Whether you’re camera shy or love to strike a pose, partaking in engagement photos can be uncharted territory for most couples. Get the 411 on what you can do to ensure you end up loving your engagement photos—and the process too.
Although wedding planning might be a bit (or a lot) stressful, do your best to put that aside, relax, and have fun with your photo shoot. Engagement shoots should be a fun time for us to get to know each other and for you to spend time focusing on being in love and being fiancés—and I get to photograph it! I much prefer candid photos, which unfold from a relaxing, enjoyable time.
If you’re camera shy or anxious before the shoot, that’s normal—but you should find a photographer you’re comfortable with. This is a must. I liken finding a photographer to dating. You need to have chemistry!
Think beyond the engagement photos, and remember this is most likely the person who will be by your side through your wedding day too. You and your photographer should click. I’ve had many self-proclaimed camera-shy couples who tell me they had a blast at the end of their session.
Dress to Impress
What you wear for your shoot is often the second most important outfit you’ll need throughout your wedding events, but where should you begin? I tell people to try to avoid all black or all white. Cobalt blue looks good on a woman. If you notice, that’s why a lot of news anchors and reporters wear it! The main thing is to keep it simple. You’ll want to avoid brand names and distracting patterns to avoid regret down the line.
I also believe it’s best to stick with one outfit versus showcasing a wardrobe, complete with outfit changes and props. However, if you’re craving an outfit change, I suggest one formal look and one more casual option. (Engagement shoots) are one session, so you want it to look cohesive. I’m all about storytelling through imagery, and it helps if the outfit is singular to thread the needle all the way through. As for props, I find props to be prohibitive on a shoot, having to find somewhere to put them when they’re not in use while walking around a location.
Location, Location, Location
Where to shoot is nearly as important as what to wear. Couples should choose a location important to them. Or, the opposite of their wedding, so that their wedding and engagement photos are different when they look at the scenery or season. Winter wedding? Opt for a summer shoot. City venue? Pose in a park with lush greenery. The contrast will help balance your collection of images and change things up a bit.
You can also change the timing to fit what you’re looking for. I encourage you to schedule your shoot whenever you want it. I’ve had couples do an engagement session two years from their wedding, after they get engaged, not yet knowing their wedding date, or even weeks before the big day.
Remember, It’s All About You
If nothing else, I want couples to remember something: These photos are so you can look back on this time in your lives when you’re old and gray. Though you may choose to post some great photos from the session (and if you do, please credit your photographer!), at the heart of the matter is, it’s not about social media or what other family members want. This is a great time to simply focus on what the two of you desire for the session, to get to know your photographer, and to produce photos of the time you were engaged before becoming spouses. Enjoy it!
See More: 45 Engagement Photo Ideas to Steal From Couples Who Totally Nailed It
Today and tomorrow are big days in our house. Today is Bailee’s adoptiversary! She came home with me on this day 9 years ago! Which means that tomorrow is Bailee’s birthday! Her 10th birthday to be exact! Bailee has been my ride or die since 2008 when we were single-ladies living the college life. She’s from Ohio (I’m an Indiana native btw). I met her online and it was love at first sight 🐶💕 In Bailee’s honor, and because I’m a HUGE advocate for #adoptdontshop and all things rescue dog, I thought I’d share some tips for the first 30 days after you bring home a new pup. Hopefully this time next year, you’ll be celebrating your rescue pup’s adoptiversary too! Now please enjoy all these photos of Bailee and her previous birthday celebrations!
The first few days in your home are special and critical for a pet. Your new dog will be confused about where he is and what to expect from you. Setting up some clear structure with your family for your dog will be paramount in making as smooth a transition as possible.
Before You Bring Your Dog Home
- Determine where your dog will be spending most of his time. Because he will be under a lot of stress with the change of environment (from shelter or foster home to your house), he may forget any housebreaking (if any) he’s learned. Often a kitchen will work best for easy clean-up.
- If you plan on crate training your dog, be sure to have a crate set-up and ready to go for when you bring your new dog home. Find out more about crate training your dog.
- Dog-proof the area where your pooch will spend most of his time during the first few months. This may mean taping loose electrical cords to baseboards; storing household chemicals on high shelves; removing plants, rugs, and breakables; setting up the crate, and installing baby gates.
- Training your dog will start the first moment you have him. Take time to create a vocabulary list everyone will use when giving your dog directions. This will help prevent confusion and help your dog learn his commands more quickly. Not sure which commands to use? Check out How to Talk to Your Dog.
- Bring an ID tag with your phone number on it with you when you pick up your dog so that he has an extra measure of safety for the ride home and the first few uneasy days. If he is microchipped, be sure to register your contact information with the chip’s company, if the rescue or shelter did not already do so.
- We know moving is stressful — and your new dog feels the same way! Give him time to acclimate to your home and family before introducing him to strangers. Make sure children know how to approach the dog without overwhelming him. Go here for more on introducing dogs and children.
- When you pick up your dog, remember to ask what and when he was fed. Replicate that schedule for at least the first few days to avoid gastric distress. If you wish to switch to a different brand, do so over a period of about a week by adding one part new food to three parts of the old for several days; then switch to half new food, half old, and then one part old to three parts new. For more information about your dog’s diet, check out our section on Dog Nutrition.
- On the way home, your dog should be safely secured, preferably in a crate. Some dogs find car trips stressful, so having him in a safe place will make the trip home easier on him and you.
- Once home, take him to his toileting area immediately and spend a good amount of time with him so he will get used to the area and relieve himself. Even if your dog does relieve himself during this time, be prepared for accidents. Coming into a new home with new people, new smells and new sounds can throw even the most housebroken dog off-track, so be ready just in case. Need more housetraining tips? Check out our Dog Housetraining section.
- If you plan on crate training your dog, leave the crate open so that he can go in whenever he feels like it in case he gets overwhelmed. Also, be sure to check out the do’s and don’ts of crate training your dog.
- From there, start your schedule of feeding, toileting and play/exercise. From Day One, your dog will need family time and brief periods of solitary confinement. Don’t give in and comfort him if he whines when left alone. Instead, give him attention for good behavior, such as chewing on a toy or resting quietly (Source: Preparing Your Home For A New Dog).
- For the first few days, remain calm and quiet around your dog, limiting too much excitement (such as the dog park or neighborhood children). Not only will this allow your dog to settle in easier, it will give you more one-on-one time to get to know him and his likes/dislikes.
- If he came from another home, objects like leashes, hands, rolled up newspapers and magazines, feet, chairs and sticks are just some of the pieces of “training equipment” that may have been used on this dog. Words like “come here” and “lie down” may bring forth a reaction other than the one you expect.Or maybe he led a sheltered life and was never socialized to children or sidewalk activity. This dog may be the product of a never-ending series of scrambled communications and unreal expectations that will require patience on your part.
- People often say they don’t see their dog’s true personality until several weeks after adoption. Your dog may be a bit uneasy at first as he gets to know you. Be patient and understanding while also keeping to the schedule you intend to maintain for feeding, walks, etc. This schedule will show your dog what is expected of him as well as what he can expect from you.
- After discussing it with your veterinarian to ensure your dog has all the necessary vaccines, you may wish to take your dog to group training classes or the dog park. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language to be sure he’s having a good time — and is not fearful or a dog park bully. If you’re unsure of what signs to watch for, check out this video on safety at the dog park.
- To have a long and happy life together with your dog, stick to the original schedule you created, ensuring your dog always has the food, potty time and attention he needs. You’ll be bonded in no time! For more information on creating a feeding schedule for your dog visit How Often Should You Feed Your Dog?
- If you encounter behavior issues you are unfamiliar with, ask your veterinarian for a trainer recommendation. Select a trainer who uses positive-reinforcement techniques to help you and your dog overcome these behavior obstacles. Visit Dog Training for more information on reward-based training.
Styled shoots seem to be all the rage now. I think a lot of that has to do with the ability to connect more easily with fellow vendors via Rising Tide Society. Planning a trip cross country? Hit up some vendors in cities you’ve always wanted to work in a make it happen! And I must admit, styled shoots are fun and fabulous! When else do so many photographers come together, photograph the same scene and end up with very unique captured images? Most styled shoots are wedding-themed though, and I for one enjoy champagne toasts at all times of day! So why not style a brunch at Lemoyne? Lemoyne Center for the Visual Arts has an absolutely fabulous courtyard. Vine covered walls. Fountains. Sneaky side gates. Foliage of all kinds. And of course lots of white walls that reflect light just beautifully.
This styled shoot was born out of wanting a themed event that matched my branding. Any event will always be captured in my style of photography, but this styled brunch matches Poppie Studios colors and aesthetic too. Champagne, macarons from a local French bakery, cocktails, appetizers, giant balloons and a Kate Spade inspired cake. Yes, yes, yes please!
Another motivation behind the shoot was having the opportunity to get together with fellow film photographers. I created a local film photographer’s group, North Florida Film Photographers, and opened this event up to the members as a chance to get together and geek out over our love of beautiful, grainy, yummy film together. Nerd alert.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!