Engagement Shoots – Their Benefits And Why You Should Have One

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Those of you who have followed Love My Dress for a little while may have noticed a paucity of featured ‘engagement shoots‘.  It’s not that I dislike the concept of this pre-wedding photo opportunity, it’s more that up to now, I’ve struggled to truly see the value of sharing such images with our readers. Especially not when we could be loaning our wedding blog pages to sharing, well, actual weddings – features that are usually much richer in visual inspiration and supplier details.

But my opinion on engagement shoots has changed of late and I’m keen to share some of the reasons why and further explore and discuss their benefits with you.

Fine Art Film Photography by Taylor & Porter

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I’ve been blogging now for almost six years (pinch myself moment!), and for the better part of this time, I have to admit that I’ve tended to pass over the majority of engagement shoot submissions, out of habit I guess, more than anything.  And then the photographs you see on this page here today landed in my inbox and in reflecting on their sheer loveliness, I found myself asking, ‘why don’t I feature more engagement shoots?’, ‘what’s my problem?’

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Part of the reason is how the role of Love My Dress has changed over the past six years.  In my early days of blogging, I made decisions on the kind of content we featured that were dependent on how full of inspiring detail the photographs were.  Colourful wedding day decor that had an arresting visual impact and would leave the reader thinking, Wow! I really want my wedding to look like that!

Let’s just say, I approach things in a much less superficial way these days. Love My Dress has developed into a blog that celebrates love more than anything else. Details, decor – I love it all and we will always celebrate those things, but it’s the stirring of heartfelt and authentic emotions that I’m seeking when we’re approving content for publication nowadays.  You only have to read up on the ‘Share The Honest Love’ campaign  (also see here) to understand more of where I’m coming from.

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And so I saw absolutely no reason why I would not, could not share these photographs with you today. Alice isn’t wearing a dress, there is no cake or snazzy homemade decor or pretty maids lined up all in a row – but none of that matters.  These beautiful images move me, and I say that with all sincerity.  Aside from the fact they have been captured so beautifully on film (which I adore), and shot with a romantic English meadow playing backdrop and despite their wonderful free spirited vibe – what I see the most is a couple in true, wholesome beautiful love with one another.

These photographs capture and portray that love in such an authentic way.  I would love to possess such a treasured set of images of my own.

wpid380038 fine art film photography engagement shoot taylor and porter 6The love in these images is practically tangible – it makes my hairs stand on end in the same way that listening to a magnificently composed piece of music or watching a touchingly romantic scene in a movie would. Indeed, that the photographer has been able to portray the chemistry between the couple so well is testament to her brilliant ability to relax her clients at will, allowing them to just ‘be’. There’s not a hint of contrivance – not one whiff of anything forced or fake or ‘just for the sake of it’.

Wouldn’t it be a great thing to be able to feel exactly that way in front of the camera on your wedding day?  These guys aren’t professional models – they’re completely normal people like you and me.  And yet, how many of you can confess to experiencing a little fear and mild anxiety that you’ll feel silly, awkward, stiff or posed in front of the camera on your wedding day?

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This is precisely one of the reasons I think that engagement shoots are such a brilliant idea, and always have done – they provide the perfect opportunity to get to you know your photographer and to get to know one another that tiny little bit more.

Learning to smile and laugh naturally and be at complete and utter ease as a photographer directs you how to pose, can for some of you I know, feel like a pretty scary prospect. An engagement shoot provides the chance for a test run. A rehearsal in a completely relaxed and pressure free environment. Let’s explore this some more and consider how an engagement shoot could work for you and why I really want you to stop, think about and be inspired by these photographs today.

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The images you see featured on this page today are from a shoot with recent newlywed Alice and Rob. They were taken shortly before their wedding in Cornwall this year by fine art film photographers, Taylor & Porter….

I know that engagement shoots typically have a very ‘American’ feel to some folks over here, but they have real, sensible and beautiful benefits. As well as being a way to get some gorgeous professional photos taken at this really special time in your lives together they are also a fantastic way to try out other suppliers/vendors and make sure the people you’re choosing to create the vision of your wedding are the right people for you. (Louise, Taylor & Porter)

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So engagement shoots don’t just provide an opportunity for you to bond with your photographer and learn not to feel silly looking down or at each other as your photographer directs you in various natural poses, but to also consider testing out the services of some of the wedding day suppliers you may wish to, or have actually have already booked.

For brides, your hair and makeup artists will probably want to work on a trial with you – so why not combine this day of pampering and looking your best with a chance to get to know your Photographer more? Engagement shoots also provide a really useful and fun way of trying out other vendors you might not have booked yet. Thinking about booking a certain Florist? Why not commission them to create a bouquet or some hair florals for your e-shoot and see if their style really is for you? (Louise, Taylor & Porter)

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You may have booked your Photographer on the basis of their online portfolio but an engagement shoot provides the chance to see them at work, doing what they do best; understand how they ‘create’ and have them show you their style and personality.

 Our couples say they really love the engagement shoot as they get to know us as people and after seeing the results they feel so much more confident going into their wedding day knowing we can create beautiful photographs together. (Louise, Taylor & Porter)

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We didn’t have an engagement shoot. I’m not sure they were really a ‘thing’ back then, like they are now. Perhaps they were, and perhaps it’s simply the proliferation of wedding blogs that have showcased something I simply wasn’t aware of before. Our photographer had only just started out (more on that another time) and we weren’t offered one and didn’t know we could enquire about one.

But had we been given the opportunity, I’m really not sure we’d have gone ahead and accepted. I feel awkward in front of the camera the best of times, and yet, I’d give anything to have a precious set of photographs like this one to treasure. I truly feel that the concept of the engagement shoot has come a long way from being some gratuitous and cringeworthy pre-wedding indulgence (endurance?!). Look at these photographs again, study them and think about how they make you feel – what are the word that swim around in your mind.  I’d hazard a guess that these phrases might be amongst them; love, closeness, stillness, intimacy, shared moments, joy, happiness, excitement, special, romantic, us.  

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If like me, you might up to now have been a little reticent about the idea of an engagement shoot, I’d like to challenge you to reconsider your view. If the opportunity for an engagement shoot is part of the wedding photography package you’re paying for, why not make the most of it. Wouldn’t you like to possess a set of images like these ones to pull out on the rainy day, or perhaps in the aftermath of fall out with the one you love, to remind yourselves of the love you share?

We include an engagement shoot in all our wedding photography collections for the main reason that it’s the best way we’ve found to get to know our clients and build that essential trusting, creative relationship with them. (Louise, Taylor & Porter)

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Whilst I won’t be making any radical changes to the content we publish, I will be considering more carefully those engagement shoots that are submitted to Love My Dress, and especially so when they are as beautiful as this one.  Because I want these images to give you reason to pause for a moment within your busy day and remind yourself how lucky you are to be in love and due to marry, and to even have the opportunity to create some beautiful visual memories of your own, like these ones.

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It’s been such a pleasure to share these photographs with you today – I really hope they give you reason to consider your own engagement shoot, but if you needed a little reminding as to the benefits of such a shoot, I’ve pulled a little list together just for you.

Engagement Shoot Checklist

  1. Enquire if an engagement shoot will be included in your wedding photography package, and if not, how much it will cost (many photographers include them in their package – make sure you check).
  2. Brides – consider arranging a trial of your hair and makeup on the day of your shoot, so you look and feel fresh and amazing.
  3. Talk about potential locations together with your photographer. Your photographer will want to shoot somewhere with good natural light – but it might be important to you to shoot at a location that means something special to you and your fiance – find the place that works best for both you and your photographer.
  4. Don’t be fearful of posing in front of the camera and don’t worry about looking stupid when the photographer directs you in how to pose. Your photographer is an expert – he/she knows exactly what they are doing. Trust them.
  5. Enjoy it! Planning for a wedding is a rare opportunity to focus on some you time and there is nothing wrong or indulgent about that. We all have busy lives – taking time out to commit to something creative and lovely like this is a good thing, so throw yourself into it, enjoy it and maybe book meal out ‘date night’ style to celebrate after your shoot.

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I’d like to thank Louise from Taylor & Porter for sharing these images today. Please take a moment to visit the Taylor and Porter website at taylorandporter.co.uk.  You will also find Taylor and Porter over on Instagram, at Facebook and on Twitter.

What are your thoughts on engagement shoots?

Are you planning one?

Did you have one? How did it go?

Has this feature perhaps persuaded you to consider one?

Photographers – I’d love to hear from you too.

Love Annabel xx


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.

17 thoughts on “Engagement Shoots – Their Benefits And Why You Should Have One

  1. Beautiful shoot – I love it! Thanks to Taylor & Porter for including our naturally dyed silk ribbons and to Love My Dress for featuring it! A refreshing change to see such a romantic and informal set-up! Sian xxx

  2. I just love this. Thanks for posting this! And what beautiful images to accompany the post. I love photographing engagement shoots; it gives me such a great opportunity to really get to know my couples before their wedding day. It really does make such a difference to how they feel in front of the camera on the day. I’m not saying that if they don’t have one, it’s a problem, because the majority of my couples don’t nowadays and you wouldn’t know from the final images, but those that do have one, relax into the process quicker on the day and enjoy it that much more! x

  3. So good to see this on the blog. We sometimes get people asking if there’s a discount if they don’t have an engagement shoot, but from a photographers’ point of view it makes our job SO much harder if we’ve not done one…

    They’re a really useful part of how many photographers get the best out of people on their wedding day. It helps everyone identify what works, what doesn’t work, what makes people comfortable / uncomfortable. And yes, it’s weird having someone poking a camera in your face, but after half an hour or so you get over it. Isn’t it better to get that half hour of weirdness out of the way before your wedding day? You’ll be more relaxed, confident and can get on with the important stuff like getting married 🙂

    More than anything though, we find the most important thing is the trust and connection it helps to build up. Up that point, most communication has either been via email, phone or in that slightly awkward (but unavoidable) “vendor / customer” context of the first meeting. An engagement shoot is as much as anything time to spend a bit of time together, have a bit of a laugh and get to know each other as normal people. Most photographers are with you for the whole day, and share in some of your most personal moments – so much better if we can do it as friends 🙂

  4. A beautifully written piece, as ever. And what a beautiful set of images. Being someone who HATES having their photo taken (and always hates the results of said photos!) this has persuaded me that it will be an important thing to plan. I’m so nervous that I won’t like our wedding photos, not because of the photographer but because I’m the subject! An ‘ice breaker’ session is a brilliant idea!

    1. Oh I am SO pleased to read this Lucy! So so pleased, thank you for taking the time to comment. And I hope you love the opportunity to have some lovely photographs taken 🙂
      Love Annabel xx

  5. Lovely post and beautiful photographs! 🙂
    I find that the couple session on the wedding day is always smoother and faster if I’ve done an engagement shoot with the couple before the day.
    I love getting to know my clients before the wedding day, and this is the perfect way to do it.

  6. Great article! I thought engagement shoots were a bit of a gimmick until one was included for free as part of our photographer’s package. To be honest, initially, we both recoiled at the idea of having extra photos taken of us (we are not naturals in front of the camera!) However, I’m so glad we did it – It was such a great way to get to know our photographer, feel comfortable being directed and hugely put us at ease on the big day. It also helped cement we’d pick the right person for the job. Both of us are very awkward in front of a camera at the best of times and very much in need of some direction, however we were also very keen to avoid photos that looked staged or forced. That is quite a hard balance to strike but our photographer got it exactly right on our engagement shoot (and on the big day too) and so we felt relaxed and confident about being photographed on our wedding day too x

    1. This is 100% my fiance and I’s engagement photo story. We had seen so many posey cringe ones that it’s not anything we ever thought about doing until our photographer had one included in her package. Even then we thought about trying to switch it for something else, but she convinced us to do it (for most of the reasons in this post) and I’m SO happy with the results. Our wedding is next month and I’m sure, like you, our photos will be better because we had the engagement shoot.

  7. Wonderful post Annabel! A session like this sparks a connection between the photographer and the couple – this makes all the difference on the wedding day. Thank you for pointing that out. xo

  8. I couldn’t agree more with the article. The only thing I would say.. When they know that most of the coverage on the actual wedding day will be documentary, the engagement shoot can often be less documentary and more posed, as the shots with B&G are usually more posed and directed, so the engagement shoot can often give a false sense of how much of your coverage is candid vs staged.

  9. As wedding photographers, we love engagement sessions! They give us a chance to meet the couple a bit more beside the chat over coffee and also the couple gets to know our style of photography a bit more and it also helps to get the portraits on the wedding day run faster and in an even more relaxed atmosphere 🙂

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