Welcome to Spotlighting. Here I will spotlight new and interesting wedding details that I find in a hope to be a reliable resource to my brides and families. Here you will find honest, unsolicited advice and recommendations. Hopefully, you will also gain valuable insight in to who I am and how I view my work!

Engagement Session Hints

The Engagement Session Unplugged

The engagement session is such an important element in developing trust and rapport with your wedding photographer. It is also exciting for us because under the right circumstances, it is an opportunity to relax and have fun and get to know more about our bride and groom before the wedding day.

What determines then the right circumstances. That is where the couple plays such an important part. The right circumstance is different for every couple because we all have different levels of comfort. While one couple may want to roll in the waves together on a public beach, another couple may not feel all together comfortable showing too much PDA.

The engagement session has evolved in the past decade. In the past and for some it remains a portrait session with smiling faces cheesing at the camera lens and all the elements of traditional photography applied.

Nowadays however the engagement session has taken on a whole new meaning for the contemporary couple. I have had some odd requests but
I find those are the ones that ultimately capture the very essence of the two people I am shooting and more importantly the relationship they share.

To begin, choose a theme or location that says something about you as a couple. Many couples met because of shared interests or an Alma mater. That is a good place to start. Explore what you enjoy doing together. Make it fun and uniquely you. Is there a special place that you share? It could be the place he proposed or your first date. Maybe there is a carnival in town, or the Panthers are playing a home game. Maybe you've just noticed how beautiful the sun sets on the water as you pass by Lake Norman. Note the time and then call me to schedule your shoot.

Call ahead to see if there are any restrictions or permits that we will have to acquire. If you don't feel comfortable making contact with the location then I would be happy to arrange the details.
Make certain you will feel comfortable enough at the location to be yourself. Everything sounds good in theory but is it workable for you? 

Maybe you saw some shots of a friend taken at the same location but you know you can't do exactly what you saw in those images that made you love them. You know if you are shy and you don't like people watching you. You know if your fiance is reserved and wouldn't like to be the center of attention in a public place. So don't inflict that stress on yourself. Find a place that is more private and better suited to you.

Lastly, choose clothing that is appropriate to the location but with a touch of your own creativity. Most times we can modify ideas to accommodate what you have on so don't let that limit you. Determine what inspires you first, find a perfect location and then we can work out the wardrobe later. Sometimes as woman we start with the clothes and the shoes first.

But whatever you choose, make it an idea that reflects who you are as a couple and offers chances for us to go out together to have some fun. While we are laughing, there will be so many opportunities for me to capture your relationship. I'll just be along for the ride!

Dynamic Images

Everyone interested in doing an engagement session should consider whether or not they want the typical, stand-by portraits that everyone does, or if they would prefer more dynamic and dramatic engagement pictures. There will always be a place for a traditional style of portrait but more and more I have requests from couples who do not want the same boring styles and uninteresting poses.

Its important that you express this to your photographer and to find a photographer that is willing to engage in a little bit of adventure. The most dynamic photos I have an opportunity to take, often involve a little planning and a lot of stepping out of a comfort zone. 

Instead of the local park or backyard, try climbing to the top of a hill or driving out of town and finding an open field. Instead of scheduling your appointment at 4:00 in the afternoon, try waiting till nearer to sunset. Instead of the comfortable sweater and jeans routine, try a fluttery dress or skinny jeans and a rocker tee.

Ultimately you want the engagement session portraits to express who you are as a couple. The pictures should capture your relationship but remember, those dynamic photos that you long to have, require a little creativity and your active participation!

What I Will Be Doing

For most of us picture taking is a point and shoot exercise in getting our kids to smile or the dog to sit still while we try to put a Santa hat on his head. And for the most part that's me too when I am not working, although my children may beg to differ.

When I have been trusted however to capture a family's memories, illuminate the smile of a beautiful bride, catch the enthusiasm of a graduating Senior or the innocence and sweetness of a newborn...that is not a commitment I take lightly. So there is an intensity and focus that transports me when I am working. Not only can shooting a portrait session be a lot of fun but it can be freeing as you explore your creativity.

 I often create shot lists or an idea bank prior to the shoot just so I can be free to concentrate on the science behind it all. There are so many considerations going through a photographer's mind while our subjects smile and pose. There are numbers and charts and graphs and joggers and cars running into our frames. Sometimes it seems near impossible to get the shot we want with the right light, a natural pose and interesting details.

The trick to it all is the interaction...as clients no longer are mere studies of subjects in light but become friends and of a sort family... that you involve and engage. It really is one of the best parts of photography for me...

What Do We Wear

I get asked this question all the time and was asked today by a couple to email them my thoughts about their attire for their engagement session this weekend. My response came from an article that I wrote many years ago but still rings true today. I thought it would be great to include it here. I hope that this information helps anyone who is considering their clothing for their next photo session. Everyone wants to look their best for their portraits but remember its really a matter of personal style and should be in keeping with the look you hope to achieve. There are a few factors that I think are important to consider regardless if your session is a studio or on location shoot. 

To begin, color is a very important consideration. Not only is black classic and slimming it also photographs well on light backgrounds. I also like burgundy, grey and deep red. On the other hand, denim, pastels, and whites are more versatile and work great with light and dark backgrounds and with most outdoor settings.
Keep in mind however your "good" colors. For example, golden skin tones do not wear shades of blue well, nor do blue skin tones wear oranges or yellows well. I have also found that brunettes photograph beautifully in white and blondes, in black. The contrast can be striking. Hands down white or off-white looks best on a beach location. Breezy, summer dresses are lovely unless the wind catches the dress and billows you like you have gained 40 pounds. I have always found linens to photograph extremely well on the beach. The difficulty is trying to pair an ensemble for a couple. Its never the best idea to be identical... although I have seen it done and it can produce good shots. Clothing with texture is always beautiful in black and white. My best suggestion is to avoid stripes, polka dots, distracting patterns, t-shirts, and t-shirts with decals unless you are both sports fans and support the same team....if not that may be tricky :)

As for the style of clothing, its best to not be too trendy unless you are doing portfolio work. Long sleeves are best because bare arms usually distract from the beauty of the face and on a male can change a portrait to a snapshot in one swift move. You might consider bringing a change of wardrobe for different poses as well. However, the key here is to wear something that's comfortable. If you are not at ease with what you are wearing, this will show on your face and will completely take your attention away from the shoot.

Keep jewelry to a minimum. Metals and watches tend to create unwanted reflections. If you wear earrings, keep them dignified. If you have more than one ear piercing, then for a formal portrait, wear only one set in the main opening. If you are going for an edgy look, by all means keep all your piercing. Same for tattoos....cover up for a formal session or if your session is an editorial of you and the work you have had done on your body....then show them off!!!

Makeup and hair is another important consideration. Some young women nowadays do not wear much makeup and that is a good thing. Although a bit of foundation, powder and blush can do much to soften your look in your portraits. Too much applied over acne or redness can accentuate dryness and make the area look much worse.

Dressing children tends to break most of these rules. They can get by with stripes and polka dots when we can not. Contrasting patterns can be adorable on a group of siblings. My favorite shots however have the children of a family...all in the same mid-tones or white.. only dressed differently. For example, a little sister in a quaint antique white dress, her brother in linen slacks and shirt in the same shade and the oldest sister in matching skirt and blouse. Let the clothing demonstrate their personalities.

Most important to remember however, is to be comfortable, relax and have fun, smile and laugh!!!! If that shows through in your portraits it may not even matter what you are wearing....