Genovese Ashford Studios Tips for Getting the Most From Your Engagement Portrait Session
Our goal at Genovese Ashford Studios is to provide our clients with the best engagement portraits possible, regardless of the situation. With each session we bring every ounce of creativity, knowledge, effort, and professional equipment that we have in our possession. However, as in any collaboration, there are things that clients can do and choices that they can make that will greatly increase the odds of a successful shoot.
Likely nothing will have a greater impact on your shoot. While it may seem that the weather is a variable completely out of your control, and it essentially is, your preparedness for the weather will have a direct impact on your shoot. Unfortunately no weather forecast is completely accurate and we must work with percentages and likelihoods, but just by regularly checking the forecast in the days before your shoot you can bypass or make plans according to what is likely to happen on the day of your shoot. Rain is the most likely weather phenomenon here in the south to cause you headaches for your engagement portrait session. In the days before your session should the likelihood of rain become a greater possibly than 25% – 30% then it is probably a good idea to start making preparations. As opposed to bridal portrait sessions, there is a bit more flexibility for engagement portrait sessions when it comes to the weather forecast. While rain itself is still likely to be reason for a reschedule, unlike a bridal portrait session if it has rained previously in the day and the ground is wet this doesn’t necessarily mean that we cannot continue with the shoot. And even in some situations where the location permits, we may be able to continue a shoot if it is still raining, as long as the location used has cover for us photographers to keep our photography equipment dry. Still, for locations that are completely outdoors the possibility of rescheduling is the most likely outcome. If clients are making appointments that will need to be rescheduled for their shoot, or even just making arrangements to take off from work, looking at the forecast days ahead can mean the difference between losing money or not. We try to remain flexible for our clients because of the unpredictability of the weather, so we are usually open to making decisions even on the day of the shoot itself. However, your appointment and work may not feel the same way. In situations like this, any time the chance of rain gets high it is a good idea to start making arrangements for a reschedule. However, in some cases clients may find themselves in a position where this may not be possible. In this scenario moving your shoot to a location that has an indoor option is the best guarantee that there will not be a reschedule should the weather turn ugly. Unlike bridal portraits however, indoor locations that work well for engagement portrait sessions are harder to find. Because engagement portraits are more casual, many indoor venues that work well for a bridal portrait shoot may be too formal for the look and feel that you are looking for in your engagement portrait session. Also, particularly when warm or hot outside, the humidity will have a direct impact on things like hair, makeup, and how comfortable you are during your shoot. Our best advise is to closely follow the forecast before your shoot and plan accordingly.
Much like weather the temperature can directly affect your shoot, and by paying attention to the forecast beforehand clients can make decisions that can offset how much impact the temperature will have for their shoot. Summer heat here in the south is stifling. So much so that we advise all of our clients to avoid the summer when it comes time to schedule their portraits. However, in certain cases this may or may not be possible. Should you find yourself planning engagement portraits for the middle of the summer, our best suggestion is to consider a couple of modifications to your shoot that will help assure that the heat doesn’t negatively impact your shoot. The first suggestion is to modify the time of your shoot. The daytime will simply be too hot to make an engagement shoot happen. No amount of photoshop will make a subject who is hot, actively sweating, and having hair and makeup being negatively affected look like they would on a nice spring or fall day with cooler temps. So, clients have the option to move their shoot to the nighttime where the temperatures are much cooler. However, here in the south even moving your shoot to nighttime will not eliminate the issues from the heat and humidity completely. We’ve seen nighttime temps in the south still be in the upper 80’s when the stars are out and the sun is gone. This is still less than ideal for a shoot, and as a result the other suggestion that we have should you not have the option to move your shoot outside of the summer months is to shorten the shoot. A 30 minute shoot may be all that is possible during the heat of the summer, even if we shoot at nighttime. If that sounds like more work than you bargained for or less shoot time than you envision then our best advise is to choose a time of year for your shoot that will have ideal temperatures. Cold, winter temperatures may also be a consideration for your engagement shoot. While in the south there are really only usually a handful of days that are simply too cold to shoot in, if winter clothing is not what you were hoping for in your engagement portraits then you should also consider this as you plan the time of year that you’ll be doing your shoot in. While clients may be able to wear removable winter clothing between shots, if the temperatures are too cold the session may become unenjoyable for you during the times that we’ll actually be taking pictures. And how your feel during your shoot can directly impact how you look in the photographs themselves.
The location of your engagement portraits will have almost as much impact in the finished product as the subjects themselves. The location will affect the feel and theme of your shoot, it will affect your ability to deal with variables like the weather and temperature, it will affect how much time you’ll need for your shoot on the day of, and it will affect how easily you are able to get ready for the shoot. We have many, many locations that we shoot at regularly and are happy to help advise all of our clients when it comes to choosing a location. However, we also want to shoot in locations that our clients envision their shoot at, and in some cases our clients may have a suggestion for us as well. Engagement portraits offer the most flexibility, and opportunity for personalization from our clients. Because engagement shoots can be as formal or informal as clients desire, the flexibility that we have for different types of locations is much greater. Do keep in mind however that not all locations are created equal, and in some situations some locations may actually be much less than ideal. Discussing your ideas with us will help us to guide you through the process of deciding on a location. You’ll want to consider things like how much variety of scenery the location has, how much shade (or lack thereof) the location has, if there are distracting or less than ideal objects or backgrounds in certain portions of the location, how close or far away the location is from where you’ll be that day, and how accommodating the location will be for you to get ready at before the shoot begins. Keep in mind that when we advise about the challenges a certain location may provide, this will greatly impact the outcome of your portraits. When the conditions are less than ideal, it may be more than just a challenge for us…. it may directly impact the quality of the photographs that we’re able to produce for you.
Time of Day
The quality of the lighting for your shoot greatly affects the quality of the images that we are able to produce for you. And nothing has a greater impact on the quality of the lighting for your shoot than the time of day that it happens at. When shooting outdoors, there is simply no better time to be shooting than as close to sunset as possible. As the sun gets closer and closer to the horizon, the amount of atmosphere that the light travels through increases. What this amounts to is the difference between looking at a lightbulb, and looking at light coming through a lampshade. The light is softer, more complementary, easier to work with, and generally more beautiful at sunset. For all of these reasons, when shooting outdoors our best suggestion is to schedule your shoot for the last hour and a half of daylight. Websites online will give you times accurate to the minute of when the sun will be setting for your area so that you can plan your shoot accordingly. However, certain locations will have restrictions and limitations on the times that they allow bridal portraits to happen. On our end, we will bring every piece of lighting equipment that we can to account for less than ideal lighting. The further we are from sunset however, the more important having a location that has plenty of shade or indoor portions will be. In no situation is shooting outdoors at noon ideal, so in some cases the hours of operation of your venue of choosing may make shooting there extremely compromised.
Your shoot will not require accessories and props, but you may want to include them. Props for your shoot allow you to customize and personalize your shoot, and also may provide you with the feel and theme that you’re going for in your engagement portrait session. There simply is no greater opportunity for clients to personalize their photos than engagement portrait sessions, because of how informal the shoots can be and how much flexibility we have on a typical engagement shoot. Just remember that certain locations may require a great deal of walking and may take you far away from your vehicle, so what you bring along you may have to carry with you for the entirety of the shoot. Some clients also like to include their pets for some of their photos. We’re always up for including your pets when the situation permits it, but we do have some suggestions that you’ll want to keep in mind. Firstly, you will definitely want to arrange for someone to transport your pets to and from the shoot and to be responsible for them so that you are not distracted by trying to keep up with your pet for photographs that do not include them. We usually suggest that the pets join either for the beginning or end portion of the shoot so that you still have time during your shoot to concentrate on just the two of you. Also, certain locations may make it difficult or impossible to accommodate animals so make sure to verify that your pets will be allowed at the location before you get there.
Clothing choices and outfits for your shoot also offers clients a great deal of room for personalization, and greatly impact the theme and feel of your shoot. Engagement portraits can be as formal or informal as you like, and you even have the option to have multiple outfits and clothing changes to give you greater variety in your portraits. For our typical hour and a half shoot we generally recommend having only two outfits, but some locations that have good access to facilities or changing rooms may provide an opportunity for a third outfit as well. Clients should consider the facilities, or lack thereof, as they plan their clothing choices for their shoot…. you may very well find yourself changing in your car at some locations. But from our standpoint we are happy to accommodate any outfits and attire that you choose for your shoot. We do have a few suggestions, however, that clients should keep in mind as they make selections for their outfits. As a general rule of thumb we do suggest that clients choose outfits that are not too trendy. While what you wear, no matter what you do, will likely be a reflection of the times you lived in when you look back at your photographs years from now, it is usually best that the outfits that you wear are not so trendy that you look back in regret years down the road. As we try to in our approach to our photography as well, we usually gravitate towards keeping your shoot more timeless when possible. However, because of the ability to change outfits, you do have the option to have a trendier outfit along with a more conservative choice as well. And while we offer our suggestions to you, this is your shoot and there really are no outfits or clothing choices that we won’t photograph. We do find that a lot of our clients prefer to have a more casual outfit for one set, and a dressier outfit for another set. But most importantly, these are your photographs so we suggest that you make choices that most accurately reflect both of your personalities and sense of style. We’d also be remiss if we did not mention that your clothing choices provide you with the greatest opportunity to accentuate your best attributes, and mask your least favorite. If you are self conscious about certain aspects of your appearance you should not wear clothing that you do not find flattering, or that brings attention to areas that you do not want to. The way that you look in the mirror is very likely how you are going to look in your photographs, so clients should not assume that through posing or liberal use of photoshop we will be able to alter their appearance. While we’ll definitely devote our energy to trying to make you look your best in your engagement photographs, we also have to concentrate on capturing candid expressions and interactions between the two of you. In most cases those two tasks are mutually exclusive…. we cannot capture your personalities and interactions, and get great candid expressions, if we spend the entire shoot carefully positioning every inch of our clients. We’ll try to divide your shoot into a good mix of instruction from us and flattering poses, and candid interaction between the two of you. The best guarantee however that you’ll like the way that you look in your shoot is if you like the way that you look in the mirror before you leave for your shoot!
Yes, you’ll need to bring yourselves along for your engagement portrait shoot! We don’t mean physically bring yourselves to the shoot, although that is certainly a requirement. You’ll need to be more than just present for your shoot. The success of your shoot can come down to how eager your are to participate. Engagement portraits should not be stressful. Unlike bridal portraits, or your wedding day itself, this shoot is about capturing both of your personalities and having images that focus on candid interaction between the two of you and that show your personalities, how much fun you have together, and how in love you are. Once your shoot starts your ability to relax and enjoy the shoot can greatly and directly impact the success of the shoot. For our part we try to have as much fun as we can with each shoot, and we try to interact with you in a way that will allow you to have fun during your shoot as well. Engagement portraits are fun, and they’re also the best opportunity for us to get to know our clients. There will be plenty of talking, laughing, and interacting going on and we tell our clients not to take any portion of the shoot seriously. Engagement portraits are an opportunity for us to be creative, a scenario that allows for us to take our time, get to know our clients, and cut up and be silly. Have fun!! You’ll get the best results from your shoot when you’re cutting up and being completely silly. We’ll do everything that we can to help you relax for your engagement portraits…. just shy of providing drinks! Be open to our input, relax and get comfortable, share your ideas with us, and just have fun with it!!
Bring along your expectations and share them with us! But keep them realistic. We love hearing and executing your ideas for everything from poses, facial expressions, locations, to props and accessories. Engagement portraits are a collaboration, and we want to personalize everything that we do for every one of our clients. However, we still have to remain true to our style and approach to photography, and also have to deal with the challenges and scenarios presented by many of the things mentioned above. We realize that though we know much about engagement portraits and photography from many years of doing this professionally, this is likely the first time that you are doing this. Keep your ideas ready… but make sure to cater them to the scenario. Show us an idea you found for a pose, but keep in mind that we will do so in our own style and that your location is likely different from your example. Try to keep your expectations true to all of the suggestions mentioned above. And if you’re able to follow all of the suggestions that we’ve made above, you can certainly expect results like what you see from our website and all of the previous work we’ve created!
For more information on how Genovese Ashford Studios can capture your wedding day visit www.genovese-ashford.com. Your search for a New Orleans Wedding Photographer ends here!