How to Prepare for a Couple or Engagement Photo Session

April 19, 2022

Kelsey Justice

Couple, Engagement

Buckle up, because I’m dishing out everything you need to know to get prepared for your couple or engagement shoot.  And I mean everything.  I’ll cover general photoshoot tips, what to wear, what to bring, what to expect, and cover some additional tips to make it extra helpful.

What to Wear

After you’ve chosen your location, ask yourself, “what does this place make me feel?” If your session is outdoors, is the tone of the location a freeing flower field? A moody waterfall? A chill coffee shop? A trendy downtown scene? Choose outfits that fit into the session location, and choose colors that reflect your surroundings. An outdoorsy color scheme will naturally have more muted blues, greens, or neutrals. If your coffee shop location is industrial, there will be a lot of blacks, blues, ivories, etc. What outfits do you have that coordinate with the color palette that already exists there? 

Coordinate colors & styles – Mix and match without looking like you’re in a fashion catalog. You don’t have to be matchy-matchy, but try to have the clothes complement each other. AND you don’t have to wear the same color!

Always choose classic over trendy – As much as you love that black and yellow striped top now, in five years when you’re looking back at these photos you’ll think you look like a bumblebee. Consider the vibe you want! If you’re wanting a boho vibe, that clothing style will look a lot different from a modern alt vibe.

Solids, simple patterns & neutrals ALWAYS look best – I promise you, you will not regret the decision to wear ivory or grey over bright pink. Side-note: bright orange and yellow is probably the least photogenic color and although red is what your eye goes to first, you most likely don’t want your eyes to fall to your top or skirt first. The reason I encourage people to stick to neutral colors is not for basic aesthetics– It’s because it keeps the sunlight from reflecting the colors back onto your skin, causing discoloration. On a really bright day, red will reflect onto your skin, causing your photographs to have a pink tinge and no true whites. Remember, the two of you need to be the focus of the photos.

Think layers – If you want to spice up an outfit or even make it look like you have more than one or two outfits, bring along jackets or your favorite cardigans and we can throw them on for some of the photos! It’ll give you even more images to choose from and can bring a lot of interesting textures to your photos. A hat can really top things off, even if you are just holding it.

Nine times out of ten it’s best to go with two outfits if the time and place allow – You never know what may happen to an outfit especially if you are hiking through a field or forest for an adventure shoot. If it is an adventurous location wear alternative shoes that you don’t mind getting soiled until you get to the exact photo spot. It could be muddy! Outfits can photograph so differently, so 2 outfits will give you the best options.

Flowy items can be really nice in photos to create movement.

It’s okay to be casual – It’s a common misconception that you have to really dress up for couple/engagement shoots. It’s totally okay to be in comfy overalls, heck, even barefoot! I’m down with whatever you’re feeling!

Above all, be in something that makes you two feel like you. If he never wears a button-down, for the love please don’t make him wear a button-down. The main thing is to visually match each other’s vibe.

I made a BOMB Pinterest board with some ideas here.

Also, you may want to treat yourself to a neutral or light-colored manicure 1 – 2 days prior to your session so that you can take some beautiful shots with your hands (ring shots if you are engaged). You can also treat yourself to professional make-up and hair styling if that makes you feel more confident. Make-up counters like Bobbi Brown inside Saks Fifth Avenue will do your make-up at no extra cost if you buy a few products.

Ideas for What to Bring

  • Cozy, neutral blanket – these will keep you warm if it is cold and make for some sweet moments or are perfect for sitting poses
  • Accessories that you want images of (like your engagement ring, etc.)
  • Anything you want to be incorporated in a photo (signs, vows, letters, etc.)
  • Florals – if you are interested in having florals, let’s chat so we can get some really great ones!
  • Warm drinks if its cold or cold drinks if its hot
  • Champagne or some other bubbly if you’re celebrating!
  • Snacks – because duh
  • Umbrellas in case it rains – these can make for some really cute photos
  • Letters that you’ve written to each other
  • Items from a hobby like roller blades or paddle boards
  • Pets – check with us and we’ll let you know if your location has any rules you’ll need to follow
  • Got a cool motorcycle or truck? ALWAYS bring it!
  • Your favorite Spotify playlist

While you can’t bring all of these things to your couples photoshoot, hopefully, this will spark some interest and get your brain going on how to make your session fully prepared AND mega fun and meaningful!!

What to Expect From Us

The truth is, I am not your run-of-the-mill photographer.  I make sure couples are comfortable and fully engaged with one another during your shoot.  Long gone are the days of awkward smiles and stiff posing. I do something called permission posing that allows you to be 100% yourself so your photos are comfortable, natural, and stunningly gorgeous! And if you want a more editorial, posed look, I can do that too.

The thought of “what am I supposed to do with my hands” has plagued every single one of us any time we have stepped in front of the camera. Let me be the first to say that I TOTALLY GET IT!

Here’s the truth:

You know how to love on each other FAR better than I could ever direct you to. You know what hand you like to hold, who leads when you walk, the spot you like to put your head on their chest. You’re already pros at loving on each other and our job is to capture that.

Here’s what the process usually looks like during your session:

1. We meet face to face at your scheduled date, chat and get warmed up. Arrive at least 15 minutes early. I will begin shooting at your scheduled time and will not be able to go over the appointment time if you are late unless you are willing to pay extra and I don’t have a shoot after.
2. We hike/drive to our spot, taking our time and hanging out.
3. We’ll get to our spot and get you settled.
4. I will give you a little talk about what to expect and get you nice and focused on each other.  I step away and let you get fully present with each other.
5. If I can, I will be playing music over a speaker. Music just makes everything more fun!

But… don’t panic.  If you still feel a bit awkward and don’t quite know what to do, I’ve got all the ideas of things you can do that will be natural for you.  Here are some quick posing tips to help in those scenarios:

  • Lean into your partner. Not physically, though that’s fine too, but I’m talking emotionally here. Look to them for support, connect with them.
  • Ask them questions “what’s your favorite memory from our first year of dating” or “remember that time you did that super funny embarrassing thing and I laughed so hard water came out of my nose?” Things like that can help you focus on what is important about this shoot (the two of you).
  • Move around! Walk, run, dance, sway, etc. If you start to feel like you need more variation or feel awkward, movement is the best way to remedy that.
  • Try to connect to each other physically the whole time. You don’t have to make out the entire time, though you can if ya want! But holding hands or standing super close will help keep you grounded and present.

Trust us. I am not going to let you look weird. I am not going to judge you. I am here to cheer you on and tell you how awesome you are and how adorable you look.

The more you can let us in, put your guard down, and be vulnerable, the more your images will feel like you. Above all, be yourselves!!!

Okay, *NOW* you’re ready for your couples photoshoot!

We’ve walked through all the big q’s and what to expect! I would love to jam over email or text to get a game plan perfect for your couple or engagement photo shoot so we can make it unique! 

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