Getting the Most Out of Your E-session

Your engagement portraits will capture so many things between you - all of them expressing love.  The best way for this to come through in your photos is to remove all obstacles between yourself and that lovely zone, and pave the way for a stress-free day of fun.  Here are some suggestions for making that happen:

1. Plan your attire in advance, along with any clothing changes and accessories.  Typically clients elect to use two or three outfits for engagement portraits, so think ahead.  If you try on everything beforehand, and gather everything together, along with your shoes, bag, earrings, etc., not only can you take the time to get ironing out of the way, but you can be SURE it's the look you want.  Go the extra mile and put/hang everything in the car the night before - there's no need to rush in the morning, when everything is already where it needs to be.

2. Whatever you choose to wear for your shoot, make sure you are comfortable in it.  You want to feel great when you're wearing it - if you feel uncomfortable, you'll probably look uncomfortable.  But keep in mind, my goal is to capture the dynamic between the two of you - the emphasis is on your expressions and feelings, not your clothes.  So, don't let it stress you out - stay true to who you are.  Here are some general guidelines:


  •     logos, graphics, and text on clothing
  •     ill-fitting clothing (too baggy or too tight)
  •     sleeveless tops and dresses, or bring along a cardigan
  •     matchy-matchy outfits
  •     running shoes (unless part of a sports themed session)


  •     jeans, khakis, cute dresses, with appropriate footwear
  •     bright solid colors
  •     coordinated colors
  •     layers, when appropriate for the weather

​3. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before.  According to psychologist and sleep expert David F. Dinges, Ph.D., of the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology and Dept. of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, irritability, moodiness and disinhibition are some of the first signs a person experiences from lack of sleep.  In other words, feeling cranky.  

4. Preprint directions or preprogram destination addresses into your GPS device the night before if you're not familiar with the area.  As your photographer, I promise I won't be the least bit upset if you're running behind for whatever reason... but that doesn't necessarily mean you wouldn't be stressed by a late start or an unforeseen circumstance like construction.  Take a few minutes and have as much ready the night before as you can.

5. Remove as many stress/frustration triggers as possible.  This stuff can come out of nowhere, and the perfect storm can be a photo shoot.

6. For the perfect day, start by being patient, kind, and giving.  The day you are about to spend together will be filled with all the good stuff: love, kisses, embraces, and long caring stares into each other's eyes. Why not get a head start on this love fest and pour on the affection? The anticipation of a photo shoot can make for a crazy morning, and nerves that easily wear thin... something as simple as reminding your fiance how beautiful they are will set the tone for your special day.  Want to really get in the zone? Make a list, of perhaps 3 or 4 things that long ago made you think to yourself "I'm going to marry this one."  Maybe you read it out loud on the way to your shoot, maybe you read it to yourself... but you can contemplate these moments all day, and remember all the reasons you've worked so hard to get where you are - together - today.  What will you be thinking when she is walking down the aisle?  What do you imagine you'll feel when you can finally call her your wife, or him your husband?  To what do you look forward most in the years to come?

7. Laugh with each other!  Tap into that inner child - loosen up and get playful.  We spend so much time as adults, focusing on obligations - today is your free day!  You have permission to be silly, skip, click your heels, roll down hills, give a piggyback ride, and do whatever it is that makes you feel FREE!  So take advantage of the opportunity and have fun together! It makes great pictures.

8. Get personal.  These photos will be your time capsule, bringing you back to your enchanted engagement period.  Share long embraces and whisper to each other, dance cheek to cheek and spin each other around - go ahead, ignore me and pay full attention to each other.  You won't be smiling in all the photos... sometimes you're going to be talking to each other, and those unguarded moments are just as special and beautiful as the big smiley ones.

9. Feel beautiful!  Your fiance could have chosen anyone in the world. They chose YOU, for a multitude of reasons.  You ARE beautiful. When you know it, own it, and feel it - it's going to show in your photos.  This is your time, so give yourself permission to shine.

10. Above all, just remember - this is supposed to be FUN, LOVING, and FUN LOVING!



There are small tricks you can use to flatter your figure and accent your features.  If you're uncomfortable with anything in particular, let me know.  Some general tips:

  • great posture can shave off ten pounds - keep your shoulders back and try to sit/stand tall to elongate and flatten your torso
  • to avoid the appearance of a double chin, keep your shoulders back while you elongate your neck and push your chin out and down. This slims your neckline and helps define your jaw. Youtube has a great demonstration in video titled: "How to prevent having a double chin in your wedding photos."  They call the act doing the turtle.  Sometimes it can also help to bend slightly from the hip.
  • for another neck slimming effect, push your tongue against your top front teeth when you smile.
  • practice the classic model pose - turn your body to a slight angle to the camera, with one foot in front of the other and one shoulder closer to the photographer.  When you face completely forward, your body tends to look wider. (Great for football players, notsomuch for the rest of us!)
  • avoid thicker looking arms while standing by bringing them a tiny bit away from your body - clasping your hands together in front is a good way to do this, or maybe by placing a hand on a hip.  (What makes arms look thick is when they are pressed against your torso.)
  • turn your head. Most people have asymmetrical features (for example, one eye is slightly larger than the other, or the right ear is a tiny bit higher than the left). So try posing with two thirds of your face in view and the remaining third turned slightly away from the camera. That way, facial asymmetry is not as obvious. This particular angle also has a slimming effect, as it draws the eye up and down (forehead to chin) not left to right (eye to eye).
  • if you have a lot of photos where you're blinking, we can manage it by having you smile with your eyes closed, while I count to three - on three, you open your eyes, and I take the shot. It's a great trick that works *almost* every time!

This all might seem like a lot to remember, but I'll be guiding you along the way from behind the camera, so fear not - relax and enjoy!  It's going to be fun!


Many thanks to my daughter (and fellow photographer) Amanda Galvin for sharing this most helpful guide!