The Expert Files {How to Prepare for Your Engagement Session}


You may want to grab a seat for this one guys. Not only do I have dozens of gorgeous images for you to pore over today but I have some incredibly helpful expert advice from talented vintage modern, New York City based photographer, Maggie Harkov. I've been a huge fan of Maggie's work for such a long time and she takes some of the prettiest photos I have ever laid my eyes on. Here she dishes about absolutely everything you need to know for your engagement photo session. Read on blogettes for all the goodness.


{What are the benefits to doing an engagement session? Both for the couple and photog?} Engagement sessions are a really valuable time for both the couple and wedding photographer to get to know one another. Weddings are such an intensely personal act, and it's so important to me that my clients not only feel comfortable around me, but even more so, feel like a friend is showing up to document their day. In order for that to happen, we have to spend some time really getting to know each other and an engagement session allows us to do that on a different level. Having this time to get to know the couple enables me to capture them and see who that particular couple really is, as individuals and as a couple and all the tiny little intricacies that make them unique so that I'm better able to capture every moment on their wedding day. I really believe that all photographers capture a subject they know better than someone they don't and I believe I'm able to capture what I do because of the way my clients and I get to know one another.


{Does the engagement session pay off on the wedding day?} Since most people aren't used to having an unobtrusive paparazzi following them around for 8 hours a day, engagement sessions give couples the opportunity to really get comfortable in front of the camera so by the time the wedding day arrives they forget I am even there. Couples always tell me they feel like models for a day and that they can't remember the last time they laughed, kissed or snuggled so much. We always follow a fabulous engagement session with dinner and drinks and it's just a really fun time together with great images and new friends as a result. What's not to love about that?


{How far in advance should a couple get their photos done?} I typically recommend that couples have their engagement session 2-3 months prior to their wedding date. This allows us to have another opportunity to see each other again and get to know one another more closer to their big day. This time frame is close enough to their wedding date that they'll still remember what it feels like to be in front of the camera a few months down the line and be able to use their photos for projects they may have in mind. If a client wants a certain session to be captured, or to use the images for save the dates, than we'll arrange for the session to take place earlier, but then we'll meet up for coffee or drinks as their date approaches just to catch up.


{What can a couple do with their engagement prints?} Couples use the resulting images for lots of things. Some couples just want to have professional everyday photos of themselves that they might feel more comfortable having in their home than they would having dozens of wedding photos where they are all dressed up, or they'll have an album made of their prints. Others order individual prints and have them displayed at the reception for their guests to see or they'll order a sign in book with their favourite images and their guests leave words of encouragement as a beautiful keepsake.


{How can a couple really personalize their experience to have unique and memorable photos?} It's my absolute favorite thing when couples get really involved in their engagement sessions and want to incorporate elements of themselves. The more you get into it, the more fun it can be! It can be anything in the world, just make it about you and your relationship. If you are a homebody couple that loves pizza and beer every Friday night, order in a pie and do the session in your home. Or if you had an awesome first date, recreate it. If you love coffee and met at Starbucks, bring props or ask if they'll allow your engagement photos to be taken there. If you're both obsessed with certain hobbies or a TV show or movie, use that as a theme. You can get super creative, just make it about you and your relationship. What makes you guys unique? Anything that has significance to you - a place, an object - anything can be incorporated and the photos will instantly mean that much more to you because they are true to you and your relationship.


{What helpful hints do you have for guys (and girls!) that are nervous about being lovey dovey in front of the camera?} Have some inside jokes to get each other to laugh. Bring props or buy an ice cream cone and just be in the moment with each other; forget that the camera is there. If you feel stuck, ask your photographer what they want you to be doing or tell him/her that you're uncomfortable. It's their job to make you feel at ease, but it's natural to feel strange at first. Just remember that the happier and more smitten you are with each other, the happier you will be with your images.


{What can you advise your clients not to do before their sessions? (i.e. avoid a new hair colour)} I definitely wouldn't advise any drastic new hairstyles or colours, or anything that doesn't look like you. You want the images to be reflective of you, so don't try to be something you're not. If you have a great make-up artist set for your big day, it's worthwhile to have your make-up trial beforehand so that you not only have a great look for your photos, but so you can also see how the results look in photos and if you want more/less a different look entirely, but you don't want anything too over the top, unless you're after a more styled session. 


{What is the most memorable e-session you ever did and why?} Wow. That's a hard one! I don't think I can come up with just one. I really love all engagement sessions because I have the chance to get to know my amazing clients better and have a ton of fun with them without the time constraints of a wedding day. Some of my favourite images resulted from my couples really sharing themselves and incorporating elements of their relationship: a first date, a love of the city/country, picnics, winter, gardening, football, etc. Anything that represents my couples and enables them to be themselves and laugh is what makes me smile and feel lucky to be part of and document.


A huge hug to you Maggie for sharing your expertise and wisdom with us! I heart you and will forever be one of your biggest fans. Looking forward to a possible meet up this summer in the Big Apple with you :) To everyone else, if you decided to do engagement photos, how did your experience pan out? For those of you that didn't do an engagement session, why not? Would love to hear your thoughts!

23 Lovely Comments:

Michaela said...

Goodness gracious! I'm in love with this photographers style. Her photos are stunning! I love what you said about the engagement shoot being valuable time to get to know the clients. You're so right! The popsicle picture is adorable!

LouBoo said...

Hello Rhi - lovely post - OMG every time I visit I think I wanna get married again (same guy!) I love these images - very personal. I wondered if for us old marrieds - well 11 years in - whether you'd consider doing a post on anniversaries? They seem to come around and I am often trying to think of something cool to do to celebrate. I'd love to know about cute traditions - like do you have that tradition for certain gifts for every year? Like each year represents a type of gift - it's really old fashioned like paper, tin, wool, wood...? I have a friend whose husband has stuck to that every year giving the right theme of gift but with some really quirky choices. Like with iron I think he gave her a weather cockerel for their chimney on their house. So she could see the direction of the wind! Is that an English thing? Anyway - lovin' the blog, as ever....Lou x

Megan said...

whoa. agreeing with Michaela ^. I love her shooting style. so gorgeous, soft, and dreamy.

style'n said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I have to share this post with my sister (who is going to be engaged any day now...and to a guy from Toronto :)
Naina

Mallory said...

Oh, said so perfectly! Such gorgeous imagery :)

Brooke said...

wow, she takes gorgeous photographs and this was so helpful!! :)

Michelle Ellen Lee said...

I love this post because I wish I had read this before I did my e-session!

Michaela's work is also AMAZING. Wowza!!!!

Marcie said...

Wow and wow! I am loving these images. This photographer is just amazing!

xo M

{The Perfect Palette} said...

Great e-sesh's Love this photographer, great advice as always!

Blicious said...

EEEEEEEEEEE my fiance and I are taking our pics on Sunday! cant wait!!

xoxo
b

Anonymous said...

Our engagement photos will be taken the day before our wedding just because our photographers are from Alabama and we are from California. It's a long story how our photographers became our photographers...but to sum it up, I fell in love with their work!they're super nice and cool...we e-mail each other constatnly, we're friends on twitter and on facebook! We are all excited to meet each other for the first time face to face the day before out wedding.

Miss K said...

great pics and advice! we had a practice run with a friend and it was so awkward, but definitely prepared us for the real session with our photographer!

ASHLEY said...

gorgeous photos!!!

Koru Kate said...

Love the pretty pictures & the good advice! I was a nervous wreck before our e-session because I'm shy & our photographer was also my brother-in-law. We picked our scenic, NYC views hometown for our photos & the rest fell into place. The photos were sooo worth it!!

Wild and Precious said...

love it when you feel like you almost know a couple jsut by how the photographer has captured them!

Stephanie said...

These are absolutely breathtaking! I love the way she captures their laughter, kisses and tenderness. It's purely organic and not too posed.

I bookmarked Maggie when I saw your pictures. Loving her!

Liesl @ FabulousFashions4SensibleStyle said...

So helpful, especially with my engagement session coming up later this summer...such wonderful advice!

Liesl :)

Tamara Nicole said...

She is crazy style talented! Great advice here thanks for sharing the interview AND introducing me to a great photographer.

Hope you are having a great week Rhiannon!

Naomi said...

Great advice and I'm sending this to my bride right now...not kidding!

la petite coquine said...

Love all these gorgeous photos, and Maggie's fantastic advice.

Also, how do I find/steal that amazing floral print ruffle dress? Because I need it!

brancoprata said...

I think i need to put a link to this post on my blog... our couples need to read this asap!! Great post!!

Kate/MagnoliaRouge said...

Firstly these are all stunning photos... and what great advice!! I wish I'd done an engagement shoot... as someone who's incredibly self conscious in front of the camera I'm sure it would have been very beneficial!

La Vie Le Gage Couture Events Wedding Planning said...

Great advice. Making it personal has worked for me so much. Props help for sure to help a couple relax and forget the camera.
Colordo