Anatomy of an Engagement / Pre Wedding Shoot

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: May 13, 2009

Category: General

Last Sunday I was photographing Mark Fryer and his fiancée Samantha Luker in Windsor for their ‘Engagment / Pre Wedding’ Shoot; Mark & Samantha are to be married at the stunning Matara, Gloucestershire on the 30th of this month. We had originally booked the ‘shoot’ for approximately 3 weeks previous but ended up re-scheduling it for this past weekend for some reasons I’ll cover in a moment.

Now I have mentioned in an earlier post that I’m moving away from photographing weddings and focusing more on my portrait and editorial work; infact Mark & Samantha’s is the 2nd of the final 3 that I’m doing this year, but despite that I thought I’d write a blog entry on what I would give as my ‘tips’ for anyone photographing a wedding; in particular focusing on the ‘engagement / pre wedding shoot’.

So why do an ‘Engagement / Pre Wedding Shoot’ ?

1. An engagement / pre wedding shoot I think is vital. Not only is it another opportunity for you to meet the future bride & groom before the big day, in turn helping to build that all important relationship but it gives you, the photographer a ‘heads up’ with regards to what you can and can’t do with that particular couple. Some people are more ‘tactile’ than others and quite literally can’t keep their hands off each other, but there are those who aren’t so ‘open’ about showing their feelings. Knowing this before the wedding can only be a big help so you’ll know in advance what kind of pictures to plan for.

2. It gives your client an insight as to how you work so they know what to expect and will know what you mean when you suggest something. Being able to say “Do you remember when we …..” will be a big time saver as your client will be on the same ‘wave length’ as you and know what you’re looking for.

3. Seeing great photographs being made there and then gives the client even more confidence in your ability, which in turn builds yet more trust.

I guess the list of benefits is endless really but this is just to give you an idea of what I think are the main ones.

The Engagement / Pre Wedding Shoot

1. Shoot in a location you’re familiar with. The idea of the shoot obviously is to produce great photos but personally speaking I don’t want to be ‘hunting’ for locations when my main objective is to ‘learn’ about the couple i.e. the best way to photograph them and their limitations.

2. Arrive early to avoid surprises i.e. taking your couple to a location only to find someone’s piled a load of tables and chairs in the way, the location is being used etc …

3. Meet the clients for coffee beforehand rather than just ‘cracking on’. Chatting through the wedding plans and what you’ll be doing all helps to relax the client before you head out.

4. Involve your clients in the the making of the shoot by holding lights, tri-grip diffusers and so on which helps to take their mind off being photographed. However, do explain that they wont be doing this on their wedding day as you’ll most likely have an assistant with you.

5. Show photos to your client on the back of the camera as you go round. This again will help them to relax and enjoy the process even more when they see the results you’re getting.

6. Don’t over complicate things i.e. keep your kit to a minimum cos you don’t really want to be getting into 2, 3 or 4 light set ups. This is an engagement / pre wedding shoot not a commercial shoot and let’s face it, stunning results can be achieved with natural light and one light; you only have to look at the work of Zack Arias to realise this.

7. Plan your route and know what photographs you intend to take where. For any of you with an iPhone, two applications that I use alot when planning a shoot are: ‘Sun n Moon’ and ‘Focalware’ ; these two little gems tell me when the sun will be around and where it will be at specific times during the day.

Again, I guess this ‘tips’ list could go on and on, but these 7 are the ones that immediately come to mind.

Hope that’s of some use,
Enjoy ;o)

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