Style Book engagement session guide

When to Schedule

Engagement sessions usually last 1.5 hours and are likely to be on a weekday evening. We can also plan a sunrise session on a weekend or weekday! The best light is two hours before sunset and at sunrise. However, I’m always up for shooting any time of day. Even shooting at night can be really incredible and unique.

While it’s not always possible to schedule a sunrise session, the sidewalks are less busy, parks are virtually empty, and it's much easier to get around Chicago, which is known for it's awful traffic.

...sunrise light...

Scheduling the date for the engagement session will vary on what you would like to use the photos for. Save the Dates are pre-invitations usually sent out at least 5 months before the wedding. Since the average edit time for engagement photos is about a week, I recommend scheduling your session at least 5 months out from your wedding date for Save the Date purposes.

About the Session

These sessions are about celebrating your love and life together, but also it's a chance to "unlearn" how you've previously taken photos up until now. To capture moments that tell your story, embrace individuality, showcase creativity, and illustrate the love you share.

My sessions are laid back and free flowing with a bit of quirk. The result is a collection of photos to share with friends and family. Aside from having photos of the two of you, this session is when we really get to know each other. You, me, and the camera. You’ll quickly get a feel for how I use subtle direction to capture you naturally.

It’s the perfect way for us to learn a lot about each other’s personalities; it’s amazing how much I learn about how couples interact just by hanging out and taking photos.

After the session I’m always open to any feedback you may have incase we need to change anything for the wedding day portraits. Some couples prefer less kissing photos, sometimes the sessions lead people to discovering their “good side.” Whatever the case may be, it’s great practice for the wedding day photos as well . The wedding day shooting goes so much quicker and smoother if we’re all comfortable and if we know what to expect of each other.

LOCATION

Let me start by saying I can shoot anywhere and I’m often influenced by the environment in which I’m shooting. It’s usually a good idea to choose a unique location that’s reflective of you both.

Think about things that inspire you: consider places that have sentimental meaning for you or that’s fun or different about your hobbies, careers, or passions. Make it as personal as you can. The best locations are a mix of quirky and obscure.

Get together and brainstorm. If your style is more modern and minimal you may want to pick a city block with modern store fronts, a building or restaurant with flare, an art museum, or a parking garage with geometric architecture, or an industrial setting, just as a couple of examples.

If you’re both foodies, a colorful outdoor market or a picnic may be an option. If you’re both constantly found with your nose buried in books, a bookstore, library, or a study might be right for you.

Night sessions are particularly epic because they allow me to play with available light. The only requirement is there is ample light to work with.

Think about the colors and style of any potential locations and how you can compliment them with your outfits. If it helps, include your pets to help show who you are and what makes you different, so absolutely bring them along.

keep in mind that sometimes the best locations for a shoot are in the most unusual places. These are just a few ideas to help you get started choosing a location. Our shoot doesn’t have to be deep and conceptual, but it helps if you love where we are.

And if you have a concept or a theme you want to incorporate feel free to talk to me about what you have in mind and we can work together on executing your ideas. I’m always up for scouting new and unique locations for you.

Permits are sometimes required so check the policies for any place you have in mind. Typically, we can get away with shooting without a permit even if one is required (however that's not typical if you're in wedding clothes), but it's good to be aware that we might be asked to leave if we're there too long.

What to Wear

Like the location, your outfits should also be a reflection of you. Generally I think it's a good idea to dress more casually for these as you'll be more formal on your wedding day.

I’m flexible with whatever you’d like to wear. This is your session and I recommend no more than two outfits in order to maximize our time together. If you want to bring more it’s totally fine, but it may have an impact on the amount of time we’ll have shooting together!

Primary colors play a big part in my photography. A touch of red, yellow, or blue can make anything pop and help you stand out from the background. Adding a pair of red or yellow shoes, or a bright blue shirt or tie will transform your outfits.

Avoid baggy button down shirts and be sure to bring a comfortable pair of shoes to change in and out of because we’ll probably do a bit of walking. Also, try to avoid any clothing that may show visible straps, tags, or semi-transparent clothing that could reveal undergarments.

During the session, plan on only carrying the bare minimum. If you can, leave purses, bags, cell phones, etc in your car... or I can carry them for you.

Remember - confidence is everything in photographs. What you choose to wear should be something you feel comfortable in. Something that compliments your physical features, your individuality, something you can move in, and something that makes you feel amazing.

This guide was written to give a few tips to help plan for your session, but it’s in no way a rule book. It’s just a few pointers to help give you in the right direction to make sure you’re ready for the camera. When it gets right down to it, this is your session. Make it personal, make it about you...... and remember, above all else, have fun with it.

FAQ

Q: How many photos do we get? Usually I deliver between 40-60 final photos. All photos are edited for exposure and color. You’ll receive the high resolution photos via online gallery, in JPEG format, about a week after the session. A print release is included, so you can download your photos and print anywhere you’d like.

Q: What if we are running late? Often times I line up back to back sessions and other appointments which won’t allow me the flexibility to push your session back if you’re late – that time becomes lost. Try your best to anticipate traffic and be on time

Q: What if it rains? If there is rain in the forecast the night before, we will reschedule for a mutually available date.

Q: How do we book you? I accept all major credit cards. I’ll send you an online proposal where you can sign our agreement and make the payment. Then we’ll be booked and I hold your date and time!

Q: What about taxes? There are no taxes on top of what you already pay.

Q: Are there any other expenses we need to know about? If you’d like to shoot at a place which requires a pricey permit (like the $150 charge at the Botanical Gardens), you’d be responsible for that. Otherwise, no.

Q: Can we change outfits during the session? Sure! Typically we’ll stop at a Starbucks to do a quick outfit change.

Q: How many locations can we visit? You'll have unlimited outfit changes and locations, however, keep in mind the more we stop and travel the less we shoot.

Q: What days of the week are you available? Sunrise sessions happen any day of the week and sunset sessions are only available on weekday evenings.

Q: Do you blog every engagement session? I certainly try to, but often fall behind on blogging. If I don’t blog, it’s because I’m working hard on delivering wedding and engagement galleries as soon as possible.

Q: We’ve never been professionally photographed before and are a bit nervous? Is there anything we can do to ease our nerves? 99% of my couples have never been photographed before. Don’t stress and come ready to have some fun at your session. My goal is to document your unique connection with each other in some cool spots and in epic ways. I’ll take care of everything!

Q: Do we chat on the phone before the session? Yep, phone and Skype chats are awesome. We’ll put together a tentative plan of the logistics and your session in general. This will leave some room for being spontaneous.

Q: Can we send you ideas of exact photos we’d like to recreate? In order to guarantee the photos and story you have come to expect from me, I need room for creativity. If you have a strict list of shots you’d like to recreate, I cannot promise the imagery will be as compelling as you would hope. Couples who see their time with me as an opportunity to experiment together, are the couples who provide the space necessary to capture the images that tell a greater story. My advice would be to stay off Pinterest and let’s create something unique just for YOU!

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