The Engagement Shoot Planning Guide

It’s time to start planning your engagement shoot and you’re either super excited or intimated af, am I right? I’ve been in your shoes, I was stressed, and I searched for a guide to help. “What am I going to wear? How should I pose myself? Where should we shoot?” The questions haunted me. I even remember warning my photographer that I was “awkward in front of the camera.” Now, as a photographer myself, I have realized that  90% of my clients feel this same way! 

 I’ve created this engagement shoot planning guide to make the process that much easier on you. I’ll fill you in on how to prepare, what to wear, and what to expect. So take a few notes and chill. I got you, boo.

Let’s start with location!

Tip #1:  Think of a place that best reflects YOUR relationship.

It can be anything from where you first met, a mutual love for the ocean or your favorite hiking spot. If you’re still stumped, because maybe you’re thinking “we don’t go out much” or “we enjoy staying at home”  YOUR HOUSE (apartment, past bachelor pad, etc.) is an option too! 

My place?  Yes! That’s a real option and don’t underestimate the power of an at-home shoot. It’s a personal fav because it gets my couples in a state of comfort and vulnerability that doesn’t equate to anywhere else. It’s also a great way to remember the place you lived. Homes change, as do we, and it’s a great memento to have, that only gets better with time. 🙂

Tip#2: Pick a place that will allow us to roam free!

You may share a love for coffee but there is only so much you can shoot sitting down, sipping on coffee. So unless if a fun area like Melrose or the Arts District is right outside for us to continue on, pick a place that is very open! If you’re also shy shooting around people or crowds, I recommend an area more secluded/quiet, where it will be just us! Shooting with an audience aint always easy so think of where you will feel the most comfortable!

Tip#3: Photography permits are a real thing and just about everywhere requires one.

You may want to shoot at Walt Disney Hall, in Joshua Tree, or the Mission at San Juan Capistrano, but all these places require permits and have rules and regulations of their own. Don’t stress, I will look into this for us, but be prepared in the case we need to get one!

Tip #4 but most important: Ask me for help!

I have shot in countless locations and can offer advice on whatever it is you have in mind. I like to ask my clients to narrow it down to whether it’s the ocean, fields, woods, city, desert or mountains that interests them, and I offer options from there. If you also want to shoot in the mountains but don’t like hiking, I know places where we can literally “park and shoot.” OR maybe you want to avoid getting a photography permit. I know places that don’t require one. I’m here for you. Ask away.

What to Wear!

Tip #1: Keep it cute and casual, but feel 100% in it!

This is my biggest piece of advice. Wear something that you’re comfortable in, but accentuates the parts of your body that you love, and covers the parts that you don’t. If you’re self-conscious about your arms (like me), cover them. If you love your butt, wear those high-waisted mom jeans. It’s no rocket science. If you’re insecure in what you’re wearing, it’ll show on camera. So find what makes you feel like a hot boss and OWN IT.

Tip #2: Make sure what your wearing MATCHES the location and weather of the day!

We’re not going for Elsa’s style during a snow blizzard in Frozen…who are we kidding. If it’s 50 degrees outside, wear jeans and a sweater. If it’s 95 degrees outside, wear a summer dress. This just circles back to being comfortable during the shoot. Don’t want my models sweating or freezing! 🙂

Tip#3: Layers and additional pieces of clothing

If you have a hat/beanie that you love, or a jacket that goes well with your dress, BRING IT. Switching up one look is always a good thing, and gives us something to play with while we shoot. If you’re unsure, throw it in your trunk and I’ll let you know what I think…which rolls into…

Tip#4: Bring options

Our shoot may be 1-2 looks, but have options, in case if I think something will work or pair better. I always tell my clients to pack a bag like as if you’re going on a weekend trip. So bring a variety of clothing, shoes and accessories… I encourage it 🙂

Tip#5: Color coordinate but don’t match

It’s not 2002 and matching jeans and white polo shirts on the sand is no longer trending. 🙂 My best piece of advice is that if one person is wearing an earthy tone, the other do the same (earthy tones being: grey, brown, dark green, maroon, etc). If one person is wearing something a bit louder due to its design or color, have the other wear something more neutral. It’s all about having a balance. 

Colors I recommend: Any of those earthy tones mentioned above, along with white, black, or denim.

Colors I don’t recommend: Hot pink or bright red. 

Also, stray away from clothing with writing or logos, as it can be distracting.

Exception to the rule: It’s intentional, like these below. 🙂

Another exception to the rule: you just want to wear that crown or leopard shirt you have in the closet!! Do it! Most importantly, over color palettes and my tips… just be you!

Tip #5 Shoes

Wear ones that you’re comfortable moving around in! The key to great engagement photos is movement, so unless if you’re like my mom and can run up stairs with stilettos on, keep the heels at home.

Tip#6: Hair and Make-up

 Make-up: I tell my couples to wear make-up to the point where they look good, as naturally as possible. Conceal rather than paint. 🙂

Hair: If you don’t feel comfortable doing your own hair or like me, have a constant battle with good/bad hair days, I would recommend getting it done. Treat yourself at The Dry Bar with a blow dry. It’s also one last thing you need to stress the day of.

Arrive early and have a drink

Nothing worse than running late for your engagement shoot, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get there. Consider traffic, the possible unfamiliarity of the area and time to park. It will also give you time to settle in, use the bathroom, or if you’re  feeling those nerves… to grab a drink! There is nothing wrong with that, and IF you drink, I encourage it. Get loose…have a shot.

What you can expect from me

If you think about it, this engagement shoot is the building block of our relationship! Chances are, I am shooting your wedding (I hope!), so this is a great way for us to: 

1. Get know each other

2. You’ll can get a feel for how I shoot

and 3. You’ll become a bit more comfortable in front of my camera.

All great things before the big wedding day! 🙂

I only ask for your TRUST. As long as I have that, I will practically hold your hand and guide you the whole way. I also promise a chill and fun environment and above all, to capture YOUR story. We’re not here to copycat a Pinterest pose or fake some laughs. We’re here to document all that is true and organic… and that my friends, is your love.

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