Very few people feel natural in front of the camera …. even if it’s just a photo on an iPhone that is taken by a friend. The pressure feel especially intimidating when someone will actually be seeing these photos! Choosing what to wear in your engagement session may feel a little overwhelming. Hopefully this article will help you some inspiration of where to start. I’ll be providing tips for outfits and things to remember that will make your session the best it can possibly be.
What you wear in your engagement photos actually gives you control over the outcome of your shoot and what it looks and feels like. This decision often causes a ton of stress for the bride beforehand. However, my hope is that with a little education, you will be able to determine style and feel you desire for your shoot and then that will make your outfit selection so much easier and less complicated. Plus you can always bring more than one outfit.
5 TIPS FOR ENGAGEMENT OUTFIT INSPIRATION
NEUTRALS + KNITS: Neutrals are a photographer’s best friend! Beige, grey, cream…you may feel they wash you out, and perhaps some colours or shades that don’t work for you… The truth is, neutrals are the most photogenic colour for portraits. Couple a neutral with a natural looking fibre – sweaters, knits, scarves and they somehow pull off a dressed up look, without looking like you are trying to look dressed up.
BLACK + WHITE : Myth – always wear black or you won’t look thin! Sure, black is slimming, but it’s always very heavy in portraits. There is nothing wrong with black but if you’re only wearing it to look thinner and deep down you’re hoping for light and airy portraits, it’s probably not the best choice. Plain black also almost always shows lint or other unwanted fibres in photography. I also advise to avoid a pure, plain white top unless it’s under a scarf or cardigan. Plain whites can overexpose easily in sunlight. If you want to wear white, go for something with lace or beading. Both plain black or white can lose detail in images.
MATCHING VS COORDINATING: Please, for the love of all things beautiful, don’t try to match your significant other! Not unless this is VERY, VERY deliberate – like cheesy matching Christmas sweaters. Instead, try to coordinate. Coordination means you are usually choosing different colours that look good together but are not close to being the same. Coordinate with similar styles and choose a colour palette. You can both wear blue, but try for different shades and add another colour for contrast.
ACCESSORISE: Just add a pair of earrings, a chunky necklace or a bright pair of heels. A little goes a long way in photography. Jazz up images with very simple details. This is especially a bonus for a winter session. A matching toque, cosy mittens or wool scarf can get your much wanted extra time in the cold and makes for super cute images. If it’s winter, wear the fancy, dressy coat, even if it’s less warm than the down parka.
USE WHAT YOU’VE GOT: You do not always have to buy something new. If you know you look awesome in an outfit that you already have and it fits the style you want for your engagement session, that would be the a great choice.
5 TIPS OF WHAT TO AVOID
Colours to avoid: bright reds, bright oranges and bright greens and anything neon. These colours reflect onto skin and can be difficult to edit.
Avoid overly busy patterns: anything smaller than a quarter: Tiny patterns cause something called “Chromatic Aberration” in digital images. Men’s checkered shirts are fine if the “checks” are on the larger side.
Alternate heaviness: If one of you is wearing very dark jeans, the other may want to wear lighter pants. If one of you is wearing a navy top, the other shouldn’t wear a dark/heavy coloured top. To a certain degree, alternating the “heaviness” of your outfits can make your images look more balanced.
Coordinate styles: Avoid one of you being casual while the other is more dressy: This can look a bit awkward in photos. If one of you is dressed up and the other is casual, it can look a little odd in your images. (see more below in choosing styles.
Other things to avoid: Anything with graphics, logos or words. Transitional glasses or sunglasses. Take off the big black smart watch. If you can talk him out of his baseball cap, please do…
DECIDE YOUR STYLE
BOLD or NEUTRAL?
DRESSY or CASUAL?
CLASSIC or TRENDY?
What is more you? These choices represent the three main decisions you will have to make in regards to your outfit choices. There are no right or wrong answers. Maybe you want one outfit to be dressy and the other to be casual. Maybe you want one outfit to be very light and neutral but you want to wear bold colour in the next outfit. These categories will hopefully help you determine what you’re hoping for in your engagement session. If you’re feeling stuck and can’t seem to determine what you prefer, that’s totally normal.
THE ROMANTIC RECIPE
If you’re hoping for a more romantic style of shoot that includes “light” and “airy” colours, you can actually make outfit choices that will lend your images to turn out brighter, softer and extra photogenic! Here are some ingredients that go into creating a romantic styled shoot. It’s important to note that you do not need to choose all of these ingredients in order to have a light and airy style to your images but the more ingredients you include, the more romantic it will be:
Pastel Colours: Blushes, tans, light pinks, faint blues and light minty teals, creams, greys and whites will always result in more of a light and airy look in your images. These colours photograph softer and more romantically!
Long, flowy skirts/dresses: Dresses and skirts with feminine ruffles, multiple layers of fabric and the ability to blow and move in the wind will always photograph beautifully! You would be amazed at how much impact moving fabric can soften an image.
Khakis vs. Jeans: If you really want your images to be as bright as possible, consider having your groom wear lighter pants instead of dark dress pants or dark jeans.
Make-up: Don’t over do it. Stick with natural and pastels.
Natural Location: Going to park and being surrounded by an earthy setting, green leaves, blossoms, fall colours, fresh snow … whatever the season.
THE BRIGHT AND BOLD RECIPE
Just like the “Romantic” recipe, you don’t have to apply all of these “ingredients to get a perfectly BRIGHT & BOLD look to your engagement session. These ingredients include:
Only one wears a pattern: If one of you has a bold pattern, it’s very important that the other doesn’t. The more bold the pattern, the more important this rule is!
Only one bold colour: If you really want a bold and bright look but you want to do it well and tastefully, I would suggest that only one of you have a bright and bold coloured outfit and the other stay in a solid neutral to avoid over-doing it!
Large Patterns are Preferred: If you really want to wear a pattern, my only request is that your pattern is on the larger side.
Make-up: Can be a little more dramatic if desired, but remember too much make-up can look overdone, heavy and dominating quickly in portraits. Remember foundation needs to go ALL the way down your neck!
Urban Location: Finding a solid coloured wall can add to a bold and bright look. Urban settings like downtown or cityscapes add a very modern and trendy feel to your images.
LAST POINTS TO REMEMBER
POCKETS | Empty your pockets! Literally. You don’t want to have key chains or phones showing through your pockets. (This is for the guys especially!)
TIMING | The sun sets quickly especially if your shoot is not in the summer months. The later you arrive, the less time we have to shoot! Once the sun is set, the shoot will be over.
RING CLEANING | Clean the ring! I love to shoot a few rings shots while you change outfits! The cleaner the better.
CHANGING CLOTHES | As much as I would like to say that we always have restrooms for outfit changes, more often than not, our clients do quick outfit changes in their car if there are no other options!
PARKING FEE | This may not apply to your shoot, but you always want to plan in advance for a cash-only parking fee that we may encounter. We’ve had instances where this has caused some stress and stress is what we want to avoid!
LIP COLOUR & HAIRSPRAY | You may need to apply more lip colour after one outfit change and a few kisses. (If you have a bold lip colour, try to have a matte finish so it won’t transfer to your groom as intensely!). Hairspray and a brush will be helpful if your hair struggles in the wind.
FLIP FLOPS | If you’re wearing shoes that are difficult to walk in but look awesome, bring some comfy shoes to change to while we walk to each shooting location.
EAT| Have a snack or even dinner before you put on your makeup. Hangry couples and happy photos aren’t synonymous.
Breathe. I’m going to talk you through this and it’s going to be a blast! The key to good photos is being relaxed and enjoying yourself. Be comfortable. Be yourselves. Enjoy this time together, and make a date out of it! Plan dinner/dessert afterwards and celebrate!
What you wear in your engagement photos isn’t everything to consider. Although outfits determine a lot of the emotion and style of your photos, locations count too. However, you don’t need to travel out to Banff, you can use a city park in Airdrie or get a mountain view right outside Calgary city limits. Stay posted for an an article of some of my favourite local locations.