We just took our engagement pictures this month and now I have a two part series for y’all! Today’s post will be all about How to Select Your Perfect Engagement Photographer, and then next week, I’ll have a post for you on How to Plan Your Perfect Engagement Shoot. Yes, these are two different things! Today is all about finding the right photographer for you, and next week I’ll address the when to schedule, what to wear, and where to shoot questions. So, without further ado, here’s my take on engagement photos.
SHOULD YOU TAKE ENGAGEMENT PICTURES?
Obviously my answer is going to be YES, you should! I have friends that have done engagement shoots and friends that haven’t, but for me, it was a non-negotiable (typically, when I’m talking about wedding stuff, I like to use “we” to emphasize Adam and I are making these decisions together, but let’s be honest, he wasn’t as super duper pumped to take engagement photos as I was, ha).
Engagement photos are not only a great time to get pictures of you and your fiancé that will help you to remember this time in your life, but they can also be used on your Save the Dates, your wedding website, and anytime you may need a more professional photo of the two of you – that’s not in your wedding gown.
Plus, they’re a great opportunity to get to know your photographer – who likely is the person you’re also using for your wedding – and to figure out how you two should interact in front of the camera. Looking through our engagement photos actually helped me see a lot of what I need to watch out for when we’re taking our wedding photos, specifically closing my eyes and grabbing Adam around the neck (sorry!).
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Of course the first step in any major investment – and, believe me, photography is an investment – is to do your research. When I first started looking into photographers, I probably followed 20 wedding photographers in the DC area on Instagram. I scoured their websites for pricing, spent hours looking through their portfolios, and familiarized myself with the various approaches these photographers took to engagement photography.
Talk to friends. See who they used and liked – and who they didn’t. Look on websites like WeddingWire to find photographers in your area. You can search by location, availability, style, services, and price, which is so helpful in narrowing down your short list. Read reviews. See an engagement session you like on a wedding blog? Click through to the photographer!
DECIDE ON A STYLE
As you start researching photographers, you’ll start to see a few patterns in styles emerge. There are those who do they very light, bright, white, over exposed look that you often see on blogs like Style Me Pretty, those that do a darker, higher contrast, moodier look, and those that do a traditional, capture as it is style. I knew I wanted somewhere in the middle. I wanted the photos to be a bit edgy, but not so much that they’ll look dated in a few years. Plus, when I showed examples of photographers to Adam, he always picked the moodier photographer.
Beyond the visual style, also think about the type of photographs you want. Do you want formal portraits out front of the Capitol building? Something a bit more candid? Are you looking for artsy angles and an editorial look, or would you prefer classic and romantic shots? I wanted artsier and a bit more candid, and sought out photographers accordingly.
Side note: I definitely did not want the portraits outside the monuments look, but a couple weeks before our engagement shoot, Adam mentioned the idea of doing photos near the Capitol (he moved here to work on the hill, so needless to say he loves politics more than I do)…the exact opposite of the neighborhood pictures I wanted. Luckily, we were able to come to a compromise and did do a few near the Capitol, but with a slightly more urban vibe.
TALK TO PHOTOGRAPHERS
Once you’ve done your research and nailed down the style you’re looking for, start making a short list of photographers you’d like to contact. I absolutely recommend keeping a list so that you can keep them all straight – I easily contacted 15 photographers. This is another area where WeddingWire can be so helpful – you can message photographers directly through the website so that you’re not sending an email here, a phone call there, and so on.
Some will weed themselves out immediately when they come back with a price that’s out of budget (most photographers don’t list their pricing on their website, so you do have to reach out for information), others may never get back to you, and still others may simply not have availability.
From those that are still on your short list after you’ve gotten back their pricing, process, and availability, set up a time to chat with them. There are some photographers who will want to meet in person, while others are good to go with a phone call. The one we selected chatted with both of us (both was important to her!) over the phone for about 45 minutes to make sure we were on the same page with everything from budget to working style.
CHOOSE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!
Here comes the fun part! Choosing your photographer! We narrowed our search down to two photographers based on style, budget, and availability, and actually ended up going with the one that was a bit more expensive because we absolutely loved her work and I felt confident that the final product would match up with our expectations. When I talked to married friends, the area they often told me they wished they’d invested more on was photography, and I definitely did not want to have the same regret.
We selected Lauren Louise Photography because her style has the moody colors and artsy composition that we like, but the engagement shoots and weddings in her profile still felt upbeat, lighthearted, and happy – which is how you want your engagement and wedding to feel! Plus, she does moody colors without going into super high def contrast. Her portfolio also has quite a bit of branding work, which I think lends a more editorial look to her photographs, and is something that I am drawn to.
Once you’ve chosen your photographer, you’ll want to make sure their contract covers everything you’re looking for and then set up a date. This is often when you’ll also sign the wedding contract, if you’re using your photographer for both. Also, make sure to check items such as whether you have rights to printing your photos on your own. You’ll want these images to belong to you!
On the note of engagement pictures and all pictures of you and your love – fiancé or not, you should definitely check out the WeddingWire #OurKindofLove campaign. Upload a photo and load the custom overlay with the word that describes your kind of love. Share it on Instagram with the hashtag #ourkindoflove and tag @WeddingWire (make sure your account is public!) to win one of 5 $250 prizes each week. You can check out all of the adorable entries here and get inspired to share your kind of love with #OurKindofLove.
Thank you to WeddingWire for sponsoring this post! I love bringing wedding related content to you all and am so grateful to WeddingWire for make that possible!