If you’re a little stuck on how to plan outfits for your upcoming engagement session, here are some tips to help guide your decision-making, from both my experience as a photographer, and as a subject.
1. Consider the Weather
Seems obvious, but its a good place to start.
Don’t underdress on a cold day.
Example: Sleeveless dress on a late fall session. In the cold, our muscles tend to tense up. Jaws tighten, shoulders rise up to our ears, our skin becomes rosy, etc.
Don’t overdress on a hot day.
Example: Fleece sweater with jeans in mid-July. Sweaty and uncomfortable outfits will lead to awkward photos! Wear outfits that are easily layered and un-layered.
Props, tools, and ideas to consider for the weather:
An umbrella, a blanket for wrapping up against the wind, extra water bottles, extra pair of walking shoes, etc.
2. Dress Comfortably, Be Comfortable
If you’re planning on buying new outfits on the day of your session,
DON’T DO THIS!! PLEASE TRUST ME!!!!!
Decide on outfits at least a week before your shoot. Stick to styles that you gravitate toward, the style of clothes that make you feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident!
Sometimes, mirrors in department stores have a ‘magic mirror’ effect. Read about it in this article and this one, too.
Accept helpful advice from friends and family, but don’t wear anything that makes you feel insecure. I need you to note that it is not my job to photoshop you to look a way that you’d like to look (i.e. “Make my arms skinnier”, “make my butt rounder”, etc.) I know that you are a beautiful person with a beautiful soul, more than the size of your waist (whether it be small or full). And having been insecure on the other side of the camera, as well, I understand how you might feel. It’s my job to assure you to trust me when I say, you in the natural, are perfect, and that’s who I’m trying to photograph.
3. Color & Style Sync
When combining your outfits with your SO’s, ask yourself:
Are our colors and patterns clashing?
“Will my red stripes and his green plaid go well together when framed?”
Do our colors blend well together?
“Will my neon yellow band shirt clash with his black dress pants?”
Do our styles coordinate?
“Am I dressed like I’m going to a job interview while my partner is dressed like James Dean?”
Soft, solid colors are something I ALWAYS recommend to my engaged couples, and seniors, as well. I even recommend staying away from too much black.
The photo below shows Darin and Alaina in soft, natural, light colors. Their patterns aren’t colliding or competing with each other (let alone nabbing attention from their faces or the moment, or the environment).
The outfits compliment everything about this photo. And that’s the point I’m trying to make. Try not to get too caught up in a complex, flashy outfit, because this isn’t a ‘fashion’ shoot per say. It’s a shoot to document real, beautiful moments of love, and I don’t want anything to take away from it.
And consider whether your outfits coordinate with your environment as well. More formal wear blends well in an urban setting, compared to a hiking trail.
4. Makeup and Hair
Feeling comfortable and confident with your appearance should be your number one goal when preparing for your session. Looking like a complete different person should not be your end result. You’ll, more than likely, feel unsure and uncomfortable throughout our time together.
But, that’s not to say that there isn’t a balance! I like to suggest my brides-to-be to have their makeup and hair trial run done for their engagement session. This kills a few birds with one stone–she feels beautiful for her session and it feels more special–more ‘invested’, she gets to see how the hair style and makeup looks in the pictures, she gets to see how the look holds throughout the day, and it gives her a little more assurance toward keeping or changing it.
If you plan on wearing heels or otherwise uncomfortable shoes to a shoot, bring a pair of comfortable flats or slip-on shoes for walking around in between poses.
6. Outfit Changes and Props
My photo sessions allow for an outfit change or two–take advantage of this! Outfit changes add diversity to your session.
As far as props go, I might bring a few with me, depending on the type of session, but please don’t rely on this. Bring your own possessions that you’d like to incorporate, so we can personalize your session. Luke and Becky brought their cute little puppy Harlie, and Becky made some cute chalk-board signs, as well!
7. Consider a Theme
A picnic in the park, exploring the city, coffee on the patio of a cafe…the ideas are endless! Themes, or having something to do for your session, bring it to life.
8. Consider the Purpose
Do you plan on using photos for invitations? Gifts? Let me know your plans so we can be prepared.
If you’d like to bring your furry friends to a shoot, please let me know. There are some minor limitations. (i.e. tarantulas make me nauseous, your feathered friends might fly away, etc.) Also, please note that, depending on your photographer, there might be an extra cost to have your fur babies tag along.
A genuine smile is the best thing you can bring to your session. And yes, your smile is beautiful whether you think so or not!
The reason I started taking pictures in the first place, almost a decade ago, was to prove this to my friends and family. I find beauty in everyone I photograph, and I don’t want you to feel insecure, when all I want to do is celebrate your love story!
So be happy, be yourself, and smile!
I hope this has helped you prepare for your photoshoot! Smile & shine! <3