– Posted by Mark
Honestly? It took me a good while before I felt comfortable photographing engagement sessions. It’s too easy to create boring get together/ be in love/ hipster hand-hold/ kiss photos. I say it all the time to the Interns – don’t just make photos that look like you said ‘Stand over here and pose, now stand over here and pose, oh- let’s stand over there and pose.’ As if it’s some sort of ‘Survey of Engagement Session Locations’ class and you’re just running through the standards.
But you also need the standards. Along with your dramatic and cool artistic shots, you should have simple, frameable photos. Artistic is great, but just as important are the brilliantly plain and beautiful portraits that rely on nothing other than your ability to focus your camera and draw out your client’s magic. Whatever that might be.
It might not be a smiling face – but you should do the work to find that out. Everyone has their ‘picture smile’ and it’s usually a frozen line or full of too much teeth. The trick and the skill comes in figuring out how to draw out a natural smile – and then taking the picture in time to capture it. Over and over again. Some people are comfortable having their picture taken, some people aren’t comfortable at all – and they might not be at all comfortable with kissing in public as much as I make them kiss.
And I Make Them Kiss A LOT.
It’s a lot of talking, a lot of taking your time – and a lot of distracting clients from themselves – because I need them to be focused on each other and not the Asian guy with a camera yelling at them to ‘kiss’ or ‘hold that forever’ while I shoot around them looking for the shots. We travel out of town for engagement sessions quite often it seems. Tennessee, New Jersey, Virginia, California – and then we go back for the wedding. Of course – often times when the clients pick me up from the airport for their engagement session, that’s the first time I’m meeting them. And then I spend four hours with them shooting, and eating, and shooting some more.
There’s no location scouting and other than what I have with me in my carry-on bag and my own experience - the safety nets are gone. I’m dropped in a new city, with new people – but the moment we start shooting, everything calms down and nothing else really matters except everything RIGHT THEN with the clients. It doesn’t matter that I’ve never been to this location, or that I’ve never met them before – this is the reason I shoot so often and why I shoot so many different subjects. Because I want new photos. Every time. I don’t want the same photos with different people in different spots.
Each city is different, each couple is different, and their engagement and wedding photos should reflect that.