do your makeup, etc. Honestly, it wasn't nearly as difficult and scary as I thought it would be.
- I did my makeup for the pictures. I read the Offbeat Bride guide to doing wedding makeup and adjusted it. I used Urban Decay face primer, concealer, MAC eye primer, MAC eyeshadow, blush, a tiny bit of eyeliner, and mascara. I also got a new lipstick and gloss for the occasion. It turned out really well.
- I just wore the outfit I felt most comfortable in. My fiancé bought a new shirt. We both felt cute in our outfits.
- Our biggest mistake: NOT WEARING BUG SPRAY. We spent the entire shoot being eaten alive.
- Our photographer chose the location. We hadn't visited it before the shoot. We told her we trusted her judgment and we made the right call.
- We didn't use props. No Pinterest perfect chalkboards, or bunting showing our date, or “Thank you” or whatever.
- Yes, it is awkward rubbing noses in front of someone but less awkward than either of us imagined.
- Yes, our photographer did push us to do all the heteronormative gendered poses so that I looked like a “little lady” and he looked like a “big, strong man.” I didn't really notice it very much at the time, but in retrospect, she did spend an awfully large amount of time telling us to pose in accordance with our gender.
- We had to choose which 25 pictures we liked the most to keep. For our hour-ish shoot, she had about 150 for us to choose from. 25 was plenty.
The outcome? We both really like the pictures. We both think we look good in them. It definitely helped my fiancé get comfortable in front of the camera, and he's a lot more excited about wedding day photography.
What were your unexpected experiences from your engagement (or post-wedding) photo shoots? Got any tips to share?