I recommend pre-wedding shoot or engagement shoot to every one of my couples, as they’re SO useful. The phenomenon of them is relatively new but the motivation is classic and clear: your photography is a massive part of your wedding and you want to get it right. You want someone you can wholeheartedly put your trust in to capture your wedding exactly as you want it, and a pre-wedding shoot is a great way of working towards this. Let this be your trouble-shooting guide (pun intended, because it was brilliant)…
What are they?
As they say on the tin, a pre-wedding shoot – or an engagement shoot – is a photoshoot of you as a couple before the big day itself. There’s no hard and fast rules to them, so it doesn’t have to be just the two of you – if you have children, for example, who are playing a major part in your day, then it’s a great idea for them to be part of it too.
Why are they useful?
A Pre-Wedding Shoot or engagement shoot are a great way of getting to know your wedding photographer before the day itself, giving you time to grow comfortably in the proximity of the lens and let any awkwardness or anticipation you may feel dissipate. If you’re not uncomfortable with the idea of being in front of the camera to start with, then that’s fab—but it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit either. Photographers each have their own distinct style and preferred way of working—of course you know this, you’ve picked us specifically for this exact reason—so engagement shoots are a really good way of seeing how we work first hand in a more relaxed environment. It’s worth noting that even with a documentary/reportage style like mine with no posed shots, it’s still super useful, even if you’re not going to be seeing much of the actual camera on the day.
It’s also a great way for your photographer to get to know you too. We can chat over emails for months and feel like we know each other like pals, but seeing how the two of you act around and react to each other is invaluable, as you’re showing all of the signals that will be like gold dust to my eagle eyes. The way you throw your head back when you laugh at their terrible joke, or the way you place your hand on them as an unconscious security—these are little tokens of love that I will pick up on immediately and use to aid them on the wedding day. One way of thinking about it is that the photographer’s job is to illustrate your love story, but to give a true illustration they need to know the quirks of the protagonists’ first.
The shots will also come as a lovely keepsake—and don’t underestimate the happiness that comes with a gift, even if it’s a gift you get via email and you’ve paid for yourself! This is especially true in the run-up to a wedding, where often—whatever budget you’re on—the sheer volume of money going out at once can be disheartening, even if every single penny is well spent. Sometimes the numbers are hard to steel yourself to, and with a lot of the fantastic and worthy services you pay for, you don’t get to see tangible results and products until the day or keep them until after. You should get your engagement photos back before the wedding, so they’ll be a really lovely treat and a timely reminder that it is all absolutely worth it. I always recommend you get your photos printed too, for some extra loveliness – here’s why.
Usually, we’ll go to an area with special significance to you – it doesn’t have to have any relevance to the wedding, just you as a couple. You may instantly have a really clear and specific place in mind, like the place where you got engaged, or the site of your first date, but if you don’t, don’t worry! A loose geographical area that means something to you – your first holiday destination as a couple, where you’re from, or where you lived first, for example – is just as meaningful too. There’s always beautiful backdrops to be had in these places, so don’t worry about picking somewhere glamorous – pick somewhere genuine. That way, I can capture you at your truest. The timings depend on the time of year and our beloved (or not) British weather – if you’re worried about timings, I’ve also written a guide to them on the wedding day too.
How can you prepare for them?
Just be yourself! I know they must seem daunting, but there really is no prep necessary. Wear something you feel comfortable and confident in – don’t feel the need to dress up just for me – and try not to build it into something too oppressive. A Pre-Wedding Shoot is fun – promise!