Many couples are asking - Do I need to take engagement photos? What are these for? Here is my take on what engagement photos give you. This article focuses on Engagement photos take by your Wedding photographer personally (and not an alternative).
*This is assuming you are using the same photographer for your engagement shoot and wedding shoot.
1. Experience. It gives you experience of actually being in a photo shoot. This is usually a new experience, especially as a couple. If the first time you do this is on your wedding day, your photos may show you more dazed or confused, than pleased and excited simply because you don't know what to expect. As another wedding vendor said - You'll be a lot more comfortable in front of the camera if you are friends with the person behind it. Also because this is a separate day, not your wedding day, you are not 'under the gun' with guests waiting for you, you have freedom and flexibility, you can do a little trial and error if you want to try a specific pose or recreate an old photo. (You don't want to be doing any 'trial and error' on your wedding day)
2. Learning curve. Your wedding photos go much smoother because you have worked together before, instead of working with this person for the first time on your wedding day. By overcoming the learning curve at the engagement shoot, on your wedding day you will communicate more easily, trust each other, be familiar with the process and what is being asked (does she/he pose you first then step away to take the shot, or walk to take the shot and then call out what you should do) and it all becomes easy to do. It is also an opportunity for your photographer to get to know you -- Are you patient? Are you photogenic? Is one of you much taller than the other? Do you have a sense of humor? Photographers gain insight by shooting you specifically, this makes the wedding day photos their best because the photographer can use what he/ she has learned about you to make the next and final wedding photo shoot that much better.
3. More Photos Side benefit, It gives you photos! Use them for your 'save the date' or on your 'welcome' sign for an event. Keep one at the office. Whatever you'd like. *remember these are photos of you looking good, feeling in love, and doing your thing, they should be good ones ;)
4. Personalization Options These are beautiful professional photos *not* in ‘wedding uniform’ Outfits are by your choosing. Want to be casual, dressed up, ethnic, matching, themed, other, it is all possible. Location could be anything - college campus, park, church, urban with graffiti, waterfalls, landmarks, skylines... This is also a great place to incorporate pets if you want pictures that include your dog it may be easier to do so at your engagement shoot rather than on wedding day.
5. It is fun Wedding photos are often more formal. Engagement photos can be more fun. Want a photo doing a piggie back ride -- casual dress would make that possible. Want to sit on the steps or roll around in the grass, that's better in casual wear than in delicate fabrics or light colors.
6. See the Real Deal. See what this photographer does with Your photos. How do you look? Is there anything you want to do differently, now that you've seen yourself in print? Is there anything you wish they did/ didn't do? Tell them so they can do that for your wedding day to make those photos and the photo experience exactly what you want! Photographers are not psychic, but they try their best to be, help them out by sharing your feedback.
THE CONS (AND WHY I SAY JUST DO IT)
1. It takes time If you live in a different place than the wedding, this may mean it is a special trip ... I would say that most likely you will be coming to the wedding location for a number of things, bundle those thing together and do your photoshoot on the same trip as your food tasting, cake tasting, wardrobe fitting, bridal shower.
2. It takes money Many photo packages include engagement shoots, or offer them for an add on price. ... Often they are not all that expensive. If you are managing each item 'to the dollar' then perhaps this is something you need to consider, but for most I expect that the value of the experience will far outweigh the cost. (Would you skip the pre-surgery office visit because you already know you need surgery? I'm thinking you'd probably do the pre-surgery appointment so you can ensure you are prepared for the big event and you are familiar with everything. You are paying a generous amount for wedding photos, best to opt for this pre-photo experience so you can ensure the big day goes smoothly)
3. I don't need more photos ...For many couples these become some of their favorite photos because they are more 'us', they were fun and easier to take. Also no one needs photos (it is not air or water), but they are something we appreciate, and something we appreciate more with time. Even if they don't seem like the. most important thing right now, they will in a few years. It is special experience which you will have, this is an exciting time, time for the two of you leading up to the wedding, time for you to look nice and enjoy a little pampering and romantic poses and special moments. All captured for your memories.
ALL IN ALL
I see a lot of couples who benefit greatly from doing engagement shoots which is what inspired this article. All in all it is a personal decision and I hope these insights, options, and ideas have helped you to reach yours. Call me if you have more questions or for a more personalized evaluation of options based on your specific events and priorities. Happy Planning!