Decoding Wedding Photography Lingo, Part ii: Sessions

03 | 12 | 2009

There are a number of different add-on session types that wedding photographers offer. Here are some of the most common ones:

Engagement photo session.  This used to be pretty straightforward.  You and your fiance would go take photographs in non-wedding attire.  Somewhere along the line, engagement photo sessions actually started becoming fun.  Somewhere just after engagement photo sessions started becoming fun, somebody somewhere started calling them e-sessions. I don’t know how that happened or why—because “e” doesn’t mean anything all by itself.  Unfortunately, the e-session naming has caught on. Ugh.  If you ask me, I will be calling engagement photos “engagement photos” forever.  They are, of course, a great way to get used to being photographed and to get used to working with your photographer before the wedding.

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My favorite locations are sentimental ones.  This couple, for instance, met on the 45 bus in San Francisco.  So when we did their engagement photos, we found the 45 bus … and took some photographs there.

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A couple of years ago, I had a groom ask if we could do the photographs underwater. I said, “sure,” even though I’d never taken any photographs underwater.  So, armed with disposable underwater cameras, we experimented… and it was (very athletic and) kind of magical.  Since then, I get an occasional request for underwater engagement photos and I’m always happy to comply.  To see more of these, visit the project i section of my website.

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We’ll have more on engagement photos, including tips on how to make them great … soonish.  So keep checking back!

Bridal portraits. I’ve heard the couple’s intimate portraits on the wedding day called bridal portraits, but as a separate session, a bridal session is generally portrait session for the bride in her wedding gown.  The bridal session is a good chance to get portraits you might not otherwise have time for on your wedding day.  Or portraits in another setting.  If you want to use these images in your finished wedding album, I suggest using locations that match your wedding’s flavor, e.g., if you are marrying in a woodsy, natural setting, take your bridal portraits in another natural setting rather than on the roof of a downtown loft. *As part of our blog-launch, we’ll be having a contest for a free bridal portrait session.  I have to figure out how that will work, but we will be posting details in the the next week.

Respect-the-Dress-Post-Nuptial Photographs.  Around town, I’ve heard post-nuptial photographs called “trash-the-dress” photographs.  Yikes!  One of my clever (and most eloquent) brides proposed the idea of calling these sessions “respect-the-dress-post-nuptial-photos.”  I like that—or at least, that phrasing is a little more my speed. I love how relaxed and fun these sessions can be.  And everybody loves getting to put their wedding garb to good use one more time.

Rehearsal dinner or welcome party coverage. In my experience, folks want rehearsal dinner coverage more often if the wedding is a destination wedding.  In fact, at destination weddings, there are usually a number of parties and events to be covered.  But even if you’re wedding is at home, if you are planning a lovely party with just your closest friends and family, having it professionally photographed is a nice way to commemorate it.   If you are planning a larger wedding, you may not have as much time to interact with your family and closest friends (and therefore make it into the wedding photos) on your wedding day.


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Engagement party coverage. This seems pretty self-explanatory … if you’re putting a lot of effort into planning a party to announce / celebrate your engagement, it would be nice to have photographs of your handiwork.

In the next “lingo” post, I’ll cover album options, etc.  Look later this week for a photography-related post on “traditions we love” … and a real “green” wedding.

photo credit: Gia Canali


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