What’s the point of engagement photography?
For most people, the what-for and why of wedding photography is pretty self-explanatory. It’s somewhat obvious to most couples why they should hire a photographer to document their wedding day. But I get a lot of questions about engagement photography. People want to know what’s the big deal. So I thought I’d take a minute and discuss with you why I think engagement photography is actually pretty darn important.
First, let’s talk about your wedding day. It’s a big day. You’re having a once in a lifetime moment. You only get married once. (I’m not going there, ok? )So it’s pretty obvious that you would want to document it somehow. So you hire a photographer. And it’s not cheap. And then, when you add it all up, the cost of the venue, the catering, the flowers, the music, and everything else, you flip out and hyperventilate a little and start to look for ways to save a few dollars here and there. And one thing people often cut out to save moolah is the engagement session.Fair enough.
But before you make that decision, hear me out. Because I think it might be a mistake for some people, and I’m not saying that just to up-sell you on engagement photography (’cause that’s icky). Because I’ll be the first person to encourage you to find a way to have engagement photos made, even if you don’t hire me to do it.
The main difference between wedding photography and engagement photography is really very simple from my perspective. When I’m shooting a wedding, I’m documenting what you are doing. I’m making photos of you, your family, your guests, enjoying the events of a very important day. I’m creating a visual documentation of everything that happens to help you preserve your memories of the day. And that’s incredibly important.
But when I make engagement photos, it’s just the three of us hanging out for a couple of hours. We get a chance to joke around, and I ask you questions about who you are. We pick a location that is somewhere you feel comfortable. Maybe you spend a lot of time at a certain park, or in this groovy part of downtown. And the location reflects something about who you are, and you feel comfortable there. And after about 30 minutes, you stop feeling so awkward in front of the camera, and in front of this stranger, and you relax a little. And after about an hour, you start suggesting things to do and try. And you guys are giggling and having a good time.
At this point, something really cool has happened. There’s a reason that 75% of the photos in any engagement photography session come from the last half of the session. Because by the end of the session, you are relaxed and happy and feeling like yourself, which means that we’re making portraits, not just snapshots. And we’re making portraits of you guys just as you are right now… happy, in love, and beautiful. So beautiful.
Because wedding photos are neat, but wedding photography is really about making photos of what you’re doing. Engagement photography is about making portraits of who you are right now. And I think that’s something you really want to remember too.