Many of my wedding clients choose to commission me for a pre-wedding photoshoot or find this is part of the wedding photography package that they have signed up to. Not surprisingly, unless you are professional models, this can be a bit of a daunting event. For most couples this would be a shoot that they hadn’t heard of or hadn’t planned on and so I’ve pulled this blog together to give everyone an idea of what to expect and how to get the best out of this amazing photographic opportunity.
Preparing for your pre-wedding photoshoot:
First of all your pre-wedding photoshoot is not about creating a full blown styled magazine shoot, though if that is what you want then just ask. My 2 hour pre-wedding photoshoot is all about the two of you and capturing that special relationship you have. You can dress up as much or as little as you like, so to speak, and you can bring along props and even the family pet, but what I’m hoping to achieve are some really lovely images of you interacting and just being yourselves.
Having said that, you want to look your best and your photographs will look much better if you have given what you plan to wear a little thought. Try to avoid busy patterns that confuse the camera and the eye, and logos can date an image so try to avoid those as well.
Bright colours can look absolutely stunning and make a real statement, but pastels and softer colours will appear relaxed and equally fantastic as well. Plan your outfits together so that they don’t clash but complement each other and above all, make sure you are comfortable in what you wear. It’s worth bringing along a coat or jacket so you can easily change your look during the shoot.
For the ladies, make up looks great on camera, and even a little black mascara can really make the eyes ‘pop’ even if you don’t usually wear makeup. When applying your usual look it’s helpful to know that it can be a little more pronounced than usual but won’t appear ‘heavy’ on camera. Bring your lip-stick or lip gloss with you as you may want to reapply it. Also bring along a hairbrush in case it’s windy and you want to re-do your hair.
Choosing a location:
This is the fun part. Although the location is essentially a backdrop, it can add so much to the feel and vibe of your session. You could choose somewhere that reflects your personalities, somewhere that is special to you both, or simply somewhere you think will work well. I like to fully utilise the environment and seek gorgeous light and beautiful surroundings. Some great locations for engagement shoots have included; Public Parks, Castles, a couple’s actual wedding venue, under the Severn Bridge, an ancient wood or forest and heathland, Caribbean Beaches, or National Trust properties.
What makes a pre-wedding photoshoot location so brilliant is the ability to walk and shoot, changing the backdrop and creating a little story as we go. I always find that the first few images are not the best, but as the session progresses and you relax and get into the swing of it, great photographs just keep coming!
On a serious note, please be aware that restrictions could exist and you may need to seek permission if you wish to have your pre-wedding photoshoot on private property. Sometimes a courtesy email is all that is required, sometimes written permission is needed. Ask me if you are not sure though for most locations there are no restrictions.
As I mentioned we will walk and shoot, however photographic equipment can be rather heavy, so it’s best to avoid long rambles and hill walking if possible!
How my sessions work:
I keep it all very relaxed. We walk, we chat. I see a great spot and then all you need to do is stand together, sit together, run together, chat, laugh, cuddle, kiss if the mood takes you! I like to keep it fun and as spontaneous as possible so I may suggest the direction you face that casts the best light, or I may suggest a way you can interact with your surroundings. I will also give you a few useful tips on posing such as what to do with your hands or how best to position your feet. I will do the odd thing to make you giggle and laugh a lot though usually couples need little encouragement as naturally they love each others company and it’s easy to capture that!
It’s really normal to start off feeling a bit awkward, but I promise you after 10 minutes you will be relaxed and enjoy the experience and the little tips that you pick up on this shoot will really pay dividends on your wedding day.
Some Q & As
When should we do our pre-wedding photoshoot?
Some couples choose to have their shoot as soon as they book me. This helps to celebrate their engagement and it also helps us to get to know each other. Sometimes couples have a clear idea about wanting their shoot to take place during a specific season and so they will wait. It’s entirely up to you. The photograph below was commissioned to record the actual proposal. I was hiding in the bushes when the event took place and then we went for an engagement photoshoot afterwards in the grounds of Thornbury Castle
I need help with my hair and makeup, can you provide this?
Yes of course, I have excellent and trusted hairstylists and makeup artists available for engagement shoots. Their fees vary depending on the individual’s rates and the location. Please let me know well in advance so that we can check their availability.
Should I bring a change of clothes?
It’s a good idea to or even just different accessories, like a jacket, scarf or jumper. Having a choice of items can be fun to play with and will give your images more than one look.
Are props a good idea?
Props can be really fun. Here are some suggestions; hats, umbrellas, guitars, picnic blanket and mini picnic, a bottle of fizz and a couple of glasses, a couple of photographs of yourselves as kids, or anything else you fancy!
Props are not compulsory for a Pre-Wedding photoshoot and if you would prefer to keep things simple that’s equally fine. The two of you are enough to make some magic pictures!
Do we have to be getting married to have a pre-wedding shoot?
Most of my couples choose an engagement shoot as part of their package. It helps us to get to know each other and really helps them to feel relaxed in front of the camera. However I also offer ‘couples’ shoots for those not yet planning marriage or just wanting to ‘try me out’ as their wedding photographer. They are also ideal for couples already married to say, mark a special anniversary.