The Engagement Session
table of contents
• What every couple needs to know • how to choose a date and time • selecting the right location • Styling your session • wanna travel for your session? • Style Tips: for her • what to wear • coordinating colors and looks • Flattering your features • accessorizing • hair and makeup • the final touch • fashion tips: for him • it's all in the details • prepping your man • one final note •
What Every Couple Needs To Know
THE ENGAGEMENT SESSION IS ONE OF OUR favorite parts of our time together because it gives you both a chance to be in front of the cameras before you get married, which is going to make your wedding day experience feel so smooth and seamless. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to develop a relationship and for you to experience how we will work together to create beautiful images. The more you trust us the more comfortable you will be in front of the camera on your wedding day.
THINK OF THIS AS just another date night and we are the third wheel. We spend an hour or two together hanging out exploring an awesome location. We promise good conversation and lots of laughs. We are always happy to meet up for coffee or cocktails prior to the session if you think it will help calm your nerves or you want a little buffer before you find yourself in front of the camera. We are so excited to capture the only time in your life when you get to be each other’s fiancés.
THIS GUIDE is packed with all our best secrets for getting the most out of your engagement experience. Go ahead and delve right in!
Choosing Time and Date
WE’RE NATURAL LIGHT SPECIALISTS BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT NATURAL light, from the sun and its reflections, creates photographs that feel fresh, timeless and true to real life. We begin all engagement sessions two hours before the scheduled sunset during “the golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. We can do this calculation for you once we nail down a date but you can also use a sunset calculator online to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session. Then, just subtract two hours to figure out your start time. Remember, the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your engagement session date, especially if you’re taking time off work or have evening plans afterward.
An alternative option is to photograph at sunrise. And we do mean at sunrise. You can use a sunrise calendar to determine the time for the date and location of your session. Our start time will begin 30 minutes prior to the scheduled sunrise.
To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early. We only want to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so we’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your favorite one for the second half, and if you’re wearing only one, arrive in that.
QUICK TIP: Our weekends fill up first and far in advance.
You can get a Fast Pass to the front of the line by scheduling mid-week.
Selecting the Right Location
THE LOCATION OF YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION IS UP TO YOU! The first thing to decide is what you would like to feature (besides your wonderful selves of course!) during the is session.. Like you'll see throughout this guide, most of our couples want to showcase the natural beauty of New England and all that it has to offer. Your engagement session is a fun way to give your out-of- town guests a preview of what to expect when they travel to the northeast. We especially love shooting along Maine's rugged coastline because it’s so unique and the light is divine. That being said there are plenty of great options throughout the region, (from cityscapes to mountain tops!) and we’re always up for exploring a new spot together.
Think Outside the Box
THIS IS THE TIME TO THINK outside the box! We encourage you to brainstorm unique locations that you might have special access to that most people don’t. For example, maybe you, or someone in your personal or professional network, can secure permission to a location that would otherwise be off-limits, like a beautiful private estate, private gardens or beaches. Maybe an art gallery or museum, a restaurant before it opens or a secluded city rooftop. Maybe it’s a family cabin, room in an upscale hotel or even on a sailboat. Keep it intimate and personal by utilizing your home, your neighborhood or the place where you vacation often or got engaged. The sky is the limit and bring on the creativity! You’ll be surprised with what you come up with and if something seems out of reach, just remember: you never know until you ask! If you find you are wanting some recommendations we have some great go-to spots within an hours drive of Portland, Maine. Just let us know which type of location you love and we will go from there!
Styling Your Session
WANT YOUR ENGAGEMENT IMAGES TO LOOK MORE EDITORIAL? Bring a little extra something with you! Whether it’s larger items like classic cars, or smaller ones like blankets or hats, even incorporating something as simple as a floral bouquet or champagne with flutes could be a fun way to make your session more unique.
Yes, Dogs are Welcome
AS MEMBERS OF the family we would never discourage you from bringing your pets to the engagement session. Things to note would be that they will not be in all the photographs at the session and you may need someone else to pick them off, drop them off or babysit the fur babies while we continue our session without them. We will coordinate the timing of this once we nail down the date and start time.
YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION includes our travel time anywhere within an hour's drive from Portland, Maine. If you’d like to go somewhere outside this area, we’re up for the adventure! The travel fee for two-hour drives to places like Boston or the White Mountains is $250.
We love traveling and are actually on the road, in and around New England, quite a bit. We’ve done photo shoots from coast to coast and everywhere in between, so if we’re already going to be in or near an area you’ve always dreamed of doing your photos, and we can coordinate our schedules, let’s set it up. We’d love to make it work!
If you’d like us to meet you in a destination outside of Maine for your engagement session where we don’t already have plans to visit, just let us know and we can get you a custom travel quote.
Dress It Up
LONG, FLOWY DRESSES AND SKIRTS LOOK AMAZING ON CAMERA BECAUSE they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the ocean, forest or fields. Sometimes we get lucky and the wind catches them just right adding a little romance to the images. Cute, shorter-length dresses photograph beautifully as well. Dresses and skirts tend to look so stunning on camera because they really flatter the female body. Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your engagement session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to add a new permanent piece to your collection, you can always check out websites such as Rent the Runway because you won't have to spend a lot to feel like a million bucks and you can send the outfits back when the session is over. Of course there is never a bad excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into your closet!
Dress your Style
IF DRESSING UP IS NOT FOR YOU we completely understand. The most important thing is to know your style, to be consistent and to feel comfortable. So channel the sophistication and elegance of Kate Middleton or rock the vintage boho of Janis Joplin. We promise your images will be equally as beautiful whether you reach for the flannel and bean boots or the chic pantsuit with heels. Being true to you is never wrong!
If you need some help defining your style Pinterest is a great place to start. We are happy to review your outfits prior to the shoot so feel free to send us photographs or links.
QUICK TIP: One or two, it is up to you! Bring an outfit for each style mentioned above to add more variety to your session.
You can also utilize layers to get a variety of looks out of one outfit.
WE RECOMMEND WHEN you are selecting outfits that you avoid following the latest trends. Trends will come and go and we don't want you to look back at your photographs and have them feel dated. We want these photographs to have longevity when it comes to decorating your home together, when they are hung on the wall of your childhood home or used on your save the dates. If you really think about it when will the next time be, beyond the rare special occasion, when the two of you will have the opportunity to have beautiful photographs taken again? We don't want to discourage you from being yourself and if you are a highly fashionable and trendy person you should definitely embrace it. But if you aren't sure where you fall on the fashion spectrum keeping things simple and sticking to your wardrobe essentials is always a safe bet.
WHEN CHOOSING COLORS FOR YOUR OUTFITS we recommend selecting lighter tones and more muted shades. By avoiding ultra-bright, bold colors, it will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on the way you feel about each other. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams and leather brown. That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments, and especially complements the ocean. Earthy tones from brown to green and beige to blue also photograph well and complement outdoor locations such as the mountains, barn venues and nature preserves. When selecting this color scheme you will still want to pull from the more muted tones.
Make a Statement
PAIRING AN ACCESSORY OR TWO WITH YOUR OUTFIT CAN REALLY help bring some extra dimension to your images. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not as noticeable on camera. Belts, bracelets and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention.
Skip the Spray Tan
ALTHOUGH IT MIGHT SEEM counter-intuitive, we recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.
A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA: While the focus of the session is on the relationship and interaction between the two of you
give yourself permission to get your ring cleaned and your nails done too!
Flattering Your Features
IN OUR EXPERIENCE, EVERY WOMAN, REGARDLESS OF HER shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos. It is so easy to "hide" behind loose fitting, baggy clothes but the reality is that selecting outfits that allow your natural curves to show will photograph better. CONFIDENCE. It is always the best accessory.
THREE-QUARTER LENGTH SLEEVES create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so we recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.
HEELS ELONGATE WOMEN’S LEGS making them look fabulous. Closed- toes heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!
QUICK TIP: Be sure to bring a pair of flats to wear as we move from place to place.
Especially if your session is taking place along New England's rocky coastline as we will ask you to walk along the rocks.
Hair & Makeup
PROFESSIONAL HAIR & MAKEUP IS not a requirement but definitely it looks amazing and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. From lash extensions to blown-out hair, professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. If possible apply your makeup in natural light so that it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, that’s the type of light we’ll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Most of our brides feel like their makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than you would wear on a normal day, especially when it comes to false lashes, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry! If you are more of an au naturale type of gal don't feel pressured to go all out. A good make up artist will know how to highlight your natural features without making you feel, or look, like someone you are not. In general good makeup artists will know how to get it just right for the camera — and our brides always love the final result.
We work with some amazingly talented and wonderful people that we know you will love working with! Let us know if you need a recommendation and we’ll send over their info.
Coordinating the Looks
AS YOU’RE COORDINATING your outfit with your fiance’s, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palettes coordinate, but don’t necessarily “match.” You should each aim to wear a different dominant color, but stay within a similar color palette family. So if you’re wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then he could wear a navy coat with gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes. Now he has his own dominant color (navy) while still incorporating a few touches of your color palette. Another example? If you are wearing an umber colored sweater (your dominant) with dark skinny jeans and light brown booties, then he could wear a blue shirt (his dominant) with a khaki cardigan paired with denim and dark brown leather shoes. One more? If you are opting for a print, lets say a floral pattern, you will want him to remain in solids. So maybe your navy floral blouse gets complemented with a light chambray button down on him. If he really wants to wear his tiny check shirt let him. But break it up with a solid colored sweater over the top or a simple jacket that will hide the busy pattern a bit. Most of our brides choose their outfit first, and then put together their fiance’s outfit based on that. Once again we are going to mention Pinterest as a great resource for finding color palettes and outfit inspirations. Since we can't afford our own personal stylists it is a nice alternative is to check in on the colorings and pairings being done for celebrity couples.
FROM JAMES BOND TO DON DRAPER, men look most striking in a well-tailored suit. If he has one why not pull it out, if he doesn't maybe now is the time to make that investment. If you are planning on doing a more formal dress option you will want your man to match. Dapper however doesn't always mean "as long as I got my suit and tie." MIX IT UP! Many of our grooms love to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color or denim. It adds some extra visual interest, and can be more fun and be a stronger expression of personality than wearing a suit. We’re personally are big fans of this fresh take on a timeless classic. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye.
AS WE MENTION FOR HER we are not advocating for him to be someone he is not. The most important thing is for him put in some effort when it comes to selecting his outfit(s) and to wear clothes that fit properly. We want him to fight the urge to just throw on a hooded sweatshirt and white nikes and head out the door. Give it some thought. Is he more Indiana Jones with a closet full of canvas, twill and plaid or are his everyday go-to's in line with the Prince Harry and the ivy league prepster? Make sure when planning his outfit you are not competing with your own style, that they are not polar opposites and that you can find items that complement each other.
QUICK TIP: If she is bringing two, guess what? So are you!
WHETHER SHOPPING AT THE MALL or online, you’ll notice the male models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust us when we say that it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats/jackets up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, he could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
TIES, BOWTIES, POCKET SQUARES, COLORED SOCKS, BELTS, TIE CLIPS, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp complements to any outfit. Ultimately it just depends on how formal or casual you want him to go. If you are opting to do two outfits but two are outfits are too stressful for him, no problem! One look will do the trick! He can still mix and match accessories or simply switch out a shirt to complement both of your outfits without doing a full change during the session. Either way, you win.
The Bottom Half
LONG PANTS AND CLOSED-TOED SHOES ARE THE MOST SOPHISTICATED and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on the face you fell in love with. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts and sandals at home. Suit pants, dress pants, colored pants and denim work best, especially when paired with closed-toe shoes. Brown leather shoes complement almost every look, whether he’s wearing something more formal like a full suit or blazer or t-shirt, sweater and jeans. Stylish sneakers (not his gym shoes!) will work but avoid anything too bulky and especially bulky and white.
YOU AND I BOTH KNOW whether he says it or not he wants to be looking his best in photographs and while no one knows better than him what he needs to do and the timeline to do it in here are a few tips (and ones that can be carried over to the wedding routine.) Don't introduce new products (from beard oil to face wash) right before the session. Make sure if he has a product based cleansing regime it is consistent and he isn't starting and stopping it over and over again. If he is bearded or mustachioed have him take note of how many days after a shave he (or you!) love the look best. For the cleanest shave go to a pro. Men's barber shops serve whiskey now, don't they? Hair trims, if applicable, should happen about a week out from the shoot date.
QUICK TIP: Water, water, water!
8 glasses of water a day and your skin will be clean, clear and glowing in your photos.
How T0 Prep Your Man
MOST MEN AREN’T OVERLY EXCITED TO TAKE PHOTOS FOR an hour or two, because they don’t have an expectation of what’s to come and why it’s so important to you. While we are GREAT at quickly getting our couples to relax and enjoy themselves it doesn't hurt to do a little pre-photo shoot prep. If he wasn't involved in hiring us tell him why you chose us and have him scroll through our Instagram account explaining what images you love, why you love them and express to him how much it means to you that he is doing this. We do recommend you don't wait to have this conversation on the way to the session as it may ramp up the nerves instead of calm them down. The most common things we hear from guys before engagement sessions are these: "I hate having my photograph taken" or "I don't like how I look in photos" or "This is going to be so corny." By the time we’re done, though, we hear: "That was really fun and painless" or "That was much easier than I thought it would be" or "It felt like we were just hanging out with a friend"
YOU CAN EXPECT your images to be displayed in an an online proofing gallery that can be shared with your friends and family 3 weeks after the session date. You can share, order prints and albums directly through this link. We can work together on creating an album of the images if you so choose. The two of you will receive a private pin number that will allow you to download the images directly from the gallery. If you would like to purchase a usb of the photographs in a custom linen box (with or without prints) just let us know and we can get you that information.
WE KNOW WE JUST GAVE YOU A LOT TO THINK ABOUT and our intention in creating this guide was to help make your engagement session experience something you’ll look back on fondly, not something that created more stress or added pressure. This advice is here for you if you want/need it and can be just as easily ignored. At the end of the day the location you choose and the outfits you select won’t matter nearly as much as the memories you make together. Your future marriage is the most important thing, and we want your engagement session to be a time for you to just be yourselves and enjoy it. Have fun together. Laugh a lot. And since you are all dressed up and looking your best you might as well grab a reservation at that restaurant you have been dying to try and make a date of it!