ENGAGEMENT & LIFESTYLE SESSION GUIDE
This guide is dedicated to helping you and your partner feel confident, prepared, and excited for your upcoming engagement or lifestyle session. From deciding on what to wear and where to go, I’ve put together these tips from over the years to help couples get the best possible photos out of their session. The four main keys to a successful shoot are wardrobe, props, location, and time. Continue reading to learn more about each and how these things can make a big impact on your photos.
Let's start things off with what you’ll be wearing when you show up for your session. I think it's really important to make sure you wear something that you feel comfortable in, avoid clothing that’s too tight or that doesn't fit properly. Being uncomfortable in your clothes will definitely show up in the photos. It’s best to avoid clothing that has stripes, patterns, vivid colours, large logos or text. Simply put, avoid anything that looks "busy" or is distracting. You really can't go wrong by keeping your outfit simple. Keep the colours simple too by sticking with softer, more muted tones. Black, white, grey, and blue are all great options to start off with. It's never a bad idea to bring along a few extra pieces of clothing so we can mix and match a bit before we get started, or even during the session to switch things up a little.
It’s also not a bad idea to do a complete outfit change at some point during your session to mix up the looks entirely. For instance, you could start off with something casual and then change into something a little more formal later on, or vice versa. If fashion isn’t your forte, no worries, websites like Pinterest are fantastic for finding outfit ideas. I'm also more than happy to help out if you're stuck or if you just wanted some feedback on your outfit and accessory choices.
Lastly, if you like to wear makeup something to consider is having your hair and makeup done professionally, or at least by a friend who’s really good at it (and doesn’t mind helping). If you’re confident in your hair and makeup skills already, then just skip this recommendation.
One way to mix up your engagement or lifestyle session is to bring some "props". A prop could be anything such as a bottle of champagne to pop, your favourite beer, or even a picnic basket with some snacks to share. Feel free to get creative here and to incorporate a bit of your personality too. Just like outfits, I'm more than happy to provide feedback on any ideas you have for possible props. If you're not too keen on bringing something, then no worries, props are always completely optional!
If you have a furry friend that you're thinking of bringing along, you can absolutely bring them to your session as I personally love dogs. However, please give me a heads up if you do decide to bring your dog, as I would highly recommend inviting a friend to join who wouldn't mind taking the leash from time to time. That way, we can get a mix of photos with and without your furry friend. Along with treats, don't forget to pack a lint roller (or two).
Now that you’ve got an idea for what to wear and what to bring, it’s time to start thinking about where to go for your engagement or lifestyle session. The way I look at it, choose a location that fits you and your partner’s lifestyle and reflects something that you both love. You can even imagine that you’re going on a date instead of doing a photoshoot, so feel free to incorporate your favourite activities as well. Are you an active or outdoorsy couple? Consider locations like Gatineau Park or the Arboretum by Dow's Lake.
More of an urban, city couple? Then take the ByWard Market or even an in-home session into consideration. Don’t be limited to just one spot either. I’ve found that engagement and lifestyle sessions involving more than one location always turn out super well. This could look like simply stopping by your favourite local coffee shop or brewery towards the end of your session. If you're stuck on choosing a location, I have a handful of suggestions below that are linked to photos I've taken there.
The final thing to plan for your engagement or lifestyle session is the time of year you want to do it. Simply put, how do you want the backdrop of your photos to look? Do you want your photos to have nice lush, green scenery? Then summer time is your best bet. Maybe you’d like those beautiful fall colours for a backdrop instead, or perhaps you and your partner love a winter wonderland with hot chocolate and beavertails on the Canal. Time and location go hand in hand, as you have to think about what your location will look like at that time of year.
By this point you might be wondering what’s the best time of day to schedule your session for, and the answer is to schedule it around golden hour. Golden hour is that window of time just before the sun sets or just after it rises, where the light is soft, warm, and golden (hence the name). This is when you’ll get the best quality of light for photos.
Depending on what you’ve got planned out for your session, it’s best to begin an hour or two before the sun completely sets. This’ll allow enough time for shooting and any traveling between locations if required. I always recommend scheduling engagement and lifestyle sessions during golden hour as the quality of light that can be found during the middle of the day is simply too harsh and quite unflattering.
Once we've chosen a date and location, I'll let you know where and when to meet before starting. This'll be based on what time the sun will be setting at on that day (or what time it rises at if you're brave enough for a sunrise session).
You might’ve heard before that engagement & lifestyle sessions are good for getting comfortable in front of the camera. While that is true, I think of them as so much more than just that. They’re an opportunity to create a collection of unique photos that really capture and showcase who you and your partner are together.