As a wedding photographer, I take a great deal of pride in how I represent the couples who hire me. Before they book with me, I try to get to know as much as I can about them and not just about their wedding day. Of course we sit down and talk about their wedding photography wants and needs, but I also try to get to know them on a more personal level, before their big day. A huge advantage is when they book engagement sessions with me, prior to their wedding day.
Too often though, I hear,
"we had a family member offer to do the photos for us."
and while there is nothing inherently wrong with having a friend or family member take your photos, you are missing an opportunity to really get to know the person who will be taking your wedding photos. Photos that you will look back on years and years from now.
Sometimes engagement photography is not a priority during the wedding planning. The wedding could have been planned very quickly and so their was no thought of having time carved out for an engagement session, or it can be seen as a price not worth spending when there are so many other financial decisions to be made or countless other reasons.
It saddens me when a couple feels as if they do not need an engagement session because it is such a crucial part to bonding with your wedding photographer. When I talk to couples I always ask them if they are wanting an engagement session, if they have not picked a package that comes with it. The reasoning is simply because it provides an opportunity to bond. During an engagement photography session, both the couple and the photographer have a chance to interact in a way that is crucial for the wedding day.
As the photographer, I can work with the couple and get a feel for how they interact with a camera. Some couples will be naturals in front of the camera and it will be evident right off the bat that they need very little coaching in and out of poses. For others, being in front of the camera will be daunting and they can appear nervous. This is now my job, as their photographer, to learn how to make them more comfortable so that we can flow through the photography session and I can make them feel at ease. Then I can take what I learned, and apply it to how I interact with them on their wedding day which will most likely be a tad more stressful then the engagement session. But because of that added experience with the couple, I will be able to better perform as their wedding photographer and give them exactly what they want for their special day.
For the couples out there who may be on the fence about an engagement session, my advice
to you is this, talk with all of your prospective wedding photographers. I had a couple reach out to me regarding their wedding photography and they asked if I provided engagement photography as well. When I said yes, they were very grateful because they had had a poor experience with someone they had hired before me. They were all set to work with that photographer for their wedding and after going through an engagement session with them that resulted in a bad experience, they were back at the drawing board, trying to find a new wedding photographer. Had they not had that experience, they may have regretted their wedding photographer choice, once it was too late.
At the end of the day, you want to know who you are hiring for your wedding photography, because the last thing you want, come the big day, is to not get along with them once they are behind the camera. As a photographer, I can say that I am different when behind the lens and that is because I become a lot more focused and tuned into what I am seeing. I like to watch how things unfold and capture the truly authentic reactions, and therefore I don't have couples pose a lot. However, when I get them in front of my camera for an engagement session, I know how to adjust my behavior so that they are at their most comfortable and they get exactly what they expect out of their photography session and if that means I need to help them through poses, then so be it. My job as a photographer, is to provide stunning photos, with an experience to match.