Tag Archives: engagement photos

J + TJ’s Love Shoot

08 | 04 | 2011

Sometimes it works out to do engagement photographs before the wedding with a destination wedding. Other times, it doesn’t. Jess met me for her bridal photographs in Los Angeles, but TJ couldn’t come. So we took an hour the morning after the wedding (yes! we were all a little groggy) to capture some images of the two of them together. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: I love how relaxed and sweetly intimate post-wedding portrait sessions always are. Really, it’s the recipe for perfect portraits …

That’s a wrap! Now, we are drawing near to Jess and TJ’s first anniversary and I am quietly wishing them, as I wish all my clients, a marriage as marvelous as—or more marvelous than—their wedding!

photographs: Gia Canali


Collaborating with Your Wedding Photographer, 109: Planning Your Engagement Photographs

01 | 11 | 2011

There are lots of different reasons people want engagement portraits.  Some people want to get practice in front of the camera.  Others want prints to display at the wedding.  Some folks want nice images to use for their save the dates.  Or they just want a few nice photos of themselves together in—if not regular—at least non-wedding attire.

In any case, planning engagement photographs is just like planning other sorts of portrait sessions, with a few special considerations, mostly in the interest of timing your session out before the wedding.  So these tips are also good for people looking to plan a bridal session, a family portrait session or a children’s session (well, except you want to keep in mind kids’ naptimes and happy vs. grouchy times in mind, too, not just lighting).

I. Imagine a Concept

I always think the most successful sessions have the simplest concepts.  Choose somewhere meaningful, like where you had your first date, or re-create your proposal, or take photographs at home, particularly if it’s a home you’ve built or remodeled together.  Choose something fanciful (you know, I’ve had a few couples choose underwater photographs).  Choose something you love doing together – my twin sister, Meghan, just did a portrait session with a couple skiing (so cute!).  Your photographer might be able to help you get your ideas flowing, so definitely ask for help if you need it.  She may be floating an idea around in her mind, just waiting to match it to the right couple.

II. Choose a Location

Your concept may dictate a specific location, but if not, it’ll certainly help narrow down to the type of location you want to find.  In Los Angeles, be mindful of location permits and use fees (insert groaning and rolling-of-eyes).  Other places aren’t so strict.  Your photographer may have some ideas – you may have some ideas – and scouting is almost always very helpful, particularly if you want to use a location you aren’t familiar with.

III. Think About Time of Day

There are a few times of day that are generally excellent to take photographs: early in the morning, during that last golden hour before sunset, and, in some locations— think urban locations with lots of lights—just after sunset when the sky is deepening blue.

IV. Think About What You’d Like To Do with the Images

This might be counter-intuitive, but with engagement photos specifically, planning ahead for the output is important in case you want anything ready in time for the wedding.  Do you want a single stand-alone image to print?  Do you want a collection of prints? Are you looking to make a book? Would you rather have one or a few handmade prints? Does any of this need to be ready in time for your wedding?

V. Plan Your Wardrobe / Look

I think the best looks for engagement photographs are flattering and special.  I’m not crazy about costume-like looks, but you want to look your best for sure! Note: though both partners should look equally dressy.

VI. Schedule Your Session

With all this information gathered, all you’ll need is to coordinate with your photographer.  If you would like prints or albums in time for the wedding, be sure to ask how much lead time your photographer needs to put those things together.  With destination weddings, “engagement photos” might not happen until the day after the wedding.  But otherwise: give yourselves plenty of time before the wedding, if at all possible.  And once you settle on a session time, stick to it!  If you’re planning photos during the busiest part of wedding season, missing a session might make rescheduling tricky.

We’ll talk about getting great results at your session soon!

photos: Gia Canali

* This couple opted to take their photos on the Malibu hillside where he proposed to her!


Sonya & Kevin’s Engagement Photo Featured in Brides Local Magazines

10 | 16 | 2009

We’re so pleased Sonya and Kevin’s adorable engagement photo is featured in Brides local edition magazines this winter.  Sonya and Kevin met on the 45 bus in San Francisco, which I think is so sweet and just-out-of-a-movie romantic.  We featured photographs from their lovely black-and-white wedding a while back.

engagement photo on the bus

brides local cover brides local inside


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.

engagementphoto1 engagement-photo2 engagement-photo3

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.

engagement-photo4 engagement-photo5 engagement-photo6


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.

99 95 85 30 25 80

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.


01gcanali 03gcanali 02gcanali 05gcanali 08gcanali 07gcanali

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