Ask Anything | How to prepare for your engagement session.

To be honest, the idea of an engagement session is a little strange. You book a photographer and meet at your engagement session as strangers. You are asked to cuddle and smooch in front of a camera. You have no idea what the pictures will look like. You are nervous and self-conscious. Sounds like a recipe for fun, right?

The engagement session is often the first time I get to interact with each of my couples.  Most of the time, there are some pre-shooting butterflies in each of our stomachs. So what is the best way to calm your nerves and be ready to rock it in front of (and behind) the camera? GET PREPPED! A little preparation here goes a long way.

christmas lights-7

Here are some suggestions for brides, grooms and photographers alike to make the most of your session:

  •  PICK A LOCATION: Yes, as a couple, you are the star of the pictures. However, do not overlook the backdrop of your session. I usually help my clients start thinking about locations by giving choices. Are they looking for an urban look or a natural look? Urban can be anything from downtown, alleyways, inside coffee shops, overlooking the city, in front of cute charming houses, etc. The natural look can span from a waterfront, in the mountains, canyons, fields and farms, etc. Be mindful of the season you are taking pictures in. If you want beautiful wildflowers, don’t expect to find them in October.
    Look through your photographer’s portfolio and make a decision if you pull towards one or another.  You may not know the particulars of where you want to shoot, but if you have this general vibe in mind, they can help direct you to a place that will be perfect.


Coffee Shop
Alley/Parking Garage
Haley and Daryn-190
Indoors Architecture: Christmas time
christmas lights-11
Outdoor Architecture


Field: Late Fall
Orchard: Late Fall
Open Field: Spring Sarah and Kyle-223
Lake Reeds

Mountain: Spring
Park: Winter
Sheridan and Brian-049
Lake: Winter
Wildflowers: Spring
Red Rock
Forest: Winter
LR Snow-035
Blossoms: Spring
Sarah and Kyle-041
Open Field
Talana and Paul-212
“Unique to the Session/Couple”

Sheridan and Brian-070

  • BE ON TIME: Plan plenty of time to get to your session. You don’t want to feel frazzled or hurried when you are in front of the camera, so try your best to be on time. We have probably set up a the sessions start time to maximize beautiful light. When couples show up late, we lose the time and pictures we have in that light.

Kaitlin and Austin-206

  • DIRECTIONS IN ADVANCE: Google directions beforehand if you need to know where to meet and are not sure if you will have cellphone service. Often I am shooting in one of Utah’s mountain canyons and have sketchy cell phone service! Save some stress and look ahead. This will also help you know what time you need to be on the road to make it to your session on time.
  • PICKING OUTFITS: Most couples bring two outfits to a session, a casual look and a dressy look. Go through your closet and pick coordinating colors to wear. Try to stay away from matching colors completely (the days of white shirts and jeans for everyone are past). Textures, layers, scarves, jewelry and colored shoes always photograph well. Pick outfits that you feel comfortable in. If you dont like how it looks in the mirror, you most likely wont how you look in your pictures.


  • HAIR AND MAKEUP: You want to look yourself. Don’t feel like you have to create an elaborate up-do and try bold new makeup if that isn’t something you do very often. If you want to do your own hair and makeup, I do recommend making your eye makeup just a tad darker than normal. I am not giving you permission to go crazy. Just a bit darker to help your makeup pick up in camera. A professional makeup artist will know the difference between everyday makeup and camera-ready makeup. You may want to hire a hair and makeup artist to try out before your wedding. A professional hair and makeup artist can help you feel beautiful, natural, and confident. If you are in Utah, I love recommending Kissable Complexions by Jade and Hair and Makeup by Steph to all of my brides.
  • SHINE UP THE RING: I love showing off my brides’ beautiful engagement rings! If you get the chance, give it a quick clean to really let it sparkle. I will usually shoot detail shots of the ring while you are changing from engagement outfit number one to outfit number two.


  • MANAGE THE GROOMS EXPECTATIONS: Let your groom look through your photographer’s website. Show him a few engagement sessions you like. Let him see what kind of images he will be in and a little bit of what he will be expected to do. When he is asked to walk and laugh, snuggle, or whisper in your ear, he will be ready and not wonder why you are not looking at the camera for every picture.
  • FINALLY, RELAX: For most of my brides and grooms this is the first time they have ever taken engagement pictures. I know you are not a professional model and I do not expect you to be one. Do not worry if you feel nervous at first. Most everyone feels the same way! So take a deep breath, trust your photographer, go with an attitude of fun and you will be just fine. I will take care of the rest!


Breanna McKendrick is a Salt Lake City Wedding Photographer.  Like what you see and want to book your wedding or portrait session? CONTACT her to inquire about availability and pricing or take a moment to look around on the BLOG, 




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