E*Shoots: Tips From Hollye Schumacher

At the beginning of December, Abby posted some great advice on wedding photography from Karen Rusten of Brown Mouse Photography. If you missed it, you totally have to go back (start here) and read it cover to cover (part II, III)!

But today, we’re cranking it back a few paces and dealing with those other photos … the first photos you’ll take now that you’re engaged!!

E* shoots … from ordinary to extraordinary! Gone are the days of sweet, sentimental engagement photos. Nowadays, crazy, sensual, just plain fun … anything goes! We’ve asked our own dream team of experts, the Little Black Book photographers, to share some tips and tricks to achieving those extraordinary engagement shots that you’ll be proud to claim as your first piece of true art!

Today, we’ve asked Holly Schumacher, a fabulous fine art and wedding photographer to give us her best advice to couples preparing for their engagement sessions.

from Hollye

I would first (and most importantly) find a photographer who shoots in different outdoor locations. Ask the photographer if they specialize in customized engagement sessions. Does the photographer shoot in a lot of similar locations with similar poses, or is their a lot of variety? Once you find your photographer, share information about yourselves, such as, things you like to do together, places you frequently eat, what type of couple you are (romantic, traditional, playful, outgoing) and the story of how you met. The more a photographer knows about a couple, the more personalized the engagement session will be.The “about us” list, also acts as a source of inspiration. I’ve found the best spots based on this feedback, shooting in a playground, in swinging chairs at the fair, at In-N-Out Burger, in a fountain, cooking store, etc.

I found out from one of my couples that the groom had proposed to his girlfriend by putting the engagement ring in the bible that they read every night. When she opened the book, the ring fell out into her lap and he proposed to her. When I did their engagement session at their house, I had them get out the book and I photographed the ring in the book creating a heart out of the shadow. If you’re wanting to do something creative, be sure to convey it to the photographer and give them an example of something you saw that moved you.

Everyone has a different level of tolerance in front of the camera. If you (or your fiance) is not willing to get wet, dirty, or mess up your hair, then beware of what you ask for.

I know that when clients come to me and verbally tell me that they want an out-of-the-box engagement session they should strap themselves in for an exciting ride. Try to be yourself in front of the camera. For some, this means drinking a glass of wine (only ONE) before the session or getting in a good mood and leaving the day’s dramas behind. A lot of couples can be nervous before the session which can create tensions when they arrive for the shoot. Do your best to acknowlege that you may be nervous, but that tension will quickly fade once you start. If you are not so great at styling your hair (myself included) have your hair and make up professionally done. It can make or break a session. Your photographer can create the most amazing images, but if you didn’t like your hair, it’s a complete waste of time. Ultimately, you want to be happy with how you look in the picture. Be sure to go to a stylist you trust who has done it in the past so you’re not left with a style that looks like someone else.

If you get great images, do something with them! If you spend the time and money to do a fun session, be sure to either create a guest sign-in book, holiday card, slideshow, website, or large wall portrait, with the images. Do not let them waste away. I have a set of photos from my engagement session between myself and my husband at my house and office, and they never cease to remind me of the love we share and the fun time we had making the images.

Such great advice, Hollye! Thanks so much for this first in a series of Little Black Book posts on E*shoots.

Hollye Schumacher Photography is based in Phoenix, Arizona, but if you read her bio, you’ll see she’s addicted to travel … so if you love her style (and who wouldn’t!) shoot her an e*mail.  Her December 30 blog has some more seriously incredible engagement shots from Lauren and Merrill’s e*shoot. Don’t know how they’ll be able to choose … they’re all so fun!

If any of you guys have stories to tell about your own e*shoots … please let us know by sending us a comment. I’m sure other couples would really like to hear from you, too! OR if you have questions … send ’em our way. We’ve got a panel of experts who can help you with any question you might have!