Location is key...
But finding that perfect spot is really dependent on your personalities. Do you love hiking & the outdoors? Then maybe a woodsy type area would be great. Or you both share a love for old architecture? Maybe the beach? Do you have funny & sentimental memories of the simple things? Maybe a fun and unique session at the laundry mat will work. Or just strolling through the pier or market for a relaxed vibe. Remember to be engaging, have an activity or story, like a road-trip to the coast, a picnic in the orchards, or a date to the county fair. I have a lengthy list of previous locations I've shot at - so just list what you're looking for and I'll put something together for you! Tip: Some venues require photography fees, so please call the venue (ex. The Mission at San Juan Capistrano) to double-check!
Kimberly Crest Mansion, Beaches (Carlsbad, Malibu, Rancho Palos Verdes to name a few), The Mission at SJC, L.A. Aroboretum, Griffith Observatory and park, ranches/farms, Libraries, Botanical gardens, vineyards, deserts, peach orchard, almond orchards, orange groves, Salton sea, nature preserves, Heritage Square Museum, Joshua tree, Vasquez Rocks, Balboa park, cherry blossoms, boat docks, LACMA, green houses, LA art district, butterfly farms, Palm Springs hotels, Langham Hotel, cotton fields, tulip fields, lavender fields, so many more!
Simply let me know what *type* of setting you're interested in and I'll provide a short list of recommended locations and its info (permit fees if any, pros/cons, etc.)
You can schedule your engagement session one year before your wedding or just a few weeks before your wedding. Schedule an earlier date (4-6 months prior to wedding date) if you're planning to use the photos for the save-the-dates/invitations or for the photo guest-book.
The best light to shoot is 1-3 hours before sunset.
Also keep in mind the seasons. Spring vs. Autumn; very different moods, color palette, foliage, sunset times, and styling options!
1. It is important that you are well rested the day of your session! You want you to look your best, and getting enough sleep the night before is a good first step. Allow yourself extra time to perfect your wardrobe, style yourself, and travel. We recommend arriving for your session early and take the opportunity to enjoy a few moments of relaxation before we begin.
2. It is not necessary to accessorize your session with props unless it has already been discussed as an integral part of your session. We create timeless portraits that are natural, relaxed and pure, and we find that keeping themes simple allows for real moments, expressions and interactions.
3. We recommend having your hands free throughout the session, and so we prefer to not have you carry extra clothing, a purse, drinks, or anything else. We will recommend that you leave your items at our starting location (most likely in your vehicle) and we can come back halfway through the session to change and freshen up. If getting back to the starting location is difficult (a hike uphill, a long walk, etc.), Allen (who will be assisting) will be able to hold all your belongings/extra outfit(s).
4. Feel free to relax, laugh and have a good time. Portraits are best when you are being yourself! I'll be coaching you every single step of the way to ensure you look your best. I'll constantly direct with precise yet open-ended direction so you don't have to think 'what to do next' and yet still look genuine!
1. Simplicity is always best, so when in doubt keep in mind that “less is more”!
2. Avoid busy patterns (contrasting floral designs) and stripes (common in men's collared shirts), as they often will conflict with other elements in your portrait and they can create strange visual effects in a digital camera.
3. Avoid logos, even the smallest logos, as they can be visually distracting.
4. Neutrals such as blush, tans, link pinks, faint blues, creams, grays and whites will always result in more of a light and airy look to your images. These colors photograph softer, more romantically, and they complement skin tones and do not conflict with common background elements.
5. Wear clothing that fits properly. A proper fit is not only flattering, but it allows you to move and feel comfortable which will help you look more confident in your portrait. If you are uncomfortable when you look in the mirror (having to suck in and only like the way you look from one angle), then that probably isn’t the best outfit choice for you. We want you to be really confident in your outfit, because we know that you will love your portraits so much more if you’re not worrying about how your clothes fit.
6. Always dress with the full length in mind, including even your shoes and socks in your wardrobe consideration.
7. Have your outfits complement each other, we don't want one person to stand out more than the other or be 100% matchy-matchy.
8. Stick with three colors or less - play with texture and fabric to add dimension (ex. wool + chiffon, structured + flowy) instead of adding a ton of color.
9. For men, close-toed shoes photograph well, and we recommend avoiding graphic tees and tennis shoes completely.
10. Engagement sessions are a great time to do a trial run with your make-up artist.
11. Professional hair and makeup are always recommended. If you are planning for false eyelashes, I would lean towards the natural end of the spectrum to avoid shadows under your eyes or the feeling of heavy eyelids.
Some tricks of the trade
Taking eye drops one hour before the shoot to take the red out of your eyes
Get your hair and make-up professionally done – you’ll look and feel fabulous! Or do the 'test' run with your wedding makeup artist so you'll know how well it'll be photographed.
Try to stay with a certain color palette or scheme with your props and wardrobe, avoid tiny or busy prints and ultra thin lines since they tend not to photograph well.
Bring touch-ups like a brush, makeup, large hand mirror, and bobby pins. Flip-flops are a must if you're wearing heels. Also stash a bottled water for energy and hydration!
Have extra outerwear (cardigan or jacket), shoes, or accessories if you don't want change but want more variety & looks in photos.
Have lots of fun, be playful, relax and let your photographer guide you!