When I was first entering the wedding industry, I realized not a lot of people understood what an engagement session was. Even I didn’t really know what was supposed to happen during that time! But I could tell from past clients that they felt it was an expense they didn’t want to invest in; or they had the budget for it but just didn’t see the importance of having them done at all. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to save money, I felt like they were missing out on something. Now after having done many engagement sessions and seeing what positive benefits they have, I’d like to share with you my process (and why I prefer to call them “connection sessions” instead).
What Are Engagement Sessions?
If you aren’t sold on an engagement session, I can probably guess why.
When is the last time you had professional photos taken? Was it picture day back in elementary school? Let’s just say it is. I’m going to say two things: one will be obvious, but the other maybe not so much.
- Engagement (and wedding) photos are NOT like picture day
- Picture day is subconsciously (probably) why you are okay with taking the least amount of photos possible
I still shudder thinking about how uncomfortable, unhappy, awkward, and silly I felt every time my parents dressed me up for those days. If anything remotely reminds me of that time, I will gladly look the other way. And that’s what I want to change — your thoughts about what photography is, and what it isn’t.
This is the Short Answer
I want you to have a different, and better, experience and realize an engagement session is the perfect time to forget those old memories and fears. It’s the time to immerse yourself in emotions, feelings, and thoughts, and together. Not only do you get comfortable with each other fast in front of a snapping camera so your wedding photos are truly, truly genuine and you (verses feeling nervous) on your wedding day, but we get to know each other. You know just how chill and relaxed I am and how I have prepared everything for you — you get to be truly, yourself. This is part of the reason I call them “connection sessions”.
The Biggest Question About Engagement Sessions
The biggest question I get from couples is if I’ll help them during their engagement session with poses, and the answer I give is the same.
I am with you every step of the way, and while nervousness might try and creep in at the start, there is no judgement or expectation on either of you. You are free to be however you truly are.
This is why I almost can’t call it an “engagement session”. The reason is I think sometimes we have a thought about that phrase, and that’s not how I want you to feel or expect going in. What I give my clients is more like a “connection session”, which is made up of the following parts:
Altogether these terms equal connection — with each other firstly, but also with me as your photographer. This is why I love when couples add on this kind of session to their package, because not only do you get the experience, but trust is built, kindred memories are made, and there is a personal element brought in that is unique to you both.
The Real WHY
When I realized that a client had decided to forgo an engagement session for whatever reason, that wasn’t their fault. It was mine. I realize I had not taken the time to explain to them how engagement sessions weren’t just an excuse by photographers to make a few extra hundred dollars, but rather were a means to a vital experience that exemplifies their story.
Tom Ford said it best: “The most important things in life are the connections you make with others.” An engagement session with me isn’t just “stand here”, “sit there”, “smile, please”. It’s an emotional experience. Moving, even. It’s calm, sweet. It’s even hilarious. And if you’re reading this thinking “Well you’re just capturing different emotions on camera”.
But I encourage you to look at it from a deeper point of view.
How My Connecting Engagement Sessions Are Unique to You
I might deliver prompts to begin a train of emotion or thought, but ultimately I’m allowing you to be yourself in response to that prompt, which has a universe-wide range of emotions, facial expressions, laughs, tears, and happiness, unique to you. You are in your own way, together. How you react to each other, how you support one another, how you love, is seen. I am merely the documenter and observer. Those photos are connections you feel and memories you want to remember when you view them in your own gallery.
Not only do you get comfortable with me and in front of the camera, but out of all the universe-wide range of emotions, you experience those ones, raw, precious. Fleeting. We’re always in a rush to get what we absolutely need and forget the prior stages of how we got there, and in this case how we got to the wedding day. (Think about it: do your parents have engagement photos? Your grandparents? Wouldn’t those have been adorable to see?). They are important to your entire story.
That’s really to me why it’s called a “connection session”. It’s not just celebrating your union as a couple, or a milestone in your lives. It’s a set time to engage in moments that have already been laid out for you. I’m just there to capture it. We’re just there to connect and capture your connection.