What’s an Engagement Shoot For & Do We Need One?

If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked this question…

So, here’s the thing – no one really needs an engagement shoot, but you might want one.

Some might consider an engagement or pre-wedding photography session as an unnecessary extravagance, and they might be right. But it can also be considered an important part of the preparations for the wedding day; a bit like a hair and make-up rehearsal.

I ramble on quite a lot about how important it is for a photographer to connect and build a relationship with their clients for lots of reasons but two biggies are:

  1. When people are familiar with each other, they relax, and relaxed people look more natural in photographs.An engagement shoot provides us with an hour or two together to get to know each other, but also the time and opportunity (that isn’t available during a wedding day due to time constraints) to get creative and for me to teach you some techniques for looking relaxed on camera when you’re not necessarily feeling it. When it comes to your wedding day, you will already know what to expect, some of the things we do will be the same and the results of your ‘practice’ during the engagement shoot will be evident in your wedding photos.

  2. The more time I spend with my clients and the better I know them – their likes/dislikes, what makes them tick, their values, ethos etc… And the better I know my clients, the easier it is to provide them with exactly what they want – even if they are unable to put exactly what they want into words, which is common. (You might think I ask a lot of questions when we meet and this is why.)I will notice (because it’s my job to and not because I’m weird) whether you’re hand-holders, cuddlers, neck-snuzzlers or whatever your preferred methods of PDAs are and it will influence what I do with your photographs. (I will also remember if you drop into conversation that you hate your knees and your right earlobe.) So, if I suggest something that you would never normally do in real life which feels awkward and alien to you, the resulting photo is unlikely to be your favourite. Not because it’s a bad photo but because you don’t feel like you in it (or because I’ve inadvertently accentuated your awful knees!)An engagement shoot allows me to suss all these things out in advance, so that on your wedding day I can focus more on what I know works well.Obviously I can suss these things out on the hoof on your wedding day too, that’s my job but it might take a bit more time which means there’s a little bit less time for you to spend with your guests and the canapes.

Without exception, every couple who has had an engagement shoot with me, has been more comfortable and relaxed having their photo taken on their wedding day. They know what to expect and we are able to use the limited time we have to maximum effect and create a collection of photos that really are tailored and unique to them.

So, do you need an engagement shoot? No.

Should you have an engagement shoot? Yes.* I think every couple would benefit from an engagement shoot. You’re investing a lot of money in your wedding photography and the best photographs happen when the couple and the photographer are a great team and working together.

*Disclaimer – Unless you’re both professional models.

Here are some photos from a recent pre-wedding photography session in Marlow, Buckinghamshire for you to enjoy while you digest all that.