choosing the perfect time, location, outfit & More!
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Second, you can showcase your personalities in a more casual setting that is signficant to the two of you (and even include pets!). While they’re great for save-the-dates, we’ve taken engagement photos anywhere from 18 months in advance to a few days before the wedding.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a session and since we get asked the same things over and over again, we thought it would be the most beneficial if we put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know.
We’ll cover what to wear, whether to bring pets & how to manage them, location ideas and more!
- Johanna & The Team
We’re so excited to be working with you and we can’t wait for our time together during your engagement session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. We always tell people that we still get nervous before having our photos taken - and we do this for a living!
We’re big fans of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how we pose. Timelines can be pretty tight on weddings days and 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits - which is why we’ve found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time.
A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE
We get it. Having your picture taken for 1-2 hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera. But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun. I look forward to it because it’s a great opportunity for us all to hang out a bit before the wedding day.
A NOTE TO
Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few days before the wedding. We’ve found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. We normally plan sessions based on a particular “look” a couple has in mind, spring flowers for example, or based on schedules.
Sessions typically last about an hour and a half and when when we can—we love to begin sessions about two hours before sunset. We prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches. The first two hours after sunrise is also an ideal time to shoot.
We schedule sessions during what we believe will be the best light of the day - which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before we’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises.
While we shoot most of our engagement sessions between April and late November, sessions can take place all year. Most of our couples choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot.
A few things to keep in mind during each season:
If you’re planning to take your engagement photos during the winter, keep in mind that if your session takes place in the evening, we could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. We recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can warm up. Make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues in case your nose begins running.
snowfall, hot cocoa and cozy coats
In spite of the heat, we’re big fans of summer sessions! Because of the later sunset, sessions sometimes begin as late as 6pm. If you’re taking your engagement photos during the summer, we recommend bringing extra makeup and a few towels to make sure you stay fresh throughout your session.
walks on the beach hand in hand
If your wedding is local, save the dates should be sent between 6 and 8 months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, you’ll want to send them out 8 to 10 months before the wedding.
If you’re hoping to use your engagement photos for your save the dates, we recommend scheduling your session at least two months before you plan to send out your save-the-dates. Between inclement weather, editing, designing your save-the-dates and printing, two months is generally a safe amount of time to make sure your images and cards are ready.
The above locations are all beautiful but we also love exploring meaningful locations with our couples!
Sailing / Boating
Catalina Day Trip
Tree & Flower Farms
Calabasas Open Space Park
DTLA - Arts District
Pasadena City Center
Santa Monica Pier
Local Hotel Gardens
An old mansion
CLASSIC & ELEGANT
We love when couples choose a location for their session that complements their wedding. For example if you’re planning a chic, elegant wedding, it may be fitting to take your engagement portraits among the classic architecture in downtown LA, while a local park or flower-filled fields may be more fitting for a couple planning a more rustic affair. The best session locations are often meaningful places to the couple; however, we’re also happy to make recommendations. From beaches to lavender fields to apple picking and college campuses, the options for engagement session locations are endless!
Los Angeles AND Surrounding LOCATIONS
While we take most of our engagement sessions in the Los Angeles area,
we’ve photographed sessions everywhere from Italy to New York City to Paris. If you have a location in mind that is significant to the two of you, let us know because if our schedules align, we might be able to take your engagement photos in your dream location.
For our destination wedding couples, most Collections include a destination engagement session on location .
Travel fees may apply depending on the location and our availability.
Our bunny is huge part of our family, which is why we love when couples choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location.
We recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend take them home. We won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots.
If you’re going to bring a pet, we recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pets favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot.
When picking outfits we recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom-to-be is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride-to-be may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.
Generally couples pick two outfits for an engagement session: a more formal outfit and a casual outfit. We recommend saving your favorite outfit for later in the session, when couples usually feel more comfortable in front of the camera. And don’t forget to bring a few accesorries! Statement necklaces, cute shoes and classic watches are great ways to add detail to outfits.
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
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Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots.
We love the way larger patterns photograph - just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.
Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. We love bright, neon dresses, but we don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion.
for the ladies
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Statement jewelry is a great way to add color or pattern to a simple dress.
Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs.
And dresses with lace sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress!
They look great in walking and photos with movement. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to dress up!
for the ladies
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One Loved Babe
Rent the Runway
Hazel & Olive
for the ladies
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Engagement sessions are the perfect time for a hair and makeup trial! Professionally done hair & makeup last longer than typical hair & makeup. They also tend to hold up better for humitiy and wind.
We think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your engagement photos - and if you’re planning to do a hair & makeup trial anyways, the engagement session is a great time to test how your hair & makeup look on camera.
for the ladies
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There will probably be times during your session when we’re shooting your hands holding or the engagement ring on your hand - which means it’s a good idea to clean up your nails before your session (this applies to the guys too!).
for the ladies
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You can’t go wrong with a suit and tie. Consider pulling out that suit you had to wear last time you were a groomsmen!
Layer with a blazer and a fun tie - you can even wear jeans with this look.
Bowties are always a good idea.
Be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy. Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. Cozy sweaters layered over button ups are a great way to stay warm and stylish during the cooler months.
for the gents
It’s typical for us to schedule two engagement session dates. A primary date and a rain date. Having two dates helps us make sure that your photos happen in a timely manner. Coordinating schedules can be tough and we’ve found that the best way to make sure our couples get the look they have in mind for their photos is to schedule two dates at the same time.
We’ll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. We know it takes a lot of time to get ready for engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let us know what works best for the two of you - but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, we typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance.
what to do if it rains
When we can, we always try to take a photo of your ring during your engagement session - so it’s a good idea to have it cleaned or clean it yourself before your shoot! To clean at home, soak your ring in warm water with dishwashing soap for 20 to 40 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.
If you’re planning to bring props to your engagement session, we recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you. Shots of drinking coffee at a local coffee shop would be cute if that’s where you met; however, a trying to fly a kite together when it’s not a part of your relationship may come off as contrived.
champagne is always a good idea
When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! We’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If we tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because we know it’s going to make the two of you laugh - and that’s the photo we’re actually looking for.
Throughout your session, we’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. We want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together!
If you’re anything like us, you probably don’t get dressed up all that often. Which means that the day of your engagement session is the perfect occasion for a date night (or brunch if your session is in the morning!)
The engagement session is another part of celebrating your love and heading off to dinner is a great way to end the session!
As soon as possible after your session is complete, we’ll start editing your photos and/or ship your film off to our lab, if applicable. It normally takes them about 10 business days to send the digital files back to us - and then it takes us about a week to edit your images. Unless we have a holiday closure, you can expect to receive your engagement photos between 3 and 4 weeks after your engagement session.
We know that this guide is long and hopefully it covers everything you need to know to prep for your engagement session! However if there is something we missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email