Engagement Portraits {Advice + Tips} | Virginia Wedding Photographer | Sarah Houston Photography

With Engagement season upon me I wanted to write a post on some tips and what to expect...Engagements are a MUST going forward with my 2016 heirloom wedding collections &  are now already included.

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So why are engagements so important?  Engagements are a GREAT way for me to connect with my couples before the day of the wedding, they can see what the portrait taking process is like and see how I work/interact with them. It's also an awesome way to feel more confident and comfortable in front of the camera before your big day! 

I really don't ask my couples to do difficult posing, I really enjoy the more natural interaction between them....but I'll start off with some basic easy posing and guide my couples all the way through. They never have to worry- "what do I do with my hands?!" It's all about guiding and making my couples feel comfortable and confident!!  Here's a few tips:

  • YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE MODELS! a wise ginger told me this once...& it's SO true!! Models are more stiff because they are trained and are use to just going with the flow...with my couples I prefer them to be more relaxed, it makes it so much easier to coach and guide them into natural posing!
  • Don't think you look silly. There are some poses I ask my couples to do and they look at me like: "are you going to black-mail us with this later?" the answer is yes. JUST KIDDING!! I am NOT going to do anything that makes you look ridiculous!! You may feel like its weird or a bit unnatural but you won't be able to tell in the end if you just trust me.
  • If a pose doesn't quite work, it's not your fault, it's mine! I try to be as clear and concise as well as give a little demonstration...so if you have questions or your unsure just ask me and I'll help! There's no WRONG way...sometimes what works for some doesn't quite work for others, I want YOU to be comfortable! 

I really love it when couples ask me to help with wardrobe styling, these are portraits that you'll use for your save-the-dates and hopefully displayed at your wedding ceremony! So when it comes to choosing the right outfit or styling your portraits to reflect you here are some tips: 

  • Take advantage of the wardrobe change option!! This way you can have two outfits one you'd wear on a special date and one a little more casual. Both choices should reflect you + your style...so if your a pants kinda girl like me I'd wear really nice dress pants with an even fancier top with heels, then for my more casual I'd opt for my go to colored skinny pants, flats and a cute top. Pinterest is a GREAT source for wardrobe inspiration!!
  • Wear something that makes you feel beautiful, confident & comfortable. The number one thing I tell my couples is: If you are not comfortable it shows!! So if your fiance isn't use to wearing a suit jacket + he really doesn't want to sport that bow-tie...I'm going to see it written alllll over his face. I want my couples to be relaxed and confident, these are their portraits together leading up to the "real deal", I want them to enjoy every moment of being together!


Couples often ask me about themed or "styled" engagement shoots...I enjoy these sometimes but I really like the non-styled because it focuses more on the couple and who they are. Also it really lets the love + connection between them show through! Props are fun...& I will incorporate a few if the couple asks & of course I won't ever say no to a good Downton Abbey inspired engagement shoot!! But think about you and how you want your "love" to be portrayed in portraits. So if silly mustaches and big glasses are your thing-it's cool for a few!...just not the whole session.

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Locations. This is SO important in telling YOUR STORY. If your a southern belle like me-an Urban Setting would not be the location for my engagements. I'd like an open field with a rustic victorian farmhouse with horses & mountains in the back. So think about what represents you and your fiance, perhaps it's the lake on a boat and also maybe a pier because you both love sailing and the sea. Maybe you like the cool fast paced city life so the city streets and hip downtown look is totally you. Whatever your style is..choose that location that best fits your background.

LAUGH!! have fun and be yourself, there's time for fun and there's time for the serious posing too....it doesn't all have to be the cover of Vogue y'all. These are meant to represent you! I absolutely love laughter and the natural light + joy it brings with it. So please makes jokes, tickle one another and laugh it out...because THOSE portraits are so so beautiful!



Most of all HAVE FUN, this is a celebration of the "becoming Mr + Mrs" it's such an exciting time!! I can't wait to create some really amazing portraits for my #SHBrides <3