Whether you’re getting your engagement session done or an anniversary session to celebrate your 5th year together, I’m honored to capture these moments and have a freaking blast with you. I created this guide to help you get the most out of your photos, and by the time you’ve read through this magazine, you’ll have all your questions answered and feel more than ready and prepared for your session. Then I’ll take care of the rest! Your only job is to be yourself, laugh a lot and let me create photos you’ ll love forever.
ENGAGEMENT SESSION GUIDE
TIME AND DATE
I AM NATURAL LIGHT FANATIC because I believe that light, from the sun and its reflections, creates photographs that feel fresh, timeless and true to you as a couple. I start all engagement sessions three hours before the scheduled sunset during “the golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest.
I use a sunset calculator online to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session. Then, just subtract three hours to figure out your start time. Remember, the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your engagement session date, especially if you’re taking time off work or have evening plans afterward.
To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early. I’m only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so I’ ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your favorite one for the second half, and if you’re wearing only one, arrive in that.
Very cloudy days would not be ideal for shoots because it leaves dark circles under eyes and skin tones looking grey. I always check the weather and If there’s a high chance of rain or fast winds, we will have to reschedule for another day 🙁 I suggest rescheduling when it’s super windy because your hair will be flying all over your face, your partner’s face and background and its literally impossible to edit that out.
I know that one of the reasons you hired me was because of the bright photos, and I want you to have that! That’s why I always recommend some sunshine!
The first thing I suggest you think about before you decide on a location is whether you’d like to feature the desert in your session or not. Like you’ll see throughout this guide, most couples want to showcase the natural beauty of Arizona to give their out-of-town guests a fun preview of what to expect when they travel to the southwest. I love shooting in the desert because it’s so fun and the light is TO DIE FOR. There are also other great options around the state, and I’m always down for exploring a new spot together.
This is the time to think outside the box! I encourage you to brainstorm unique locations that you might have special access to that most people don’t. For example, maybe you, or someone in your personal or professional network, can secure permission to a location that would otherwise be off-limits, like a beautiful private estate, country club or resort. Maybe it’s a family ranch, upscale hotel or even an airplane hangar. The sky is literally the limit! Spend a few minutes thinking about it and checking around.
You’ ll be surprised with what you come up with. Plus, if something seems out of reach, just remember: you never know until you ask! If you get stuck or need inspiration, check out the #visitarizona hashtag on Instagram or @visitarizona and @arizonahikersguide accounts, they have AMAZING locations. I also have some great go-to locations around town that we can always hit, too. Just let us know which session in my portfolio you loved and we will go from there!
Your engagement session includes travel time anywhere in the Phoenix Metro area. If you’ d like to go somewhere outside the city, I'm up for the adventure! The travel fee for drives longer than an hour to places like Sedona, Tucson, Flagstaff, and The Grand Canyon is $0.98 cents per mile (gas + babysitter cost are no joke)
I love traveling! I've done sessions in other states when I travel such as Florida and California, etc, so if I'm already going to be in or near an area you’ve always dreamed of doing your photos, and we can coordinate our schedules, let ’s set it up! I’d love to make it work! If you'd like me to meet you in a destination outside of Arizona for your engagement session where I don’t already have plans to visit, just let me know too and I can get you a custom travel quote.
BRING A LITTLE EXTRA THINGS
Bring a little extra something with you! A freshly-picked bouquet for you to hold, or fresh flowers to put on something else, like a bicycle basket, tree swing, picnic basket, wine, pizza, car bumper or rowboat, is a fun way bring a little extra romance to everyday objects. Whether it’s larger items like classic cars, or smaller ones like blankets or hats, even incorporating just one extra styled item could be a fun way to make your session more unique.
FLATTERING YOUR FEATURES
In my experience, regardless of shape and size, every woman has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about. Recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos. Don't worry though, I'll make sure to get your best angles in every shot!
MAKING A STATEMENT
Pairing an accessory, or two, with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not as noticeable on camera. Belts, bracelets, and earrings bring great visual interest. So, choose one or two that don’t compete for attention. Fresh florals in a crown or a bouquet can be a really romantic touch as well.
When Choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting softer, neutral tones and shades. Avoiding ultra-bright neon colors will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eyes focus on the way you feel about each other.
The camera loves shades of soft white and soft reds, neutral yellows, and light baby blues, mixed with neutrals like soft light gray, creams, leather brown, blush, and white (think: neutral baby shower colors). That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments and especially compliments the desert.
HOW MANY OUTFITS SHOULD I BRING?
Most couples choose two outfits. One “wow” dress/outfit, and then another shorter sundress or cute jeans paired with a cute jacket for a more casual “us on a date” feel. But, if you want to bring two “wow” dresses and forget about the more casual dress altogether, give yourself permission to do it!
Remember, you don’t have to bring two looks if it’s too stressful or you’d rather just stick to one awesome look. Bringing just one outfit that you love will be so much better than one outfit you love paired with another you’re not very excited about. So, one or two? It’s really up to you!
THE BEST FIT
LONG, FITTED PANTS OR SHORTS AND CLOSED-TOED SHOES ARE the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. It draws attention away from his legs and feet and places it where you want it: on his handsome face. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the dad shorts, sandals, and dad jeans at home, as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted colored pants and suits look best on camera. Solid shades of gray, beige or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. I also recommend staying away from graphics and logos.
ALL IN THE DETAILS
BROWN SHOES COMPLIMENT ALMOST EVERY LOOK, whether he’s wearing a full suit, a blazer, and neutral colored pants. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests, and watches are sharp compliments to any outfit for men and boys alike. If you bring two outfits to the session, you can start with a traditional necktie and belt, then switch to suspenders and a bow tie for your second look. If two looks are too stressful, no problem! One will do the trick! You can still mix and match accessories to compliment both of her dresses without doing a full change during the session. So, either way, it's a win.
USE SOME LAYERS
NEXT TIME YOU WALK BY a store like J. Crew or H&M, you'll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust us when we say that it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring an extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests, and coats "up" the level of any look. If the temperature permits, he could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with, a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt, and a tie underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!