Tips & Tricks for Your Hawaii Engagement Session

Today, when I found myself suddenly at loose ends with no photos to edit and no elopement, engagement or family photo session scheduled, I suddenly realized I had never written a blog post about engagement sessions! Huh. Well, the good news is that there are really only a couple things I like to cover with couples before - and during - their engagement session. So here goes...

If You Aint Having Fun, You Aint Doing It Right

Let me be really clear here: Your engagement session should be FUN! No pressure, no expectation, no perfectionism... On your wedding day you’ll be crunched for time, you won't want your dress to get dirty and there will be a thousand demands on your time and attention. Your engagement session, however, is a chance for both of you to get to know your photographer (hopefully, me!), get comfortable with being in front of a camera, and learn how to have FUN being playfully romantic in front of the camera. Of course, your wedding day will be awesome, but it can make a huge difference to have a great engagement session with the right engagement photographer before that big day! By the day of their wedding, couples that have had an engagement session with me know to what to expect, what to do and thus feel much more relaxed for their wedding photos - and boy, does it show!

It's okay to be a little nervous & uncomfortable at first

I mean, HELLO!, it's not like any of us are professional models and stand around looking perfect all day. :-)  The good news is that you don't need to know a single thing! It's MY job to show you how to pose, what to do with your hands and help you relax. For the first 20 minutes or so, you WILL feel a bit nervous and uncomfortable. That's normal and to be expected. EVERYONE does. Put ME in front of the camera, and I do too. :-)  Before the session begins, I will go over four of the most basic poses, along with several variations that you can easily adapt and make your own. You will be amazed at how quickly you get comfortable and - gasp - even start to have fun! I think it's particularly funny when the eye-rolling, reluctant groom-to-be is dragged to the shoot only to end up being the one calling for "just one more photo." 

What to Wear

Easy answer: whatever makes you both feel the most comfortable and attractive. After that I recommend planning on coordinating your outfits, not matching. You want to complement each other, not blend together. Think in terms of contrast and color. Bright, bold colors work really well for Hawaii beach and sunset photography sessions, helping make you POP out of the scene. Black usually doesn't that good on the beach unless it's a formal portrait. White works if you have a tan or warm-toned skin, and seldom looks good if you're really pale unless it's paired with something colorful, or accessories like leis, flower bouquets, ribbons, etc. Try to stay away from busy stripes, logos or fad clothing...you want images that are timeless and will still look good 20 years from now. The easiest way to see what works well and what doesn't is to look thru all the photos on this site at what people are wearing and notice what you like. Never hesitate to ask your photographer if you're not sure. That's what we're here for!

Below are two good examples of why I DON'T recommend wearing ALL white, or matching each other. Contrast and bright, bold, complementary colors make the second family POP out of the scene so much stronger, IMHO.

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Prepare your poor fella! 

This is where you ladies will be well served by allaying any concerns your guy may have. As you know, most men won't tell you they're nervous and uncomfortable. And face it, we men are generally far less practiced or comfortable at being expressive, emotive or "being a model." Help yourself and your fella by preparing him for the shoot. First, make sure you show him the kind of images you love and want for your couples engagement photography session. If you really love the intimate, playful shots and your fiance’ thinks you'll just be standing there smiling at the camera, he is going to freeze up when I tell you two to “nuzzle” or get “nose to nose.” So make sure you explain to him why you love the snuggle shots so he knows going in what to expect! BUT ALSO... make sure he knows that he doesn't need to know how to do anything! That it will be the photographer - a middle-aged, macho guy (former motorcycle racer, contractor, scuba divemaster...) - who will tell him what to do and when. And that mostly his job will be to stand there, hold you and sometimes "kiss the girl." :-)

Relax & Trust Your Photographer

As you’re getting ready for your couples engagement portrait session, remember that your photographer doesn’t expect you to be a modeling pro. In fact, I have almost never worked with models - I'd rather work with real, everyday people. Over thousands of photography sessions, I have noticed it almost universally takes a good 20 minutes to warm up - for you and me! I like to remind everyone that I'm shooting digital...if we try a shot and it doesn't work, we just hit delete and do it again! Perfection isn't required. I expect to take anywhere from 2 to 30 shots to get that one or two that are our YES! shots. In professional baseball it's called a batting average because no one hits a home run - or even gets a hit - every time up at bat. Lucky for us, no one is keeping score! So relax, trust your photographer, allow them to be creative and be up for trying different things and you’ll have more fun than you expect.

I hope this little post has been helpful at reducing any concerns you may have about your Oahu engagement photography session! And now, here are a few more example portraits to share with you of normal, everyday amazing couples just like you showing off their posing skills during both their engagement session and their wedding day!!

And before you go, you may enjoy my other blog article next: Natural Light VS Flash Photography. Enjoy!