Twice this year I have found myself in a position of booking a wedding that was less than a month away. In both situations, something had gone awry with the photographer that was already booked, and the couple felt that their contract needed to be walked away from. Taking on a new client with such short notice is not really the way that I love to run my business, but I fell in love with both of these couples, and wanted to make sure that they enjoyed this time in their lives. Even though their weddings were less than a month away, the very first thing that we started talking about was their engagement sessions. Does that seem backwards to you? It shouldn’t, and here’s why.
An engagement session has long been viewed as wedding fluff. It’s a luxury to be had by some; an expense to cut for others. If you’ve ever booked a wedding with me then you know that an engagement session is not up for negotiation. The engagement session is built straight into all of my wedding collections as a complimentary add-on, and I will not remove the session in order to reduce the price of the collection. I require it; end of story.
An engagement session is a practice round. I do not enjoy showing up for a wedding day and feeling like I’m the hired help. The token paparazzo. I need to know my couple. I need to know how they move with one another, how they look at one another, how comfortable they are with kissing in front of people, which side of their hair swoop looks better in a photo… no, really… the hair swoop is mad important. I would never expect to show up to a wedding and be able to efficiently direct a couple who had never been in front of my camera before, but it has happened before… once in a blue moon something happens and the engagement session didn’t take place before a wedding… and it shows in my work. I can tell when I am comfortable with a couple, and when I’m not.
So, as you book your photographer… or know someone who is booking a wedding photographer… make sure that you do a practice round. And if that practice round doesn’t go fantastic, ask if you can book another one! Get it right before the wedding day.
(DISCLAIMER: This does not mean that your photographer should be doing another session just because you don’t like how your hair looked, or that you just want more photos. What I mean by this is that if the chemistry between photographer and couple isn’t there, or that you left the shoot feeling more awkward than you did going in… then ask about booking another session. It will be up to your photographer if this is a paid or non-paid session.)
Azita and Sean are those kids that their parents brag about. He a police officer, she a nurse. They are the ones with hearts of gold. The love each other, and they love to serve their communities at any cost. The amount of love and respect that I have for people in the service industry can’t really be put into words, but what I can say is that my life is better for having met Azita and Sean. Azita contacted me through email when she knew that something was amiss with her current wedding photographer. The way that Azita spoke to me about what she loves about my work really resonated with me… I mean, obviously she was stroking my ego at the same time, but she seemed to be able to define my work in a way that I couldn’t, and I adored how much time she had put into curating that email to me. After hearing Azita & Sean’s story, I knew that I wanted nothing more than to give them the wedding photography experience they deserved.
Plus, she’s Persian. And she loves Shahs of Sunset. So… where’s the contract, and where do I sign? One of my favorite parts of an engagement session is when the couple just gets to dance with one another. It teaches me so much about their personalities. The romantic ones dance slowly… the funny ones crack up at the challenge… but Azita and Sean found a little square of home inside each other’s arms, and their feet moved in synchronization… effortlessly. It seems like they could have danced in the desert for the rest of their lives together.I‘m going to end with this photo right here, because… WHOA.