An industry expert column by Blake McCollum
There aren’t many things more awkward than meeting someone for the first or second time, and then being intimate with your significant other in front of that person… while that person photographs you. I have been that person with the camera for years now, and I’m going to help you get the most out of your upcoming engagement session with a few simple steps. So embrace the stranger with the camera telling you to hold each other while having a staring contest and roll with it. Also remember as you read this, every photographer has different methods, every couple is unique, and every session is different. This is just my personal thought process that works best for me and the people I am photographing.
Let your photographer know who the two of you are. Do you like motorcycles? Going for hikes? Maybe you really like carnivals or your dog Freckles. All great information to relay to your photographer in advance to plan around, incorporate, or at minimum to talk about through the process. The conversation gives you two a chance to get to know your photographer and vice versa. If he or she is also photographing your wedding, you will probably be seeing a lot more of each other, and that makes the process much more relaxed.
I can’t stress this enough. Just be you in every part of your photos from the location, to the clothing, to the mood. I have photographed engagement sessions in concrete factories, corn fields, and speak easy bars, and as you can imagine all three of these couples have very different styles and ideas of what the perfect portrait is to them *reference point 1*. My goal is to take the couple’s idea and then put it into a camera. Whether you are the country club-type of couple or a ripped jeans-and-flannel-on-your-family farm-type of couple, simply be yourself. Every photographer also has a style as well so make sure your style meshes well with whomever is photographing you.
Relax and have fun
This one is unfortunately sometimes the hardest. Like I said before, an engagement session can be a bit awkward at times. But it’s a million times less awkward when you simply embrace the situation and run with it. These photos are not meant to be a serious thing, they are a celebration. Oftentimes the first professional, non-Iphone photos taken of you two together, it’s chapter 1 of your new life. So don’t let page one be full of stress and anxiety. As a photographer, I do my best to make my subjects feel comfortable and relaxed, because that’s when real magic happens in front of the camera. You’ll get to know my personality as much as I get to know yours. 100% will include music, bad jokes, and word games to lighten the mood.
Remember the reason
In the end this is most important. You two are starting a new life together and that’s an amazing thing, and a photographer should feel honored to document that for you. There will be a lot of time and effort put into the entire wedding process, and the time in front of the camera is the time to enjoy it! You are at a special time in both of your lives with the person you love, and those are the most important and key details. So don’t sweat the small things, communicate, just be you, laugh a little and create some amazing memories and hopefully even better photos.