By Erin Michele Photography // for The Bride's Avenue
Congratulations! You're engaged! (or maybe you're just wishin' on a star.. wishin' on the 11th minute of the 11th hour.. birthday wishes.. dandelion wishes.. darn it, you'll even give a wishbone a shot if it means your chances of your other half popping the question increases!).
Portrait sessions are almost always difficult for couples because, chances are, you’re not a professional model.
This is why engagement sessions are so important in the lead up to the big day.
- It helps you to determine whether or not your photographer is right for you - if it doesn't feel right or you aren't completely happy with their services from start to finish, DON'T hire them for one of the most important days of your life.
- It's the perfect way for you both to get to know your photographer and for your photographer to become familiar with you, bringing those wedding day nerves right back down.
- It's a pretty good way to prove to your significant other that they'll live through having their photo taken.. and it's actually not all that bad at all!
Of course, not everyone knows the ins and outs of having their picture taken. You'd be surprised at the amount of people that just miss the mark completely when it comes to preparing for their beautiful session..
Shying away from the colour wheel is something you do not want to do! Colours bring out our personalities, our skin tone, our eyes.. Colour tells the story of who we are! Pops of colour are a good thing.. keyword being "Pops". Avoid wearing the ENTIRE colour wheel.
DON'T DO THE 'MATCHY-MATCHY' THING
Sometimes 'matchy-matchy' works, most times it doesn't. Matching your beautiful navy blue dress with his navy blue pants and navy blue shirt probably isn't going to look appealing.. actually, it won't look appealing at all. As cute as you think you two look, don't match EVERYTHING!
Coordinating is different to making your entire outfit "match". Coordinating an outfit is when that beautiful navy blue dress matches his navy blue tie. Keeping with those "pops" of colour, you could add a pair of red heels or flats to that navy blue dress, or maybe a thin red belt around the small of your waist and a cute red cardigan.
Yellow is also a great colour "pop". If you're ever worried about colours, go to your photographer!
DON'T WEAR TIGHT OR RESTRICTING CLOTHING
Unless it is what you wear on a regular basis, tight clothing is a big "no no".
Wearing something that is uncomfortable and restricts your movement, or your ability to breathe efficiently, is not a good idea. If you feel uncomfortable, you will LOOK uncomfortable.
You would be better to wear a pair of nice dark jeans, some flats, a well fitted shirt and accessorise with long necklaces or a scarf.
Now, remember, 'tight' does not mean 'fitted'. We want your body to have shape, without it having lack of oxygen.
DON'T WEAR ANYTHING TOO 'BAGGY'
I know. But try to find a nice balance between "Can't breathe" and "Can't tell that I'm wearing my pj's under all this bagginess".
If you wear clothing that is too big and doesn't fit your body properly, you will look much larger than you actually are, and really, that's something that no one purposely wants.
DO BE TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE
If you wouldn't wear it normally, don't wear it for a photo session for portraits you'll have for life.
I have clients that have contacted me long after their sessions and are still kicking themselves for wearing that outfit that they only wore because their friend told them they should. It wasn't true to their style and didn't reflect who they were.
DON'T WEAR LOGOS, PRINTS OR PHRASES
My pet peeve of all peeves! Sometimes it slips our minds. I once had to retouch an image of two young girls because they had "Bonds" on their stockings under their beautiful dresses. Easy done. But when you arrive wearing a shirt that says "I'm with stupid" or has "STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON" plastered across the front, I'm going to suggest a huge amount of poses that hide said shirt and hope for the best.
These portraits are forever. Fashion trends are not (if you can call an "I'm with stupid" t-shirt a "fashion trend").
DO THINK OF THE SMALLER DETAILS
Your nails.. a hair cut.. cleaning your shoes.. ironing shirts and dresses.
As we said, these portraits will be something that you have for a lifetime. You will be able to look back on them in 20.. 30.. 40 years time, and remember how it all began.
Consider a mani/pedi. If you're going to get your hair cut or coloured, do it a week or two prior to your session to allow for your colour to settle and for your cut to not look so "fresh". Remember, you want the best of yourself; the way you usually look.
You'd also be amazed at the amount of dirty shoes and wrinkled outfits that make their way in front of my lens!
DON'T TRY NEW THINGS (HAIR & MAKEUP)
Again, you'd be surprised. So many people assume that, to look their best, they have to try something new. It never ends well.
Either your hair &/or makeup looks nothing like you'd planned so you feel deflated before you've even arrived for your session, or you spend the entire session annoyed that your fringe is holding too much of a "flick" than your used to, distracting you and your other half.
Often, our brides-to-be want to have their wedding trials for their hair and makeup, done on the day of their engagement session.
This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Either they'll be amazing, you'll look great and you'll hire them for the big day.. or you'll look and feel like you would have been better off doing it yourself.
This is an 'each to their own' kind of scenario. As long as you feel amazing, then who cares?!
DO REMEMBER THAT YOU'RE NOT EXPECTED TO KNOW A DARN THING!
No one knows how to pose. No one knows where to put their hands or whether they should be smiling.
A good photographer will talk you through the steps and make you feel comfortable. They'll give you direction and tell you what they want from you.
They'll be able to read your body language and know when you need a little more direction.
Believe it or not, it's actually easier for your photographer to photograph you if you aren't trained. Models hold themselves differently, and chances are, that's not the look that your photographer is wanting to capture.
But in all this, remember.. you are not expected to know what you're doing.