When I was just a year into photography full time, I had run out of ideas for engagement sessions. I wanted to get the sessions published, I wanted them to be meaningful to the couple, and I didn't want them to always include the same props. I decided that if I was going to stand out as an artist, I needed to change things. So I did. I remember that I was going through some branding changes and I was learning that each part of my brand should reflect me. I realized that the photographs should then reflect the couple. I started asking questions about what my couples liked to do together and styling engagement sessions around their hobbies, interests, and dream dates!
I am so inspired by my couples and now can't wait to photograph each engagement session. It's so simple to style and plan an engagement session around the interests of the couple. So today I am sharing my simple approach to making each engagement session one of a kind.
Encourage the couple to be themselves
Let the couple inspire the posing and forget about the rest. Observe how they interact naturally. Are they adventurous? Do they always have their arms around each other? Encourage their natural behaviors and you will see more and more of their personality shine.
Only add props that are meaningful or unique to the couple
I love props. Let me just repeat that: I love props. However, I want to give my couple unique and meaningful photographs which means that only unique and meaningful props come to the session. No props? I style that session and make my own props if it will tell the story a little better.
A great example of this is when I was at the St Louis Zoo last spring! Laura and Kevin love going to the zoo, so they made a date of it and I photographed the whole thing. I love giving my couples something to hold or do during the session, so I photographed them holding the map. I also asked Kevin to hold the tickets for the train. Those detail photos fill in the gaps of the story and end up meaning so much to the couple!!
Create a story
I like asking the couple some questions about what they enjoy doing together before the engagement session. I encourage the couple to select a location that is either (1) a favorite of theirs, (2) a place they have always wanted to go, or (3) meaningful in some way. Once they select the location, the story is already created!
For example, at my most recent engagement session, the session was at Lafeyette Park in St Louis, MO. While in St Louis, Shane lived just around the corner from the park and he would take Andrea there for long walks or bike rides. So that's just what we did: we went on a long walk. I tried to imagine what it would have been like for them as they explored the park. So I encouraged them to dance together, find hidden paths and walk through flowers.
The couple already has the story. You just have to discover it through photographs.