An engagement day is when we go on a photographic date with one of our couples before their wedding day. The couple chooses a place that has meaning for them and we spend a few hours together photographing their day. We really enjoy these sessions for a few reasons. One is we get to shoot some great images of a loving couple. Another reason is that we get to know them and they get to know us. Many times people, especially guys, are uncomfortable having their pictures taken. That could make for a more difficult wedding day photographically for the couple and naturally for us. But being out with us photographing them, before the wedding day, gives them a chance to become comfortable with us. It also give us the chance to build trust with the couple.
What do I mean by trust? I think the main reasons people are uncomfortable in front of a camera is twofold. One is that they are worried about how they will look in the pictures. The other is they think they will be posed and made to stand still for long periods while the photographer tells them to, "Move your hand over here, tilt your head to the left, stand on one foot or here, let me fix your pants." You can see why guys might be uncomfortable!! As I said, most people are self conscience about how they perceive they look. With all these factors, no wonder people are uncomfortable having their picture taken.
When we were kids I remember photographers who I swear at one time worked for the gestapo. They would pull us by whatever limb was handy to the spot they wanted, telling us not to move, no kidding around with each other and then yell at us to stop fidgeting. I was 8 years old, I majored in fidgeting. It's the one thing 8 year olds are good at. Hell, I could have taught a class in it. The whole process would take, what seemed to be, hours, with this older man smoking in our faces telling us finally to, SMILE!!! You wonder why people get the shakes at the thought of having their pictures taken??
The engagement day allows us to get to know each other. They have a chance to see our style and to realize we will take the shot without spending hours setting it up. Most of the time they pick a spot and we tell them to ignore us. We then try and take some candid images of the two of them relating. I tell them to act as though we were not there, as if no one else was there and to do what comes naturally, to a point! None of us want an images of the couple being led away by the police.
A little trick I use is on our first shot, I try and pick a spot which is just okay. If I get a shot great: if not, no problem, we move one. Why would I do that? I have found that during the first shot the couple will be a little stiff, not yet comfortable. It is our job to relax them during that first image. We do that by being prepared, shooting it quickly, joking both with them and between ourselves. We try and create our relationship with them during those first few minutes together. On the way to the first shot, we walk with them, talking to them, asking them questions in a very relaxed manner. After the first shot, we usually leave them alone, letting them spend the day together with us walking behind chronicling their day and celebrating their engagement to each other.
I am sometimes asked if we are journalistic style photographers. I answer yes we but we are also traditional photographers, if we need to be to get the image we feel is a great one. I have no problem asking a bride to hold a natural pose while I find the best angle to take the image I know she will love. That is our job, to take the images that will help make memories.
We think these engagement days are so important to the success of the wedding day images that we now include them at no extra cost with all our wedding packages. The following images are from some of our engagement days. The images are sometimes used by us to design a guest sign in book for the wedding day. The last three images are from one couple's book.