Rather than merely writing a page saying ‘Hey, I do engagement shoots, book one!’ I thought instead I’d explain what they are, why they exist, and whether you should or shouldn’t book one with your wedding photographer.
What is an Engagement Shoot
An engagement shoot is a couples portrait session that takes place any time before your wedding, not necessarily straight after you get engaged.
Most couples choose to have one with the photographer they want to photograph their wedding, both for consistency and as a way to get to know their photographer before the day. Think of it as somewhat of a trial run.
Why do They Exist
An engagement shoot is an excellent way for you both to get used to the feeling of being photographed professionally. For most of us, that’s not an everyday occurrence! It should help you feel more relaxed in front of the camera and have less anxiety about the photographs when your wedding day arrives.
They’re a great way to get beautiful professional photographs of you both which can be used on invites and announcements on social media during the build-up to your wedding.
Many people will tell you it’s essential to have an engagement shoot with your photographer. I don’t think it’s that black and white, so it’s not something I actively encourage my clients to do unless they’re already considering it.
Reasons You Should Have an Engagement Shoot
Firstly, as I mentioned above, it’s a great way to feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Ultimately that’s going to lead to less anxiety surrounding photography on your wedding day.
At least half of the couples I photograph express some level of concern around being photographed, mainly that they’re ‘not photogenic’. Rubbish! Take a look through my portfolio and keep in mind half the people you see think they’re not photogenic. I think it turned out pretty well for them!
Seriously though, it’s very much about feeling comfortable with the person who’s taking your photographs, so it’s an excellent way to get to know your photographer too, either before or after booking them for your wedding. Your photographer is the one supplier you’ll spend pretty much the entire day with. It’s probably a good idea to make sure you like them.
Another great thing about an engagement shoot is flexibility. If there’s a location you really love, somewhere that’s special to you both, have your engagement shoot there. On the wedding day, we’re obviously constrained by timings and the fact that you don’t want your guests to wonder where you’ve gone for two hours!
In the same way that I’ll happily travel anywhere in the world for a wedding, the same applies for an engagement shoot. If you share a love for the Peak District, the Scottish Highlands, Paris, or the Italian Lakes, then we can make it happen.
Why You Shouldn’t Have an Engagement Shoot
I should maybe reconsider this subheading because I can’t think of many reasons to not have an engagement shoot. But there are a few things to consider if you’re on the fence.
Although an engagement shoot is an excellent way to feel more comfortable in front of the camera, it’s not necessarily an accurate representation of how the experience will be on your wedding day. For me, at least, I take a very relaxed and informal approach to wedding photography. The vast majority of the day I’m in the background photographing everything as it happens, whereas on an engagement shoot there’s usually just the three of us. So relatively speaking, it’s more intense than on your wedding day, when there’s far more going on to distract you from being photographed!
If you’re on a budget, then the cost of having an engagement shoot could make the difference. Typically photographers charge £200-£400 for a shoot in the UK. That amount of money could make the difference between booking an average photographer, or an outstanding one. If you’ve had your eye on a photographer whose at the top end of your budget, consider sacrificing an engagement shoot to get the photographer you really want on the day.
Put simply, I think engagement shoots are an excellent idea for most couples. When asked, every client I’ve photographed in advance of their wedding has said it’s made them feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Even those who didn’t feel any real apprehension about the process initially.
Ultimately it’s down to you as a couple to decide if it’s something you need, something you want and if it fits within your budget.